From Russia to the Périgord with love

Rarely has a Brit been so well integrated into French society as Martin Walker, author of the Bruno, Chief of Police series. Jessica Knipe visits him at home in Le Bugue to talk Brexit, basset hounds and truffled brie

“Come for lunch! I’ll just throw some pâté, cheese and wine onto the table…” The invitation could not have been more French, despite the fact it was extended by Martin Walker, a Scot who has lived in Russia, Washington DC and Brussels.

We are in a wing of Walker’s home in the heart of the Périgord, Le Bugue, to be precise. We sit at a long wooden table facing a roaring wood-burning stove, surrounded by hundreds of books, most of which are historical.

An armchair sits near a selection of whiskies, and on the stove a pot of homemade beef broth bubbles away next to a vat of windfall apples, which Walker is mushing up for his chickens. On the wall, portraits of him look down on us, painted by an artist friend from his days at Balliol College, Oxford. Tucked in a corner is a picture of Walker and his wife, Julia Watson, at a White House Christmas party with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Next to that is an image of him handing Raisa Gorbachev a bouquet of flowers on May Day in Moscow’s Red Square. On the table a notebook is open, ready to welcome ideas for the next volume of the Bruno, Chief of Police series that Walker is famous for.

Not that Walker needed Bruno to find readers: not only did he work with The Guardian newspaper for 28 years, he was named “Britain’s Reporter of the Year” in 1987, has published numerous books on topics such as Gorbachev and the Cold War, and is Editor Emeritus of global news agency United Press International. 

It was during Walker’s Moscow days that he first discovered the Périgord. “As a journalist, the story in Moscow was brilliant – ...

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