French Language Blog

Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence” Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

If you appreciate good autobiographies, you will certainly come to appreciate a book by British author Peter Mayle entitled A Year in Provence.

Published in 1989, the story chronicles Mayle’s yearlong experiences in Provence, a geographical region in southern France. Mayle had une carrière lucrative (a lucrative career) in advertising in England but decided to leave it all behind to commit himself to a new career as un écrivain (a writer) in Provence. Accompanied by his wife Jennie, Mayle purchased a home in the village of Ménerbes and decided to write about his experiences as a British expatriate living in a new country. A Year in Provence became an international best seller, has been translated into more than twenty languages, and is the most famous of a series of books Mayle wrote about Provence.

A Year in Provence is divided into douze chapitres (twelve chapters), each one dedicated to a month of the year and covering les quatres saisons: hiver, printemps, été, automne (the four seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall). Mayle recounts his experiences learning the French language, enjoying la cuisine Provençale et bien sûr le soleil (Provençale cuisine and of course the sun), surviving le Mistral (a strong wind that can reach up to 100 km/hour) and forging long-lasting friendships avec le facteur (with the postman), les voisins (the neighbors) and les ouvriers (the workers) he hires to renovate their home.

The book is available on, but if you aren’t much of a reader, you’ll be happy to know it has been made into a TV mini-series produced by the BBC and featuring British actors John Thaw as Peter Mayle and Lindsay Duncan as his wife Jennie. Pay attention to Mayle’s vivid descriptions of Provençale food in particular. It will make your mouth water.

For those of you who have already visited Provence, you will certainly relive your experiences through this book. And for those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting the region, A Year in Provence is the next best thing.

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