Books on ProvenceCarolyne Kauser-AbbottInspire

Holiday Gift Guide Books from Provence our 2021 List

Holiday Shopping Made Easy

Browse this 2021 holiday gift guide for books from Provence for the people on your list who love reading, travel 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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Books from Provence 2021

If you are looking for a more in-depth selection by genre, click on the headings below, which direct to pages with books listed in alphabetical order by author’s last name.

For History Buffs:

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, then these titles will be of interest. 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.

Aix-en-Provence The Inside Story includes 16 chapters about the long and fascinating history of this city. Lynne’s goal is not to replace travel guidebooks but rather 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 and, in particular, the women and working classes. The book is in chronological order from ancient populations to modern-day Aix-en-Provence.

Aix-en-Provence The Inside Story Cover


Great for Kids:

It’s easy to get a bit caught up in adult activities focusing on Provence’s cultural and historical aspects. However, there is plenty to interest children in the region. Many museums offer separate kid-friendly audioguides. These books are written for children and deliver a magical first glance at the South of France. Kids get a chance to learn about places, key characters, Roman history and Provencal customs.

After a lengthy international collaboration project, Ashley Davidson-Fisher & Martinique Louise Fisher published La Petite Josette en Provence in September 2018. This charming tale is one of the family’s visits to see the perched village of Les Baux de Provence.

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Food and Wine Lovers:

Fresh + Seasonal = Delicious. These culinary books are far from an exhaustive list, but rather a few of the ones in our collection. Some are cookbooks, some are culinary guides to the Provencal lifestyle, and others are invaluable resources for navigating the tantalizing markets.

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 inside 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 the producers. His goal is to deepen your knowledge of everything worth knowing about the wines of Provence.

The Wines of Provence – Tricolour

The layout of The Wines of Provence – Tricolour is traditional, starting with geography and wine history in the first section. Following the introduction is Terroir covering the importance of geology, soil and climate. Chapter 5 speaks to developments in the last 30 years and those organizations supporting the wine industry. The remaining 60% of the book covers all wine regions (appellations) and wine producers. Included are details about the 58 wine producers and my tasting records of 338 wines. Listed at the end of the section is each wine producer, making finding your favourite wine easier. Read more about Göran Boman here.

A Table in Paris Book Cover

Published in 2021, A Table in Paris includes 100+ Parisian restaurants, including culinary institutions Maxim’s, Bofinger and Les Deux Magots, along with surprising epicurean discoveries. In addition, the book provides insider tips and recommendations from locals and culinary experts.

Organized by arrondissement, A Table in Paris is as much a tour of the city as an epicurean temptation. Inside the covers, you discover a long list of must-try establishments, along with signature dishes. There is even room for your notes.

Paris L'Escargot Montorgueil

Besides the book, there is a series of signed limited-edition prints. Available in two sizes: 9×12 for $95 and 5×7 for $55. Explore the collection on the All Restaurants website. Please note that the prints take a few weeks to make, sign and ship. However, there is good news for last-minute shoppers. Each order comes with a unique link for a custom gift sheet that can be instantly downloaded and printed.


Design and Decor Fans:

Without a doubt is a “je ne sais quoi” style when it comes to French design, home decor and traditions. These books highlight personal approaches to the art of living and unique table setting touches for entertaining.

Exquisitely illustrated, Living in Provence is written in three languages: English, French and German. It is the work of Barbara and Rene Stoelite, a writer and a photographer, who began their careers as artists and gallery owners and collaborated on interior design articles for publications such as Vogue, Country Living, and House Beautiful. Please read Mary-Jane Deeb’s full book review click here.

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With Love from Provence:

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, these are authors we recommend 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.

Sophie Claire’s novel, Summer at the French Olive Grove (May 2021), begins far away from pretty St Pierre, a fictitious seaside village on the Mediterranean where Lily Martin is injured while working on her latest film. Forced to return to St Pierre to convalesce, Lily goes to her grandmother’s home for the summer. She returns to find Mamie visibly ageing but still attempting to play matchmaker with Lily and her childhood friend Oliver. However, fiercely independent Lily refuses to consider Oliver anything more than the boy next door. After her father’s fatal accident, Lily masked her schoolgirl crush on Oliver and buried herself in her work, avoiding close relationships in the last 13 years. Please read our review here.

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The First Noël at the Villa des Violettes was published in 2018, and it is perfect for the holiday season. This book is the first novella in a three-part series by Patricia Sands. The First Noël is a chance to reconnect with the characters from the Love in Provence series. In this book, Sands evolves Katherine (Kat), and Philippe’s love story continues. Threaded with a bit of mystery, a solid dose of holiday stress, and a wonderful “hug” of social interaction with friends and family, this novella is an engaging read. Here is the review.

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Retired and living in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence since 2011, even after a decade, Gayle Smith Padgett and her hubby Ralph continue their exploration of the region. In 2019, they embarked on “The Big Birding.” They decided the 12-month project would feed Ralph’s passion for birding and test Gayle’s logistical, writing, and record-keeping skills. Published in September 2021, The Birdwatcher’s Wife is an engaging chronicle of the couple’s quest to reach their goal.

The Birdwatcher’s Wife begins when Gayle and Ralph land at the Marseille Provence Airport on January 1, 2019. It’s the start of their Big Birding Year. Without wasting a moment, Ralph is already looking for feathered friends before they have even left the airport parking lot. Early on, Ralph is on a roll racking up some 76 sightings in the first month. Perhaps his stretch goal of sighting 200 unique birds on French soil in 12 months is far from a stretch? Find out here:

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Memoirs from Provence:

These memoirs are inspired by those who have chosen to settle in Provence for a period. What is appealing about these books is that the authors have all visited more or less the same geography, yet each story is different. Some are humour-filled tales of expats in the region. While other books reflect upon the attraction of cultural differences.

Peter Mayle kept us entertained for years. His last book is a collection of vignettes and musings about living in the South of France for 25-years. It was published posthumously in June 2018, and here is our review of this book.

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Who Doesn’t Love a Mystery?:

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 are Provencal vineyards, art galleries and even on the chic French Riviera. So enjoy diving into the pages of these novels and attempting to solve the mysteries.

The Lantern is set in the Luberon, where the author and her husband own an old house. In the novel, Les Genévriers is a fictional three-story farmhouse inspired by their own Provencal home. It is a place imbued with mystery and surrounded with extraordinary natural beauty – everyone in the village has stories about Les Genévriers as if they were a person or a mythical character. The place was not inhabited for years as ownership issues made it difficult to find buyers … until the heroes of the book acquire it. Please read this book review by Mary-Jane Deeb of The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson, Harper, New York, London, 2011.

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For the Travel and Photography Buffs:

Provence – Alpes – Côte d’Azur (PACA) is not only a mouthful, but it is also immense geography and hard to tackle in a short vacation or even an extended stay. What better way to discover some 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.

Cover Pays de Fayence

With non-essential travel to France restricted due to Covid-19, soulmates Catherine Karnow (National Geographic photographer) and Gilles Portaz (geography and history professor) spent a year apart. Finally, thanks to the “love visa,” a compassionate entry permit for non-married couples, they reunited in Provence in November 2020. They got reacquainted while touring the Pays de Fayence, the Alpes de Haute Provence’s foothills, and capturing the hilltop villages in text and images. The result is a stunning 185-page book filled with 127 photographs – Un Automne en Pays de Fayence, a love letter to this unspoilt region. The perfect gift for any Francophile or armchair traveller, buy a copy of Un Automne en Pays de Fayence here or here.

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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. Full of a local’s tips and amusing anecdotes, we loved this new regional pocket guide. This book includes favourites – restaurants, picnic spots, vineyards, walks – a list of things 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. 

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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