"We would like to
thank you for the energy and passion
you put into 'Provence Byways.' The guide was fantastic!"
Carl G., April 2010
A FEW OTHER BOOKS:
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
Markets of Provence, by Dixon Long, 1996.
"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
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
Lots of photographs.