1 September 2020 Susannah

Literary Travel – Top Ten in France

No country has won as many Nobel Prizes for Literature as has France – 15 in total. The first winner ever was Frenchman Sully Prudhomme (barely heard of today), and others include Provencal poet Frédéric Mistral, novelist Anatole France, André Gide, Albert Camus, Saint-John Perse, and Jean-Paul Sartre, amongst others.

I started reading French literature in my teens, when I discovered the fabulous Dumas series of The Three Musketeers which taught me lots of French history, and the memorable The Count of Monte Cristo. I wept over Balzac’s superb novel Eugénie Grandet about the daughter of a miser, and read Zola’s powerful Germinal (and then watched Gérard Depardieu in a fabulous TV adaptation – by the way, are there any adaptations of French novels that do NOT have Gérard Depardieu in them?).

Sadly, my French has never been good enough to read these works in the original, but they gave me a deep love of French literature. And French writers all seem to have led such wonderfully colourful lives – mistresses galore, vast debts, larger-than-life personalities, fabulous food and even the writing of cookbooks, and so often gorgeous residences as their homes.

I’ve been revisiting all this in creating my new video talk – ‘Susannah’s Top Ten Places in Literary France’. It lasts for 85 minutes and will take you on a journey through glorious French countryside and chateaux, into a prison, a windmill and a medical history museum, amongst other places, and it will introduce you to some of the extraordinary personalities of French literature.

Choosing only 10 was incredibly difficult, but I did so love (in this time of NO travel) revisiting this utterly stunning part of the world. If you buy this new video talk, you can sit back and enjoy some virtual travel with me. Vive la France!

Join my virtual tour to France and visit my Top Ten destinations.

What do you think makes France the world’s No. 1 tourist destination? Do share with me your views on what makes it such a gorgeous and memorable place by leaving a comment.

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Featured image credit- Château de Saché, By Melusin at fr.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4770438

Comment (1)

  1. Margaret Debenham

    Dear Susannah, I have now watched your fascinating France – Top Ten video, and I find I have only seen one of those ten – Chateau d’If – and then only from a distance. Although I have read most of the French authors you mention (and Stevenson with Modestine) – but I haven’t yet faced up to Marcel Proust – my visits to France to date have focused on art and history/prehistory rather than literature. Why is France the top tourist destination? (Although surely Italy is not far behind.) Paris, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Beautiful landscapes, towns and villages. Extraordinarily rich museums and galleries. Great food and wine. And (despite a certain reputation) delightful, friendly, welcoming and helpful people. (All also true of Italy.) My favourites – apart from Paris, of course – and I fear, non-literary – are the beautiful bastides such as Cordes-sur-Ciel and Conques, tiny and exquisite, with the gorgeous surrounding fields and woods; Lyons, wonderfully modern and ancient at the same time; Arles with its Roman amphitheatre (dining al fresco right beside its walls is a delight) and the atmospheric Roman cemetery of Alyscamps; Bordeaux, which has reinvented itself as a very modern but still beautiful, delightful and exciting city; Cezanne’s Mont St-Victoire in the lovely Provencal countryside; Monet’s gorgeous house and garden at Giverny; and…..I could go on and on, which sort of explains why France is an inexhaustible source of delight and wonder. The French seem to manage, on the whole, not to uglify things – something we don’t seem to be able to manage. (And then there is the rail system, from Metro and RER to TGV – superb!) Your Cevennes trip looked rather fabulous – I would love to do that sometime, with or without a Modestine. So thank you so much for the introduction to parts of France I have yet to enjoy – at a time not too far away, I hope.

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