Departures: Travel bookshelf

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The Independent Travel
MOST publishers used to be keen to rush their new guidebooks out for Christmas and the New Year; now, Easter seems favoured. This week Black Norton publishes new editions of Blue Guides for Normandy ( pounds 9.99); Amsterdam ( pounds 8.99), Umbria ( pounds 9.99) and Tuscany ( pounds 12.99), and a revised edition of Egypt ( pounds 17.99).

Also available this week are new editions of Exploring Rural France and Exploring Rural Ireland (both Helm, pounds 7.99), two useful guides for anybody planning a motoring holiday.

With the start of the new P & O European Ferries Portsmouth-Bilbao service this month, attention is sure to be drawn to the attractions of northern Spain. North-west Spain (Helm, pounds 11.99) by Melissa Shales covers this fascinating and little-known region.

There is no shortage of guides to Barcelona, but Barcelona and Catalonia (Helm, pounds 9.99) by Paul Gogarty finds new ground to cover.

Somebody at Macmillan thought it would be a smart idea to extract the French section from The Good Hotel Guide 1993 ( pounds 14.99) and repackage it as The Good Hotel Guide: France 1993 (Papermac, pounds 5.99). The France section accounts for 22.5 per cent of the main Good Hotel Guide: on a pence per page basis, it ought to cost pounds 3.33, which would make it worth buying. At 1p shy of pounds 6, it is not.

The 1993 edition of the Charming Small Hotel Guide to France (Duncan Petersen, pounds 8.99) is much more user- friendly than previous editions, with a more comprehensible map and index system. The book scores over the Good Hotel Guide with its colour pictures and research which has discovered an extraordinary range of alluring hotels at excellent rates.