A young New Yorker, David is enchanted by the idea of turn-of-the-century France and enamoured of Claude Monet. A sudden stroke of luck allows him to embark on a cargo ship to France. When he sets foot on the run-down container ship, he soon discovers that the luxury liners he had dreamed of are a thing of the past. His old-fashioned vision of France is also quickly shaken by the sight of smokestacks awaiting him on his arrival in Normandy, and by the Nikes and baseball caps young people are wearing. As he searches for the place where Monet painted The Garden of Sainte-Adresse, the young American gets lost in a desolate suburb named after the artist and encounters a most unexpected part of the French population which is light years away from the sophisticated image he had fancied.
Continuing his journey to Paris, which at first strikes him as an unfortunate architectural anachronism, David meets Ophélie with whom he had been corresponding from New York. Her artistic and eccentric personality helps him recreate the world he had imagined, a lost world full of fantasy, art and poetry. Thanks to Ophélie, he stumbles into the Parisian cultural circle, where he somehow gains notoriety for his opinion on contemporary France. Soon, he finds himself the darling of the media, appearing on TV shows and writing articles for the society pages.
One day, his path crosses that of a depressed Frenchman in his forties who has always dreamed of America. With humor and wit, Benoît Duteurtre leads us on the delectable adventures of these two modern men as they discover two of the most famous urban capitals, New York and Paris, and two fascinating cultures.
Winner of the 2001 prix Médicis.