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An Englishman in Paris: L'education Continentale [Paperback]

Michael Sadler
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Mar 2003
Peter Mayle, author of A YEAR IN PROVENCE, writes in his Preface to this charming travel memoir: 'Michael Sadler was born in Lewes, a small town in the south of England. This was a geographical accident. He should have emerged from the womb in Paris, looking anxiously about him for a suitable place to have lunch.' He may not have been born there, but Michael Sadler eventually found his spiritual home. AN ENGLISHMAN IN PARIS is his delightful account of his first year in the French capital, describing with alternate affection and bemusement such continental confusions as the etiquette of flower-buying, the role of cricket in French foreplay, and the dangers 'black butter' presents not just to one's cholesterol levels but also to dry-cleaning bills. Beautifully observed and very funny, AN ENGLISHMAN IN PARIS will delight armchair travellers and Francophiles alike.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; New edition edition (3 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743440463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743440462
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 12.9 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 497,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Michael Sadler's An Englishman in Paris is the perfect guide for the man or woman from these shores who wants to be au fait with day-to-day life in Paris. Whatever the historical enmity between our two countries (from the Battle of Waterloo onwards), there's really a marked rapprochement between the French and the English (note that the best word for our accord is a French one!); many French citizens are devoted Anglophiles (whatever they think of our food), and it's a dull Englishman whose heart doesn't beat faster pacing the boulevards of the City of Light. Of course, it's not just the language that trips up the unwary Brit in France--the customs, the everyday transactions and so on are potential minefields.

Knowing that however keen you might be to excel in such matters it's easy to get it wrong abroad. South coast-born, (but temperamentally Parisian manqué), Sadler decided to spend a year in the city of Renoir and Debussy to steep himself in continental manners. Braving the terrifying French traffic, finding out what wine to buy at the Bon Marché, tackling a diner bourgeois, negotiating affairs of the heart, coming to terms with tripe, and a million other challenges peculiar to the French capital--all these became grist to Sadler's mill, and if he didn't crack all of them, we are the beneficiaries of his wise and witty advice on how not to make too much of an ass of yourself. Sadler points out that the best approach is a commixing of British cool and French gusto. As he risked his cholesterol levels with mouth-watering French cuisine and learnt how not to give offence (or how to give it, if necessary) and as he discovers how to belong in a city that is distrustful of incomers, the process is fascinating. And as An Englishman in Paris proves, Sadler certainly did his damndest to be a boulevadier. His book is a canny, knowing and enthusiastic look at our neighbours at the other end of the Chunnel, and even makes some cogent observations about the nature of foreignness--theirs and ours. If you're packing your bag for that Eurostar trip, you'd be well advised to put this in. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Michael Sadler is a writer and academic. Born in Lewes, he now lives in Paris, where he teaches an MA course in Contemporary French Studies at the British Institute. He is married with one daughter and grows his own leeks.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bachelor living in the City of Light 5 Jan 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Expat Brit Peter Mayle has written several delightfully witty books (A YEAR IN PROVENCE, TOUJOURS PROVENCE, ENCORE PROVENCE) describing his long residence in Provence in an old farm house that he and his wife fixed up. Peter contributes the preface to AN ENGLISHMAN IN PARIS written by lunch-buddy and fellow countryman Michael Sadler.
According to the book's back flap, Sadler now lives in Paris and Touraine with his French wife and their daughter. There's no time frame to AN ENGLISHMAN IN PARIS, but I gather that it recalls Michael's experience as a younger and still-single man during his first extended trip to Paris from his home in England.
Sadler's narrative contains some decidedly humorous moments, as when he transports a large wheel of odiferous cheese from point A to B. Or when he makes his first tremulous journey through that chaotic maelstrom of traffic known as the Place de l'Etoile. And when he must transfer his belongings from temporary hotel lodgings to a new apartment, and there's nowhere to park in front of the latter. Or his culinary introduction to such delicacies as beef testicles and pigs ears. Then there's his giddy affair with a married French woman.
Compared to Peter's volumes, however, Sadler isn't quite so relaxed. Perhaps it's the abundant energy and hormones of a younger man. At times, Michael's activities seem positively frenetic. Moreover, he introduces into the text many French phrases and sentences, the translations of which aren't always readily apparent as you read them, if at all. To be fair, there is a 5-page glossary of terms and colloquial expressions at the end. Language aside, chapter 28 is entirely incoherent (by design, I assume) - as if he was writing under the influence of some cooking sauce made with hallucinogenic mushrooms.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More About the English than the French 12 Jun 2005
The book is recommended by Michael Palin, Prince Charles, Anne Robinson and Punch magazine on its cover. If you can imagine the sort of thing that amuses this coterie you will not be taken by surprise. The book has a few amusing moments, when the author is not trying to sound like a comedian, and there is the odd flush of literary flair, but on the whole it read just like a Richard Curtis story board- perhaps the author had this in mind when he wrote it. If you enjoyed Four Weddings and A Funeral you will think it "wonderfully amusing" (the endorsement that Prince Charles gives the book), and I couldn't help thinking Bridget Jones had found her soulmate in the character. If you have ever enjoyed a Brit Flick of this ilk you will like this book. For my part "one was not amused"- too contrived, and dare I say it "too English".
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly amusing and quite insightful 4 April 2009
By hiljean VINE VOICE
Apart from a few laugh-out-loud moments in the early pages I found this book to be only mildly amusing. However it is quite informative and entertaining on French customs and cuisine. I also liked the occasional observations on the French language and its nuances.

Quite enjoyable but hardly side-splitting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good read 23 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Recommended to me by a Quebecois (?) lady and agreed with her view it was a good read - as indeed are the Michael Sadler books I read of his life in France. I wish I'd known a bit more idiomatic French to be able to read straight through this book that was hilarious in places, funny in many other and also always informative. You will definitely enjoy his exploits and it is a thoroughly good read too because it is observtional and very well written.
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By Nad
If you live in Paris, there is no point reading this book. You are living it!

The hero goes to Paris to study French live (or that is the official excuse to get out of his colleague's way) and in this book he delivers his observations and funny anecdotes (when he treads into the traps of don't-s English people tend to tread into in France). Anecdotes rather than a coherent story with one big climax at the end. All delivered from a humourus angle.

I have moved from Paris to London three and a half years ago. I have read many books of English people living in France. All funny in their own way, but this one is my favourite. Observations rather than prejudices. The descriptions of live and people in Paris are so accurate that for as long as i was reading it, it cured my chronic homesickness. It is like a journey home to Paris!

Only critique: interwoven in the text are many French phrases. While I enjoy that (because I understand them), a footnote for non-French-speakers would have been good rather than having to flick to the back of the book and trying to find it.

It is on my Christmas gift's list for all friends and relatives abroad (outside of France that is). Highly recommended for anyone who wants to read about real live in Paris rather than prejudices wrapped in humour.

Thank you Michael Sadler for this great book about live in my beloved city!
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Englishman in France - 1 28 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the first of a trilogy of an Englishman's experience in France. Apart from being amusing it is also very instructive on everyday French - a delight.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For Francophiles everywhere 26 Jun 2003
By A Customer
Great stuff this. Sadler is a wonderfully witty and perceptive observer of France and - more especially - the French, and offers here a hilarious account of his year's sabbatical in Paris, with stinky cheeses, pigs ears, street riots, pretentious dinner parties, liasions dangereuses and all. In fact, for anyone who's ever been and lived in France it's a bit like looking in the mirror, but you can't help feeling that he's exaggerated the truth to get the best laughs, or at least you hope he has at any rate. You also presume he's changed the names "to protect the innocent" because otherwise a few libel writs are likely to be landing on his doormat. But I guess the book is all the better for it - it's frank, funny, charming and a really easy read which I got through in one sitting. For anyone who's been fascinated by the language, mystified by the cuisine, or just plain desperate to know what the French are like between the sheets then this is the book for you!
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