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 (UK, US) 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.
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.
The Discovery of France (UK, US) 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.
Dervla Murphy's Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle may only a tenuous link to France, but I'm including it here because although it only has a few paragraphs on France, it's still one of the most inspiring travelogues ever published.
I'd love to hear about any books that have inspired your French cycling adventures.