Homepage

 About Menerbes

 Provence & beyond

 What's it like in winter?

 Rates & availability

 Contact

 

Provence Books & DVDs

Here are some of the best guidebooks, novels, biographies and films on DVD that were either created in the Luberon or Provence, or set there. These will whet your appetite for Provence, or help plan your trip.

All are available online from the UK or US versions of Amazon. If you are in the UK, click on the pictures, if you are in the USA, you can click for the US version under the picture.

 
PETER MAYLE

A Year in Provence

 

Toujours Provence

 

Encore Provence

 

If you don't know Peter Mayle's books, you should read at least the first one, A Year in Provence. This is the book that put the Luberon on the map. It was written just outside Menerbes and is a warm and charming account of an English couple's first year living there and renovating their farmhouse. It also serves as a good guide to the Luberon's attractions, shops and restaurants.

The two sequels run out of juice for me, and I wouldn't recommend the third one, Encore Provence, but others disagree and find they can't get enough of these books.

If you know the books, you may want to see the TV series made by the BBC in the early 1990s (see right), starring John Thaw as Peter Mayle. I found this series hard to turn off, but not because it was a masterpiece! It certainly does transport you to the Luberon on those long winter nights.

 

 

A Year in Provence
TV series on DVD

 
LIFE  IN  PROVENCE
Perfume from Provence
This charming book is a 1930s A Year in Provence - in fact, you might be forgiven for thinking that Peter Mayle was inspired by reading this first. It's a lovely read, full of local characters and events, and the challenges faced by Lady Fortescue were considerably greater than those that met Mayle.

No US version
available

 
At Home in Provence
From the book cover:
"For the past thirteen years, Patricia Wells has been carrying on a love affair-not with an individual, but with a region of France, a centuries-old stone farmhouse, and a cuisine.... The award-winning journalist and author invites readers to share the passion, the joy, and, best of all, the cooking of her adopted home."

Click here for the
US version

 

GARDENING  IN  PROVENCE
The Luberon Garden
Alex Dingwall-Main moved to the Luberon between Lacoste and Bonnieux, and much of the book concerns a garden he designed in Menerbes. He is a better gardener than he is a writer, but his humorous style and local anecdotes have many admirers.

 
An English Garden in Provence
The author is the widow of English poet Sir Stephen Spender, and this is the story of the garden they made together in the 1960s at their home in the Alpilles, and the people who visited - Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Iris Murdoch, Ted Hughes, Bertand Russell, et al.

 

No US version
available

 
PROVENCE  GUIDEBOOKS

Lonely Planet: Provence
& the Cote D'azur

 

Eyewitness Travel Guides: Provence & Cote D'azur

 

Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guides: Provence

Click here for the
US version

 

Michelin Map of Provence and the
Cote D'Azur

 
Published in April 2005, so should be bang up-to-date. Lonely Planet is aimed more at the budget/independent traveller end of the range.   I love these guides. Lots of illustrations and graphics, and it delves into the history, geography, food and wine, architecture, etc. Like a pictorial encyclopedia.   If you don't enjoy researching a destination you can cut to the chase with this guide, which just gives you the top 10 best things to see, buy, taste, find, do, etc.   Maps in guidebooks always tend to be too small, if you want to plan a trip you really need to spread out one of these and see the lie of the land.
 

Rough Guide Provence & Cote D'azur

Click here for the
US version

 

Time Out:
South of France

Click here for the
US version

 

Fodor's Provence and Cote D'Azur

Click here for the
US version

 

Frommer's Provence and the Riviera

  Click here for the
US version

 
One of the better guidebook series. This was published in October 2003.   Pitched at a young-ish audience. Covers the arts scene, for example, in more depth than other guides. Published in 2004.   If you are American, Fodor's is probably the guide your parents used. Venerable, reliable, perhaps a little creaky?   Frommer's, like Fodor's, is aimed at the grey-haired traveller - it has been called the Walter Cronkite of guidebooks.
 
WALKS AND MARKETS

Walking in Provence

 

Parc Regional Du Luberon

No US version
available

 
Markets of Provence

Exploring seven Luberon markets, and tips on recipes, local specialties, wines, restaurants, and picnic spots. These are the markets covered:

Monday: Cadenet
Tuesday: La Tour D'Aigues
Wednesday: St-Remy
Thursday: Aix-en-Provence
Friday: Bonnieux
Saturday: Apt
Sunday: L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

 

Click here for the
US version

I don't know this book, but it covers 43 walks in Provence, which is a large area, going all the way across to the Alps.
 
24 walks in the Luberon, in English and French, published by the French hiking federation.
   
 
PROVENCE  LITERATURE
 
Old Provence

Opening sentence:

"Deep as we may bury the Roman Empire, we cannot hide it in the valley of the Rhone; for its bones pierce through Provenšal soil in many places as though that giant grave were still too narrow for the skeleton of a past that can never wholly die."

 

  Click here for the
US version

  Sir Theodore Andrea Cook travelled through Provence in 1905 to uncover a landscape laden with the footprints of the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans: arenas, temples, and monuments stood remarkably well preserved. He also traces the conflicts of the Middle Ages, and the region's literary and cultural significance.
 
Provence
 

Caesar's Vast Ghost:
Aspects of Provence

To Ford Madox Ford, Provence was "not a country nor the home of a race, but a frame of mind", and this is his whimsical exploration of the place and the idea of Provence, written in 1935. Part travel narrative, part memoir of what Provence means to people, artists and writers.

 

  Click here for the
US version

 

An exploration of the history and culture of Provence, in Durrell's unique style, mixing brilliant descriptive powers with bizarre escapades. This is Lawrence Durrell in the autumn of his years, the quality is variable, but he does get a real sense of the spirit of a place.

 

  Click here for the
US version

 
Luminous Debris: Reflecting on Vestige in Provence and Languedoc

Description:

"Interpreting vestige with the eloquence of a poet and the knowledge of a field archaeologist, Gustaf Sobin explores his elected terrain: the landscapes of Provence and Languedoc. Drawing on prehistory, protohistory, and Gallo-Roman antiquity, the twenty-six essays in this book focus on a particular place or artifact for the relevance inherent in each. A Bronze Age earring or the rippling wave pattern in Massiolite ceramic are more than archival curiosities for Sobin. Instead they invite inquiry and speculation on existence itself: Artifacts are read as realia, and history as an uninterrupted sequence of object lessons."

 

  Click here for the
US version

 

Gustaf Sobin was an American who lived in Provence for 35 years and was the Luberon's unofficial poet laureate.

 
The fly-truffler
Sobin's slim, heavily poetic novel of love and dreams, and the Provencal soil.

Click here for the
US version

 
The Letters of Vincent van Gogh
Van Gogh was a prolific letter-writer and this book reveals his friendships, his attempts at love affairs, his touching relationship with brother Theo, and his art. Towards the end of his life he painted in nearby Arles and St Remy.

  Click here for the
US version

 
PROVENCE IN THE MOVIES
 
Jean de Florette & Manon des Sources
Jean de Florette and Manon de Sources are superb films on every level: acting (the cream of French actors), storyline, cinematography (Provence at its best), emotion, even the music is outstanding. Adapted from the novels of Provencal legend Marcel Pagnol, they are really two halves of one film - you have to see Jean de Florette first. If you are haunted by the soundtrack, that is available too (see below right).
Jean de Florette
 
Manon des Sources
 
Soundtrack

  Click here for the
US version

 

  Click here for the
US version

 

  Click here for the
US version

 
La Gloire de mon Pere
(My Father's Glory)
 
 
Le Chateau de ma Mere
(My Mother's Castle)



Click here for the
US version

  Two magical, moving films based on the memoirs of Marcel Pagnol (he wrote Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources). Lyrical and beautiful, and very moving, these films are heavily imbued with the atmosphere of summers in Provence and the wonder of growing up.  
 
Cyrano de Bergerac
 
 
Le Bossu (On Guard)


This is available in the
US version only
  These films are only partially set in Provence but they are just wonderfully French, sweeping, swashbuckling historical epics. Classic love stories with larger-than-life, charismatic male leads, who are France's best actors: Gerard Depardieu in Cyrano and Daniel Auteuil in Le Bossu (US title: On Guard).  

 

Menerbes Home | From the Guestbook | About Menerbes | Provence and beyond

What's it like in winter? | Rates & availability | Provence books & DVDs