Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book review of On Foot Across France by Tim Salmon

French Village Diaries BookWormWednesday review On Foot Across France Tim Salmon Walking Meridienne Verte TravelMy bookworm Wednesday review today is for On Foot Across France - Dunkerque To The Pyrenees by Tim Salmon. This book had me hooked from the beginning; anyone who starts a book talking about weighing his underwear must have a great story to tell, and he does. Tim’s story is about his walk from Dunkerque in the north of France to the Pyrenees, following La Méridienne Verte, the line that neatly bisects France straight down the middle. In 62 walking days he covered approximately 1315km on foot, but unfortunately it was not as straightforward as locating the track in Dunkerque and following clearly marked signs all the way down. It was a true navigational adventure.

Throughout the book there is as much rambling of his thoughts as there is of his feet, however with an intelligent eye and interesting take on France, the UK and the changes in Europe this was OK with me. I have read more light-hearted books about long distance walking in France, but I know myself how my mind wanders on our daily dog walks, so I felt a real honesty came out of his thoughts as he was on the road. He is certainly not afraid to voice his opinions honestly, although I’m sure not everyone will agree with them. Some of his thoughts paint quite a depressing picture of his view of what the future holds for us, but if I’m honest I have to say he made a lot of sense to me. Sometimes it was a shock when he suddenly switched back to talking about his route or those he had met that day, as I was so away with his thoughts I’d forgotten we were walking through France. I loved that he took the time to talk to those he meets; the old farmer sat on his favourite plank, those he stays or dines with and recounts the tales they share with him. I also can’t ignore the fact there is as much description of the many ladies he meets and visually appraises as there is of the villages and countryside. Not every day was as idyllic as this description, but this was one of my favourites from the book:

“It was to be a day of hamlets and hay meadows, oak wood and deep descents to rivers, few houses and scarcely any people.”

This book would be perfect for the thinking armchair traveller who wants to see France and talk to her people.

Many thanks to the publisher Blackbird Digital Books who sent me a copy to read and review. On Foot Across France - Dunkerque To The Pyrenees is available in paperback and ebook format and links to Amazon can be found below.