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The Discovery of France


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Just wanted to share information about my best Christmas present, "The Discovery of France" by Graham Robb. It is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read - a sort of social, cultural and linguistic history of France, particularly rural France. It includes masses of information that I have never read before anywhere, for example; the history of the "Cagots", the medieval apprentices' tour de France and the story of the Savoyard chimney sweeps of Paris.

I would really recommend it as a thoroughly enjoyable read and an insight into the history of ordinary (and extraordinary) people in France.



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  • 5 months later...
I agree, this is a really original history of ordinary French people.

There's loads of interesting and entertaining stuff - eg Quote from an Auvergne peasant ,whose crop had been ruined by hailstorms: "If only God was a decent bloke"


Hardly anyone outside Northern France spoke French until late 19th century. The killing off of local languages and dialects was a way the estabishment could get control.

Defintely worth reading to counteract  myths about France and its history

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Agree completely! It was on my Amazon wish-list until my kind mother-in-law gave it to me in lieu of Easter eggs this year. [:D]  Totally fascinating and a refreshing change from the fluffy, pink "We moved to France" genre.
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Absolutely fascinating and full of unusual facts. The author travelled over 4000 miles by bicycle, visiting out of the way places to interview the locals.  He describes talking to a mother in Alsace who was saying that only the "old" people still spoke the local language, yet the author noticed that she called to her child and spoke to her in Alsatian (?? spelling??) without any conscious thought.

It was interesting to read recently that local languages were to make a comeback in France and be taught in some schools.


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