Troubador The Opening Country

Released: 28/03/2021

ISBN: 9781800461277

eISBN: 9781800469204

Format: Paperback/eBook

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The Opening Country

A Walk Through France

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In this journey of discovery, John Micklewright travels the slow way, on foot, on paths, tracks and byways from the Channel to the Alps – from the coast of Normandy to the flanks of Mont Blanc. 


The Opening Country is a beautifully written account of his progress through the French countryside, an evocative patchwork of landscape, nature, history, literature, film, and – drawing on his father’s diaries that stretch back to the 1930s – of memoir. 

Always curious, absorbing all around him, ready on a whim to divert from his chosen route as he heads unhurriedly southwards. The natural world unfolds as spring turns to summer with surprises of bird song and butterflies, against a constant background of reminders of the economic and social story of rural France and of wars past. The result is an engrossing record of a classic long-distance walk through Britain’s nearest continental neighbour.  

The Opening Country is a book to fire the imagination – a call to travel slowly, to open eyes and ears, to discover and explore.

This is a charmingly understated book describing the journey on foot by John Micklewright as he crosses France from The Channel to Italy. Following to some extent a route made by his father some years before, the author takes us on his travels. The beauty of the book is the balance between personal anecdotes interwoven with historical and geographical facts - not in a lecturing manner but gently interspersed within the descriptions of sights and sounds. By the end of the book, you feel as though as you’ve been on the journey and feel the desire to grab a rucksack and walking boots and get moving. In the time of COVID-19 this is a book that lifts the spirits and brings a glimmer of future travel inspiration.

by NetGalley review


Lovely prose and beautifully descriptive, replete with flora and fauna. Good stock of history. If you are charmed by France, you will be charmed by this book - good one to add to your collection.

by Amazon review


What an engaging companion for a long walk through France, especially during lockdown. The pages are packed with friends and family, birds and butterflies, unsettling commentary and history of points en route, food and drink and lots more. I thoroughly recommend this book to Francophile walkers - and everyone else.

by Jill Saltmarsh


A wonderful read I really enjoyed following the author on his walk.He shares personal comments history and geography.His father at one point made this walk and he in a certain byway is following in his path.A view of French people of the country he walks through.Since I’m reading this during COVID It’s a lovely way to leave my home and travel to France.

by NetGalley review


John Micklewright

An academic economist, latterly professor at University College London, working on poverty and inequality with a number of books on these subjects. He lived and worked for years in Italy including a spell with the UN.



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