When Yvone Lenard returned to her native France and purchased a house in a hilltop village of Provence, an enchanted world of food, wines, and unusual adventures–including chicken rustling, flirtatious advances from neighbors, and a séance–opened up before her. This is her account of the spell cast on her by Provence, from her first morning’s visit by a charming prince bearing a jug of the village’s vin rose to the growth of her friendship with a duchess in the local chateau. Lenard shares tales of travels to St. Tropez and visits from American friends who find unexpected romance and magic in Provence. Told with verve, wit, and Lenard’s deep understanding of the French language and culture, this memoir includes tales of others who have been drawn to the region, including Vincent van Gogh, Brigitte Bardot, and Princess Caroline of Monaco. Ways to re-create the magic of the region’s sensuous way of life include recipes for food and drinks, as well as tips for entertaining in the Provençal style.
On an impulse, during the final hours of a year-long stay in France, the author and her husband, who live in Los Angeles, bought a run-down house in a village in the Luberon mountains of Provence, gave vague instructions to a contractor for its restoration and left for home. When they returned the following summer, they found that, miraculously, the house had been renovated exactly as they wished. And so begins this enchanting collection of essays in which Lenard, the author of several textbooks on French language and culture, tells of a vacation home in a fairy-tale town where a duchess in straitened circumstances lives in an ancient castle, the townspeople are friendly and other Americans rush to find similar ruins to renovate. The village begins to work its magic when the husband of the duchess's niece, a deposed prince from a neighboring European country, acts as their welcoming committee. Soon, neighbors share drinks and conversation at the village caf , aged pensioners help Lenard water flowers in the square and her husband, Wayne, is invited on a ghost-hunting expedition to the local cemetery. Not everything runs smoothly: a gardener hired to care for their plants takes their money and never shows up; a cleaning lady turns nasty. For the most part, however, life in the village is delightful, and Lenard describes it with wit and affection. Adding to the book's appeal, tempting Proven al recipes end each chapter.