I blame A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle for my reading-inspired wanderlust. I had never read a travel memoir before I picked up Provence, and I absolutely adored the experience. Who wouldn’t enjoy this?!
“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 the middle of town, and delights in the glorious regional cuisine. A Year in Provence transports us into all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.” [from Amazon.com]
Next it was Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes, another charmer that had me enthralled and ready to jump on a plane to Italy from the first lyrical page.
“Frances Mayes—widely published poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer—opens the door to a wondrous new world when she buys and restores an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. In evocative language, she brings the reader along as she discovers the beauty and simplicity of life in Italy. Doing for Tuscany what M.F.K. Fisher and Peter Mayle did for Provence, Mayes writes about the tastes and pleasures of a foreign country with gusto and passion.” [from Amazon.com]
I remember watching the Julia Child show a handful of times as a kid, usually on a lazy Saturday that involved lots of PBS, and when I stole My Life in France from my mom (oops, another Mom-book-theft… although I think I did return this one!!), I fell absolutely head over heels for Julia. She is pure delight, and her memoir of living in France is delicious.
“Julia Child singlehandedly created a new approach to American cuisine with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, but as she reveals in this bestselling memoir, she was not always a master chef. Indeed, when she first arrived in France in 1948 with her husband, Paul, who was to work for the USIS, she spoke no French and knew nothing about the country itself. But as she dove into French culture, buying food at local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life changed forever with her newfound passion for cooking and teaching. Julia’s unforgettable story – struggles with the head of the Cordon Bleu, rejections from publishers to whom she sent her now-famous cookbook, a wonderful, nearly fifty-year long marriage that took them across the globe – unfolds with the spirit so key to her success as a chef and a writer, brilliantly capturing one of the most endearing American personalities of the last fifty years.” [from Amazon.com]
Also heavy on the foodie emphasis is David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City. I recommend this one with a grain of salt, as Lebovitz can tend toward the coarse side of humor at times, but I thoroughly enjoyed his humorous and irreverent depiction of the City of Lights.
Honorable mentions: I haven’t read these, but they are on my wish list!
Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull
Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, With Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
Yes, I have a bit of an obsession with Paris at the moment. :)
What travel memoir books would you recommend I add to my list?!