The Existential Englishman


The Existential Englishman is both a memoir and an intimate portrait of Paris ­- a city that can enchant, exhilarate and exasperate in equal measure. As Michael remarks: ‘You reflect and become the city just as the city reflects and becomes you’. This, then, is one man’s not uncritical love letter to Paris.

Intensely personal, candid and entertaining, The Existential Englishman chronicles Michael’s relationship with Paris in a series of vignettes structured around the half-dozen addresses he called home as a plucky young art critic. Having survived the tumultuous riots of 1968, Michael traces his precarious progress from junior editor to magazine publisher, recalling encounters with a host of figures at the heart of Parisian artistic life – from Sartre, Beckett and Cartier-Bresson to Serge Gainsbourg and Catherine Deneuve. Michael also takes us into the secret places that fascinate him most in this ancient capital, where memories are etched into every magnificent palace and humble cobblestone.

On the historic streets of Paris, where all life is on show and every human drama played out, Michael is the wittiest and wickedest of observers, capturing the essence of the city and its glittering cultural achievements.


The Existential Englishman is available in the UK from BloomsburyAmazonDaunt, Hatchards, Waterstones, and all other good booksellers. The Paperback edition is available now from Bloomsbury and Amazon UK.


“If you’re interested in art, or writing, or Paris, it will ring bells in your head. I loved it” – William Leith, Evening Standard

“Peppiatt’s account of his bohemian life in Paris is full of colour, character and charm … Peppiatt has an aesthete’s love of life, and there are vivid descriptions of food, drink and romance here that both enrapture and inspire. This enjoyable book works best as an account of a lifelong love affair with the Parisian streets … The Existential Englishman offers elegant proof that Michael Peppiatt’s powers of observation remain undimmed and acute” – Alexander Larman, Observer

“In many ways, it’s a wonderfully heartening success story” – Andrew Lambirth, The London Magazine

“A vivid memoir of Paris through the decades, this very personal account of the French capital brings its places and people alive” – The Connexion, Editor’s Choice

The Arts Desk, The Art Newspaper, The Australian Book Review, The Connexion, The GuardianThe ObserverLondon Evening Standard, The London Magazine, The Literary ReviewThe Daily TelegraphThe Sunday TelegraphThe Times, Times Literary SupplementThe Spectator, The Financial Times, The Oldie and Winged Words