The Discovery of France

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The Discovery of France
Author Graham Robb
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Picado
Publication date
September 2007
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 454
ISBN 0330427601
Website The Discovery of France

The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography, from the Revolution to the First World War is a book by Graham Robb. It was published in September 2007 in the United Kingdom by Picador and in October 2007 n the United States by W. W. Norton and Company. The book, a result of cycling 14,000 miles around France coupled with four years of research, is an in-depth examination of French national identity as seen through the diverse cultures and languages contained within the country.[1]


Writing for The Guardian, historian Andrew Hussey described it as an "elegant, entertaining and occasionally brilliant overview of France past and present", noting that despite Robb's academic background in French literature, it is written in the style of an accomplished novelist, and lamented that the "discovery" of this element of French history was identified by an English writer, and was yet to be "discovered" by the French themselves.[2] In the Boston Globe, Richard Eder suggested that the time spent on the bicycle provided Robb with a fresh approach to telling the history of France, but the four years he spent in the library meant there was a "conscientious pursuit" of detail within the book, covering such a wide variety of topics such as road building, touring, postcards, seaside development, spas, cave exploration, marsh reclamation, and the mountaineering vogue, which weighed the book down and detracted from the core themes.[3]

On April 28, 2008, the book was awarded the £10,000 Ondaatje Prize by the Royal Society of Literature in London.[4] It also won the 2007 Duff Cooper Prize, earning Robb £5,000.[5]

It has been translated into French under the title of Une Histoire buissonnière de la France, published by Libres Champs


  1. ^ Weber, Caroline (4 November 2007). "Tour De France". New York Times. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  2. ^ Hussey, Andrew (9 September 2007). "Liberty, equality ... and grim reality". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  3. ^ Eder, Richard (4 November 2007). "Remembrance of France past". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  4. ^ Dammann, Guy (29 April 2008). "£10,000 reward for The Discovery of France". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  5. ^ "Past winners". Duff Cooper Prize. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 

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