Daniel Estermann, 70, proved age is no handicap in dealing with a 15-year-old bandit and a blade-wielding 14-year-old companion.
He and Aurelie Denise Allain-Lebreton, 32, turned their motorcycle down a lane off Viset Road in Chalong about 10pm last night and were followed by the two boys on their motorcycle.
In a dimly lit stretch of Soi Suksan 2, the boys - who cannot be named because they are minors - pulled in front then waved the french couple to a halt.
''The 14-year-old, riding on the back, got off, walked to the couple, and attempted to grab the woman's bag,'' an officer at Chalong Police Station told Phuketwan today. ''She held on and there was a tug of war.
''Mr Daniel, who is fairly large, jumped off the motorcycle and pushed the boy. At that point, the boy produced the knife.
''Mr Daniel was not backing off. He kept swinging, even when the boy slashed his hand and his ear.
''The boy ended up on the ground, thanks to Mr Daniel. At that point, the other boy jumped off the motorcycle and he tackled Mr Daniel, too.
''Mr Daniel fought him off. That boy jumped on his motorcycle and fled. Meanwhile, M Aurelie was running down the lane to the main road, yelling for help and police.
''Mr Daniel kept the first boy subdued on the ground and telephoned a friend who runs a resort in Rawai, asking him to contact the police.''
Police are holding the first boy, who lives south of Phuket City, and expect to arrest the second boy quickly. Neither of them attends school, the officer said.
Police advise people who are bailed up at knifepoint is to give the robbers what they want, not to fight back. Resisting has led to fatalities.
The French couple, who arrived on Phuket for a holiday on October 16, will provide evidence to the Prosecutor's Office today so they can leave as scheduled on November 4.