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Sounds like all you Francophiles out there will enjoy the book reviewed by The New York Times this weekend. Author Graham Robb, a distinguished literary historian, and the biographer of Balzac, Hugo and Rimbaud, began 10 years ago to explore on his bicycle “the country on which I was supposed to be an authority. This book,” Robb notes, “is the result of 14,000 miles in the saddle and four years in the library.”
Another review on "The Discovery Of France: A Historical Geography From the Revolution to the First World War" (Norton) from Times Online.