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on 13 November 2013
Steven lives in Australia where he spends his days writing children's books and cycling to keep fit, but for pleasure he packs his bike (called Craig) into his suitcase, well almost, and hops on a plane to La Belle France. His journey starts in St Nazaire in the west and follows the Loire Valley and Saone River to the east. Having crossed France he then spends a few days indulging his passion for gently climbing some of the French mountains climbs that have been made famous in The Tour de France, including Mont Ventoux and Alpe d'Huez.

Being a closet adventure cyclist this book really appealed to me especially as Steven spends almost as much time describing the food and patisseries he fuels himself with on his journey as he does the wonderful scenery he sees. His delight and excitement at a good three course formula lunch or dinner was contagious. I think I would get on well with Steven.

I found his writing style gave an easy, entertaining read that made me feel I could do something like this too. I especially loved his little finalé to each chapter - `What I should have said' - there were some great little laugh-out-loud funnies to end each day on his bike.

See also his second book bordeaux and bicycles (Eurovelo Series: Book Two) another great read.
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on 23 July 2013
A well written account of a solo (if you do not count the Craig, the bike) trip across France followed by some assaults on famous Tour de France climbs. Interesting, amusing, informative and hard to put down. One I am going to keep for future reference as the useful information is summarised at the end of each chapter.
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on 31 July 2013
I really enjoyed reading this ebook. Although I would have liked a little more detail regarding the actual climbs. But that's just my personal choice.
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on 9 November 2014
Being an amateur of slghtly robust build and advancing years this book touched an empathetic nerve. Like the author I love France and its individualistic food. I also cycle so that I can justify eating wholly unhealthy food without an associted guilt trip. Read the book, get a bike and eat like a pig.
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on 27 July 2015
I got about 5 or so (short) chapters into this book on holiday before putting it down and never coming back to it. It wasn't awful, it was just...dull. Having recently read the Tim Moore book 'French Revelations' I think I was looking for more of the same - amusing encounters, interesting information and wry observations on the French, France and the tourist on a bike. In short, I was after Bill Bryson on wheels.

The chapters were short and uninspiring with a quirky summary at the end of each that soon became irritating. The writer apparently is also a children's author and I'm wondering if it was showing.
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on 17 August 2015
If you have a nice fat budget to feed from and you happen to be obsessed with cake, then you would be in heaven reading about Steven's culinary exploits of French Boulangeries. Plus the copious amounts of three course meals, every few hours. My cycle touring in laughable comparison is fuelled on picnic sandwiches, fruit and the occasional doughnut. Each to their own. Whilst enjoying the Loire Valley route, which I intend to cycle in 2016, I was not overly enamoured with the repetitive accounts of the many French mountains he insisted on climbing. Glutton for punishment springs to mind, and not particularly interesting, about being photographed every five minutes by some tourist. Too much 'been there, done that', hype vibe about it all. The bikes he rode apparently had their own personae; is that a good idea for a fifty something writer? Yes, it shows he writes for kids, when he isn't eating cake or cycling famous mountains. As a useful travelogue with places to stay and eat, I doubt your average cyclist reader could stretch to such exorbitant hotel prices mentioned, and as for the food....he says its ridiculously cheap,- compared with what exactly? For a camping touring cyclist on a tight budget, it would be completely unrealistic. Why no maps.? Something surely as vital as showing the route you are writing about is essential. Otherwise, I found myself tracing the route on my map to add interest. Having read all of Steven's cycling odysies, each time coming back for more, I hope he will write yet another tale of his travels through Europe, interestingly always compared very favourably against his Australian homeland. I won't be going anytime soon.
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on 12 August 2013
Whilst this was enjoyable to read it needed more description of the chateaux, vineyards, troglodyte dwellings etc etc. I liked the detailed description of each b&b, of special interest as I run a b&b in Normandy. It was not a book I could not put down. Not sure if this was aimed at the enthusiastic cyclist or the lovers of France but it did manage to offer interest to both parties. I found the description of the mountain climbs particularly interesting being a keen follower of Le Tour on television. Perhaps just a bit more content would have been good
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on 9 August 2013
I read this on my busy commute to work. It was a beautiful escape from being stuffed on a tube in central london. Im going to take up cycling now as a result.
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on 20 April 2013
I am a real armchair cyclist; I love reading of other people's accounts of the trips I dream of making. I am also a confirmed Francophile, so this book appealed to me on a couple of fronts.

The author has written a large number of children's books, and is able to create accurate word pictures of his experiences and environment without using overblown prose. The book is little more than a diary of his route, his diet, his accommodation and his Alpine pass accomplishments; such an account could easily become dry in the hands of a writer who is less skilled, but certainly not in this case. I found myself eagerly turning the pages to explore and share his journey.

If you are contemplating a cycle tour that goes anywhere near the route along the Loire, or into the French Alps, you could do worse than read this book for the information on places to eat and sleep. It is more than just a simple travelogue though, as the author provides the reader with an antipodean viewpoint of France, her gastronomic delights, and her cycling pleasures.
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on 17 September 2013
just an ok read. really let down because there are no photographs(no not a single one), no maps and no planning tips.....just how was all the accommodation booked for instance ? as it was all obviously booked in advance........cost of travelling was also high for a cycle tour.....approx 70-100 euro a day for all the good food/drink and accommodation..........
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