2023 Holiday Gift Guide Books from Provence our Recommendations
Holiday Shopping Made Easy
Are you shopping for book lovers? Here is our 2023 holiday gift guide for books from Provence for those on your list who love reading, travelling, and dreaming of France. These books are for anyone who wants a literary “dose” of Provence. Whether you have visited the region or always dreamed of doing so, this collection includes cookbooks, guidebooks, memoirs, love stories, mysteries and more. However, click here for a more extensive listing of books we have read, reviewed, and recommended.
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2023 Holiday Gift Guide
If you are looking for a more in-depth selection by genre, click on the headings below, which direct you to pages with books listed alphabetically by author’s last name.
Discover the biographies of people who lived in Provence, including the artists inspired by the region. These authors have done extensive research on their subjects. If you enjoy reading biographies or historical fiction, these titles will interest you. Each book provides insight into life in the South of France. Understand the fascinating characters who chose to live in the region and their impact on Provence.
Chanel’s Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930-1944, by Anne de Courcy, is a true-life account of Coco Chanel’s life on the French Riviera between 1930 and 1944. The book is divided into two parts: the first depicts the lives and loves of the rich and famous who visited or lived in Cannes, Nice, and Antibes during those years, while the second describes how the Second World War affected their lives and transformed France and the French Riviera forever.
The Essence of Provence: the Story of L’Occitane, by Pierre Magnan, translated from the original French L’Occitane: une histoire vraie, Denoël, Paris, France, 2001, by Richard Seaver, Arcade Publishing, New York, 2nd edition, 2012. This book is a poetic tribute to Olivier Baussan, the founder of L’Occitane, the famous cosmetics company that was among the first to use only natural ingredients in its products. The story of the meteoric rise of Olivier Baussan as he created, out of little else but an idea and the goodwill of friends, products that became a worldwide success is nothing short of miraculous. It is also the story of people believing in Olivier and helping him achieve his dreams, as he helped others achieve theirs.
Aix-en-Provence The Inside Story includes 16 chapters about this city’s long and fascinating history. Lynne’s goal is not to replace travel guidebooks but to provide deeper insight into the history of this city. “There was nothing in English that told the story of the town. Guides seem hooked on architectural features.” Her interest was also in discovering more about the city’s inhabitants, particularly the women and working classes. The book is in chronological order from ancient populations to modern-day Aix-en-Provence.
Fresh + Seasonal = Delicious. These culinary books are a few new additions to our collection. Some are cookbooks, some are culinary guides to the Provencal lifestyle, and others are invaluable resources for navigating the tantalizing markets.
Vérane Frédiani – author, filmmaker, journalist, food lover, and feminist – is a Marseille native fascinated with the multicultural diversity and culinary innovation in this 2600-year-old city. When you think of global food capitals and delicious street food, does Marseille spring to mind? If not, Taste the World in Marseille: Marseille Cuisine by the Marseillais will convince you to book a trip and stay long enough to explore the city’s neighbourhoods and discover the innovative chefs and cheffes using ingredients from around the world for their recipes.
Göran Boman, the author of The Wines of Provence – Tricolour, is based in Sweden, far from Provence’s vineyards. However, Göran is a wine lover in this book. He covers 58 wine producers and recommends 338 wines, not just rosé wines. Use the book as a guide to discovering these wines and their producers. His goal is to deepen your knowledge of everything worth knowing about the wines of Provence.
These memoirs are inspired by those who have chosen to settle in Provence for a period. Each story is different, even though the authors have all visited more or less the same geography. Some are humour-filled tales of expats trying to fit in, and others reflect the attraction of cultural differences.
Nicholas Woodsworth wrote Seeking Provence, Old Myths, New Paths about his lifestyle transition that began with a “Career Discussion.” The book starts with meeting his new boss at the newspaper’s headquarters in London, England, and then moves on to life in Aix-en-Provence. Woodsworth was not enthusiastic about the unanticipated leave of absence and permanent relocation to Provence. Regardless of whether you have visited the South of France, this book explores roads less travelled in the region and challenges at life’s crossroads.
A budding romance, a Provencal setting and voila – a love story. The following list of books only begins to scratch the surface of the women’s fiction genre. However, we recommend these authors as they write beautifully, inviting you into the lifestyle in the South of France with their prose. These books may be fiction, but these authors have “done their homework” regarding historical facts, understanding local traditions and immersing themselves in the culture.
In her second book, Jamie Beck tempts the reader with stunning Provencal landscapes and magnificent French gardens while celebrating the soft floral details. The Flowers of Provence is a romance with the plant life in Provence through the seasons.
Provence may not spring to mind as a setting for a mystery, but these authors think so. This collection of murders, thefts, drug busts and generally bad actors is for anyone who loves solving a puzzle. Settings include Provencal vineyards, art galleries, and the chic French Riviera. So enjoy diving into the pages of these novels and attempting to solve the mysteries.
Double Cross: The Second Crucifixion of Solomon Lunel by Nicholas Woodsworth hooked me in the first paragraph. At almost 90 years old, Solomon Lunel prepared his Shabbat eve meal of aioli paired with Provençal rosé, evoking memories of his days in Marseille as a younger man. He shared the supper with his son, David, a routine they had followed on Friday nights for years. With dinner finished, Solomon Lunel headed to the Lunel Foundation in Jerusalem, as this was his routine. However, that was the end of predictability!
A trip to Aix-en-Provence, France, and the chance to solve an art mystery! Rachel Selle’s characters head to Aix-en-Provence in her second novel, The European Adventures: Aix Marks the Spot, A Mystery Adventure Book for Kids, in pursuit of Mr. Aix.
The European Adventures series follows four expat children who live in Frankfurt, Germany. They travel all over Europe from their base in Germany, finding themselves pulled into mysteries and intrigues. This book is fun for children and adults alike, with a chance to discover Aix and the surrounding area while the characters solve the mystery.
Provence – Alpes – Côte d’Azur (PACA) is not only a mouthful but also has immense geography and is challenging to tackle in a short vacation or extended stay. What better way to discover local knowledge than a book written by one? Therefore, the following books are not guidebooks in the traditional sense but rather a way to find the best of the region based on these personal experiences.
Mary Kay Seales: The Beginner’s Guide to the French Riviera: Stop Dreaming & Start Packing, 2nd Edition, is a result of her 20 years of return travel to the Côte d’Azur. The Second Edition includes updates on restaurants, hotels, and day trips from your base in Nice or Villefranche-sur-Mer. It has everything you need to help plan your first trip to the land of James Bonds, movie star after-parties, mega-yachts, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
When The Anglo-French Exchange landed on my doorstep, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Dr. Allswell E. Eno’s first book. At over 700 pages, this manuscript is not for holiday goers who want to order off a menu when they visit Provence. Instead, The Anglo-French Exchange is a reference guide for intermediate-level speakers (English or French) who wish to take their language skills to the next level of proficiency. This book is designed so native speakers of either language can use it. “An essential book that promotes understanding through language.”
An Insider’s Guide to Provence is a must-have for every visitor looking for local advice. It’s like Keith Van Sickle’s Rolodex for the region. We love this regional pocket guide with local tips and amusing anecdotes. This book includes favourites – restaurants, picnic spots, vineyards, and walks. It lists what the Van Sickles do every time they visit Provence. Intended as supplemental reference material with hundreds of links to detailed articles, websites, and maps, the book is available in handy e-book and paperback versions.
How do you get a table at a romantic restaurant? Where is the best place to walk on a hot day? With so many market vendors, where do you start? Keith Van Sickle has the answers to some of those questions and many more in his latest publication, An Insider’s Guide to St-Rémy-de-Provence. So, if you are planning to be in the Alpilles, buy a copy of this handy reference guide filled with countless tips.