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=

2 comments on “One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence by Keith Van Sickle

  1. Ashley Davidson-Fisher

    Great review! I’ve read Keith’s book and I’ve met both he and his wife, Val. His book kept me in stitches! So much hilarity happens here in Provence and he captured it just beautifully!

Leave a reply