Published by Lyn on 12 May 2011
Here are some books about cycling in France to help inspire your own trip
There's lots written each year about Tour de France books (I've been in on it too), but not a lot on books about cycling in France in general, ones that aren't about the professional aspects of the Tour. So I've listed a few below, with the list mainly made up of books that fall loosely into the travelogue genre. And, before anyone points it out – yes, a few of them are about taking on the Tour, but they're by amateurs and I'd still argue they are travelogues and of more interest to the average cyclist than to pro-cycling fans (not that the two are mutually exclusive).
Let me know if you know of any other books that merit inclusion. Note that I haven't included guidebooks to cycling in France – I've got a separate list for those in our planning section.
French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France by Tim Moore is probably the most popular ‘cycling in France’ travelogue. Moore interweaves his own Tour de France in with the stories of cyclists who have ridden the real thing, but largely it's about his own journey through France. In a similar vein (and also a bit of an oldie now) is Riding High: Shadow Cycling the Tour de France by Paul Howard, a club cyclist who sets out to find out if an ‘ordinary’ cyclist can complete the Tour de France on even terms with the pros. He pedals off (drug-free) each day hours before the peloton departs. The book is Howard's diary of his ride.
More 'touring France' than 'tour de France' is the popular Downhill all the Way: Cycling Through France from La Manche to the Mediterranean, the French chapter of Edward Enfield’s cycling adventures. Others in the series include Freewheeling Through Ireland, Dawdling By The Danube and Greece On My Wheels, which is scheduled for re-release in August 2011 and available now for pre-order now.
Less risqué than its title suggests is Cycling, Wine, and Men, a midlife crisis-inspired memoir in which American Nancy Brook describes how her bike ride across France became a life-changing experience for her. The book offers interesting insights into the ups and downs of life on the road with an organised tour.
For a lighter read, there’s Four Fifty-Plus Fools Flit Fru France by Mike Newton, the tale of a 900-mile charity ride that started in Biarritz.
For anyone interested in riding through France's wine country or the battlefields of the Somme, there’s Andrew Webster’s Shot & Grape Tour, a pocket-sized account of his ride from Bordeaux to Burley-in-Wharfedale in England.
The Discovery of France by Graham Robb is more the result of cycling in France rather than a book about cycling in France. The book – which was predominantly researched on two wheels – is a captivating journey through the history of France.
In my Mother's Day blog, I described Dervla Murphy's Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle as having only a tenuous link to France, but I'm including it here (again) because although it only has a few paragraphs on France, it's still one of the most inspiring travelogues ever published.
And so to something even more tenuous – because this time it's not even related to cycling – and Walking Through France by Robin Neillands, which Stephen Fox, author of Cycle Touring in France, says helped inspire his own adventures in France.
I'd love to hear about any books that have inspired your French cycling adventures.
See our other books coverage
Must-read Tour de France books
Cycling in France guidebooks
Our Amazon book links
Interview with Josie Dew, author and cycle tourer
Interview with Graham Robb, author of The Discovery of France
Interview with Alastair Humphreys, author and adventure cyclist
My Essential Touring Items by Stephen Lord, author and adventure cyclist