3 books that will make you want to visit France

Life from 'Escape to the Chateau' in pages, exploring France by campervan and a love affair spanning decades, countries and genres

10 May 2021

Explore France through these three books including 'A Year At The Chateau' and 'Take the Slow Road: France' Pic: Anna Tarazevich / Pexels

A Year At The Chateau (paperback) - Dick and Angel Strawbridge

Seven Dials, £8.99 ISBN: 9781841884639

A Year At The Chateau book

Fans of the UK Channel 4 documentary Escape to the Chateau are in for a treat as the stars of the show have written a book.

It charts Dick and Angel Strawbridge’s journey from buying their 19th-century fairy-tale château in the Loire valley to their first family Christmas there.

The hardback was first published in October last year with the paperback version released in mid-April.

Dick and Angel’s decision to swap a small London flat for this huge, 45-room property, complete with 12 acres of land and its own moat, is likely something most people dream of.

That no doubt contributed to the success of the show. But being able to witness a dream play out on screen was not the only charm: it was also the couple’s vibrant personalities and their dedication to rejuvenate a beautiful but derelict property.

The book divulges juicy extra details of the horror of when they first moved into the chateau with their two children: Only one working toilet that drained into the moat, rooms filled with flies and bats, cracked windows et al.

It also goes into far more detail than the TV show about the various types of renovations the couple carried out, from the garden to just some of the many, many rooms.

As on TV, Dick and Angel’s charm seeps through the pages of this book. It is heart-warming, inspiring, dream-inducing. Who doesn’t want to own their very own French chateau?

Jack Be Nimble - Chris Palmer

TSB £10.99 ISBN: 9781911673040

Jack Be Nimble book

Decades, countries, genres... Jack Be Nimble is a tale that spans them all.

It is the debut adult novel of Chris Palmer and does not lack ambition. It is a story of regret and love and takes place predominantly in Derby, England and Burgundy, France between 1944 and 2015.

It tells of a tragically short love affair that gets a breath of new life.

It is perhaps an appropriate theme as although this is Palmer’s first adult fiction novel, she is no debutant to the world.

In her 75 years she has worked in the US, Canada and the UK and has lived in France for the past 18 years.

It is therefore no surprise that the characters in this book seem imbued with a sort of worldliness that only an experienced mind could have conceived.

The book is split into three parts and each chapter begins with a quote from a clutter of different personalities and sources such as Winston Churchill, Coco Chanel and even the band Joy Division. It all adds to the quaint joy of this book.

Love sometimes takes time but it is usually worth the wait, growing better as it ages like a fine French wine. Palmer may be a latecomer to the novel scene but in this case that is no bad thing.

Take the Slow Road: France - Martin Dorey

Conway, €24.45 ISBN: 9781844865918

Take the Slow Road: France

What is the best way to see France? After reading Martin Dorey’s guide, one could well make a good argument for campervans and motorhomes.

He has already written similar guides for England, Wales and Ireland and now he takes his readers on the road in France, offering us the best driving routes around the country for campervans and motorhomes, the best places to stop overnight, what to see, what to do and generally how to live the good life on the road in France.

There are some interesting tidbits too, such as the steepest or bendiest roads in the country.

It is all written in a light-hearted and jovial fashion and it really does make you want to invest in a mobile home, set out and never look back.

The book also contains handy maps and beautiful photos and a lot of colour. The book alone is a thing of beauty, without even mentioning the places that it depicts.

With a flicker of hope that this summer will present us with travel opportunities in the wake of Covid-19, driving in a campervan could be the perfect post-pandemic solution: safe and stunning at the same time.

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