Although my husband and I were born in the United States, we have spent the greater part of our lives in Europe, mostly in The Netherlands. Leaving our working years and Amsterdam behind us, we settled into our huge white elephant of a house in Provence. The house had been ours for 20 years, but only as a destination for summer vacations. A friend told us, "You live in a fool’s paradise until you reside here permanently," - and was he right! Living here full time is a combination of love, frustration and amazement.
When the chicken man at our local market scolded me for not reserving one of his roasted delicacies in advance, and the flower vendor told me if I cut flowers from my garden, the stars would cry, I knew our life had changed. Complaining that our olive trees were not producing very much, our Portuguese-French tree cutter suggested I talk to them. He was serious, and I did. The next year we had 400 kilos of olives.
Rabbits and wild boars destroy our well-manicured grass. The mail lady in her yellow car gives cookies to our three dogs. Our pharmacist gives me a recommendation for my wrinkles, in a voice loud enough for all his clients to profit from.
I learn some quaint French expressions from the plumber (not however, to be used in polite society!). A long-haired hippie cries because he is cutting down a dead tree. There are encounters with temperamental painters, carpenters, masons, hunters, firemen and spiritual beekeepers.
Of course food and wine play an important role in the book. The French have very precise eating and drinking habits, quite different from our Anglo- Saxon ways. There are no restaurant recommendations, only wonderful provençal recipes from a friend, some with a delightful literary twist.
The house is the star of the book. It is a perfect example of Andy Warhol’s "15 minutes of fame", becoming much better known than its owners. Among other gigs, it has been a setting for TV soup commercials, oversize women’s clothes for a Swiss mail order catalogue and the unveiling of the newest Peugeot on the terrace, while several TV series, almost always involving a murder or kidnapping, brought film crews for weeks on end.
This is just a taste of what awaits you in Surviving Provence.
Available at Book in Bar (Aix-en-Provence) and the bookshops at the Musée Pierre Salinger (Le Thor) and Château La Coste (Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade) or on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.