Books on ProvenceGuest Post

House Sitting Near Saint-Tropez Turns into a Book

 “Thirty-five minutes from St Tropez”

I first learnt of the concept of house-sitting on holiday in 2006. We had rented an apartment in a lovely house just south of La Garde Freinet, a small town in the Var, about twenty minutes from Saint-Tropez. I realised that house-sitting might be a great idea for us as my husband is very practical, we both love animals, and we’re caring and considerate – all good traits for the ideal house-sitter.

Jane Dunning Author @JaneDunning

A year or so later, I found an advertisement for ‘gardiens’ required to look after four dogs and a large house with pool on a vineyard, coincidentally, just north-east of La Garde Freinet. After a series of phone calls and perusal of the house’s website, followed by a meeting with the owner in London, we arranged to arrive at the house the following January. After a few days training by the permanent guardians, we were left in charge.

It was the narrow roads around the vineyard that sparked an idea, and I can remember feeling sure that I could make a story from that initial thought. The notion was further cemented when we drove to a small town called Collobrières, famed for chestnuts, and, while trying to take a shortcut, we ended up on an un-made road with a steep drop to one side.

Monaco Casino Monte Carlo @JaneDunning

Monaco Casino Monte Carlo


The vineyard became the setting for the story; the four dogs HAD to feature just as they were, and I invented a fictional family was who lived in various parts of Provence, Monaco and London. I’ve been fortunate enough to explore the South of France fairly thoroughly, making it easier to imagine their lives in Monte Carlo and Juan-les-Pins although I had to stretch my imagination when describing a meeting with Monagesque royalty and life on a superyacht!

Many of the characters’ experiences, I took from real life. A friend of a friend lived in Juan-les-Pins, a close friend of mine was widowed and was in the process of re-finding love, and a friend’s son worked on superyachts. This all helped me with my story.

Juan les Pins #FrenchRiviera @JaneDunning

Juan les Pins

It was a rewarding experience to be able to write about the beautiful scenery around the vineyard and Provence in general, the wonderful markets and, of course, ‘the dog stories’ as I call them. My imagination also sent the characters on trips to other parts of Provence and into Italy, and it allowed them to fall in love!

I am currently writing the sequel, which will probably be called ‘Shattered Provençal Dreams.’ In the first book, life was pretty good for all concerned but things are about to change!

Kindle book cover flowers @JaneDunning

My four-month stay at a vineyard in Provence inspired me to write my novel Thirty-five minutes from St Tropez, which is available on Amazon Kindle. If you do not have a Kindle, it is still possible to download it to your laptop or tablet.

My Facebook Page is where you will find information about my book together with numerous photos and ‘shares,’ many featuring Provence.

Should you be interested in finding out more about our free house-sitting service, we have a page on the house-sitting website, Mind My House.

Please share this with friends and family.

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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).


  1. blank
    Jane Dunning
    October 23, 2015 at 5:40 am — Reply

    I’m so glad to share the background to my novel and also the photos of some of the places featured in the story.
    I must now get round to finishing the sequel!
    Best wishes
    Jane Dunning

    • blank
      October 23, 2015 at 10:35 am — Reply

      Hi Jane: Thanks for sharing the outline of your novel, its now officially on my must read list!

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