Ce que les lecteurs en pensent

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Grafton Books 0 586 20828 3 paperback 252pp £5.99

To judge from his picture on the book’s cover, Magnoloux is the sort of person who might cause your heart to drop if he joined you in a railway carriage. He is using sacks for panniers, has a filthy suitcase strapped to his rack and is dressed as though from a charity shop he visited several thousand kilometres ago. But suspend your prejudices, for he has a compelling tale to tell and a considerable gift for expression – particularly given that his first language is French.

He cycled about 48,000 miles (76,988 kilometers), lived on an average of £2 per day and did most of the trip on a bicycle for which he paid just £15. Given the scope of his experiences, this is actually a very slender book, each of the 30 chapters recounting his highlights in some of the 45 countries through which he journeyed.

What plans he had, he appears to have made from maps copied down by chance at frontier posts and in airports. He lived among the people whose countries’ he visited – sometimes working as a labourer to raise funds, elsewhere, giving lectures on his journey. In some respects his experiences might seem like the boilerplate expectations of such a passage – robbed at gun point, fleeced at borders, shown enormous kindness by some of the poorest people, and the opposite from a few of the richest. But he tells his tales with a compassionate authenticity that gives them all – even his few amorous encounters – the stimulating grit of quality reportage.

It would be interesting to know more about Magnoloux himself. He describes himself variously as a stonemason (at which he is clearly skilled) and an author. Throughout the book he demonstrates his ability with languages. He is able to immerse himself sufficiently to pick up some native words nearly everywhere he visits, and he provides snapshots of dialogue and their translations in half a dozen tongues. And, as no translator is mentioned, one has to assume he wrote this book in English. What he has done since then, I have been unable to discover – but would be fascinated to know, if anyone can shed some light.

He also provides only a hint at what propelled him pedalling on this lonely, frequently hungry, quest. In Tibet he found himself contemplating the motivations of the pilgrims to Lhasa.

“I wondered if, under the surface, there is such a difference between the Tibetan pilgrim who prostrates himself every three steps for 2,000 miles on his way to Lhasa and the European cyclist pushing his pedals every couple of yards for 4,000 miles around the world.

“Is religious piety the real motivation for the Tibetan? Isn’t it more general – a kind of social pressure, or the force of tradition? And isn’t it exactly the same for the European?

“To go around the world has become, for young Westerners, the social and cultural equivalent of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for medieval Christians, to Mecca for present-day Muslims and to Lhasa for Tibetans. This thirst for travel, it seems to me, is a new form of initiation, a new set of atheistic rituals…”

The result of his initiation is a fascinating picture of the world during the time of Magnoulox’ adventuring. It would also be a useful primer for anyone contemplating a similar venture. His broad-brush impressions might well help with general route planning – Muslim countries are friendly, Africa is friendly, south America unfriendly, the US friendly, but full of cars; and in India, the village crowds who mob a western cyclist make progress near impossible.

The appendices, which aim to give more practical advice to would-be travelers, clearly cannot be depended upon given that the book was published 20 years ago – but in many of the less developed countries they are probably still as useful as ever.

For those of us less adventurous, his book provides a transport far beyond the railway carriage.

PS February 09

Citations choisies, dithyrambes et…  deux éreintements pour commencer.



         « Magnouloux : sex and arrogance. (...) I suggest members of the public exercise their right to ignore his book and sincerely hope they never encounter the author on any further travels he undertakes, as he might reproduce them as two-dimensional caricatures of themselves ». Georges Fentiman, New Cyclist,1988.


(20 years later, still remembered) The worst account of a bicycle trip ever written about must surely be Bernard Magnouloux's "Travels with Rosinante," a five-year, 199-puncture journey around the world, in which the author struggled more with the language of his account than the traumas of Himalayan passes, muggings in Mexico and military dictatorships.

By STEPHEN MANSFIELD The Japan Times Online
Sunday, Aug. 17, 2008
22 years later, less severe:

Tuesday 6 July 2010 14.38 BST guardian.co.uk

Tom Allan reports blogger Morag Edwards  "Velocity M - an armchair expeditionary force"Pauline Symaniak as she left Edinburgh to begin the first leg of her expedition round the world with her bicycle. (…) As to the question, why do something like this? Pauline says she can't remember a time when she has not wanted to do it.

 "A few years back I picked up a book called 'Travels with Rosinante: 5 Years Cycling Round the World' by Bernard Magnouloux - it really captured my imagination. It's an average read but the front cover says so much. Sitting on his bike, he gazes to a distant horizon; he's dirty and dishevelled; his clothes are worn; the bike is battered. But he portrays a really strong sense of freedom, of being at ease with life and not caring for the useless material baggage that we think makes us happy. Everything he needs is on his bike. And that's what I'm looking for. That's why I'm doing this."

            « Dans les aventures imprimées de Rossinante, Bernard Magnouloux est acteur, scénariste, réalisateur, éditeur, vendeur mais pas acheteur. Pour acheter, il compte sur nous. Et franchement, il ne court pas grand risque, car du Magnouloux, ça vaut son pesant de cacahuètes ! » François Rieu, Cyclotourisme.


 "If ever a book was designed to persuade you to stop at home and leave the travelling to others, then it’s this one". Andrew Flynn, Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

            « Durant les 280 pages de son récit, Bernard Magnouloux nous fait profiter de son extraordinaire aventure qui fit de lui, tour à tour, un chasseur de serpents (...), un donneur de sang professionnel ou une vedette de télévision. (...) Un livre à conseiller à tous ceux qui rêvent de grands espaces et de rencontres originales ». P. L., Le Cycle.

            « Bizarrely appendixed, fascinatingly detailed, the book is a triumphant travelogue of terminal insanity ». Sean Thomas, The Mail on Sunday.

            « Bernard Magnouloux est fou. Mais alors, complètement fou. Et ce qui ne gâche rien, il est doté d’un sens de l’humour à dérider les plus mal lotis ». Laurence Vandoolaeghe. La Voix du Nord.

            « Like Kerouac and Kassidy, who constantly sped in a car across America only to turn back again as soon as they arrived, Magnouloux (...) is a shade eccentric. When police stop him for questioning in Peru, he has a spare cycle spoke dangling on a piece of string from the right side of his moustache. His explanation ? A side wind had been flapping the impressive bush into his mouth ». Paul Gogarty, Sunday Telegraph.

                « En voilà un qui ne roule pas les mécaniques ! Il a bouclé son tour du monde à vélo en cinq ans, 76988 km, 199 crevaisons, 27 pneus avec 20000 francs en poche, trois langues apprises en cours de route et pas mal de petits boulots obligés, mais, à l’en croire, c’était bien plus facile que de survivre dans notre société industrielle et dans nos villes ». Daniel Touraton, La Montagne.

                « But Travels with Rosinante is more than a Travelogue. It also broadens one’s geographical knowledge gives a unique insight into the politics of various African and Asian countries as they affect the natives as well as foreigners ». Debbie Chetham, Shields Gazette, Tyne and Wear.

                « (...) la plupart d’entre eux ont été invités par Nicolas Hulot. Ils ne se contentent pas de faire preuve d’un courage remarquable mais affichent aussi de singulière personnalités, à l’image de Bernard Magnouloux qui a quitté la Drôme où il était tailleur de pierres pour effectuer un tour du monde à vélo ». François Prasteau, Le Figaro.

                « Such en epic journey could so easily spawn a tome of War and Peace proportions. Fortunately, Frenchman Bernard Magnouloux resisted the temptation — instead producing a manageable book that is both highly entertaining and informative ». George Chastney, Evening Advertiser, Swindon.

                « Etonnant Bernard Magnouloux. Après avoir, voici dix ans, réalisé l’exploit de quitter la secte Moon dont il dénonça « l’endoctrinement » dans son premier livre Pionnier du Nouvel Age, il a, pendant six ans, réalisé un autre exploit (...) qui lui a valu d’être l’invité de Jean-Pierre Foucault au cours de l’émission l’Académie des neuf. Jean Durand, Le Dauphiné Libéré.

« Laughs all the way as the eccentric (and very determined) Monsieur Magnouloux cycles around the world on his faithful steed (interestingly enough, Rosinante is the name shared by Dervla Murphy’s first bike…). An entertaining tale, from struggling across Tibet with one gear to seducing Women in Africa. Well worth searching out.
www. Huw.hitchin.ukgateway.net/bikebook.htm

                « Une aventure racontée de façon alerte, prenante (…). En cette période de vacances, une saine lecture de dépaysement. Ne voyagez pas bouchon et gaz d’échappement, laissez-vous aller au plaisir du grand air et de l’effort solitaire ». C. Defour, Le Réveil du Vivarais, La Chronique.


5 years' cycling around the world... this fellow is amazing, and makes me look like a lightweight with some of his adventures. This copy is AUTOGRAPHED, and I'm including a couple of his photo postcards. Hardcover, dust jacket, very clean. A must for the library of a bicycle adventurer... $12

      (Steven K. Roberts, Nomadic Reasearch Lab, Book Sale http://microship.com/latestnews/booklist.html)


J’ai lu votre livre Tandem sur le rail » avec beaucoup de plaisir et parfois d’amusement. En voyageant ainsi dans mon fauteuil, je me suis surpris à envier votre esprit d’aventure et à fantasmer sur une éventuelle équipée... mais les mouches m’ont rapidement fait descendre sur terre. J’ai horreur des mouches ! Yves Emery, Côtes d’Armor.


If there was a Golden Age of Cycle Touring in the 1980's, Bernard Magnaloux was riding through the thick of it.

Starting in May 1982 in his native France, by January 1987 he'd covered 76,988 km on his bicycle Rosinante through Africa, Asia, and the Americas.  But forget the vast distance he covered, it's his eccentricity, humour, and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds that shine through this incredible account - he didn't seem to consider any geographic barrier to be a big problem, even crossing the Darien Gap with his bike ... my all-time favourite cycling travelogue.

www.blissonwheels.com (Jerry Webb)


« C’est avec joie que j’ai littéralement dévoré votre livre. A ma connaissance, c’est le meilleur que j’ai pu lire dans le genre. Moi-même cyclo-campeur, je le prends comme une véritable incitation au voyage » Vincent M., Bruxelles.


       (…). Ainsi, me voilà rue des écoles, vieux campeur, premier étage, rayon librairie. Je regarde... je touche... je farfouille... j'attrape... je repose... au fond, là-bas... un petit bouquin avec sur la couverture un clochard en vélo... référence Don Quichotte, Cervantès... tiens !!! quesako ? J'ouvre l'imprimé, je commence.(…)

       Comment vous dire, monsieur, ce que vous et votre voyage à représenté pour moi depuis les plus de dix années que je possède les aventures de Rossinante... une pépite brute de rêve, ici, là, sur le lit, sur la bibliothèque, dans ma poche... partout, tout le temps... comment vous dire, monsieur, le goût indicible que vous avez fait naître en moi pour le voyage sur "air", pour le voyage, le seul, celui autour de chez nous tous : la planète.(…)Merci mille fois. Frédéric Coutisson.


            (…) cela fait quelque temps que je recherche avec avidité le livre des « Aventures de Rossinante » (…) alors voilà, je me demandais si par votre intermédiaire il me serait possible d’obtenir cette « bible du voyage » (c’est en ces mots que l’on m’en a parlé), issue du cercle de la pédalerie errante et si passionnante. Votre prix sera le mien… (à voir quand même). Sébastien Kummer, Strasbourg


"Mais perso, les deux gars qui m'ont le plus fasciné, c'est Bernard Magnouloux (livre génial et truffé d'humour) et Frederic Ferchaux. Ce dernier a un site très intéressant quoiqu'un peu brouillon ( http://fred.ferchaux.free.fr ) et surtout rempli de réflexions qui remettent le voyageur et le cyclo en particulier bien en place. Ces deux personnes ont pu garder leurs distances par rapport à la médiatisation et la reconnaissance de leur projets, et cela devient de plus en plus rare !" Voyage Forum.com Olistan Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgique


"Bernard Magnouloux, j'ai pensé à lui en Turquie quand j'ai cassé mon porte sacoche et qu'il a fallut le ressouder. Bernard est parti faire le tour du monde sur un vélo pourri.... Parce que chaque fois qu'il avait eu des problèmes mécaniques, il avait fait de chouette rencontres. Avec son vieux vélo, il n'a manqué ni de problèmes mécaniques, ni de rencontres. Son livre auto-édité est à lire aussi absolument. Bernard roulait aussi avec à la place de sa sacoche de guidon, un pot de terre dans lequel il cultivait des radis... pour toujours disposer de légumes frais." Voyage Forum.com Cyclosite Silly, Belgique


"un conseil ,si vous ne devez lire que 2 livres concernant les voyages a vélo lisez les Aventures de Rossinante par Bernard Magnouloux et les aventures d'un pédaleur errant de Serge Leret qui sont les deux bouquins les plus en phase avec la réalité des cyclo-voyageurs."

cyriljeg - natcyril http://mondecyclotour.free.fr/LivreOr/


Hi, I've just finished reading Travels with Rosinante by Bernard Magnouloux, and thought it was great.
I was just curious if anybody knows of any futher books by him or a web resource of any sorts. I can't seem to find anything but think the guys is one hell of chap and want to know more.Thanks in advance.
Dharma Wheel
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Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:50 pm

Postby pedalsheep » Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:06 pm

Can't help you I'm afraid but agree its a great book and would also be interested in hearing more about him.
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Postby Ray » Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:40 pm

I picked up a remaindered copy of this ten or fifteen years ago, and enjoyed reading it - it's still on my bookshelf. To spend 5 years cycling round the world you probably need to be a bit crazy, and BM certainly qualifies in this respect. Inspiring, irritating and amusing; I seem to remember not being able to put it down.
Spending 5mins googling I came up with (among others)
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16 ... Magnouloux
http://lemondedetitus.blogs.letelegramm ... uloux.html
Set your browser to look for French language items and you get more. BM is nowadays apparently a teacher of English in Isere, so some of his writings may be in English - I'm not sure whether the English version of Travels with Rosinante is a translation or not.
Posts: 110 Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 11:10 am Location: West Yorkshire

Postby Dharma Wheel » Mon Dec 19, 2011 9:15 pm

Cheers Ray, found them but couldn't access at work. Why the heck did i ignore my french lessons?
I want to see a film based on this book. If they can have the guts to make On The Road into a film, then some crafty begger can pull this off!
Dharma Wheel Posts: 8 Joined: Sun Mar 06, 
by Wildduck » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:26 pm
Thanks for reminding me of him. Must dig his book out
and have another read!
Ce que les lecteurs en pensent

Fantastic and what an inspirational book..........I read it in the mid nineties and still have the same very battered and dog eared second hand original copy which I take with me on my travels today!

Farmer Palmer (CTC Forum January 2015).

Bernard Magnouloux’s Travels with Rosinante (1988) is by turns hilarious, observant, insane, and poetic.  The round-the-world bicycle trip genre is often just clichés with different casts and backdrops for amusement, but so many absurd things happen to Magnouloux that this one is impossible to put down.  The quick pace of the action is largely due to the writing style: relentless strings of excellent anecdotes interspersed with sketches.  At the end of the book is a wonderful (not to be confused with useful) appendix with notes and bizarre linear road maps. Thanks for the recommendation, Nathan.


If there was a Golden Age of Cycle Touring in the 1980's, Bernard Magnaloux was riding through the thick of it.

Starting in May 1982 in his native France, by January 1987 he'd covered 76,988 km on his bicycle Rosinante through Africa, Asia, and the Americas.  But forget the vast distance he covered, it's his eccentricity, humour, and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds that shine through this incredible account - he didn't seem to consider any geographic barrier to be a big problem, even crossing the Darien Gap with his bike ... my all-time favourite cycling travelogue.



Absolument incroyable : "Also I would like to mention a french neo-cynic, Bernard Magnouluox, a cosmopolitian pedalling philosopher, completly in the spirit of the greek cynic's that travelled along the continents of the planet earth with a second hand bicyle for a period of 6 years, almost without money and wrote a very interesting book on practical philosophy about it afterwards. This french guy lived as a modern Diogenes for 6 years" (http://forums.philosophyforums.com/threads/cynicism-41942-4.html)


Hilarant, à propos de, comment dire, la bosse que la selle provoque au niveau de mon entrejambe :

Here's a picture of Frenchman Bernard Magnouloux, who cycled round the world in the 70s and was an even worse dressed adventurer than James Penny.  He had a £10 a day budget, made shoes out of inner-tubes, did it on a freebie bike with a few gears..and judging by his shorts, thoroughly enjoyed himself.
Courtesy of Richard S, who hopes this image will help inspire James on his grand journey.




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