Reading keeps you cool!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

La canicule ~ the heat wave ~ continues in France and many other places where you may well be. I’m hoping everyone is finding a way to stay cool although there may be times it won’t be easy. If I found myself in Antibes right now, I would be claiming that vacant striped chair! I’m happy to let you share that fantasy, if you wish.

I’ve always loved this photo, not simply because we were at my favourite Plage de la Gravette, but also because two people very dear to my heart are sitting in those other two chairs. Special memories!

Wherever you are keeping cool, I hope you are doing that while you read a good book. I wanted to remind everyone that DRAWING LESSONS continues to be on sale in the USA and the UK for .99 until July 31. If you have not read this story yet, perhaps this lovely review will persuade you. My thanks to Betty Taylor of Reading Is My Passion for this. She captures the essence of the story without spoilers.

Author Patricia Sands gives us a beautifully written story of human frailties and human strengths, of facing a major change in your life and learning to move on, of healing.
When I began this book I was expecting it to be a romance novel, but romance is actually only a small part of the story. And when it does enter the story it is beautifully done with a slow progression of two mature characters getting to know each other. But the strength of this book lies in how GREAT characters from various backgrounds with their own mix of life challenges come together to further their love of art and how they compassionately share their collective life experiences and lessons in support each other. For the main protagonist Arianna it is truly a life-changing two weeks as she struggles to come to terms with her new life.

Ms. Sands’ love of the French countryside is revealed in her stunning descriptions. I was so enthralled I just had to view the images myself on the internet – images of the walls of Aigues-Mortes, the wild horses and the enormous salt deposits of the Camargue.

I was able to totally lose myself in this delightful story and highly recommend it.

Click here to order your copy. If you love the story as Betty does, thanks so much for posting a review … and don’t ever hesitate to let me know. I enjoy hearing from readers! That’s really the best reward for an author.

I wish you a BON WEEKEND!

New release!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

I’m delighted to let you know that Book Two in the Villa des Violettes series is now available on all platforms. I hope you enjoy the ongoing adventure of Kat and her new life in the south of France.

Click right here for the Amazon.com page!

Synopsis:

The Love in Provence characters are celebrating a glorious spring on the Côte d’Azur …

There are sweet-smelling blossoms, buds bursting into bloom, explosions of golden mimosa, dazzling sunshine, a shimmering sea …

And a worrying disappearance!

A hidden past is uncovered and shocking truths are revealed. But life goes on.

Kat and Philippe welcome their first B & B guests to the Villa and are busy with other demands, all the while keeping hope alive as police search for their friend.

A special request from Simone and an unexpected appearance turn a planned motorcycle trip on Corsica into so much more.

Thank you to everyone who has already taken the time to leave a review! Every single one is most appreciated.

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring!

Joyeuses Pâques, Joyeux Pesach, Joyeux Printemps!

Whatever joyous occasion you celebrate at this special time of year, may it bring family and friends together for reflection, fellowship, food … and chocolate. Let’s count our blessings and focus on how we can help those who cannot.

In France, the traditions around Easter are quite different than most countries. Here’s an excellent article from The Good Life France (my favourite website, as you all must know by now). It is written by my friend, Margo Lestz, who will give you all the history. It begins like this … “On the Thursday night before Easter, all the church bells go silent and they won’t be heard from again until Easter Sunday.” Click here to read more.

With the tragic fire that occurred this week at the beloved Notre Dame in Paris, thoughts will also be centred on the impact that has had around the world. Whether for religious reasons or for the tremendous historical symbol it represents, the hope is that what was lost will be rebuilt. Response has been heartwarming and unifying, from the greatest to the smallest level. The heroes of that day are les pompiers, the men and women firefighters who worked tirelessly to contain the flames and those who helped save the priceless art.

This photo is from my last visit to Paris in 2015. I will be back there in September for a few days, on my way to co-lead ~ (with my BFF Deborah Bine) ~ my fifth women’s tour in the south of France … click on that link if you want to know all the great things about that adventure! I hope some day I have the opportunity to take a photo of the newly restored grande Dame.

Bon weekend everyone!

Pain, Amour et Chocolat

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Where else but France would a Valentine’s lovefest include bread? Some might look at the title and think “pain” = heartbreak, considering the love connection, but nope, not here …  le pain is the French word for bread.

This weekend, this three-day show will tempt crowds celebrating love and all its pleasures in Antibes which, as many of you know, is my favourite place on the planet. It was my home for 4 months in when I wrote the first draft of The Promise of Provence. My husband and I have returned every year since.

More specifically this show focuses on the simple pleasures of bread, love and chocolate. Click here for the 2019 information.

This may sound crazy to some but, for me, stepping into a French boulangerie (bakery) is the same as finding yourself in the most intoxicating chocolate shop.  Seriously, the display of goods in some French bakeries is like that in an art gallery.

IMHO, no one does baking better than the French – from the basic baguette, brioche, and croissant to the morning superstars of pain au chocolat and pain au raisin to the variety of round, flat and long loaves to the cakes and pastries that scream to be eaten at any time of day or night. Delicieux!

Bread has always been a staple of the French culture but nowhere was its political significance greater than at the beginning of the French Revolution. A shortage of grain due to droughts and poor farm management caused the price of bread to increase way beyond the means of the  poor who were also being taxed outrageously while the aristocracy cavorted. For some, bread was the only meal of the day. In response to growing unrest, one government leader suggested the peasants should eat straw … hmm, not a wise move … he was soon found hung in the square, his mouth stuffed with straw.

Bread riots spread and when a rumour suggested the government was hoarding flour at Versailles, the palace was stormed. Read about The Women’s March on Versailles, October 5, 1789.  King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, went by carriage back to Paris followed by an enraged mob that grew to tens of thousands, all hell broke loose and the rest is history.

This was one of the earliest events  of the French Revolution and, although it has grown into a bit of a post-Revolutionary urban myth, it proved to be a defining moment along with the  storming of the Bastille three months earlier.Click here to read more about the French Revolution and other political and social issues that brought it about.

This is a typical lineup at least twice a day, at one of my favourite boulangeries in Antibes.

After the revolution, the government made certain bread would always be affordable for even the poorest family and, as a result, bread is surprisingly inexpensive in France. Bakeries are found in every town, down to the smallest hamlet and bread is baked twice a day. Lineups are part of the tradition and very social although you need to know what you want to order when your turn comes up. Dawdling is not a good idea!

Every region of France has its own remarkable and unique stye of cuisine and that includes bread. Virtually every meal includes bread but no side plate for it … so don’t ask for one!

So here’s to love and chocolate and … well, why not … at least if you are in France … to bread!

I don’t usually eat a lot of bread but when we are in France it’s a different story and one of my mantras is “Vive le pain” as I waddle trot off to  join the lineup for our daily supply. Fortunately visiting that part of the world also involves a lot of strenuous walking and hiking so you can fool convince yourself you’re working off that croissant! Here’s a shot of our bread board on a typical day.

How do you feel about bread? Is it part of your normal diet or a once-in-a-while treat? Do you or have you ever made your own bread or pastries? Back in the day, my grandmother and my mother made bread every week. When you travel are there places you visit that serve traditional food  you love to eat?

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?

 

 

What a weekend …

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Wow! It was all happening this weekend … not just in Nice but all over France! So please excusez-moi for being a little tardy with this post.

Saturday was the biggest national holiday of the year, la Fête Nationale, which is also known as le Quatorze Juillet and Bastille Day (although the latter is a term used more by people not in France, for some reason). It’s always fun to be in Nice for this holiday. It’s a great family time and the beaches are popular gathering spots here. Normally the beaches are busy at night too as everyone enjoys the fireworks.

After the horrific attack here two years ago on the 14th, remembering and honouring those who lost their lives has taken precedence over everything else on this date. I’ve been so touched by the sensitive and emotional homage organized last year and this. Fireworks have been dispensed with, out of respect.

Today the mood changed as France played Croatia in the final game of the World Cup. Horns have been honking all through town for the last four hours after France won 4 to 2 over Croatia. Flags are waving all along the Promenade des Anglais and cries of Allez les Bleus fill the air, as soccer (le foot as it’s called here) fans celebrate the win. It’s been twenty years since the last one!

July also means one more given in France ~ le Tour de France is underway! I’m in awe of these athletes. But even if you are not interested in the race, watching every day is a wonderful way to feel like you are taking a trip to France. The countryside and towns the tour visits are featured in a beautiful way. Here’s the map of this year’s course in case you want to follow along. I will! Click on the map for a larger view. 

And to top off the weekend, I had to start packing! Our stay in Nice is over for this summer and it’s time to get back to Toronto. Normally I would be in serious whining mode now. However, knowing I will be back in six weeks to prepare for our women’s south of France tour, makes the leaving easier.

This past week was made even better with a visit from Nancy McGee, owner of Absolutely Southern France, who is co-ordinating our tour and my good friend and co-host on the tour, Deborah Bine (aka Barefoot Blogger). All the details are in place and we can’t wait to take this show on the road! Click here to read about the Memories Tour. 

Have you followed all this exciting sporting news? Did you celebrate le Quatorze Juliet? What are your summer plans? Are you coming on a tour with us in 2019?

 

So much to do, so little time …

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Bienvenue juillet! July … here so soon! So many photos and so little time to organize them.

Setting aside the Promenade and the Med for now, I’m fascinated by the details of the splendid Bourgeois, Belle Epoche and Art Deco architecture in Nice. Strolling around each day, never fails to bring a new discovery.

And then there was a day in intriguing medieval Entrevaux … another peek … If you recall, that’s the town where I set the beginning of Book 2, Promises To Keep. After my husband and I accidentally visited there, I couldn’t take this village out of my mind. I just had to write about it. It was great fun to go back this past week with friends and find it has not lost its mystique.

 

And I haven’t given you a peek from Antibes yet, but I’ve got to get back to writing! Next week, Antibes.

I’ve realized I should put all the photos into their own albums or slideshows and then make them available for those who want to see them. Another project! Are you finding your summer is filled with projects too?

Celebrate the Summer Solstice!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

I love being in France for June 21! It’s officially summer, for one thing, and the longest day. Although I must admit summer seems to have been well established on the Côte d’Azur for several weeks now. The weather has been magnifique!

Not only do we welcome the Summer Solstice at this time, but throughout France, since 1982, La Fête de la Musique is celebrated in every community big or small. From a single performer on a street corner to groups of all sizes … choral, instrumental or a combination thereof … there is music. The whole town turns out and age is not a factor ~ young or old, it’s usually a late night filled with laughter, song and general bonhomie. Great fun!

All this week, Place Massena has been closed off as the stage for the biggest concert of the fête was being constructed. Security measures were also being put in place to ensure the safety of everyone.

 

We decided to watch from the comfort of our living room as the entire event was televised. The weather was perfect and everyone appeared to have a fine time right up until it ended around 1 a.m.! It was a pleasure to watch such a joyful event. You can get an idea from this shot taken of our television screen. The lighting became more spectacular as the evening wore on. A fête indeed. Bravo, la ville de Nice! 

I‘m excited about the new exhibit “Matisse, Picasso and their models“, opening tomorrow at the Musée Matisse. Click this link for an excellent website, Best of Nice Blog, to see what options you have for getting to the museum. Whatever information you would like about Nice, can pretty much be found here.

It’s a beautiful building, n’est-ce pas? Well worth a visit at any time. Matisse had such a history with Nice and the surrounding area. This excellent article from The Good Life France gives you more details about the legacy he left here.

 

And not to be outdone in the excitement department , I’m happy to be participating in an author event, being held in Nice tomorrow.  Here’s the info and if you are available to drop by, please do!


There are just a few days left to take advantage of this Amazon promotion. Once you’ve read Book 1, The Promise of Provence, you won’t want to miss the rest of the adventure!

Bon weekend tout le monde! Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Print copy giveaway ~ 2 days left to enter!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

FIVE PRINT COPIES OF DRAWING LESSONS ~ TWO DAYS LEFT TO ENTER YOUR NAME ~ May 20 is the deadline ~ ONE OF THESE BOOKS MAY BE YOURS!  GOOD LUCK/BONNE CHANCE

(USA only … sorry, Goodreads rule, not mine!)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

I loved writing this story, although the beginning caused me to use a few boxes of tissues. That part of the story is partially based on the true experience of a friend of mine and I felt her pain with every word. 
But the hope and happiness that grows as the story progresses, lifted my spirits as I hope it will yours. Let me know!
In case you are not familiar with Drawing Lessons, here are a few reviews to give you an idea. 90% of the reviews are 5 and 4 stars. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to leave one!
on May 9, 2018
Devastatingly tragic, yet beautifully hopeful. Patricia Sands’ novel Drawing Lessons is a story about a wife forced to face difficult circumstances. She has lost herself over the years, and gets the opportunity to attend an art course in Europe. There, she meets colorful characters and lets go of things beyond her control. She finds truth and hope in her art, and embarks on a new adventure. Sands’ characters are unique and inspiring, and her story gives the reader hope that happiness can, indeed, be found even when life’s curveballs attempt to thwart us.
on April 24, 2018
If you love France and you love reading, read Patricia Sands! Drawing Lessons is a trip to Arles in three hundred pages as a woman living with heartbreak learns the art of leading a new life.
on April 22, 2018
New to Patricia Sands books, I am fortunate to have found a new favorite. Though being a small-town girl who has never even seen any ocean, I could see, feel, and taste the beautifully written depiction of Provence and its wonders. The images will remain forever.
on April 13, 2018
Friendships in France once again came alive along with the food and wine. I loved the storyline which was sad at times but illustrated that love can come at any age or under any circumstance. Marilyn Grable
on March 25, 2018

I have to thank NetGalley for letting me have a copy of this book for my honest review. Also a big thank you to the Lake Union publishers.

This story starts out very emotional. Ben and Arianna have been deeply in love forever. They get the most devastating news that a couple can get. Ben has dementia. It did not take long for him to get to a state where he did not know Arianna any longer. Her children talked her into taking a retreat to Arles.

Arianna meets several other artists while in France and learns to live her life again. She goes through many ups and downs with guilt and finally does learn that she needs to live her life. She meets a man there who is an artist and decides to take him up on an offer to spend a few days with him on his boat before she leaves to go back home.

Arianna and Jacques de Villeneuve develope deep feelings for each other and she ends up staying longer. She goes back home to see Ben but he has no idea she’s even there or who she is anymore. It’s so hard for her that everyone decides she does not need to stay and just be upset all the time.

Arianna finds a life. She deserves to have a happy life.

Although I had a hard time reading a lot of this story, due to lots of tears, I also laughed along with the characters. They were fun and got on very well together. They all seemed to need to be where they were and together. This book is beautifully written and describes France in a way that makes you feel like you are there. It’s a very emotional book and one that will keep you turning pages until the very end. I enjoyed it immensely and would recommend it to anyone that loves a tearjerker and love story.

I look forward to reading more by this author as this was my first book by her.
It was a definite 5 star book

on March 4, 2018
Such a wonderful and moving book as you travel to the South of France. It’s one you will not want to put down.
on March 2, 2018
I discovered the book and author through French Word A Day. Kristin recommended it and I ordered it on Kindle for my iPad. I enjoyed reading the novel on our holiday in Mexico. The well written book delighted me because I love France, French, Food, Art, and Romance.
on February 13, 2018

Drawing Lessons is a fantastic portrait of a woman in her sixties, who suddenly must face suffering and loss, and fight again for her dreams. Patricia Sands has wonderfully presented all her characters. She has drawn them, like in a painting. While I was reading, I could actually see them, and all her descriptions have such strength and delicacy.

Years before Arianna Papadopoulos Miller have abandoned all her artistic dreams when she and her husband Ben decided to manage the family restaurant which represented all the hopes of her father, Nikos and the anchor to their Greek origins. Now with Ben’s illness, everything is going to change, and after about two years in dealing with this situation, her family encouraged her to take part in an artists’ workshop in Arles, France, to finally rediscover her dreams and herself.

This challenge could be a new beginning for Arianna, a deserved second chance to observe in a new perspective all the events which have colored her life, both joyful and painful. In Arles, Arianna will learn to share her story and emotions with new courage, thanks to a wonderful group of artists that will live side by side in the amazing atmosphere of the Mas des Artistes. Juliette, Bertie, Barbara, Joan, Lisa … you will like every individual of this colorful group. In fact, each one with different and sometimes painful experiences will receive and give support to the others, not only in the artistic field.

I really enjoyed reading about Arianna and her family and all the love and enthusiasm which made the Papadopoulos Miller family bond so special. Patricia Sands is really an acute and emotional observer. I appreciate her talent in describing with so many details not only her characters’ personalities but also the beautiful panorama, that give you a perfect glimpse of Arles and surroundings.

Drawing Lessons is a very heartwarming and touching novel about love, dreams, being faithful to open our heart and soul to new opportunities, and don’t be afraid to rediscover all the colors’ beauty and their numerous nuances.

 

Amazon gift card and five print copies!

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

TGIF, everyone! It’s the weekend again! What are your plans?

I’m starting to think about packing for France … eleven days to lift off!

As soon as this stunning scenery of the Côte d’Azur comes into view, I feel like we are home. It’s always a thrill. 🙂

Getting closer as we pass over Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat 

And the harbour of Villefranche-sur-Mer

As we pass over the old port of Nice, it’s just minutes before touchdown at the beautiful airport built right on the Mediterranean and basically downtown. Aeroport Nice Côte d’Azur (NCE) is unique and still small considering the amount of traffic it sees.

But enough of my dreaming. Back to those giveaways I mentioned …

Did you enter the big giveaway I wrote about in the last blog post earlier this week? You did? Great! I wish you the best of luck! It’s running until the end of the month so feel free to share it! Bonne chance!

This time I want to share information about two smaller giveaways. It’s always fun to win a prize, big or small. So good luck with these too!

First, I’m offering five print copies in a Goodreads giveaway. All you have to do is enter your name. One of those books might be waiting just for you!  Click right here.

And here’s the second giveaway.

We’re taking advantage of Drawing Lessons on sale for the month of May ~ Only $1.99 for ebook and $7.99 for paperback in the USA ~ if you do buy a copy, please take a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. Simply comment here, share this post, and email your proof of purchase (take a photo with your phone) to  patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com.

This contest is open for the entire month of May!
HERE’S THE LINK https://amzn.to/2wm3571

GOOD LUCK/BONNE CHANCE

I hope with all these opportunities, your name is chosen for one of the prizes. Although Goodreads limits their giveaways to USA, this second one is open to everyone as long as you order from Amazon.com. One of these days soon I will organize a giveaway good everywhere on the planet! That’s the way it should be.

Have a great weekend ~ bon weekend! Are you planning a trip this summer or going to enjoy a stay-cation? Also good! I would love to hear about it.  🙂