This article examines the English influence on the thinking of the French colonial soldier and administrator Marshal Hubert Lyautey (1854-1934) through his interactions with the colonial Governor Lord Frederick Lugard (1858-1945) and the Victorian Engineer Sir Charles Hartley (1825-1915). Whereas Lyautey's affinity for the British approach to colonial governance has long been noted, earlier considerations focussed on translated texts as the means by which knowledge of British practice was disseminated. Adopting a micro-historical approach, this essay instead scrutinises Lyautey's encounters with Lugard and Hartley, both in person and in correspondence, so as to assess their influence upon him. Consequently, it can be seen that although Lugard is held up as a cross-channel equivalent of Lyautey, whose career spanned a similar period and whose ideas and approach to colonial governance mirrored those of the Frenchman, his influence upon Lyautey was minor. In fact, following correspondence in the mid-1920s, the two men met for the first time as part of a process of rapprochement which helped to forge a new link between the pair and to position them as Franco-British counterparts. Although this episode afforded both men the opportunity to reflect on the thinking of the other, in Lyautey's case such knowledge as was acquired only reinforced ideas he had generated years earlier. Conversely, although Lyautey's meeting with Sir Charles Hartley on the banks of the Danube in 1893 was fleeting, and of consequence only to the Frenchman, it exercised a profound effect upon him. Coming at an opportune moment in his transformation from metropolitan cavalry officer to fully-fledged colonial soldier, Lyautey would return to this encounter at intervals throughout the rest of his life, highlighting its importance in teaching him about the possibilities of a life abroad and what could be realised by a capable 'man of action'. This article argues that a transnational lens allows for a deeper appreciation of the complexities of Franco-British imperial relations. The example of Lyautey's encounters illustrates that national competitors could also be individual collaborators. Depending on the circumstances, enmity could exist alongside admiration, even at times of increasing cross-channel tension.