Are We French Yet? Keith and Val’s Adventures in Provence by Keith Van Sickle

 

A thoroughly entertaining glimpse into life in Provence.

I absolutely loved Keith Van Sickle’s first book ‘One Sip at a Time,’ and so was delighted to discover this new release.

Keith and his wife Val’s path in life changed five years previously when Keith was offered a work assignment in Switzerland. The experience opened their eyes to new opportunities and so back in America they took the bull by the horns and became self-employed. This brave move enabled them to take their destiny in their own hands and gave them the freedom to split their time between America and France.

The story commences with a restless Keith impatiently waiting for the time to pass so they can close down their American house and spend spring in Provence. However, his wife’s suggestion that they have a relaxing bike ride backfires when a squirrel decides to join in…

Finally, back in their beloved Provence, complete with their dog of course, Keith and Val settle into their rented property and become reacquainted with the area and their French friends. They are keen to learn conversation French so they take lessons with a teacher called Geneviève who takes no prisoners where pronunciation and attention to details are concerned.

Throughout this informative story the open and helpful characters of the French people they meet and befriend shine through, and also the completely different attitudes of the French and Americans to things in life. Perhaps to everyone the most obvious is the pace of life in each country, and this is something which you immediately notice whether you are an expat or you are just on holiday. However, as you spend more time here you can’t fail to notice the French peoples attitude to work and family life are so different.

The author’s wonderfully descriptive writing brings alive the  warmth, culture, food and wine enthused life in Provence, with meals out with friends, visits to vineyards, and of course the marvellous scenery. On this visit amongst other things we find out what it is like to go gluten free in France, discover the French reaction to the Eurovision Song Contest, and experience the famous Courses de Camarguaise.

To be able to live in two totally different countries must be a wonderful experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to savour Provencal life, and meet through his writing some of its people.

However, there is one thing which anybody new to France is in peril of getting wrong and that is the kiss, or is it kisses you give and receive when greeting, and also how many? Not to mention the worry of which side of the cheek you start on. Fear not, the answer to these questions and many more are weaved within the pages of this thoroughly entertaining book which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to relax and enjoy France from the comfort of their armchair.

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keith Van Sickle grew up in Alameda, California, the son of public school teachers. He got his first taste of overseas life while spending a college term in England and later backpacked around the world for six months.

Grateful for the scholarships that helped him pay for college, in 1987 he started a foundation that helps students from Alameda pursue a college education.

Keith fell in love with Europe during a five-year expat assignment in Switzerland, where he and his wife Val lived in a village with more cows than people. After returning to the US, Keith helped start a company whose product was so geeky that he still doesn’t quite understand it.

Keith and Val dreamed of living abroad again but were unable to find another expat gig. So they decided to invent their own. Now consultants, they and their trusty dog split their time between Silicon Valley and Provence, delving ever deeper into what makes France so endlessly fascinating.

Read more at www.keithvansickle.com 

 

About the Book:

Can Two Americans Really Become French?

Val and Keith turned their lives upside down when they quit their jobs to begin a part-time life in Provence. But they wondered: Can we fit in? And maybe become French ourselves?

Follow their adventures as they slowly unlock the mysteries of France…
– Is it true that French people are like coconuts?
– Can you learn to argue like a French person?
– What books have changed French lives?
– Most important of all, how do you keep your soup from exploding?

There’s more to becoming French than just learning the language. If you want the inside scoop on la belle France, you won’t want to miss this delightful book!

From the Book

Vive La France!
The first clue that this was not going to be a simple apéritif was when we walked into the house and saw that it was full of people. I think word had gotten out that there were Americans coming over who sort of spoke French and everyone wanted to see this oddity, kind of like a three-headed cat. Or maybe they’d been watching old American movies and thought we would show up with cowboy hats and six shooters and do tricks with our lassoes.

Oops
Every driver was being pulled over and told to blow into a breathalyzer, which meant Val because she was the one driving. “I’m nervous,” she said, “because I’m feeling the wine a little bit. Here, check my hand!” It was cold and clammy. “What if they put me in handcuffs and haul me off to jail? Will you know how to bail me out?” I didn’t think I would but this was definitely not the time to point that out.

Bulls Go For A Swim
“The bull has escaped!” Val and I looked up to see a thousand pounds of anger barreling down the street right at us. We ran to safety as the bull thundered past, followed by French cowboys on horseback.

It’s All About The Tongue
The first time we had a class with Geneviève, she pulled a book off a shelf and asked us to each read a few paragraphs to test our pronunciation. I knew we were in trouble as soon as Val started. As she spoke, Geneviève began jotting notes on a pad of paper. After a few sentences she started grinning. Then she started giggling. When it was my turn she put down her pen and started laughing out loud and wiping her eyes.

Out of Gas
Between guests and food and exercise and reading and living a French life, our days are full. And then once in a while something unexpected comes along that takes even more time. Like the day the country ran out of gasoline.

Are We French Yet? is available from Amazon in Kindle format https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L6N3JK7/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i1

Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure by Andrew Cotto

 

The sights and culture of Italy form the backdrop for this incredible Italian adventure.

I just loved this book! In it I was transported from the first page, with American Jacoby Pines and his fiancée Claire, from my adoptive country of France into beautiful Italy. The author, Andrew Cotto, who lives in Brooklyn, is a writer whose articles have appeared in many national journals. He is also a teacher and has taught composition courses and creative writing workshops in New York City.  This Italian adventure is his third novel and in it his wonderful storytelling abilities shine through.

When the story begins the disheartened Jacoby is unemployed following an unfortunate incident at work, and he finds himself soaking up the food, culture and customs of Italy with his accomplished travel writer fiancée Claire.

Arriving in France, together they travel along the French Riviera, then onto the eye-opening Italian Autostrada, enjoying the marvellous coastal views, and staying at a beautiful coastal hotel. Then the next day they head inland to the villa they have rented, in the hills above Florence, for the coming year.

However, although they are primarily in the region for Claire’s assignment for the prestigious Haxby’s Travel Guide, Jacoby has his own agenda. Having never known his mother, he discovered upon the death of his father a box containing a photograph of a woman standing on a great lawn, and written on the back is ‘Villa Floria-Zanobini 1939.’ Thoroughly intrigued, the newly orphaned Jacoby looks upon this opportunity to join Claire at this disastrous stage in his career as the hand of fate at work.

With him, we join Claire on her research trips, as she travels the countryside meeting people from all walks of life. These experiences give the reader a wonderful introduction into the food and culture of this part of Italy, and a very entertaining look into the mentality of the Italian males’ mind, regarding women.

However, this story is primarily Jacoby’s adventure, and left to his own devices, he finally tracks down a Hotel Floria-Zanobini, which he discovers is run by another expat American, the eccentric Bill.

When he shows Bill his picture, its story begins to unfold, and an excited Jacoby finds himself beginning an incredible adventure, with Bill showing him the Italy he has become part of in the previous 35 years. Together the friends set out on a mission to track down the mysterious lady in the photograph and discover the link she has with Jacoby.

Encounters with wild boar, incredible museums and artwork, wonderful buildings, and the marvellous traditional recipes, wines, and experiences, this story has it all. The author brings Florence and the countryside surrounding it to life, as with Jacoby his readers embark on a fantastic voyage of discovery of the beautiful experiences this country has to offer. Whilst throughout the story the tumultuous love story between Jacoby and Claire rides a roller coaster, helped in no mean way by Claire’s outrageous cousin Dolores.

Whether you love Italy, dream of visiting it one day (like myself) or just want to enjoy an incredibly enjoyable book set in a beautiful part of the world, I thoroughly recommend this story as the best I have ever read!

About the Author:

Andrew Cotto is the award-winning author of three novels. He has written for The New York Times, Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, Parade, Maxim, The Huffington Post, Salon, Conde Nast Traveler, Italy magazine and more. Andrew has an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence by Keith Van Sickle

 

Can a two-career couple really pick up stakes and move to Provence?

    

When Californian Keith Van Sickle accepted an overseas work post to the French speaking Neuchatel in Switzerland, he and his wife could have believed that this event would be the stimulus which would change their lives forever.

You see, they loved their time abroad so much that on their return to America they decided to become self-employed as consultants. This decision gave them the flexibility and freedom to follow their dream of living in Provence France for periods of time.

So, together with their dog Lucca, they headed for Provence, and in springtime, for three years they stayed in three different locations, Mollégès in the Bouches-du-Rhône, Ventabren in Aix-en-Provence, and Le Thor in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

They were keen to learn the language, make new friends, and immerse themselves in the culture and customs of this beautiful region of France.

Keith’s wonderfully descriptive writing brings alive for his reader the amazing scenery, majestic mountains, incredible chateaux, beautiful villages and culinary delights which they sampled on their visits, and gives a real feel for living there.

As an expat his experiences made me smile as he so eloquently describes the so very unique ways of the French people. There are many examples of how in many different ways they differ so much from the English, some make you smile and some are downright frustrating, but all are interesting to observe, unless of course you are waiting for something or someone to arrive, when their manana sense of time isn’t funny at all.

Reading this book you get a true sense of how important time spent with family, and friends is in France. They are very patriotic and loyal to their country and region, indeed each department has its own culinary specialities, and festivals to celebrate the harvesting of the local produce.

Who could not be amazed at the incredible range of breads, pastries and gateaux which are offered in the boulangeries, and the wide range of produce which can be bought at the markets which are in all the villages however large or small. These markets really are wonderful to investigate, there you can find everything you need from fruit, and fresh goats cheeses direct from the farm, to chickens ready to lay your breakfast eggs.

I highly recommend this fascinating and entertaining book. Whether you love reading about other people’s lives, want to know more about ‘real’ France, or would like to live or holiday there, this very interesting book will captivate and amuse you.

 

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keith Van Sickle grew up in Alameda, California, the son of public school teachers. He got his first taste of overseas life while spending a college term in England and later backpacked around the world for six months.

Grateful for the scholarships that helped him pay for college, in 1987 he started a foundation that helps students from Alameda pursue a college education.

Keith fell in love with Europe during a five-year expat assignment in Switzerland, where he and his wife Val lived in a village with more cows than people. After returning to the US, Keith helped start a company whose product was so geeky that he still doesn’t quite understand it.

Keith and Val dreamed of living abroad again but were unable to find another expat gig. So they decided to invent their own. Now consultants, they and their trusty dog split their time between Silicon Valley and Provence, delving ever deeper into what makes France so endlessly fascinating.

Read more at www.keithvansickle.com

 

About the Book:

Keith and Val had a dream – to live in Provence, the land of brilliant sunlight and charming hilltop villages.

But there were two problems: they weren’t French speakers and they had full-time jobs. So they came up with a plan…

Follow their adventures (and misadventures) as they quit their jobs, become consultants and split their time between two countries. Laugh along as they build a life in Provence, slowly mastering a new language and making friends with the locals over long meals and just a bit too much wine.

This light and breezy memoir is full of wry observations on France, like the power of cheese to sway elections, the right and wrong ways for men to kiss each other, and the law requiring that blood donors must speak French.

If you’ve ever dreamed of changing gears and learning what joie de vivre is really all about, you won’t want to miss this delightful book.

From the Book

Joyeux Anniversaire: The chef had written a cookbook and I bought one for Val, which he signed. His inscription read, “Valérie, vous êtes jeune et délicieuse comme les fèves du printemps” (“Valerie, you are young and delicious like the fava beans of springtime.”) . . . I had so much to learn from the French.

How to Kiss a Frenchman: Here, not far from where we had stayed the year before, it was two kisses on the cheek rather than three. How were we supposed to know this? Was there a border we had crossed but somehow missed the sign? (“Welcome to Eastern Provence. Please Follow the Local Kissing Regulations. And Enjoy Your Lunch, Especially the Asparagus, Which is Delicious Right Now.”)

A Night at the Opera: There are many words that are the same in French and English, like nation, pause, and danger. If I don’t know a word in French, sometimes I will just fake it by using the English word with a French accent. It works most of the time. But you have to be careful. There are words that exist in both languages and have entirely different meanings. These are the infamous faux amis, or “false friends.” Ask Val about the time she shocked her co-workers by talking about preservatives in food. Oops, preservative means “condom.”

Interregnum: France had started to capture our hearts. It wasn’t just a place we visited; it was becoming one of the places we lived. Thomas Jefferson is supposed to have said, “Every man has two countries – his own and France.” Maybe he was on to something.

 

One Sip at a Time is available from Amazon in Paperback https://www.amazon.com/One-Sip-Time-Learning-Provence/dp/0998312002/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Kindle format https://www.amazon.com/One-Sip-Time-Learning-Provence-ebook/dp/B01N24CGEE/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

and as an Audiobook https://www.amazon.com/One-Sip-Time-Learning-Provence/dp/B073ZLMPVG/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Audiobook – My Good Life in France In Pursuit of the Rural Dream by Janine Marsh

 

A thoroughly entertaining audiobook written by Janine Marsh and narrated by Esther Wane.

 

In this totally captivating audiobook we discover that people really do buy a house in another country on impulse. In fact, the author Janine Marsh did just that on a wet and windy February cross channel day out with her husband Mark, and Dad.

Townies Janine and Mark threw caution to the wind, and jumped in with both feet, buying and renovating a run-down French farmhouse. So what made these sensible people with their feet firmly on career paths do such a rash thing? Well, quite simply it was the love of France and everything (well almost) French.

I am an expat but even if you are not, I am sure, you will like me fall in love with the North of France, the Seven Valleys region, its coastline, seaside and country villages, the gastronomy, its people and so much more.  This story isn’t just a wonderful way to enjoy experiencing someone else’s life in another country, it is a way to get a real feel for what living in France is really like – warts and all.

It is amazing also to listen about the transformations which can easily happen to someone when they go to live in another country, the new skills we discover, and how anything seems possible.

Throughout this audiobook there is plenty of information about, food, history, renovation, quirky sayings, and not least the enormous differences between our two cultures, even though we are only separated by the English Channel.

The narrator, Ester Wane wonderfully tells this story, so whether you are looking for a highly entertaining story to listen to, considering moving to France and want to know what really motivates anyone to give up a successful career and life in the UK to make the move, or are going on holiday to France and would like a little insider information, this is the audiobook for you!

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

Janine Marsh lives in northern France with her husband and myriad pets. She is unable to resist a stray animal, and the word is out. She works from a converted pig sty when she’s not travelling around France doing research for her website www.thegoodlifefrance.com, which tells you everything you need to know about France and more.

She gave up a sensible job in London, where she was born, to renovate a bargain basement barn and turn it into a home – an ongoing project. Along the way she became maid to six cats, three dogs, fifty chickens and ducks, and four mad geese.

She is an award-winning travel writer and social media fan who loves to share her life, explorations and photos on Facebook at The Good Life France.

About the Book:

One grey dismal day, Janine Marsh was on a trip to northern France to pick up some cheap wine. She returned to England a few hours later having put in an offer on a rundown old barn in the rural Seven Valleys area of Pas de Calais. This was not something she’d expected or planned for.

Janine eventually gave up her job in London to move with her husband to live the good life in France. Or so she hoped. While getting to grips with the locals and la vie Française, and renovating her dilapidated new house, a building lacking the comforts of mains drainage, heating or proper rooms, and with little money and less of a clue, she started to realize there was lot more to her new home than she could ever have imagined.Ten years ago, Janine Marsh decided to leave her corporate life behind to fix up a run-down barn in northern France. This is the true story of her rollercoaster ride, in many ways a love story, with her sharp observations on the very different way of life, culture and etiquette of France.

From her early struggles and homesickness through personal tragedy, to her attempts to become self-sufficient and to breed ‘the fattest chickens in the village’, Janine learned that there was more to her new home than she could ever have imagined.

My Good Life in France is available as an audiobook from Audible https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Travel-Adventure/My-Good-Life-in-France-Audiobook/B079G3PXL3?ref=a_a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=c6e316b8-14da-418d-8f91-b3cad83c5183&pf_rd_r=E4APMM8KXWQ20XMEBS6D&

Amazon.co.uk https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Good-Life-France-Pursuit/dp/B079G3KJN9/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

and Tandor Media https://tantor.com/my-good-life-in-france-janine-marsh.html

Hosting Hapless Helpers – The Ultimate Guide by Karen Luff

 

Now you can discover the truth about what it is like to host helpers for your projects in your own home.

Karen Luff, the author, left her native UK with her husband and five year old son for a new life in France over 12 years ago. The large house they fell in love with is called Le Chataignier, and it came with a cottage, several barns and land.

Like many expats they dreamt of running a smallholding and renting out holiday cottages. It wasn’t until they had settled in to their new home and took stock of all the things which needed doing that the size of their project, the amount of work, and sheer manpower needed to accomplish it all fully dawn on them.

However, when a relative regaled them with tales of his exploits on a working holiday Karen quickly realised that having helpers living in to assist with the work was the way forward. Nothing could have prepared them for the rollercoaster ride which was to become their lives from then on, and continues still today…

One of the primary reasons for writing this book, Karen says, is that having a complete stranger in your home can be hard work, also there are cultural and language problems, amongst others to overcome. She quickly realised that an ‘open letter’ on their Facebook page was needed for all prospective helpers to read prior to them applying to visit. This letter is in the book, and the reasons for each point, and the results of them not being adhered to make entertaining reading for people who like something different and sneak peaks into other people’s lives, and essential reading for anyone considering having helpers to stay and work on their project.

In Hosting Hapless Helpers Karen offers invaluable advice backed by comprehensive experience. You will find yourself laughing, crying and experiencing every emotion in-between within its pages, just remember that all the events and situations really happened…

 

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

​Karen Luff was born in Hammersmith, London, England and was raised in the south. She moved to France after a varied career, back in 2005. Karen with her husband John  followed their dream and moved to Le Chataignier, a 400 year old house in the beautiful Mayenne region of France, with their five year old son. Over twelve years later they have established a smallholding on the site but still have plenty of ongoing renovation work on the house and outbuildings. Find out all about Karen and her life at Le Chataignier here https://lchataignier.weebly.com/

Hosting Hapless Helpers – The Ultimate Guide will be available from all Amazon sites worldwide soon.

To find out more about this book and the author follow her on the following social media:

Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/LeChataignier.france/

Twitter: @Karen_Luff

Instagram:  @karenluff1