Preparing For A Chain Gang Bike Tour

Here’s just a bit of fun, and something I’d like your help with. I often find that films and books remind me of the areas we cycle through. Partly that’s obvious – I like to buy and read books about places I’ve cycled through, but its more than that.

I enjoy The Lion In Winter more because it’s all about the Loire valley, Chinon Castle and the relationship between Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their sons, Richard The Lionheart, Prince John, et al. It does no harm at all that the cast includes Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Hopkins.

My love of the Loire Valley also prompted me to buy a book by Princess Michael of Kent, The Serpent And The Moon , about the French King Henry II, his wife Catherine de Medici and his mistress Diane of Poitiers. It’s a good book, and when you’re visiting Chateau Chenonceau, home to the mistress when Henry was alive, and the wife immediately after he died, it makes the visit a different and a better experience.

Other examples are The Dark Heart of Italy by Tobias Jones, or Medici Money – Banking, Metaphysics and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence by Tim Parks before a visit to Tuscany. The Longest Day means a lot more having researched around the Normandy beaches. I enjoyed Michael Crichton’s Timeline more because it was set in Beynac Castle in the Dordogne, and Lollipop Shoes, Joanne Harris’ sequel to ‘Chocolat’ because it was set in Montmartre, Paris.

Over the next few months I’d like to build an archive of books, films, even songs, that have some relevance to our tours. From The Winemasters of Bordeaux to Tarka The Otter , the heavyweight and the trivial, fiction and non-fiction.

I’ve started with Paris. I asked a friend of mine Sean Brennan to help me with his favourite books and films about Paris, and here’s what he came up with. Ignore them or enjoy them as you wish, but I’be very grateful for any contributions sent in of books or films that remind you of our tours.

Each of the films and books referenced here is a link. The film links take you through to reviews on, the book links take you through to the page – just scroll down for the synopsis and reviews. Some of the French titles look like hard work, especially seeing books by Sartre and Zola on the list, but there’s a reason why all of these are classics. Risk it, I doubt yoiu’ll regret it.

Sean’s Paris Film List

Les Amants de Pont Neuf
Three Colours: Blue
Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard)
Paris, Je t’aime
I’m going to add Sarah’s Key , which details the horrific events around the ‘Vel d’Hiv’ close to the Eiffel Tower in 1942.

Sean’s Paris Book List

A Moveable Feast Ernest Hemmingway
Age of reason – Jean-Paul Sartre
The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery
Nana – Emile Zola
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
A Place of Greater Safety – Hilary Mantel
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

This time I’m going to add Citizens: A Chronicle of The French Revolution , by British historian Simon Schama.

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