InspireKeith Van Sickle

How to Bring French Culture into Your Life Virtually

Oh, to be in France in the spring! My wife and I live part-time in St-Rémy-de-Provence but had to cancel our travel plans this year. Now we are sheltering-in-place and yearning for sunny days in the South of France.

But all is not lost! We are still connected to la belle France virtually and you can be, too. Here are some ideas to get you started.

French Tourism and…Murder?

Want to travel around France and solve murder mysteries at the same time? Then you’ll enjoy Murder In…, now in its fifth season. Each episode takes place in a different part of France (Murder in Burgundy, Murder in Lille, etc.) with lush photography that makes you wish you were there. The show is unique in that it features a different cast each week, and it gives you a chance to see a bit of France while you try to identify the killer. The English subtitles are especially well done—extra-large for easy reading.

Top French Movies

Amelie French Movie Cover Amazon

Amélie is one of the most popular French films ever made. If you loved it, then check out these five other charmers, like Love Me If You Dare (Jeu d’enfants) starring Marion Cotillard. You can find more with this list of feel-good films about France and this list of all the French films on Netflix. And if you’d like something more bite-sized, a recent French film festival has put all of its short films online for free.


Bureau des legends

French television has improved in the last few years, producing some excellent series. My favourite is Call My Agent! (Dix Pour Cent) about a Parisian talent firm and the crazy things that happen in the entertainment world. Each episode features a real French actor, like Jean Dujardin and Juliette Binoche.

Two other shows that have been big hits in the English-speaking world are the spy thriller The Bureau (Le Bureau des légendes) and Baron Noir, a political series that’s a cross between House of Cards and The Sopranos.

You can learn more about these shows here.

French Books Worth Reading

If you love Provence, as I do, there is no better writer than Peter Mayle, whose book A Year in Provence put the region firmly on the tourist map. Another author who does a wonderful job of taking you to Provence is Patricia Sands, whose novels like the “Love in Provence” series are a delightful form of escapism. Then there’s the brilliant Mark Greenside, whose tales of life in small-town Brittany are so funny that my wife once kicked me out of bed for laughing too hard. And, of course, I’m rather fond of my own Provence memoirs.

Cooking and Recipes from France

How about a taste of France while we stay at home? The hot new French cookbook is Dinner in French by Melissa Clark, the esteemed food writer for the New York Times. And if you are longing for a taste of the south, look no further than Perfectly Provence and its outstanding recipe directory, with everything from drinks and appetizers to main courses and desserts. There’s enough here to keep you busy until you can be back in France for real!

Provencal Daube Lamb Stew Côte du Rhône Wine

Image Credits:

Murder In: From the show’s website
Amélie: Amazon
Bureau des Légendes: from the show
A Year in Provence: Amazon
Dinner in France: Amazon
Lamb stew: Perfectly Provence, of course!


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Keith Van Sickle

Keith and Val Van Sickle made their first trip to Provence decades ago, and it was love at first sight. After that, they came back every year until 2008, when they began a part-time life there, splitting their time between Provence and California.

Over the years, they’ve travelled all over Provence, seeing sights both well-known and obscure. Their French friends have introduced them to favourite restaurants and wineries and picnic spots and taught them funny local expressions (not all for polite company).

Keith now shares this local knowledge in his new book, An Insider’s Guide to Provence. Packed with the Van Sickles’ favourite things to see and do, it’s a must-have for anyone travelling to this glorious corner of France.

Keith previously published two books about the couple's experiences in Provence. One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence, and Are We French Yet?, both are available from Amazon.

You can see all of Keith’s blog posts at Life in Provence.


  1. Richard Stedman
    May 5, 2020 at 12:56 am — Reply

    Hi Keith

    I hope this finds you well. Thank you for your latest email most entertaining and I am going to watch the Murder in…. series. I live in the UK and would love to read your books but they are not available to purchase here on kindle. Is there another place to get them? Thanks all the best and stay safe

    • May 5, 2020 at 7:24 am — Reply

      Hello Richard, Enjoy the Murder in…series. I will make sure that Keith sees your message. Thank you, for reading Perfectly Provence.

  2. May 5, 2020 at 11:01 am — Reply

    Hi Keith. Thanks for the recommendations. I’m going to check out the show Murder in… I had no idea this even existed.

  3. May 5, 2020 at 11:05 am — Reply

    Hello Richard,

    Many thanks for your email.

    It is surprising that you are not able to find my books in Kindle format in the UK. I say that because I sell a good number of my books in the UK, in both paper and Kindle versions. Were you by chance outside of the UK when you looked for my books? I know that your location can sometimes affect the search process.

    Another alternative is to buy the books on, which is the US site. I sometimes buy books on and I think that you can move among Amazon sites but I’m not completely sure.

    I hope that helps and thank you again.

    Best regards,


  4. Laura
    June 11, 2020 at 8:00 am — Reply

    Oh I didn’t realize Perfectly Provence had a recipe section! That lamb stew and rose’ cocktails are on my list!

    We also cancelled our month in Provence so we greatly appreciate you giving us a taste!

  5. June 25, 2020 at 11:05 am — Reply

    Bon appétit !

    • June 25, 2020 at 2:41 pm — Reply

      Hi Keith, thank you for this list of virtual touch-points with France.

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