"Most Beautiful…" Series is Worth a Look

The Most Beautiful Villages of Normandy

NormandayPhotographer and author Hugh Palmer has produced a lot of these books, sometimes as just photographer, sometimes as both author and photographer.  It’s easy to see why, when you look at the beautiful pictures throughout all his books.  In this one on Normandy, there’s a particularly gorgeous silhouette of Mont-Saint-Michel at dusk in colors of pink, gold, sienna and mauve. The island landmark was originally an 11th century church and was also used as a prison before being restored.

Normandy is a region filled with striking architecture, rivers, towering cliffs and sandy beaches.  The reader is treated to panoramic views of the surroundings as well as close inside shots of medieval and Gothic churches.  You get an intimate look at the towns, just as if you were there, without all the work of arranging the trip.  Included are famous landmarks, such as Claude Monet’s Giverny and lesser known but still intriguing places as well.

The Most Beautiful Villages of Greece

greeceI looked at one more Hugh Palmer book, this one on Greece, with author Mark Ottaway.  Another feast for the eyes, the book is divided into sections on the mainland and the islands.  Looking at the modern-day Greece it’s hard to connect it with ancient Greece of legends but as the author puts it, “the idea of Greece, the spirit of Greekness is one of the most durable in history.” The scenery is full of the soothing colors of white, azure, turquoises and sand accented by terra cotta roofs and lush green foliage.  One of my favorite photos is of an interesting stone tower framed by an arched window of another structure and set against the blue ocean.  Gorgeous!

 The Most Beautiful Country Towns of Provence

ProvenceThis one was photographed by Alex Ramsay and written by Helena Attlee. The opening paragraphs describe the region of Provence as having a distinctive character, different from anywhere else in France and you can definitely see this flavor in the photographs.  Even though there are the usual churches, chateaux and the narrow village streets, there are also things like the Roman amphitheater in Arles or the fountain commemorating the birth of Michel de Nostradame, known as Nostradamus, in Saint-Remy.  You can see many Italian influences and also some Mediterranean-style architecture.  I particularly liked the detail shots of some of the water spouts, whimsical faces and animals, in a city known for its fountains.  The panoramic shots of some of the towns with the late day sun coloring the buildings and water are very beautiful, too.

 The Most Beautiful Villages of New England

New EnglandPhotographed by Len Rubenstein and written by Tom Shachtman, this book chronicles the states of Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. I was especially  drawn to this title because my ancestors settled in Vermont and Massachusetts.  Here is the essence of America in the 18th and 19th centuries as seen in the architecture and settings.  There’s also gorgeous sunsets and seaside pictures so evocative you can smell the ocean air.  What I really liked was that next to photos of the many historic sites are photos of  modern-day Americans playing and working.  There’s even a section on Patriotic Festivals.

The Most Beautiful Villages and Towns of the Southwest

SouthwestI also decided to check out some of the beautiful spots on the other side of the country.  Here is the American frontier–rugged, breathtaking scenery along with history and modern people living their lives.  This book is by photographer Nik Wheeler and author Joan Tapper.  Some of the highlights for me were a look at Bisbee, Arizona where author J.A. Jance set one of her mystery series  and ladies meeting in Prescott for lunch…in Victorian costume.  I also enjoyed familiar cities of Colorado where we’ve  vacationed often and the real Virginia City, Nevada where Ben Cartwright and his sons supposedly visited in the TV series “Bonanza.”

Each book finishes with a Traveler’s Guide with places to eat and stay.

More titles in the series…


Donna Casey

I work in Circulation as a senior library associate. I love mysteries, traveling, gardens and libraries. My favorite authors are Agatha Christie, Patricia Cornwell and Harlan Coben, but I enjoy any well-plotted mystery.