Sunday, October 13, 2013

Book review of Tales From The Hilltop by Tony Lewis


French Village Diaries Book Review Tales From The Hilltop by Tony Lewis France Tarn Cycling Walking HolidaysTales from the Hilltop by Tony Lewis is a memoir set in France, but with a bit of a difference. It isn’t a ‘we followed our dream and moved to France’ memoir, neither is it a ‘we took off on a big cycling/walking adventure in France’ memoir. It is the account of Tony and his wife Ludmilla’s summer spent in Cordes-sur-Ciel in the Tarn, where they worked very hard to ensure others had the walking/cycling holidays of their dreams. As a lover of all things French and especially cycling and walking in France this book called out to me as soon as I saw it and reading it didn’t disappoint.

During the holiday season Tony and Ludmilla did countless airport runs and drove hundreds of kilometres moving bags; they cleaned bikes, repaired bikes and always had a smile for the hoteliers and holidaymakers. They also had the odd disaster to deal with in their rented accommodation, regularly visited their elderly landlords in the local retirement home and became part of the local community. Over the summer they got to know the local area and Tony shares some of the history of the Tarn and it’s many bastide towns along with plenty of funny snippets of life behind the scenes in the holiday industry. I was fascinated by the insights into how these types of holidays work – you move from hotel to hotel by bike/on foot, following a given route and your bags magically find their way from one location to the next without you having to lift a finger. If I ever get to go a holiday like this I want Tony and Ludmilla to be my 'bag shufflers'.

The thing that really comes across is the love for the area they find themselves working in, and I know I’m not the only one who thought this. I have heard from other readers who have said how they now HAVE to visit the Tarn and the places Tony describes so well. We glanced in on this area in 2010 on one of our road trips in the Mini Cooper, but somehow managed to miss Cordes-sur-Ciel by about 50kms. Thanks to Tony this will be rectified on a future trip and we may also take our bikes with us. I should warn you that if you read this you too will want to see and experience the Tarn for yourself, but even if you can’t get there for a real holiday, this book will give you a mini-break to remember.

Available in ebook and paperback, links to Amazon.co.uk below.