My Good Life in France ~ Janine Marsh ~ pre-order

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

I’m SO excited to share this news with you! May 4th is the publishing date for this long-awaited memoir by Janine Marsh!

Even more good news is that the book is available for pre-order on Amazon right now! Click here to purchase your copy of My Good Life in France.

As we all know, Janine is the founder and editor of the fabulous The Good Life France website and ezine. For all of us who love to dream about France and read about and see photos of and plan trips to and … well, you know … there’s no better resource!

And now Janine tells the entertaining story of how her life in France all came to pass. I was fortunate to receive an advance copy and am happy to share my review here with you:

 5*****

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the publication of Janine Marsh’s memoir, My Good Life  in France, and was honoured to receive an ARC for an honest review. It’s no surprise that this book is everything readers hope it will be. With her sharp insight after many years as an ex-pat in France and her engaging sense of humour, Marsh takes us on the bumpy road of highs and lows restoring a “truly awful” (her words) property in the north of France that captured her heart. 
 
Through the author’s eyes and experiences we discover the (relatively unknown to tourists) Seven Valleys area in the Pas-de-Calais, which is now on my “must visit” list. Easily drawn into Marsh’s entertaining narrative by her sharp observations and warm-hearted nature, we get to know her neighbours, the local traditions and her growing family of dogs, cats, and assorted feathered friends.
 
Thank goodness for an understanding husband who is also an enterprising craftsman. There are challenges that would deter most from staying the course. Yet not only do the Marshes survive, but a brilliant new career path is born.
 
This book is a delightful read that I highly recommend.
Click here to read an earlier post when Janine visited my blog.
If it’s cool and rainy in your part of the world, as it is in mine today, pour yourself a warm cuppa (a hot toddy sounds good to me!) and lose yourself in the pages of The Good Life France Spring Magazine. You’ll be glad you did!
Bon weekend!

Reading suggestions for our 2017 France tour

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

 

 

Our 2017 women’s tour of Provence is just weeks away! I know the time will fly by and can’t wait to greet the sixteen women when they arrive in Nice on June 6. Our beautiful Hotel Beau Rivage, is just out of this photo to the left. The vieille ville (old town) and colourful daily market are located there as well, footsteps away. So this will be our ‘neighbourhood’ for six days before we move on to Avignon for another six days of exploring the countryside of pastoral Provence. Lavender will be in bloom!

One of the great features of this tour is that we only move once. From our base hotels, we have wonderful day trips with well-trained guides and bus drivers. My friend, author Susan Sommers, and I are along to ensure that everyone is happy and organized every day. We have the best time!

I recently sent some reading suggestions to the group in advance of their arrival in France and I thought I would share the books with you too. You may well be familiar with the titles as they are favourites of mine that I frequently recommend. Enjoy!

 

Click here for Kristi’s book.

Click here for Ted’s book.

Click here for Anne-Marie’s book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you love the south of France like I do, you would enjoy reading all of these books too.

Of course, #PeterMayle is the writer who began it all … back in 1991! Click here for A Year In Provence.

Whether you are preparing to visit France or not, you will find hours of reading pleasure in these books!

 

 

Of course we’ll be visiting many of the beautiful locations written about in the Love in Provence series. Most of the women on our tours have read the stories of Katherine’s adventure in France and it’s great fun to experience their enthusiasm as we visit the special places they have discovered in the books. Antibes is a highlight!

 

 

Where have you taken vacations in books? And did you actually visit those places at another time? 

 

 

 

Joyeuses Pâques~Happy Easter~Chag Sameach~Passover Wishes ~ et bon weekend to all🌷🌷🌷

April 1st and Chocolate Fish in France ~ no joke!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

imagesApril Fool’s day is tomorrow. Imagine my surprise the first time I was in France on April 1st and found children sticking paper fish on my back, whispering and giggling and then hollering “poisson d’avril”!

Excusez-moi? Fish?

As Wikipedia explains: “In Italy, France and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s back as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages (pesce d’aprile!, poisson d’avril! and aprilvis! in Italian, French and Flemish, respectively). Such fish feature prominently on many late 19th- to early 20th-century French April Fools’ Day postcards.

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April-Fools-vintage-Image-TheGraphicsFairy.com

I had no idea where the tradition began and, after a bit of searching, found this explanation on France Travel Guide.

“Although the origin of April Fools is obscure and debated, the most widely accepted explanation actually credits the “holiday” as starting in France. The most popular theory about the origin of April Fool’s Day involves the French calendar reform of the sixteenth century.

The theory goes like this: In 1564 King Charles IX of France reformed the calendar, moving the start of the year from the end of March to January 1. However, in a time without trains, a reliable post system or the internet, news often traveled slow and the uneducated, lower class people in rural France were the last to hear of and accept the new calendar. Those who failed to keep up with the change or who stubbornly clung to the old calendar system and continued to celebrate the New Year during the week that fell between March 25th and April 1st, had jokes played on them. Pranksters would surreptitiously stick paper fish to their backs. The victims of this prank were thus called Poisson d’avril, or April Fish—which, to this day, remains the French term for April Fools—and so the tradition was born.”

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poisson d’avril

Boulangeries and patisseries deliciously get into the spirit with fish-shaped goodies. Oh … and did I mention the chocolatiers? Schools of fish of all sizes fill shop windows, the larger ones often filled with smaller treats. To a chocoholic, fish never tasted so good!

Since Easter usually falls around the same time, fish feature predominantly in shop windows through that holiday as well.

Maybe we should adopt a symbol for April Fool’s Day in North America, so there would be a good excuse to buy special chocolates on that day over here. Not that we ever really need an excuse for chocolate …

Wherever you are, have fun on April 1st and enjoy some chocolate.

My friend, author Margo Lestz, has this tidbit to share on her blog about April 1:

“The annual “April Fish” in Nice, France ~
The city of Nice has its own special April Fool’s joke. Normally there is a cannon shot every day at noon from a hill overlooking the town. (It’s really a firecracker, but it used to be a cannon so they still call it one. You can read more about it here.) This noonday boom alerts the people of Nice that it’s lunchtime and it goes off every day at exactly noon. That is, every day except on April 1st when the “cannon” goes off one hour early and everyone is thrown off schedule. If you are in Nice on April 1st listen carefully after the boom and you might be able to hear a shout from the hilltop – “April Fish!”

Take some time and visit her website, The Curious Rambler, for entertaining posts about traditions and history based on her extensive travels in France, Italy and England.

Are you a prankster on April 1st or do you just grit your teeth and hope the day will pass quickly? Is there one April Fool’s Day joke in particular that you will never forget?

Eat cake like a king!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

If you are in France, it’s again time to celebrate  … oui …  bien sûr … more food! Don’t you love it? This time it’s all about a rich, almond cream (frangipane) enveloped by layers of light, flaky pastry (feuilleté).

Another joyful opportunity to bring friends and family around the table to share La Galette des Rois/The Kings’ Caketakes place on the first Sunday of January or January 6th and recognizes Epiphany, the arrival of the three wise men (Magis). This special pastry’s history can be  traced to Roman times.

During the French Revolution, the name was replaced with ‘Gâteau de l’Égalité’ (equality cake), as the word ‘king’ was a little out of fashion!

It’s so popular, many patisseries make the scrumptious cake through the entire month of January.

The cake is cut in the specific number of slices for the people present, with one extra symbolic slice for the first poor person passing by. The youngest child  (or the most innocent adult, if no children are present, which can result in great hilarity) goes under the table and calls out who will receive each slice to ensure fair distribution. The greatest excitement comes when one person discovers la fève (a lucky charm) hidden in a single slice.

Bon appétit!

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Click here to read an excellent account of the history and traditions of this special fête by my friend, Margo Lestz.

And speaking of food, have you signed up for the BECOME A FRENCH FOODIE IN 30 DAYS course with eFrench Café? Check with Ida Young-Bondi and see if you can still squeeze in!

Lost in the Camargue …

If it’s Friday, it must be France … 

Recently, I’ve been spending my days in the intriguing Camargue region of the south of France … well, on paper anyway … working away on my new novel and heading toward the January 15th deadline when it is due on my Lake Union editor’s desk.

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It was a thrill to spend some time in this Rhône River delta in June doing research for my story. This description might not fit your classic image of France:  you’ll find gardiens, what we might call cowboys, on white horses that run wild in the salty marshland when not being put to work herding the famous black  bulls;  ancient villages where gypsies gather each year to keep alive legends of old;  salt flats teeming with pink flamingos and other bird life. The region is part of UNESCO’s network of world biosphere reserves.

Here are a few photos from the Camargue and an excellent article to give you more information. Please be sure to scroll to the bottom and watch the video.

With your permission, I’ll save my words for my novel (for now) and get back to writing! I hope this little peek at the Camargue will make you eager to read the new story when it is published … looks like late 2017 at the moment! Bon weekend!

Memories of the Pays Basque

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Every few months, I post a photo journal for the #LLm emagazine. I love taking the time to loiter in my photo albums and choose which destination I’ll  take you to visit. I hope you enjoy this brief stay in  the Basque country of southwest France. Put your feet up, click on the link and take a mini-vacation without leaving home.

If I could, I would serve you a nice cold mug of Bob’s beer and some freshly grilled fish!

Click right here to join me!

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I LOVE Instagram! ~ Do you?

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

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Five years ago I was not using Instagram … in fact, I’m not sure I knew anyone who was. Hmm … let me google the history … okay, here’s the scoop: Instagram was founded in October 2010 by Kevin System and Mike Kreiger. After just a couple of months it had over 1 million users! In 2012, it was purchased by Facebook. Instagram now has over 300 million active monthly users! Wow! Now that’s successful! And it’s a FREE APP! YES, IT IS! 

I love that it’s free! If you’re a fan of photography, then I’m sure you would love IG too. Even if you don’t take a lot of photos, you can follow as many accounts as you like and see some spectacular galleries on every topic you can imagine. I won’t even begin to list them here.

I began my IG gallery https://www.instagram.com/patricialsands/ about two years ago and post almost every day.Of course I love to share my photos of France … no surprise there, right?  In fact, that’s probably the reason I don’t blog as much … I’m having too much fun on Instagram.

If you are on there too, I hope you will find and follow me. Be sure to say hello in the comments! I look forward to seeing what you’re posting there!

My photo on IG today (the large photo at the bottom of this post) actually took me back to a blog post of mine from 2011. I know a lot of you weren’t following me then. If  you didn’t see this post before, I hope you will enjoy it now. I’ve walked the Chemin de Nietzsche a few times now and look forward to doing it again next summer.

Come on along!

Take a hike!

Friday already? Then it must be France on my blog!

Like to hike? From serious hiking to a pleasant ramble through an astonishing variety of landscapes, France is a country amazingly well-equipped. There are over 100,000 kilometres of walking trails criss-crossing the country in all directions. It’s like a national sport! Click here to go to an excellent website with maps and more detailed information.

The following is just one small example. (You can click on the photos to see them full-sized.)

A picturesque 40-minute drive east from Antibes, Eze Bord de Mer (also known as Eze Sur Mer) is one of the most accessible places on the Cote D’Azur as the rail, road and bus links all run along its length. They create a dividing line between the mountains and the sea.  The thin strip of pebble beach provides just enough room for a few seaside restaurants on the turquoise edge of the Mediterranean. Typically the small town consists of everything from simple cottages to exclusive villas.

Approximately 500 metres (1400 feet) up the rugged corniche is the fortified perched village of Eze. With a history going back to 2000 BC, the current village dates to the 9th C. The stone structures and winding cobbled streets are well restored, with high walls and narrow paths. Today the town is full of small art galleries and boutiques and a couple of luxurious hotels as its setting, charm and ancient history make it a popular tourist destination. (But go early in the morning and you can have it to yourself.)The ancient alleyways wend their way upward to the well sign-posted Jardin Exotique Panorama. The plantings of cacti are spectacular and the view is one of the best on the Cote D’Azur, overlooking Cap Ferrat and on to Nice and Cap D’Antibes on a clear day.

These two communities encapsulate the best of both coastal and mountain worlds. Whether visiting the seaside part or the heart of the old town on the cliff, Eze offers a rich culture mixed with local traditions and a luxurious lifestyle.

The magical and unique ambiance of the town has an unforgettable appeal. But perhaps no one was more charmed by Eze than the tormented and controversial philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche.

Though he spent only a short holiday in the area in the 1880’s, the environment had a profound tonic effect on the famously troubled philosopher. “I slept well, I laughed a lot, and I found a marvellous vigour and patience”, he later recalled. He also found the inspiration for the third part of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, much of which was composed in his head (so the story goes) while hiking the steep trail from the seaside to the medieval village. The route, once a goat path, is now known officially as Le Chemin de Nietzsche or Nietzsche’s Path.

With my sister-in-law visiting us from her home in the south of Spain and our 28-year-old niece from Israel, I was eager to show them this beautiful area. Especially these two wonderful women who are always up for any adventure and turn everything into a laughter-filled event!

We took the train from Antibes to Villefranche Sur Mer and had a quick look around yet another beautiful town before catching the bus up to Eze Village. After walking around the town and taking photos at the castle ruin and the Jardin Exotique, we lunched on crepes and salad and then, water bottles filled, we headed down the Nietzsche Trail.

We talked. We laughed. We sweated. The sun was scorching but we were well armed with heavy-duty sun block, hats,  and mist-spray water bottles (LOVE these!) as well as our drinking bottles.

Winding down the corniche and through a forested ravine, the quiet trail lends itself naturally to contemplation. Birds chirped. Leaves rustled when gentle breezes made brief, welcome appearances. The gravel path crunched below our feet as the brightest yellow butterflies fluttered along with us. The sea washed the shore below, beyond the scent of pines and the many varieties of fragrant shrubs and plants that naturally fill these spaces. The clean, fresh air offered its own special brand of aromatherapy.

The path isn’t difficult but it’s not easy either. There are places where stairs have been built by France’s impressive sentier (walking trail) maintenance crews or possibly by local groups who take a keen interest in maintaining their trails. However there are also a few steep pitches and some spots where the stones or gravel are a bit loose and slippery if one isn’t careful. Faites attention!

It’s a quicker climb down than up, needless to say, and in 90 minutes, after a few brief stops to admire the changing views, we were back down in Eze Bord de Mer.  We cooled our feet in the Med and savoured a refreshingly cold brew on the beach before taking the train home.

If you ever go, take the train to Eze Bord De Mer and the 83 bus (which only comes by once an hour) to Eze Village. Wear good walking footwear and take the path down. You’ll be very glad you did.

The suggested advice when the going gets strenuous on the Nietzsche Trail?  Try repeating Zarathustra’s mantra from his own sojourn through the mountains: “You are treading your path of greatness: no one shall steal after you here.” Or take along good friends and laugh your way down.

If you have favourite places you like to hike, I would love to hear about them. The Bruce Trail? The Appalachian Trail? Whistler? Yosemite? Cotswold Way? Your own neighbourhood?

Here’s an excellent article from the New York Times about this area.

Tread your own path of greatness no matter where you are or what you are doing. Onward!

Can you believe October is almost over? I want to end this month as I began it, with a reminder about Breast Cancer Awareness.51dqik97nll-_uy250_ My friend, Erin Arbabha, is a breast cancer survivor and thriver, and has written a poignant and informative memoir about her experience. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Click right here for the link to I Have Survived.

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Allez Les Bleus in Arles!

Bonjour! We arrived in France last Tuesday and have been on the go ever since. Somehow I missed my Friday France post and now the weekend is almost over. I hope you had a good one!

Here’s a brief catch-up. Arles. In the département Bouches-du-Rhône. Two and a half hours west of Nice and Antibes, our usual destination and where we will be for July.

This is our home for the next two weeks as I research my next novel set in and around the town, as well as in the intriguing and unique Camargue wetlands to the south.

Ancient, beautiful Arles on the banks of the Rhône.  The Ligurians were here in 800 BC, followed by the Phoenicians who developed an important trading port. The Romans took the town in 123 BC. A rich and colourful history followed through the centuries. The Roman and Romanesque monuments of Arles were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981. They are visible throughout the old town now as they were 2000 years ago.

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This is the view when we step out our door. 2000 years. Concerts and festivals fill the seats today as did the gladiators in Roman times. This isn’t my first time in Arles, but the Arènes still takes my breath away.

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At night, there’s a mystical air of history coming alive.

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The medieval 16thC old town has a comfortable mix of hotels, shops, restaurants and family life. Narrow streets make driving a challenge and most are accessible only to residents. This is a town for strolling and breathing in the historic atmosphere … and if you are like me … taking photos non-stop, particularly of doors and key holes!

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The arts are alive and well in Arles.

Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles from 1888 to 1889 and produced over 300 paintings and drawings during that time. His spirit lives throughout the town and at the moment the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh has an excellent exhibit of 31 of his paintings.

How exciting to read that a sketchbook of more than ten of Van Gogh’s drawings has recently come to light and will be published in France in mid-November, 2016.

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An international photography festival has been held in the city for almost fifty years.

The Rencontres d’Arles is an annual summer photography festival founded in 1970 by the Arles photographer Lucien Clergue, the writer Michel Tournier and the historian Jean-Maurice Rouquette. It has an international impact by showing material that has never been seen by the public before. In 2015, the festival welcomed 93,000 visitors.

I’m looking forward to sharing more information and photos of Arlescanstockphoto20827137 and the surrounding area. I’m excited about the novel on which I’m working and doing my best to ensure it will be a story that excites readers too. But for now, I’m going to say à bientôt /see you soon and do what most people in France will be doing for the next two hours … watch France play Switzerland in another match in the European Soccer championships. Allez Les Bleus!

 

Are you a soccer fan? Which team are you supporting?

Party on!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

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Macarons for everyone! They go very well with champagne … and I would love to serve a glass to each and every person who helped make the launch of I Promise You This such a success last week. Thank you a million times over! Merci mille fois!

I want to send a special shout-out to all13319825_1109259932473766_2839702569582002087_n the readers in UK who, not only supported I Promise You This, but also bought The Promise of Provence in record numbers. I didn’t think to take a screen shot earlier this month, but did today to show how Book 1 in the Love in Provence series has been in the Top 100 for the past two weeks.

The online release party with BookRhythm was a lot of fun and so well-attended by readers from all over the globe, it was hard to keep up with everyone! Thanks again to all who took part and congratulations to the winners! There were a lot of you! Everyone will be notified shortly, if you haven’t already heard.

Now I’m working on my next novel and preparing to leave for France in two weeks. I know you will all be keeping me company and you can rest assured I’ll post lots of photos to help you feel you are there. I love taking you along!

Let’s start with this. Are you coming?

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Mark the dates and come celebrate!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Bonjour tout le monde! This is a celebratory week for me

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… and I hope for you too! On Tuesday, May 17th, I PROMISE YOU THIS ~ Book #3 in the Love in Provence trilogy will be released by Amazon’s Lake Union Publishing!

Thank you to all the readers who have been patiently waiting and sending me lovely messages in the meantime. I can’t wait to hear how you enjoy the next part of Kat’s journey.

There’s still time to enter the print copy giveaway that Amazon is hosting until May 17th, on Goodreads. Just click here to enter.

On Thursday, May 19, as you can see here. I’m having an online launch party, hosted by the fabulous ladies of BookRhythm ~ a topnotch author services group.  Simply go to this link to join us.

These parties are always fun … although a little crazy to follow sometimes … REMEMBER TO KEEP REFRESHING YOUR PAGE TO FOLLOW ALL THE THREADS! It took me a while to learn that.

Some of my best writing friends are joining the celebration and there will be lots of great chat and tons of giveaways! Look at this lineup (in alphabetical order) ~ Bette Lee Crosby, Jillian Dodd, Jacquie Gauthier, Linn B. Halton,  Steena Holmes, Suzanne Kelman, Toby Neal, Christine Nolfi, Liza Perrat. Definitely a good time group! We’ll be talking about a lot of new releases from these fine authors too! See you there!

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Just to get us in the mood … and because we all know we love photos like these, here are a few old favourites for your viewing pleasure.

Bon weekend everyone and I hope I will see you next week to join in the fun!

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À bientôt ~ see you next week!

 

xxxx