Departures: Binns is back

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The Independent Travel
Richard Binns, the legendary producer of self-published guides to France, was thought to have retired from the business. The success of his French Leave series led to an agreement with a big publisher, but the deal eventually petered out and, when it was revealed three years ago that he was suffering from detached retinas, the guidebook production line seemed at an end.

This week, however, Mr Binns has reappeared with a new self- published book, French Leave Encore (Chiltern House, pounds 9.99). 'The urge to improve on the previous guides was irresistible,' he says. 'Correspondence from readers has continued to pour in, so we decided to publish the new book. It really is the book I always wanted to produce.'

With 400 pages and dozens of fine maps the book is excellent value. There are admirable guides to hotels and restaurants, but it is much more than a simple guidebook. There is a 'who's who in French cuisine', an introduction to the wines of France, an index of cheeses, specimen letters of reservation for booking hotels and a guide to hotels on autoroutes.

Best of all are the Binns' bons mots and instructive comments and observations which make his guides so readable. If you are going to buy only one book on France in the next year, let it be French Leave Encore.

Copies of 'French Leave Encore' available from bookshops or direct from Chiltern House, Honeywood House, Avon Dassett, Leamington Spa CV33 0AH; pounds 9.99 inc. p & p.