If it’s Friday, it must be France …

Wherever you are, I hope you are warm and safe. There are so many crazy weather patterns in the world today, we never know what is coming next. I hope this photo brings a little Côte d’Azur warmth to you!

Looking down on the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer, one of my favourite towns to wander and photograph … and eat, by the port!

But I do know what is coming next in my writing world … Book 3 in the Villa des Violettes series. The cover reveal is happening today on a few special Facebook pages like the buzzabulous A Novel Bee, the exciting book review group The Write Review and my book loving reader group, Patricia’s Readers’ Rendezvous. I’ll share more details about the new book in the next few days. I’m happy to be bringing the Love in Provence characters back to you again for a visit.

Bon weekend tout le monde!

January 6th ~ la fête du roi in France

Eat cake like a king!

If you are in France (or Louisiana, hello N’awlins!), 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). The history of this special pastry can be  traced to Roman times.

If you read my Love in Provence series, Kat first finds out about the tradition in Book #2, Promises to Keep.

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. Just don’t accidentally bit down on it … they’re usually a small porcelain or plastic trinket!

Bon appétit!


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

NEWS FLASH! The ebook of Drawing Lessons is on sale for January ~ $.99 ~ I love it when Amazon offers our books to more readers by putting on promotions. If you haven’t read this engaging story, set around Arles and the Camargue, now’s your chance! If you are one of thousands who have read and enjoyed it, pick up a copy or two for friends. It’s so easy to gift from Amazon. Happy reading! Bonne lecture! Eat it with cake. 🙂

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU 2019 IS HERE ~ YESTERDAY, AS A MATTER OF FACT ~ who knows how to celebrate wine better than the French? The third Thursday of November is eagerly awaited each year.

This morning there will be a great many people all over the world who have celebrated the arrival of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau, the first wine of the season. Click on this link to discover the history of this “cheap and cheerful” vintage, the result of Gamay grapes handpicked in the Beaujolais region of France. And, if you are wine lover, santé!

And what better to pair with a glass of wine than a good book to read? The print edition of The Promise of Provence is on sale until the end of November. Happy reading! Bonne lecture! Just click here to purchase for $7.99 ~ a great gift too! If you purchase a print copy and would like me to send you a signed bookplate, just email me your address and I’m happy to send one off to you! patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com

Be well read/red


Newsletter #71

If it’s Friday, it must be France …

It’s the first Friday in September and my bags (a carry-on and a computer bag … whoopee, I did it!) are organized as I fly to France on Sunday evening. I will be there until the end of the month and for twelve of those days I will be co-leading our South of France Memories Tour with my BFF, Deborah Bine (aka Barefoot Blogger)

I’ll be posting daily photos here and hope you will follow along. On y va!

Meanwhile, south of the border ~ Hopefully Dorian has blown out to sea and life for most is returning to the best kind of normal. For those who can help in any way with the heartbreaking reality in the Bahamas, here is a link with information.  Every little bit helps. Please share the information and let us all do what we can. 

And, in case you haven’t subscribed yet, here’s my most recent newsletter. Enjoy … and good luck with the giveaways. Bonne chance!

Newsletter #71                                                     August 27, 2019

Bonjour mes amies

Where are you spending these last few days of August? As I write this, I’m looking out a window with a beautiful view of Georgian Bay, two hours north of Toronto. A strong breeze is rustling the leaves of birch trees and a light drizzle is falling. No tennis with grandkids this morning!

And that is just as well, since I need to get this letter off to you. I always plan to write my newsletter mid-month, and then find myself scrambling to make it before the month is gone! Sigh … I’m not really a procrastinator, but things just seem to pile up. Know what I mean?

What’s piling up for me this month is a lot of writing, as I attempt to finish Book #3 in the Villa des Violettes series before I leave for France in two weeks. And leaving for France is, as you might imagine, a serious distraction. I  c a n n o t  w a I t.

The sun did come out later this afternoon and with it came a much-improved word count!


I’m going over to do this year’s South of France Memories Tour with my BFF and co-leader, Deborah Bine. Once again, we have a great group of women joining us who have all been getting to know each other on a private Facebook page. The excitement is mounting and I’ll be posting lots of photos on my blog as usual. I hope you’ll join us in spirit!

A lifelong friend is also coming on the tour, which makes it even more special for me. We treasure our girlfriends, right? Right back to when we were 19 and 20 and shared an apartment in Toronto … and then we went to Europe together for the first time … oh the memories! We are going to spend a few days in Paris first before the tour and a few days in Antibes afterward. More memories!

The header this month is one of my favourite views of Nice as the plane approaches the airport. If you have visited the south of France, you know what beautiful views you have along the Côte d’Azur with the plane at such a low altitude. The Nice airport is right in town … seriously … and simply provides a spectacular show on the way in, with the runways built out into the Mediterranean. I may have just sighed out loud as I wrote that …

This next shot is one taken right above the vieux port in Nice and after that above  Antibes on another approach. I never get tired of this trip.

While I am on the subject of travel, I want to share some exciting information about a trip my good friend (and sister Lake Union author) Steena Holmes has organized this year. After traveling there herself, she has arranged a Christmas Market cruise and many of her readers have signed up. She let me know there are just three cabins available, if you hurry!

 I would love to go on this some time! After writing about the Christmas Market in Strasbourg in The First Noël at the Villa des Violettes, I’ve wanted to revisit some of those amazing towns that transform into something even more magical in December. Steena’s cruise will go along the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland from December 4th to 11th and the return flight is from Zurich.

Click right here for the link to the trip with all the contact information.

Let me know if you go!

The giveaways this month are from three of the eleven authors in our Blue Sky Book Chat group. If you haven’t joined this welcoming community of book lovers, simply click on this link and don’t miss out a minute longer.

Giveaway #1 ~ One ebook of The Promise Kitchen and one print copy of The Welcome Home Diner are being offered. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Peggy Lampman lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and writes stories that are delicious in many ways, including food-related. She says her free time is spent herding kids and indulging in her barbecue addiction with Big Green Egg cult cookery. She also keeps her foodie fans happy at www.dinnerfeed.com

You can connect with Peggy here.

Giveaway #2 ~ Kellie Coates Gilbert is offering one ebook and one print copy of Sisters (Sun Valley series, Part 1). Kellie is a former legal investigator who was born and raised in Sun Valley, Idaho. She now lives with her husband of over thirty-five years in Dallas, where she spends most days by her pool drinking sweet tea and writing the stories of her heart.

You can connect with Kellie here.

Giveaway #3 ~ Marilyn Simon Rothstein is offering one ebook and one print copy of her hilarious debut novelLift and Separate. You may already be familiar with the great humour Marilyn brings to every conversation. Her sunny outlook is catching! She grew up in New York City, earned a degree in journalism from New York University, began her writing career at Seventeen magazine, married a man she met in an elevator, and owned an advertising agency for more than twenty-five years.

You can connect with Marilyn here.

As always, send your entry for these giveaways to patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com. Names will be chosen randomly using random.org. This month please tell us a book you read this summer that you would like to recommend. We will make a list and share it. Thanks! Good luck with the draws! Bonne chance!

It’s a pleasure to offer these giveaways from my writing friends. Thanks for the enthusiastic responses we receive each month. I’m glad you appreciate the opportunities and are so keen to enter. In case you wonder, we read every single one of your entries and appreciate them! I hope you enjoy meeting authors who might be new to you, and connecting with those you already follow. Savor their books, find out more about the writers and pass along their information to your friends.

The best way to hear about a good book is by word of mouth from dedicated readers like you. If you have time to write a short review, even better, and always appreciated.


Congratulations to last month’s winners: 

Anne Hardy 
Lesley Poole 
Margo Arel 
Barbara Pacific 
Kellie Metzker 
Diann Pickard 
Mimi Howenstine 
Sharon Losee 
Maria Styacko


Have you marked your calendar for our Blue Sky Book Club meeting on September 4th?  At 7:30 EDT we will be discussing Alison Ragsdale’s poignant new release, The Art of Remembering . See you there to share in the joy of reading and the fun of friendship.

All members of Blue Sky Book Chat on Facebook are welcome to join in and post questions and discuss. It’s a book club that you don’t have to leave home to attend. Come in your jammies!

In a recent newsletter, I wrote about the awesome Soul Safari trips organized by my good friend, author Jacquie Gauthier, who lives in South Africa. NOURISH.org is another project that is an important part of Jacquie’s life and I’m happy to share this information.

Nourish is a not for profit organization based in one of the most poverty stricken and under- served areas in South Africa.  We believe that anti-poverty is anti-poaching, and that by helping to grow healthy, educated communities with access to economic opportunities we can break the poverty cycle and impact the poaching happening in rural areas.  

 Nourish is based on five pillars: education, conservation, tourism, economic development and sustainable farming. Our projects are all interlinked to help create a resilient, sustainable community. Depending on your interests and talents you will be able to shape your volunteer experience by choosing to focus on one or more of the many projects we have going. 

To find out more visit http://www.nourishnpo.co.za

Don’t you love the giraffe photobombing this shot?

I often hear from readers who are involved in extremely worthwhile projects, both locally and far spread. It’s heartwarming, encouraging and inspiring to hear your stories in a world where we often become bogged down with bad news. So many people truly are working to make a difference in other’s lives. An excellent book I recommend to support this is Random Acts of Kindness by Dete Meserve and Rachel Greco.

And now I better get back to story writing and thinking about organizing my packing.  I’m on my “pre-France lose a few pounds regimen” now so I can indulge in patisseries guilt free while I’m away. Salads are helping! Click here for a few of my favourites from which to choose. Bon appétit!

One reason for my diet? Odette! It will be one of our first stops in Paris … right around the corner from our hotel and just up the street from the Shakespeare & Company book store (our second stop!). There will not be a newsletter in September while I’m on the road, but please do drop by my blog and join me in spirit!

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!


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?