French Roll: Misadventures in Love, Life, and Roller Skating Across the French Riviera
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FROM THE ICY PEAKS OF GERMANY TO THE STEAMY BEACHES OF FRANCE
When nineteen-year-old Michael gets a letter from his girlfriend asking him to meet her in Barcelona, he quits his daredevil job at the top of the German Alps and plots a two-month solo trek across the ritzy coast of southern France—on roller skates. Even being chased down impossibly steep mountain roads by sports cars can’t keep an American teenager down, especially when he’s delivering an engagement ring… and a dark confession.
At the end of his adventurous gap year at the top of Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain, he leaves his alpine friends behind to find his inner true self and his California girlfriend, 900 miles away. With a backpack, ski poles, and roller skates, he sets out to skate from Italy to Spain, experiencing every inch of beach in the south of France.
It sounds like fun. And it was supposed to be easy.
But his first day on the road nearly kills him. And the next day, and the next. Barreling at uncontrollable speeds down a corniche road built by Napoleon through a tunnel lighted only by the maniacal tour bus on his tail, terror quickly replaces the fun he fantasized about. Michael realizes the endeavor is too risky, even for an invincible teenager.
Rolling through the Côte d’Azur, Michael finds the land of French girls and topless beaches will put his fidelity to the test. Fast women and fast roads torment him as he struggles to overcome the physical and emotional challenges of his journey to create a better man within. Seduced by the Gran Prix of Monaco, the nudes of Saint-Tropez, and the prestige of the Cannes Film Festival, he continues rolling down double-black-diamond slopes until he’s too far down the road to stop. If he can make it down the coast to rendezvous with friends, his lonely exploration of self might not be so agonizing. And if he can connect on a long-distance phone call with his girlfriend, he might finally know when and where they’ll meet, despite her father’s interference that keeps him skating blindly toward Barcelona.
Despite foot blisters the size of golf balls and steep double-black diamond hills, the casino police in Monte Carlo nor the red-carpet bodyguards at Cannes Film Festival can slow him down. Even a daring escape down the side of a cliffhanger apartment can’t stop his desire. Desperate for female companionship, Michael believes only his longtime lover can fill his empty heart. Meanwhile, the inspirational and provocative letters from the girl he met in Paris fill the void in his head.
When disaster strikes his love life and a spectacular wipeout leaves him a heartbeat away from roadkill status, Michael must emerge from his tenderfoot life to understand that growing up doesn’t mean growing alone.
Rolling over every inch of the French Riviera, the author shares a rare look at beaches undiscovered by tourist guides, pristine gems too small for hotels and too far from train stations. European history, art history, and French culture come together in this off-the-grid tale of living in the moment, creating your true self, and living to write about it.
Written by a professional jet pilot and yacht captain, this courageous and captivating ’80s memoir reveals the heart of a global adventurer with thousands of true stories, mostly about how he laughably mucked things up.