Five Thousand Kilometres Through France

In the trail of the Young Lawrence of Arabia


THis Project

This project - Five Thousand Kilometres through France - is a piece of contemporary travel writing. It retraces the young TE Lawrence’s cycle journeys and uses the lens of his letters home and some of his original photographs to look at the France of today. It revisits many of the places mentioned by Lawrence and refers to his thoughts and impressions; ultimately though, it is about France seen through the eyes of a British travel writer, James Henderson, in the 21st Century.

Where TE Lawrence sent postcards and Sunday letters home to his family, I post reviews and journals of my cycle trips to give snapshots of travelling in France, I will write reviews of hotels and of restaurants and sites to visit. I will post on twitter, facebook and Linkedin. For the intellectually bereft I post photos on instagram too.

There are of course references to the young Lawrence’s journeys (I even write about a few cathedrals and medieval castles) and I highlight - literally, in yellow text - any mentions in his letters showing his interest in physical endurance and his cycling.

But how far do you take it, for authenticity’s sake? I could have ridden a three-speed sit up and beg bicycle made of steel while dressed in plus 4s, but that’s not me, that was for his age. I rode a lovely titanium touring bike, made by J.Laverack, see link below. There are a few similarities between my journeys and his, but quite a few differences too.