It’s a pleasure to have a visit today from Canadian author, Paul Shore, who currently lives in one of my most favourite places on the planet (apart from the south of France, of course) … the magnificent mountain community of Whistler, British Columbia.
Paul has written a delightful memoir, Uncorked, about the year he spent in France living in Saint-Paul de Vence ~ another stunningly beautiful venue. He did not realize his good fortune when he first discovered he was going to live in this ancient hilltop village. But the affection he gradually developed for his temporary home is obvious as his tale unfolds.
The charm of Saint-Paul is widely known and it is a popular stop (to say the least) during tourist season, with its close proximity to the Côte d’Azur. However, when visiting during quieter times, one understands immediately the lure that drew so many famous people to stay here (Chagall, Miro, Bracque, Picasso, Yves Montand and Simone Signoret ~ to name just a few.)
Saint-Paul de Vence is also the home of the iconic restaurant and inn, La Colombe d’Or. Its history is well worth reading and informs more about the charm of the area.
But today our story is all about Paul and pétanque.
PSands ~ How did you come to live in the village of Saint-Paul de Vence?
PShore ~ I was assigned by the software startup company I was working for to relocate to the Nice area because our largest business partner, Texas Instruments, was based there. I told the relocation agency, who had been hired to find me a place to live, that I wanted to live in a small village, rather than living directly in Nice. The first apartment they showed me that wasn’t a run-down mess was in Saint-Paul, and I jumped at it because the town was quaint and I needed to find a place to quickly, so that I could get on with my work. Little did I know what an amazing place I was about to live in, or that Marc Chagall had lived there for much of his life.
PSands ~ Why did you want to play pétanque?
PShore ~ I love games that involve coordination and strategy and, just by watching, it was clear that pétanque required both. I also was having a hard time making friends and breaking in to French culture, and I thought that if I could learn this game that might change.
PSands ~ How did you meet Hubert and get him to teach you pétanque?
PShore ~ Hubert was a neighbor, who ran the town’s website, so we connected easily over our common interest in technology. Getting him to teach me pétanque was difficult though. At first he didn’t want to teach me because I was a foreigner. After a lot of persistence (and nagging) on my part, he finally agreed to teach me… in the dark of night, when nobody would see.
PShore ~ After having been accepted as a good player, who deeply understood the game and its importance, I was surprised one day to be invited into the private member’s club that no tourist ever is allowed to set foot in. I was then presented with a permanent membership card that I still cherish to this day. With this little card I was welcomed into the local pétanque fraternity, with a kiss on both cheeks, by one of the respected older female players, who I had always looked up to. I will never forget the emotional moment that deep honor was bestowed on me!
PSands ~ You write with a wonderful wry wit and yet you manage to always show respect for French culture. How do you maintain that balance?
PShore ~ I make frequent use of self-deprecating humor to tell anecdotes that find humor in my missteps rather than needing to poke fun at locals. And when I do happen to poke fun at a local or at a local tradition, I make it clear that I am fond of the very quirk that I am targeting.
Thanks so much for visiting my blog, Paul. It’s an absolute pleasure to get to know you and share your work here.
Paul Shore is an award-winning author and technology industry veteran, who has worked around the globe. His second book, “Uncorked”, is an Amazon Best Seller, a Whistler Independent Book Award Winner, and a Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist.
Note to readers ~ The game of pétanque is played every day in every city, town, village, hamlet throughout France. Everything you ever wanted to know about the game of pétanque, or boules, is explained in great detail in Paul’s book. He leaves no nuance left unturned! For the first time, I actually understood the game after reading Paul’s book.