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A Year in Provence

(Provence #1)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  58,387 ratings  ·  2,855 reviews
National Bestseller

In this witty and warm-hearted account, Peter Mayle tells what it is like to realize a long-cherished dream and actually move into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. He endures January's frosty mistral as it comes howling down the Rhône Valley, discovers the secrets of goat racing through
Paperback, 207 pages
Published June 4th 1991 by Vintage (first published December 31st 1989)
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Pat clark I really enjoyed reading about the adventures of this couple while traveling on my way to California. I found it down to earth and funny. Who could…moreI really enjoyed reading about the adventures of this couple while traveling on my way to California. I found it down to earth and funny. Who could predict the events that might occur while trying to establish oneself in a foreign country and remodel a home at the same time? Lots of fun tales develop along the way in one couple's life. A light read. (less)

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Average rating 3.96  · 
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I read a couple of reviews on goodreads for this book and had to laugh at some of those who felt the book was whiney and written by a rich guy who could afford a super farmhouse with a pool no less! One review said that Mayle went back to England to live. Well – those reviews smack of small minded jealousy. Right now a farmhouse in France can be bought for as little as US$250,000.00; back in 1989 before this became trendy, property values were even more reasonable, especially coming from England ...more
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Hmmm...okay. I learned that:

1. With enough money you can relocate to Provence and buy a 200 year old farmhouse with mossy swimming pool, problematic pipes, and a wine cave backing up to the Luberon mountains. Wait, it gets worse!

2. Once you do this everyone who has ever vaguely heard your name and Provence together in the same sentence will attempt to visit whilst you are having a hell of a time fixing the charming antiquated house and bicycling into town. Hard times.

3. Tragedy strikes!
Nov 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-read
The next best thing to living in France, is to read this book. Loved it!

It is the first book in this genre which provided a complete picture of life in a rural French town by two Brits moving there.
Chiens de chasse are too specialised to be bought and sold across a counter, and we were told that no serious hunter would consider buying a pup without first meeting both parents. Judging by some of the hunting dogs we had seen, we could imagine that finding the father might have been difficult, but among all the hybrid curiosities there were three more or less identifiable types - the liver -coloured approximation of a large spaniel, the stretched beagle, and the tall, rail-thin hound with the ...more
Sep 30, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who wear fanny packs and read Conde Nast travel publications.
Shelves: travel

It’s sad to think that there are probably dozens of great books about people who have moved to France that were rejected by publishers so they could take this book, which is completely devoid of insights, and shove it down our throats. The book has a wonderful premise in which a British guy and his wife move to the south of France and begin a new life. I think most people who read this book didn’t need much more than that. It is mostly the tedious description of the work he does on an old house
May 09, 2011 rated it liked it
I've read quite a few negative reviews of this book, many of them focusing on the author's presumption in being able to afford a home in Provence and the reviewers' consequent inability to "relate" to him. Others see it as "trite" and not at all what they were expecting.

Well, balderdash. I found this to be a very entertaining account of the first year in a new home and a new country, with all the explorations, discoveries, disappointments, triumphs and failures that go along with it.

Would it
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, nonfiction, humor
J'adore the English sense of humor. With stiff upper lip and wry observation sprinkled with warm affection, Englishman Peter Mayle embraces a cadre of colorful characters inhabiting the warmer south of France in this memoir documenting his first year as a new permanent resident relocated from Britain to the Lubéron region of Provence.

A Year In Provence is suitably divided into twelve chapters, each devoted to one month, January through December, staging the progress of renovations on Peter and
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
4 Stars - Fantastic book, would absolutely recommend it.

There's really nothing I don't like about this book. It's short, easy to read, and such fun. Peter Mayle, the author, writes in a charming book that, in my opinion makes the people of Provence endearing. As an American, we often hear (or rather we're aware of the stereotype) how stuck-up, abrasive the French are. Albeit, I have met many-a French-person in my day and luckily I have never had this stereotype confirmed. Sure, they're
Cyndy Aleo
May 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
In the course of thinning out my book herd, I've been reading books that I haven't read in years, trying to determine whether I should keep them, or move them along. Going back to Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence was like going back to an old friend's house, but I've never been so hungry in my life as the two times I've read this book.

::: The Dream :::

Mayle and his wife live out a dream come true, dropping everything, selling their home, and moving full-time to Provence, a region of France
Oct 01, 2007 rated it liked it
This is a fun book that is literally about the first year Mayle spent in his new home in Provence. The chapters are divided into months, so a reader gets to enjoy with Mayle the seasonal changes of this beautiful region of France. Mayle understands the importance of gastronomy to the French and his food descriptions are a well written part of his story.
Mayle mentions in passing, in an almost disparaging way, people of affluence buying up property in Southern France. This perspective was
Sep 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who find things quaint
I found this book walking to the B train this morning. Someone had gotten rid of it. Don't judge me to harshly for my foray into escapism, it makes the morning commute go fast.

1 week or so later...

So I've finished it, and although it had its moments where I chuckled a bit, I really didn't find it to be the incredible, evocative travel writing that it had been cracked up to be. The food descriptions were probably the strongest part, and I have to admit I did find my mouth watering on occasion.
Julie Ehlers
May 26, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, france
In some ways it wasn't really this book's fault that I didn't like it. It came out in the U.S. in 1990 and was probably one of the first "I-lived-among-the-French-and-they-are-peculiar" memoirs. Since then, there have been countless other memoirs on this same topic, several of which I have read and enjoyed, so by the time I got to this, the flagship volume, the subject matter was a little old hat. Also problematic is that, while some of this book is composed of funny anecdotes, some of it is ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Peter Mayle and his wife finally decide to say goodbye to dreary British weather and move to sunny Provence in France. This book tells about their experiences living in Provence, from the colorful locals to the excellent food to the workmen who come and go like forces of nature.

This book had me ready to go on vacation in Provence. Notice that I don't say "move to Provence." I would starve. All those lovingly written descriptions of French food left me cold. I could survive for a week or two
Book Concierge
Review UPDATED on re-read, Feb 2019

This is a re-read and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time I read it back in 2001. What a delightful diversion! Mayle's account of his and his wife's first year owning a house in Provence is entertaining, relaxing and inspiring. I love the way he accepts his status as an outsider but tries to understand and join in with the local traditions. A few of these characters are definitely memorable, including his plumber Menicucci, neighbors Faustin and
Bookish Temptations
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Such a fabulous book. If you've never read a book by Peter Mayle I'd really recommend that you do. I've enjoyed all of his books...some of them several times.
Nov 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
3.5 stars.

Well, this was a very charming read. The whole "o hay we moved 2 provence, awesome rite?" thing wasn't nearly as obnoxious as I thought it was going to be, although I still think these travelogues are highly masturbatory in nature. Peter Mayle has a light touch with a pen (I think I read the whole thing in under five hours), and a real flair for characterisation. I admire a man who can sketch a portrait in a sentence, like this bit describing his uncle, for example: "'Puke in private,
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"A Year in Provence” is not lesfic, nor is it a new book. Thirty years ago it kicked off a new type of travel book that showed the reader what it would be like to live in an area, not just visit it.

Honestly, I expected much more from the book. The first half or two-thirds showed that rich Englishmen and their wives were very condescending toward the rural French. The last part of the book showed more kindness toward the country folks, but only by declaring that the expats were now like them, and
Otis Chandler
Magical descriptions and prose of the authors life in Provence, France. Full of humor, and tantalizing descriptions of French food, and French life. Written in the 90's but still likely relevant (I'd be curious how much Provence has changed, but I'd bet this book still applies). Biggest takeaway was that the national sport of the Provencals, at least according to the book, is food.

"the French spend as much of their income on their stomachs as the English do on their cars and stereo systems"

Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars, ok +. I'll give the next two a go!
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've been cleaning out the bookshelves and found A YEAR IN PROVENCE. I know I read this book when it was first published and remembered enjoying Mayle's chronicles of the year he and his wife moved to Provence. I thought it was the perfect weekend read and I was correct! I enjoyed visiting Provence again. There is a certain rhythm to life in Provence. Mayle's sketches of his neighbors, laborers, markets and restaurants; the customs of the country and the pleasure and frustrations of home ...more
❂ Jennifer
One of those beautiful, descriptive memoirs that make me want to sell everything I own for a house in France (or Italy) and a life of tranquility and luxurious food.

Only slightly more wordy review:
[3.5] Back in the early 90's, A Year in Provence was a favourite easy target for satirists and alternative comedians on British TV. Now in my 30s, with a new liking for books about moving to the country and doing up an old house, I wanted to find out what this object of so many jokes was really like.

And, much as I love it when I genuinely disagree with haterz, I can kind of see the satirists' point.

There is, nevertheless, much to like about this book. It can be enjoyably escapist and it has some
David Silva
Dec 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I vacationed in the Luberon area of France this year, the setting of Peter Mayle's book and mini series. My friend had read his book prior to arranging the trip and as expected the familiarity was a great starting point. I decided to wait on reading the book until after the trip. I wanted to experience it all first hand. After a truly fabulous time walking all over, eating pretty much nonstop, fumbling with French to the always very polite shop keepers, going to see every little town's offering ...more
Chris Pavone
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When we lived in Luxembourg in 2008 and 2009, we visited Paris every few months; a two-hour train ride. Then I started writing novels that take place at least partially in Paris, and so I've visited a few times for research, and another couple of times on book tour. So I've been to Paris about 10 times in the past decade, and have seen plenty of other beautiful parts of France--the Dordogne and the Lot, Bordeaux and the Loire, the Haut Savoie and the Pyrenees--but never Provence. Until this ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-biography
I read right this before our visit to Provence, which has turned out to be one of my favorite places on earth.

I was quite excited to read this since I’d always heard such great stuff about it. The book started out nicely enough but then became rather repetitive. Most of the stories were about renovating the author’s home in Provence and various dinner parties. There wasn’t much of a plot at all. I ended up skipping lots of pages and being quite bored, except of course for the parts describing
Todd Wright
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
The idea for this book was borrowed from Green Acres. Mayle loves living in the country but immediately needs to update his house in an effort to make it more familiar. Wow, look at the crazy locals, they carry guns and use dogs to hunt. Contractors don't meet their deadlines. People take three hours for lunch. Table grapes are picked by hand (who knew.)

Mayle eventually comes to love living in Provence and, without irony, complains about others moving to the area and spoiling the atmosphere.

Not as funny as he thinks he is. Goes on and on--starry-eyed Anglo-Saxon loose in flinty Province, kept afloat by uncontrollable electricians and incompetent plumbers. And, ultimately, by profits from this best-seller.

Major result of publication, and sequel, has been increase in prices in Auberges and -- worse yet -- doubling the price of nearby Michelin 1, 2 and 3 star restaurants (L'Auberge Procençale; La Bonne Étape: Le Dispason; Méo).
Jan 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Loved all the descriptions of stinky cheese and sauted rabbit. I could read about food all day.
Joan Reeves
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Part Travelogue; Part Love Letter

I loved this charming book. My interest was stirred by the Russell Crowe film A Good Year which was based on Mr. Mayle's book. The movie is heartwarming, witty, and full of sweet charm, and tjh. Naturally I had to seek out the author of the book from which the movie was adapted. In doing so, I bought all of the other books written by Peter Mayle an ex-patriot Englishman living the life we all want to live in Provence.

Thus I began the first of his books A YEAR IN
Mireille Duval
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2018
My mother just sold her house and is emptying the bookshelves; I knew my parents had loved this book from way back when, and we're all big Provence fans (I mean, just look at my name), so I thought I'd salvage this book and its sequel from the little free library. Sadly, it was only okay. Not much happens, and I didn't find it charming enough? If that makes any sense? Nothing bad, and it was a short read (each chapter pretty much exactly my commute's length!) so no harm done, but yeah.
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Peter Mayle (born June 14, 1939, in Brighton) was a British author famous for his series of books detailing life in Provence, France. He spent fifteen years in advertising before leaving the business in 1975 to write educational books, including a series on sex education for children and young people. In 1989, A Year in Provence was published and became an international bestseller. His books have ...more

Other books in the series

Provence (7 books)
  • Toujours Provence
  • Encore Provence: New Adventures in the South of France
  • Hotel Pastis: A Novel of Provence
  • Provence A-Z
  • Provence from the Air
  • A Chef In Provence
“It was a meal that we shall never forget; more accurately, it was several meals that we shall never forget, because it went beyond the gastronomic frontiers of anything we had ever experienced, both in quantity and length. It started with homemade pizza - not one, but three: anchovy, mushroom, and cheese, and it was obligatory to have a slice of each. Plates were then wiped with pieces torn from the two-foot loaves in the middle of the table, and the next course came out. There were pates of rabbit, boar, and thrush. There was a chunky, pork-based terrine laced with marc. There were saucissons spotted with peppercorns. There were tiny sweet onions marinated in a fresh tomato sauce. Plates were wiped once more and duck was brought in... We had entire breasts, entire legs, covered in a dark, savory gravy and surrounded by wild mushrooms.

We sat back, thankful that we had been able to finish, and watched with something close to panic as plates were wiped yet again and a huge, steaming casserole was placed on the table. This was the specialty of Madame our hostess - a rabbit civet of the richest, deepest brown - and our feeble requests for small portions were smilingly ignored. We ate it. We ate the green salad with knuckles of bread fried in garlic and olive oil, we ate the plump round crottins of goat's cheese, we ate the almond and cream gateau that the daughter of the house had prepared. That night, we ate for England.”
“Sunglasses must be kept on until an acquaintance is identified at one of the tables, but one must not appear to be looking for company. Instead, the impression should be that one is heading into the cafe to make a phone call to one's titled Italian admirer, when--quelle surprise!--one sees a friend. The sunglasses can then be removed and the hair tossed while one is persuaded to sit down.” 8 likes
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