Released on 25 February 2016.

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The Discovery of France

4.01 based on 1133 ratings & 154 reviews on Goodreads.com

2008 Winner

Duff Cooper Prize

2008 Long-listed

BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize

Synopsis

With an introduction by Colm Tóibín

Ten years ago, I began to explore the country on which I was supposed to be an authority . . .

France is a country famous for its intellectuals, its philosophers and writers, its fashion, food and wine. And yet the notion of 'the French' as one nation is relatively recent and - historically speaking - quite misleading. In order to discover the 'real' past of France, Graham Robb realised it was not only necessary to go back in time, but also to go at a slower pace than modern life generally allows. The Discovery of France, illuminating, engrossing and full of surprises, is the result of Robb's 14,000 mile journey across France on a bicycle.

Winner of both the Duff Cooper and the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje prizes, The Discovery of France is a modern non-fiction classic, a literary exploration of a remarkable nation. From maps and migration to magic, language and landscape, it reveals a France few will recognize.
'An extraordinary journey of discovery' Daily Telegraph
'Robb's concise and fast-paced writing pedals along with never a dull paragraph . . . dazzling' Sunday Times

In the media

This splendid history of France mixes the rambling charm of a traveller with a scholar's rigorous research . . . At once history, psychogeography, itinerary and cabinet of curiosities, The Discovery of France is an astute sociological catalogue of France's changing idea of itself . . . It's [also] an extraordinary journey of discovery that will delight even the most indolent armchair traveller
Daily Telegraph
It is beautifully written and truly eccentric, seeking out the obscure or forgotten parts of a nation that - Robb argues brilliantly - is still discovering itself.
Times Literary Supplement
As an alternative view of French history it is a fascinating diversion. Its real value lies in helping to explain why modern France remains a centrally directed society that has adopted big ideas and bloody ideals in order to create itself.
Daily Mail