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

by Susie Kelly

214 pages  |  6 x 9

Paperback March 2015 | ISBN 9780993092299 | £9.99/$14.99

View Chapter 1


Susie follows the identical route taken by Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI when they tried to escape from the Revolution, and their journey back to their executions. After a hair-raising journey through Paris that nearly ends in her own execution by traffic, Susie finds an area of calm waterways and tranquil countryside bursting with history. Idyllic territory for cyclists. Her route takes her from Versailles 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 3 weeks Susie and her husband, Terry, cycle 500 miles in the little-explored Champagne region of northern France, 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. Keeping up appearances amongst the petite, chic French at some of Susie’s more luxurious stops creates some serious fashion moments, tempered, as always, by Susie’s good humor and resilience.


A quirky, hilarious and endearing mix of personal travel and a cycling adventure through the most turbulent and dramatic period of French history. 


“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 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


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


 “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