The Valley of Heaven and Hell - Cycling in the Shadow of Marie-Antoinette

Travel, Outdoors & Nature, History

By Susie Kelly

Publisher : Blackbird Digital Books

ABOUT Susie Kelly

Susie Kelly
I live in south-west France and write non-fiction about travelling and living in France.


Between the glitzy glitter of Versailles and the effervescent glamour of Champagne lies the beautiful but little-known Marne valley. The author and her husband set off to explore this part of France by bike. Their route traced the escape attempt of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, and led them to quaint provincial towns, as well as to battlefields and monuments marking the first heroic engagements of American troops during the Great War. Cycling wasn't Susie's forte, and there were moments of domestic strife. A gripping blend of history, travel, tragedy and humour.

A couple's journey to explore the Marne Valley by bike, and to trace the route of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI on their abortive escape attempt from the French Revolution, and their journey back to the guillotine. A mix of travel and history spiced with humour.

A Common Reader (Top 50 Amazon reviewer): As someone who enjoys reading about travel on foot or bicycle I can say its as good as any I've read and is a massively entertaining and satisfying read. 

BigAL (Amazon Top 500 reviewer): The trip covers the route taken by Marie-Antoinette and her family in first trying to escape France and the route used after their capture to return them to Paris. Interwoven with the actual travel, as Kelly and her husband cycle the route and visit sites along the way, is historical background. Buried within the story of Kelly's trip, which has plenty of conflict of its own, is a mini-biography of the French Monarch, which is full of conflict while providing the theme. While Marie-Antoinette provides a story, there is also the story thread of the actual trip. Kelly not only cycled the entire trip, but did so with her husband, camping most nights. That provides plenty of fuel for conflict as well. This was a trip I enjoyed taking through Susie Kelly's eyes, both for what I learned about the area of France she traveled, and the history involved. My backside and the muscles in my legs were much happier doing it this way, too.