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Passion for Provence by Gayle Smith Padgett

Book jacket of Passion for Provence by Gayle Smith Padgett shows lavender fields and bottle wineThis book is truly a celebration of the south of France, its land and seascapes, people, gastronomy, and traditions.

When American author Gayle met Ralph, it was love at first sight.

When Ralph was offered a job in Heidelberg, Germany, they decided to marry. The move to Germany gave them easy access to France. They travelled around the country, taking in Paris, Provence and magnificent Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy. Their lovely honeymoon and holiday experiences grew into an appreciation of La Belle Vie and everything it encompassed, but especially a deep love of Provence.

A colourful celebration of the South of France

Two decades later, the couple having successfully applied to live in France, found themselves searching for the perfect French home to rent. Their starter apartment in Aix-en-Provence, although tiny, gave them the perfect opportunity to enjoy immersing themselves in the daily life of the area. They discovered the culture, beautiful landscapes, traditions and of course food, whilst exploring the quaint and picturesque villages. They house sat and made friends from all over the world. And they learned a lot about living full time in France including the necessity to deal with a lot of paperwork. But also the friendliness of the French people, and their tolerance of less than perfect French, as long as you are trying.

A couple of years later Gayle and Ralph moved to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. They explored the wonderful ports and picturesque islands like the Île de Porquerolles (AKA island of bicycles). And they learned, as every foreigner in France quickly realises, a misheard word can lead to a totally different outcome than was expected. Ralph a keen birdwatcher, loved discovering the wide diversity of beautiful bird life in the region. Their travels took them not only locally but further afield to places like Monte Carlo.

Fly-on-the wall look at life in France

In this humorous and colourfully written story, the South of France is bought alive by the author’s vividly descriptive penmanship. She treats her readers to fly-on-the-wall glimpses into all parts of French life. From the sometimes alarming (until you get used to them) lack of inhibitions of the French, to their wonderful culture.

Her 22 Keys to La Belle Vie, can be found at the end of the chapters. These priceless little anecdotes will be cherished and remembered by visitors and would be residents of France. Having lived here in France for many years I can honestly say they are all true gems!

Written in an honest and open manner the tale is totally captivating. Whether you want to know what the South of France is really like because you want to holiday there, you are thinking of buying or renting, love a good story, or are a complete Francophile, this is the book for you. Highly recommended!

5 Stars

Available from Amazon.

French Bookworm, an author and book reviewer, lives in the Loire 

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