A Guidebook to the Beautiful Luberon Region of Provence
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"We would like to thank you for the energy and passion
     you put into 'Provence Byways.' The guide was fantastic!"
Carl G., April 2010

There is no shortage of books on Provence these days. Whatever your interests--history, landscapes, markets, villages, hiking--you can find many useful books on every topic, most just a click away on the Internet. Here we list a handful of books that won't show up near the top when you Google "Provence," but which are among our favorites, books we return to again and again. If you are a traveler who likes to do a bit of in-depth reading before your trip, you might choose one or two of them before you go to whet your appetite for what is ahead. All but three are out of print, but are available as used copies on Amazon.
A Guide to Provence, by Michael Jacobs, 1988. When we first started exploring Provence and the Luberon in the 1990s, this was our trusted guidebook. The author lived for several years in Lacoste, in the north Luberon, where he taught art history in a study-abroad program for an American college. His book has chapters on the history of Provence, village life, the artist in Provence, the food and wine, and the Côte d'Azur. He is interesting, original, trustworthy, and lively. Though this book was originally published more than twenty-five years ago, the kind of information in it does not go out of date.
Aspects of Provence, by James Pope-Hennessey, 1967. When Englishman James Pope-Hennessey traveled to Provence in 1952 very few tourists ventured inland from the popular coastal region except perhaps to take a quick look at some Roman ruins. But Pope-Hennessey was drawn to the inland villages, and in this short but beautifully written book he evokes the Provence of that era--the villages, the people, the landscapes, the architecture. He seems to have read most of what had ever been written on Provence (in English and in French) and he gracefully weaves his knowledge of its history, art, and literature through this account of his travels.

Village in the Vaucluse, by Laurence Wylie, 3rd edition 1976. A classic study of the village of Roussillon in the 1950s (called Peyrane in the book) by a Harvard sociologist, who lived there for a year with his family in 1950. This is a detailed but lively portrait of life in the Vaucluse before it was transformed into a tourist destination. Wylie is both a sympathetic and keenly analytic observer. If you want a fuller and truer picture of the charming rustics in Peter Mayle's books, read this. It is still in print and is also available in a Kindle version.

Inside Provence, by Elizabeth DeLiso, 2013. This is a contemporary view of Provence, written by an English woman who has lived in Provence for more than twenty years. She has chosen some of her favorite destinations--Aix, Cassis, Arles, Avignon, certain Luberon viillages, St. Rémy--and in a clear and lively style gives the reader an "insider's" view through personal observations and anecdotes that only a longtime resident would have. When we visit an area that is new to us we often wish we had a local friend who could give us the inside story of the place. Inside Provence is a good substitute for that friend.
The Food of France, by Waverly Root. First published in 1958, this book is now considered a classic on the cuisine of France. In the first chapter, called "Butter, Lard, and Oil," Root divides France into three regions according to which type of fat is used for cooking. "The grease," he says, "in which the food of a country is cooked is the ultimate shaper of its whole cuisine. The olive is thus the creator of the cooking of Provence." (He names garlic and the tomato as the next two most important Provençal ingredients.) The book is organized geographically, so you can skip straight to the chapter on Provence if you want to. It is still in print.
The Markets of Provence, by Dixon Long, 1996. Subtitled "A Culinary Tour of Southern France," this book features seven outdoor markets, one for each day of the week, all of them located in the Vaucluse/Bouches-du-Rhône region of Provence. The author characterizes each market, pointing out its unique features and also describing as he goes the products that you see in most of the markets--cheeses, olives, breads, fruits, vegetables, soaps, fabrics, pottery. With lots of photographs. This is the best book on markets we have seen,
Lulu's Provençal Table, by Richard Olney, 1994. This is a cookbook, but it is also the story of a family. Author Richard Olney lived next door to the Peyraud family at Domaine Tempier, near Bandol, beginning in 1952. He begins his book with an admiring account of Lulu and Lucien Peyraud, their large family, and their efforts over the years to produce outstanding wines. Then he gives us recipes based on the simple but masterful meals that Lulu served over the years to family and crowds of friends. The book makes good reading and good meals, and is an excellent introduction to authentic Provençal cooking. Lots of photographs.