Reviews, sales, gratitude …

Every book review is of value to an author and always appreciated. There are times when thoughts are expressed that go straight to an author’s heart. They provide inspiration and motivation … encouragement to keep writing.

Since all my books set in France are on sale for one more week (thank you, Amazon!), I wanted to share two recent reviews with you: one for The Promise of Provence and another for Drawing Lessons.

Thank you so much, Denise Birt of Novels & Latte Book Club for this first one.

BOOK REVIEW:
The Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands
As an avid reader, I have enjoyed so many wonderful books, in just this year alone…..but once in awhile a story comes too us that leaves such an impression that it becomes part of us. This is a story so rich and wonderful and a must read for any woman who feels she has seen and felt hurt, abandonment, a sense of not belonging – life’s sting of failed relationships, loss and her own restraints which hold her from moving forward.
Looking at the cover of Patricia Sand’s, The Promise of Provence, which is delightful in its own right, you might think it to be a cozy romance or even a sweet little story of sugarey-delight….but this story holds much more than you would expect.
Patricia writes of strength, new beginnings, new experiences, family and it’s history, strong friendships along with the insertion of the most beautifully described scenery and old-world charm that will make you actually feel it’s presence.
The writing is fluid and impeccably executed. The characters are written as real and believable.
I am not one to write reviews too include spoilers and with this particular story, I feel it imperative to hold true to that.
The Promise of Provence will make you feel and experience all emotions. It is smart, funny, sassy, sad, superbly researched and of course, a most gratifying and meaningful read. A scenic stroll through life itself.
I feel this story exudes the very meaning of being true to one’s self. It wasn’t just a book I read, it was an experience.
The Promise of Provence; Book one in the Love in Provence series
5 Stars ☕☕☕☕☕
#PatriciaSands #ThePromiseofProvence
Novels N Latte Book Blog
Novels & Latte Book Club

And the same gratitude to Lynn Olsson for this heartfelt review of Drawing Lessons.

‎Lynn Olsson‎ to Patricia Sands
October 19 at 6:05 PM ·
I was lucky enough to win a copy of Drawing Lessons from Patricia Sands and I thought I would share my thoughts with you on finishing the book. Usually I race through a book to get to the end. But with Drawing Lessons I found myself almost rationing the number of pages I read each night. I didn’t want the fun to end. This is a heartwarming story of a woman faced with the tragedy of living with her huband’s dementia and who finds a way back to reconnect with her own self. Before she was a wife and mother, she was an artist. And this is her journey in rediscovering the artist she thought she’d lost. A beautiful story. Treat yourself to this one.

5*****

TO THE END OF OCTOBER:

THE PROMISE OF PROVENCE, PROMISES TO KEEP, I PROMISE YOU THIS ~ ebooks are $1.99   paperbacks are half price 🙂

DRAWING LESSONS ~ ebook $1.99   paperback $6.95

 

Memories tour/18 ~ Day 8 ~ Arles

Ahhh, enchanting, ancient Arles. After just one day here, everyone is in love with this enticing town. Yesterday we were in Sète so we would not miss the Sunday seafood market. This morning we’re ready to spend the day exploring our home base for this week, with our guide, Valerie.

I’m thrilled to hear that everyone is excited about seeing places they read about in my novel, Drawing Lessons. What a pleasure this is for me too!

Down the street from our hotel and around the corner, and we are in the heart of the town, Place de la République.

The Cathédrale Saint-Trophime, built between the 12th and 15th centuries, is our first stop.

From here we moved on to relive some of Vincent van Gogh’s brief, but prolific, time in Arles from February 1888 to May 1889. As troubled emotionally as he was, his artistry was at a high point and his spirit lives throughout Arles.

The Fondation Vincent van Gogh.


The ancient Roman presence in Arles wraps around you in a way that keeps the aura and the history alive. The coliseum, Les Arènes, and Théâtre Antique host regular events throughout the year.

And still so much more exploring to be done …

A visit to the Musée Arles Antique/Archeological Museum is a good idea to see the vast collection of artifacts, including the marble bust of Julius Caesar and the Roman barge (don’t miss the video showing the powerful story of how this undertaking was accomplished).

And then there are doors … did I mention the doors … from one extreme to the other. Doors that are impossible for my camera to resist. Would you feel the same?

And shopping … excellent shopping through the many small streets of this beautiful town situated on the banks of the Rhône.

And that evening … say no more … santé …

Have you ever been to Arles? It’s definitely high on my most-recommended places to visit.

Be sure to click on over to the website of my good friend and tour co-leader, Deborah Bine aka Barefoot Blogger. She has posted wonderful articles about many of the places we visit on our tour.

DRAWING LESSONS IS ON SALE FOR OCTOBER IN EBOOK AND PRINT! HERE’S THE AMAZON LINK. 

Memories tour/18 ~ Day 7 ~ a Sunday in Sète!

On our first morning in Arles, we met on the front terrace of our hotel Le Cloître to set off on today’s adventure. This would become a favourite gathering spot, morning and evening, under the magnificent giant Paulownia tree.

 

After a one-hour drive southwest from Arles, we arrived in the Mediterranean port and seaside resort of Sète.

Nancy McGee, owner of Absolutely Southern France, (who brilliantly organized the logistics of our tour), joined us IN PERSON ~ woohoo! Sète is her home, so who better to show us around?

With a stop at Nancy’s favourite fromager …

And on to a few other specialty shops to taste local goodies … zézettes are my favourites and check out the packaging!

Next we reached the amazing market … no question Sète is a seafood lovers’ delight … where Nancy had a sampling buffet organized …

Nancy’s buffet surprise … miam, miam (French for yum, yum …)

Next stop, lunch at the beach …

Last stop … an education in oyster farming … oh yes, and tasting … do you or don’t you?

Later that evening, back in Arles, a relaxing delicious dinner in a family-run bistrot that opened just for our group … lovely evening … with a moonlight stroll past the 2000-year-old arena, around the corner from our hotel. In Arles, thousands of years of history live all around you … c’est magique!

Le sigh …

Be sure to click on over to the website of my good friend and tour co-leader, Deborah Bine aka Barefoot Blogger. She has posted wonderful articles about many of the places we visit and this one in particular is a great post about Sète.

 

 

Memories tour/18 ~ Day 6 ~ On the move!

This morning, as we said au revoir to the stunning Côte d’Azur I heard many voices promising to return! In spite of this past week’s unforgettable experiences, there is still so much to see and do. In our comfortable private coach we made our way down the Promenade des Anglais, taking along a wealth of fine memories.

Our first stop for part of the day was Aix-en-Provence.  Steeped in history, this has been an important crossroads since the 3rd Century BC. Our drive on the busy motorway carried us past the majestic Mont Sainte-Victoire which was painted by Cézanne more than eighty times. Paul Cézanne is regarded as the most famous son of Aix, where he was born and died, and his work is celebrated there now although this was not always the case. He’s described by both Picasso and Matisse as “the father of us all”.

It was a market day in Aix (pronounced simply “ex”), with colourful vendors in stalls up and down the Cours Mirabeau selling all manner of products. Free time offered everyone plenty of opportunities to explore.

There was also time to enjoy lunch before meeting up for our walking tour. Even the tour leaders took a break in the heart of the old town!

I love the wrought iron bell towers of Provence that allow the worst Mistral to blow right through!

Famous for its fountains, universities, and support of the arts, Aix is an interesting town in which to spend some time. It’s an excellent half-way stop on the way from the coast to the countryside of Provence.

 

In the afternoon we met our guide for a walking tour “In the Footsteps of Cezanne”. It was comprehensive and well worth the time.

Les Deux Garçons began serving meals in 1792 and was a popular dining spot of Cézanne’s. It may not be the finest place for gourmet meals in town, but definitely is worth a stop for an apéro or a coffee to appreciate the historic ambiance.

After a most satisfying afternoon, our merry group continued on to our home for the next week ~ enchanting ancient Arles.  Our celebratory rooftop welcome at Hôtel Le Clôitre set the tone for the remainder of our stay. Get the idea?

There was time to rest and be ready to … yes … feast again, at dinner under the stars on the hotel’s ground level terrace. Our tapas meal was delicious and the beginning of a new adventure in this part of the Bouches-du-Rhône region.

A highlight was the surprise visit by a local musician who entertained everyone with his soul-searing renditions of Gipsy Kings songs. The original Gipsy Kings’ families are from the area around Arles and their fusion of flamenco, salsa, and pop became synonymous with the region.

   An additional surprise was a parade later in the evening, celebrating the rice harvest of the Camargue. Yes, we even for cheered tractors!

This was what you might call an extremely full day! Even so, some of the group still found time for a late night libation. The excellent location of our hotel meant it was a stroll of only a few minutes to finally fall into bed.

Be sure to visit the website of my friend and tour co-leader, Deborah Bine aka Barefoot Blogger where you will find all sorts of great articles on more places in France than you can imagine. I’m telling you … that lady gets around! Click right here!

Memories tour/18 ~ Day 5 ~with a slight glitch!

Be still my heart! On Day 5, we had a full day to wander where my heart lives … and where my Love in Provence series is set … enchanting Antibes.

This was a wonderful day of strolling the streets we’ve all read about, taking photos, picturing Katherine, Philippe and the other characters from the stories going about their lives. It was such great fun to listen to the chatter and comments. And Mother Nature continued to provide perfect weather.

 

Best fans ever!

On the search for Philippe, the handsome fromager in the Antibes Marché Provençal!

 

 

These 500-year-old doors are true inspiration, crafted for the church to give thanks for local villagers surviving a dreadful plague.

To be continued …

 

 

 

Memories tour/18 ~ Day 4

Okay, please don’t judge me ~ I’m slooooowly posting about every day on our tour. I have a lot more photos and will eventually get them into an online album. In the meantime, I’m at least compiling a (brief) daily photo journal of the wonderful memories we made together.

On Day 4, we had an easy morning with everyone free to do whatever they pleased … sleeping in, shopping, catching the Musée Chagall or Matisse, exploring the old town, or climbing Castle Hill. So many choices!

At 12:30 we met our guide Stephanie, boarded our comfy coach in Nice, and wended our way along the Moyenne Corniche, enjoying the spectacular views where the hillsides drop precipitously to the azure sea.

After a brief history concerning the stunning hilltop village of Eze, we committed to heading straight up the steep cobblestone allées to the 12thC castle ruin at the top of Jardin Exotique. The panorama from here at 1400 ft above the Mediterranean is worth the climb.

Below is another perspective of Eze that I took on a day when I drove along the Haute Corniche … a bird’s eye view.

From Eze, we drove back down to the sea and spent a leisurely afternoon exploring the stunning Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and its breathtaking gardens and dancing fountains in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

 

 

At the end of the day, another fine evening!

 

Be sure to visit the website of my friend and tour co-leader, Deborah Bine aka Barefoot Blogger, where you will find all sorts of great articles on more places in France than you can imagine. I’m telling you … that lady gets around! Click right here!

Memories Tour/18 ~ Day 3

I’m in catch-up mode! Do you ever find yourself in this situation with so many good intentions but not enough time?

On this day we began by settling into our comfortable private coach and driving up into the hills above Nice and Cannes to Grasse, the world’s perfume capital since the late 1700s. Our first destination was to tour the Fragonard perfume factory, family-run since 1926.

Next we drove along a picturesque winding road to the medieval village of, Tourrettes-sur-Loup, one of my favourite places. We had time for lunch and a quick stroll.

A half-hour later we were in the charming hilltop walled village of Saint-Paul de Vence , with its storied history of attracting artists. After talking about this fabled past during our bus ride, there was free time to stroll the cobblestone streets and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings and art galleries … and, of course, shop. Many also took the time to visit the grave of Chagall who lived there for the last 30 years of his life.

Stay tuned for Day 4!

Memories Tour/18 ~ Day 2

And away we go! Day #2 began with us exploring the old town of Nice with guide extraordinaire, Stephanie.

We ended the morning at the popular Promenade du Paillon.

Le dejeuner ~ This Niçoise favourite was a  newly discovered taste sensation by many in the group! Pan bagnat is often described as a salade Nicoise on  a bun. Nom! Nom! Miam! Miam!

After lunch it was time to climb aboard the Hop On-Hop Off Bus and travel further afield.

From the Promenade des Anglais to breathtaking Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Then back to Nice again, through the heart of the city, up and down the hills to Cimiez before returning to the sea … an impressive overview of this stunning area.

La Chaise Bleue ~ the official symbol of the Ville de Nice. To learn the history behind it, click here.

Rolling along from Nice and the Baie des Anges …

… to Villefranche-sur-Mer!

Back to Nice just in time for an apéro in the quiet ambiance of the bar of the iconic  Hotel Le Negresco. The original walnut woodwork dates from 1913 and the walls are adorned with an ancient tapestry as well as fine artwork.

Hanging out in the Royal Lounge with a melange of classical and contemporary artwork like this sculpture by Nicky de St-Phalle .

Going back to home base, Beau Rivage Hotel, in style!
And a good night to all! These night owls outlasted the others!

For more photos and additional details, please check the Barefoot Blogger’s website. My bestie, Deborah Bine, and I are having a blast sharing our love of France with the enthusiastic Francophiles on this trip … all 16 of them!

For more information about this tour and to sign up to join us next year,contact Absolutely Southern France Travel Company. It’s easy … just click on this link.

 

 

On y va ~ follow along on our 2018 women’s tour!

The fun in the south of France began in Nice today as sixteen ladies arrived from Canada, the United States and Australia. They will spend the next twelve exciting days with my good friend, Deborah Bine aka Barefoot Blogger, and me.

Day #1 ~ Dinner on the beach kicked things off tonight, with a delicious meal at the Plage Beau Rivage .

A perfect Côte d’Azur evening was the best reward after arduous hours of travel. The journey from Melbourne, Australia, to Nice was definitely the longest. So much fun getting to know everyone!

We hope you will follow along as we visit some of the beautiful historic and charming locations I write about in my novels and Deborah blogs about.  Thanks to the awesome Nancy McGee of Absolutely Southern France travel agency for putting all of our details into such an impressive package

Come join us as we make some memories for a lifetime!

Never too much of a good thing, n’est-ce pas?

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Do you ever come across something special when you are looking for something else? Then you read it or hold it in your hands to admire and remember all sorts of good things about it?

This afternoon I was sending some information about Antibes to my good friend Julie Mautner, creator of the excellent website, The Provence Post.

The next thing I knew I was re-reading this article and a wealth of great memories wrapped around me. My husband and I often drop by the Hotel Belles Rives for a meal in the exceptional La Passagère restaurant or a drink on the dazzling terrace. It’s always memorable. But the particular morning I gathered information for this article is something I will not forget.

Today I’m reposting the article I wrote for The Good Life France in 2016. If you read it then, I hope you will enjoy it again. After all, we can never have too much of a good thing, n’est-ce pas?

Hotel Belles Rives ~ Antibes southern France

Entrance of the hotel Belles-Rives in Antibes with purple bougainvillea growing round the door

The frivolous lyrics from Cole Porter’s Let’s Misbehave might very well have epitomized the mood on the Côte d’Azur when the song was published in 1927.

“There’s something wild about you child, That’s so contagious. Let’s be outrageous, Let’s misbehave!!!”

Not only was he penning the song, but quite possibly Porter was working through it while he hung out with Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. They were staying at their rented Villa Saint-Louis on the shore of a scenic cove on the west side of the iconic Cap d’Antibes. The Fitzgeralds loved partying with their Jazz Age friends. The semi-Bohemian crowd included wealthy Americans and visiting artists, writers and hangers-on. Picasso, Hemingway, Cocteau, John Dos Passos, Gertrude Stein and Dorothy Parker were just a few of the regulars. Porter was a fixture at the piano in the music room of Villa Saint-Louis, overlooking the shimmering Mediterranean.

From all accounts, notably captured in Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, along with letters, journal entries and recorded memories by others in the Roaring Twenties, the French Riviera was rather a wild place to be. It was also, and continues to be, a fabled coastline of incomparable beauty and light that inspires artists to settle there and create.

The  Belle of the French Riviera

View from the bar of the Hotel Belles-Rives overlooking the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea

Since 1929 the privately-owned Villa Saint-Louis has been known as Hôtel Belles Rives. At the time it was the only hotel on the water along the Côte d’Azur. And since 2001, the gracious third-generation owner, Marianne Estène-Chauvin has guided her beloved 5-star, 43-room gem with a clear desire to keep the best of the Fitzgerald years alive.

TO CONTINUE READING, CLICK RIGHT HERE  for the link to the entire article and photos on page 55 of The Good Life France magazine. It’s a long article but worth the read (she said modestly …). ENJOY!

It was a pleasure to spend the morning with Madame Estène-Chauvin, a charming, savvy businesswoman and artist, who loves what she does. To sit and chat and then be shown around the beloved property by her was truly an honour. Have you visited this iconic hotel?