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Detour de France: An Englishman in Search of a Continental Education

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Detour de France: An Englishman in Search of a Continental Education

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    Available in PDF Format | Detour de France: An Englishman in Search of a Continental Education.pdf | English
    Michael Simkins(Author)
Though happy enough with his lot, Michael Simkins has never truly shaken the nagging doubt - helpfully upheld by his partner Julia - that he somehow lacks worldly sophistication. While she spent her teenage years as a nanny on a boat moored at Cannes, his utter lack of travel experience (Weymouth, Cleethorpes and a day trip to Dieppe) still has the power to shock people into leaving dinner parties early.

So as he hits middle-age, Michael takes up the challenge of broadening his horizons. He decides to improve himself in the same way English gentlemen lacking refined edges have for centuries: by learning from our more cultured French neighbours. Michael, an English provincial ingénue, sets off to discover just what the Gallic nation can teach him and the rest of us Anglo-Saxons about living the good life. Armed only with 50 Useful Phrases in French, he waits to see if his odyssey from La Manche to the Riviera will finally turn him from the scotch-egg eating spawn of Anne Widdecombe and John McCririck into the champagne-sipping love child of Serge Gainsbourg and Catherine Deneuve. Julia is saying a prayer for him at Lourdes.

"Brimming with well-told anecdotes with perfectly delivered punchlines...a must-read for anyone stepping on the Eurostar" (The Daily Telegraph)"Vive le Simkins!" (Metro)"Insightful, charming and trouser-wipingly funny." (Stephen Fry)"Simkins makes even the worst travel experience pleasurable.In fact, the worse it is, the better he gets." (Michael Palin)"Funnier than Bryson" (Michael Billington)

4.3 (8155)
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Book details

  • PDF | 320 pages
  • Michael Simkins(Author)
  • Ebury Press (1 April 2010)
  • English
  • 6
  • Biography
Read online or download a free book: Detour de France: An Englishman in Search of a Continental Education

Review Text

  • By alison jane on 26 July 2017

    A really good sojourn around France - as a fan of Bill Bryson, I thought this might be similar, and it is in a way, but with a particularly English sense of the 'difference' which adds a lot of charm.Some interesting facts along the way - all in all a good relaxing read!Have moved on to Fatty Batter, not because I like cricket particularly, but my ex played in the same youth team, and we come from the same town, enjoying that immensely too!

  • By Addicroft on 8 June 2009

    I read Michael Simkins first book about acting and I thoroughly enjoyed it and watched out for more. I thought that Fatty Batter was even better than his first and so when his latest book Detour de France was featured in the papers I got it straight away. I wasn't disappointed. Having holidayed in the South of France last year there were flashes of recognition throughout the book and his description of some of the events and places was tremendous. I particularly liked the description of his visit to Lourdes which held back on the humour and was the more powerful for that. This is a great book and if you are going to France, (or anywhere else this summer) it would be perfect holiday reading.

  • By Jamie Hayes on 8 June 2009

    Some books are so brilliant and cover so much ground you just don't want them to end. A terrific piece of work. This French adventure is laugh out loud funny as well as being movingly and poignantly told, as the author searches for home truths from abroad. Travel broadens the mind and as you journey through this beautifully crafted travelogue there is much to embrace; comic and tragic, funny and sad. You will even think better of the French! I loved Michael Simkins' earlier memoirs on acting and cricket - truthfully told and very (very) funny. If you are a fan of Bill Bryson (and who isn't?) you will adore this English counterpart; Michael Simkins. A wondrous read and a rare treat!Jamie Hayes

  • By Awill on 21 August 2009

    Living here there is rarely a dull moment especially as we do not live in an English Commune. This book gives many examples of what we see/experience in our everyday life here and caused us many laughs. Our biggest laugh was at the ex-pat cricket match and the Scotch Eggs-no thanks!!!!!!!!!!!We receive an English Newspaper of French News monthly (worth its weight in gold as to what we can claim on Income Tax!) and groan at the number of people complaining about French ways, laws and lack of foods such as Baked Beans and Marmite.This however is France and the author has captured it.To fully appreciate it I think you need to have some knowledge of the French/France. In a short space of time the author has managed an insight into the French Psyche-for a more detailed look try "The Discovery of France" by Graham Robb.

  • By Debbie Young on 23 December 2012

    Having recently spent a month touring France in a camper van with my husband and daughter, I was interested to share Michael Simkins' journey through the pages of this book. His route overlapped with ours now and again, most notably in Arles, where I'd observed similar boules tournaments to the one in which he takes part.I'd come across Michael Simkins' writing before, in various newspapers and on BBC Radio 4, and I'd also seen him in the theatre, acting the former Nigel Pargeter of The Archers off the stage in "Yes, Prime Minister" at Cheltenham. I suspect his acting talents fuel his wry observation of the people he meets, and vice versa. I'm also a longstanding fan of M. Hulot's Holiday - another reason for reading this book.Michael Simkins writes very well. He is engaging, entertaining and honest. Genuinely self-deprecating, he often shares embarrassing experiences that others would have kept to themselves - but he's probably shrewd enough to know that the odd bit of confession makes for a better book. He is especially good when writing about French food and fashion from an Englishman's perspective.The book's an easy, undemanding read and the author is pleasant company. While I'm not sufficiently interested in cricket to read his sporting books, I'm definitely planning to read his book about his acting career, of which I've heard snippets on the radio, and in which, I understand, he is equally open. I'll also be on the look-out for any travel books he writes in future, should he decidet, Palin-style, that his French experience has given him the courage to conquer further parts of the world (a handy second string in the unlikely event that his acting work dries up).I'd recommend this book for any Briton who's planning a similar trip, or indeed for anyone who'd like to know what such a journey would be like without actually taking the trouble to go there himself. I'm glad to have been saved the trouble of going to Cannes, having read his unappealing description. This book, and "Mr Bean's Holiday" - another M. Hulot tribute - tell me all I need to know, to assure me that I would hate it!Incidentally, I found the quotes on the cover rather distracting and would have enjoyed the book just as well without them. What on earth is Stephen Fry on about: "trouser-wipingly funny"? How does he read books, for goodness sake?! In any case, this book is not laugh-out-loud funny, but pleasantly and thoughtfully amusing (so safe to read on public transport)- very British, in fact, as Michael Simkins remains despite his French odyssey. If you want a hysterical book about France, this is not the one for you - it's much more subtle.

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