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French Roll

French Roll

Misadventures in Love, Life, and Roller Skating Across the French Riviera

  • Author: Michael
  • Date Posted: Jun 15, 1981
  • Category:

A true-life adventure on roller-skates across the French Riviera – from Italy to Spain
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1981. The great ski job at the top of Germany’s highest mountain was melting with spring, and at 19, I had nowhere to go. My girlfriend was coming to Barcelona in eight weeks, my sister had a brain tumor, and I was dying to get back to the beach. I heard the South of France was nice. I wanted to see it; every inch of it.

By train, I’d miss too much and only hit the tourist spots. Cycling, I wouldn’t stop and talk with people along the way. Walking – well that’s just too damn far and boring. The smart thing to do – make that the adventurous thing to do – was to put on roller skates with a backpack, use ski poles and ski my way across the French Riviera.

French Roll is a story of:

  • Roller skating across the French Riviera – from Italy to Spain along the Côte d’Azur
  • Personal achievement despite ping-pong-sized blisters, 40 mph speed-wobbles, police arrest, love-lost, embarrassment, and wipeouts
  • Triumphant hill climbs, jubilant downhill runs
  • Côte d’Azur rollerskating
  • Making friends and enemies
  • Roller skating French Riviera
  • Staying alive on the road
  • Cross country Nordic blading
  • Being a human car, skiing the cliff roads of the South of France
  • Long-distance rollerblading rollerskating
  • Roller skating across France
  • Gap year extreme sports
  • Travel narrative
  • Coming of age memoir
  • Living abroad in Europe as an American teen in 1980
  • Working on ski lifts in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany
  • Living in Schneefernerhaus – a hotel accessible only by cable car and cog-wheel tunnel train – built into the rock on top of Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze
  • Stories of Avalon, Catalina Island, and working as a SCUBA diver in a show below the glass-bottom boat “Phoenix”
  • Nordic cross country ski summer training
  • Street Skiing
  • Roller skating with ski poles and backpack


  • Looking for the story tropes?
    • The Hero’s Journey
    • Call to Adventure
    • Road of Trials
    • Coming-of-Age story
    • Walking the Earth story
    • Road Trip story
    • One Last Field Trip
    • Bittersweet Seventeen
    • High-School Sweethearts
  • Patins à roulettes à travers la france
  • Le premier à faire du roller en france
  • Patins à roulettes à travers la france avec sac à dos

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