20 000 Years. Or the big history of nature

Original title: 20 000 ans: Ou la grande histoire de la nature

Publication Date:

October 2018



Original language and publisher

French | Actes Sud

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia


Animals & Nature

20 000 Years. Or the big history of nature

Original title: 20 000 ans: Ou la grande histoire de la nature

  • 2 Seas represents: English (US & Canada), Dutch and Nordic rights
  • Winner of the Prix Le Goût des Sciences 2018.


(Mondes Sauvages)

We suffer from ecological amnesia: people forget France’s beautiful, bountiful environment. It is taken for granted. Today its rarity has become the exception.

Amid the world’s wonders of nature – tropical coral reefs, rainforests, the African savannah – France also has its own spectacular, majestic natural world.

Nature has a history intimately intertwined with mankind. In this trans-disciplinary work of unrivalled scope, the author invites readers to travel back through time to discover the wonders of France’s natural world from 20,000 BC to the present day. Hidden from view we discover nature at work and its legions of salmon swimming inland as far as Strasbourg, the sturgeon and porpoises of Paris, the seals basking on the beaches of Deauville and Saint Tropez, the lagoons of Roussillon and their whales, and the chamois and ibexes frolicking in the rugged cliffs of the Marseille calanques.

The book essentially looks at the role of nature in history, painting the natural backdrop to France’s great moments of the past, positing animals and plants as forgotten heroes. In this work we go in search of the unsung champions of France, hidden away in its soils and waterways – its earthworms, mussels, beavers, poplars, oak trees and more. With its lively style, the book is full of fascinating anecdotes about the biology and ecology of all species, but also about the people who recorded their heroics. It is an ode to the great potential of wild France. For these heroes are still very much with us and around us and are simply waiting for our cue to flourish and perform grandiose marvels as well as precious services to our ecosystems.

Biologist and ornithologist, Stéphane Durand participated in Jacques Perrin’s cinematographic adventures as co-author and scientific advisor since 1997.