Mme. Modiano, whose given name was well chosen -- she's a very charming writer -- took a small group of snobs (twenty), elegant and exacting and only too frequently submitting to gastric discomforts, to China on a ""cultural"" tour. And if Lisa Hobbs' I Saw Red China (1966) was newshen woman's page coverage, this is tonier, more like Vogue or Elle, even if her noticing eye did not see as much. Her ""pilgrims"" were much more interested in the past than the present (except for antique shops) and under the guidance of three natives cicerones -- Yuan, Shin (whom they didn't hesitate to interrogate about his sexual abilities) and Shu -- they spent a month there. They tripped from Peking to that hybrid city, Shanghai, with Loyang and its aesthetic sanctuaries (the Lungmen caves) in between along with the T'ang tombs. Mme. Modiano writes about it in a poppy-pretty and very entertaining fashion which owes much more to some fastidious mandarin than Chairman Mao.