The Valley Of Heaven And Hell: Cycling In The Shadow Of Marie Antoinette


A quirky, hilarious and endearing mix of personal travel adventure and French history.

Join Susie as she embarks on a marathon bike ride through a little-known area of northern France full of history and flowing with champagne. Susie has already walked 500 miles across France (Best Foot Forward) and driven its circumference (Travels With Tinkerbelle), but cyclist she is not. By suggesting an electric bicycle that will get her through the uphill slogs, her husband persuades her that travelling on two wheels is by far the best way to see the little-known, virtually undocumented part of France they plan to explore. And so, with not a few mishaps and misgivings, it turns out.

Susie’s cycling adventure follows the route taken by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette on their abortive escape from the French Revolution and their journey back to their executions. After a hair-raising journey through Paris that nearly ends in her own execution by traffic, she finds an area of calm waterways and tranquil countryside bursting with history. Idyllic territory for cyclists. From Paris and Versailles, she wobbles on to the vineyards and champagne cellars of Epernay and Reims, then through the Marne valley, the scene of unimaginable horror and devastation during World War 1. In three weeks Susie and Terry cycle 500 miles, dining sometimes in luxury and often on weird makeshift meals in their tent. Along the way there are traumas, epiphanies, occasional matrimonial disagreements and the odd glass of champagne.

“There are a handful of authors who achieve that elusive trick of making you laugh out loud. For me it’s James Herriot, Bill Bryson and Susie Kelly.” French Entrée Magazine

“This book manages to combine history, humor and the best of travel writing all in one.” US Amazon Rev

“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.” Big Al’s Books & Pals

“A wonderful combination of travel memoir, funny anecdotes with the added bonus of weaving throughout an easily digestible history lesson.” UK Amazon Rev

“This is a book I could read again and again.” US Amazon Rev

“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.” US Amazon Rev

“When it’s funny it’s laugh-out-loud funny, and when it’s sad it is heart-breaking.” UK Amazon Rev

“This book manages to combine history, humor & the best of travel writing all in one.” US Amazon Rev

“Travel humor that makes you cry as well. Quite something!” US Amazon Rev

“Susie rides again! Susie has done it again. This is a thoroughly entertaining read combining self deprecating honest comments with lesser known historical tales and anecdotes.” UK Amazon Rev

Just loved it! In the first chapter I thought the pace was so entertaining and interesting that it would not be possible for the book to keep it up…but it does. Fun and full of detail. US Amazon Rev.