France in the merde

Are you a francophile? Do you wax lyrical about everything French? Are you one of those Brits who jumps across the channel at any given moment, even if it’s only to re-stock the drinks cabinet?

a-year-in-the-merdeWell, I have to confess to sharing some of that. I wouldn’t go so far as to ‘wax lyrical’, but the French do many things well, and most things at least tolerably well. As a cyclist, for instance, I can vouch for the exceedingly high quality of their roads. Even small country lanes are delightfully smooth and pot-hole free.

But not everything is perfect. One day, in Pleine Fougeres, we arrived with our tandem in the car, parked in a very pleasant and convenient car park in the centre of this small town, and proceeded to decant the tandem and assemble it. Our plan was to cycle out to Le Mont St Michel.

Suddenly, Jenny pointed out that I might have trodden in some dog ‘merde’. I checked, and sure enough, I had put both my feet in it. And they weren’t just a couple of dried up, past-their-sell-by-date, type of dog turds……they were voluminous and freshly baked! I was, naturally, appalled.

So I decided to re-park the car, only to discover that every parking space sported equally large (and seemingly fresh) dog deposits, onMerde actually_th both sides of the car, placed strategically so that the unwary driver and passenger getting out of their car, will joyously put ‘foot in the turd’ unwittingly. I had to admire the local planning on this. Some one had done their sums……. It was a dastardly plan to keep British tandemists at bay.

So my ‘revenge’ was to go home and read Stephen Clarke’s A year in the merde and Merde actually. Both books transparently autobiographical, but written as fiction with Paul West as the self-serving, sex-seeking, French-bashing hero. The first book was inspired by the exceeding amount of dog ‘merde’ he encountered on the streets of Paris, but turned into an account of all the metaphorical ‘merde’ he met with settling into the French way of life. And the title of his second book manifestly betrays the similarity of the story with the film Love actually.

Neither book would ever feature, even on a long list, for a major book prize, and Paul West’s relentless pursuit of sex without ties becomes repetitive and even boring, but his prose would never tax the reading powers of the average literate reader. You can read his books in a couple of days.


About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on November 15, 2013, in Book reviews, Tandem riding and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. They used to say Amsterdam was dog poo capital of Europe – too many big dogs, too many small apartments, not enough plastic bags. Things have changed a lot now.

  2. Brian and I used to call out to each other “Poo alert!” whoever was walking in front. It is definitely an issue in the cities and you do need to be alert.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Matildas Musings

A blog written by Matilda - the "old lady" classic tandem - and her Musings about her adventures, trials and tribulations with the "old git" and Chief Pilot, aka Colin and the "old gal" and Chief Stoker (as well as Chief Engineer) aka Diane.

Fit Recovery

Stay Clean Get Fit

Northern Walker

Lightweight backpacking, hillwalking and bicycle touring adventures in Northern England and Scotland

Looking For 42

Traveling the world looking for the meaning for life (and whatever else I might find along the way)

Off The Beaten Path

All contents ©2018 Compass Cycles.

Bike 5

Five miles or less? Bikes are best!


KITESURFING, CYCLING, SUP: ramblings, idiocy and not much more

Cycling Dutch Girl

the only certainty is change


On a bicycle from coast to coast across the USA

Self Propelled

Self propelled adventures through life; blogging on cycling, touring, micro-adventures, general shenanigans, and environmental news


Cycling across Europe, Cornwall to Munich

The Vicious Cycle

A man searches for between leg shavings

2 l o v e c y c l i n g

It's about cycling ... and other travels

There And Back Again

Life at 15 miles per hour

As Easy As Riding A Bike

Well it should be, shouldn't it?

Bike Around Britain

Blog on cycling around the coast of Britain

David Noble's Blog

Life, Loves and Living


The Weston Front - the destination of a road less travelled...

The Innocent Bikestander

It can be better

Bike, Banjo & Baby

They go together so well

Something for Kiki and the Pok

the adventures of Christopher Yardin - by plane, bike, through a lens, or the eyes of a child


Cycling Blog

Richard Tulloch's LIFE ON THE ROAD

Travel adventures on wheels and legs


................."Cherry picking the nicest places in the world to cycle"

Gippsland Granny

Musings from Metung

Serendipities of life

Taking the road less travelled

I Do Not Despair

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

Tom’s Bike Trip

Adventures and experiments in two-wheeled travel

All Seasons Cyclist

Real World Product Reviews For Avid Cyclists

machacas on wheels

Taking the road less travelled

%d bloggers like this: