• Provence Springtime

    featuring Mystery Writer

    M.L. Longworth


    April 15 - 21, 2018

    Classic Provençal Food, Wine and Culture

    $3600, based on single occupancy. There are no single supplements to pay.

    Several independent bookstores — including MysteryPeople, Poisoned Pen and Politics & Prose — invite you to join us for a delightful week in southern France.


    In Aix-en-Provence, we’ll meet with mystery writer M.L. Longworth, whose intriguing books are set in contemporary Provence. She’ll give us a personal introduction to the city (and some scenes of the crime).

    We’ll visit sites associated with artists Cézanne and Van Gogh and writer Émile Zola, as well as experiencing the classic Provençal food, wine and culture. We’ll settle in for three days in Aix-en-Provence, known for its abundance of beautiful fountains, and then three days in St. Rémy, with side trips to Arles and Les Baux.

    This trip is designed to give you the best combination of guidance and freedom. Every morning you’ll set out in a small group with one of our two trip leaders, Donna Morris and Sheila Campbell. You choose where you’d like to go, and in your free time they’ll help you decide what else you’d like to see – and how to see it. In Aix-en-Provence, we’ll use the excellent local bus system to move around the city. The other towns are small enough for us to walk from place to place

    In Aix, we’ll stay at the 3-star Hotel St. Christophe, just off the Rotonde at the end of the famous Cours Mirabeau, where you can stroll under the plane trees and stop to sip a bit of wine or try a new French aperitif in the afternoons. Everywhere you’ll see references to Cézanne and his friend Zola (or, at least, they were friends until Zola wrote his novel The Masterpiece, which too closely depicted the obsessions of his artist schoolmate).


    Please see our recommended reading list (NOT required reading) for books that can give you both a sense of Aix and Provence in the past and today.

    In St. Rémy, heart of the Alpilles region of Provence, we’ll stay at the charming 3-star Hotel du Soleil, an easy walk to everything in the town. If the weather’s nice, we can have breakfast outside on the veranda.


    Every evening, we’ll gather in the hotel to sample French wines and discuss the day’s experiences – and of course talk a bit about books and art. For dinner we’ll break into small groups depending on your tastes and desires. No one will ever dine alone – unless you’re looking for a little solitude.


    Note: At our small hotel in St. Rémy, you must be able to walk up a flight of stairs with your luggage. There is no elevator at this hotel.


    Note: This itinerary may change depending on weather or unexpected museum closings and so on. Usually, you’ll have a choice of planned activities for the morning or afternoon, and then time to explore on your own as well.


    Saturday, April 14

    Depart from your home city for an overnight flight to France. (We suggest flying to Marseille in the south and taking a half-hour bus from the Marseille airport to Aix-en-Provence. Airfare is not included in trip price.)


    Sunday, April 15

    Arrive in Aix and take a taxi or walk from the bus station to the Hotel St. Christophe. This afternoon, we suggest you do what the locals do and relax on the Cours Mirabeau. (We’ll have a city bus pass waiting for you.) You might want to visit the traditional art museum Musée Granet or the Granet XXe for contemporary art (a very nice small collection in a restored chapel). Very near the hotel is the Gallifet Art Center, which we love mostly for its quiet shady courtyard where you can have a drink or snack and relax.


    6pm. Meet in the hotel for orientation and a glass of wine.



    Monday, April 16

    10:am. This morning, we’ll join M.L. Longworth for a walking tour of Aix as featured in her mysteries. We’ll walk through some of the city’s historic and artistic past, see the many famous fountains, wide shaded plazas and streets full of intriguing shops. Then you’ll be able to explore a bit on your own and have a leisurely lunch.


    3pm. Meet in the old town for our reserved visit to Cézanne’s Atelier; his painting workshop appears exactly as the painter left it at his death. If you care to walk (it’s about half an hour, uphill), a group of us will go together. Or you can go with the other group on the bus.


    6pm. Gather in the hotel for wine and conversation.



    Tuesday, April 17

    9:30am and 9:45am. Today is market day in Aix; there are several different street markets to visit: textiles and clothes on the Cours Mirabeau, flowers, local foods (cheeses, olives, sausages, roasted meats, vegetables and lots to taste), fish, and household goods and brocantes (antiques and bric-a-brac). We’ll set out in two groups to explore the markets, although of course we know we’ll sooner or later get separated as we pursue our own interests.


    After lunch, there are plenty of things you might want to do on your own, including, for instance -- a longish bus trip out of town -- Les Milles, an abandoned tile factory used in WWII as a Nazi internment and holding camp for deportations to Auschwitz.


    You also have a choice of going with either Donna or Sheila on an afternoon excursion:

    1pm. Meet Donna at the hotel to take the bus to the Fondation Vaserely, where enormous 20th century op art canvases stun your senses.



    2pm. Meet Sheila at the fairly new Caumont Centre d’Art. They haven’t released their exhibition schedule for this time period yet, but even without an exhibition, the museum is worth visiting. And they’ve got a period-style tea room with extravagant desserts.


    6pm. Gather in the hotel for wine and conversation.



    Wednesday, April 18

    9:30am. We depart as a group for the hour-long drive through the Provençal countryside, with views of the Alpilles and plane-tree lined roads, to St. Rémy. We’ll stay three nights here, making day trips to Arles and Les Baux.


    As we approach St. Rémy, you have a choice of activities:

    You can go directly into town and the hotel. It’s market day in St. Rémy this morning; we love to sample the local sausages, fruits and sweets. (The market ends at 1pm).



    We’ll stop about half a mile outside of town to visit St. Paul de Mausole, the sanitarium where Van Gogh lived for a year until shortly before his death. You can visit the graceful cloister, his small room and the gardens where he painted prolifically. From there, it’s a pleasant walk into town, either along the road or along the Van Gogh Percorso, a quiet woodland path through olive groves.


    Near St. Paul de Mausole, you may also want to visit Glanum, the extensive ruins of a Roman town dating from the 6th century BC to 260 AD.


    The afternoon is free to enjoy St. Rémy, shop, relax in the hotel’s garden or visit St. Paul de Mausole and/or Glanum if you went to the market in the morning. You might also want to tour the Musée des Alpilles in town to learn more about the local culture.


    6pm. Gather at the hotel for wine and conversation.



    Thursday, April 19

    9:15am. We depart in small vans for the drive to Arles, another town where Van Gogh lived and worked. Gauguin famously also lived here for a short time. Situated on the wide river Rhone, Arles is also a major site of ancient Roman occupation.


    In Arles, you can choose to explore on your own, or go with either Sheila or Donna:

    Donna will lead you to the Roman amphitheater, still in use today for the traditional twice-a-year bullfights in Arles. Then you’ll visit the Roman Forum, and walk along the quay of the Rhone.


    Sheila will set off for the Alyscamps, an ancient Roman walk along stone sarcophagi where Van Gogh often painted. Then we’ll visit the Musée Reattu, which has a large collection of drawings donated by artist Pablo Picasso. Finally, we’ll stroll to the Espace Van Gogh, where we can see the courtyard gardens of this old hospital, planted exactly as the artist painted them.


    3:30pm. We’ll meet at the vans for the very short drive out to the Abbaye de Montmajeur, a former Benediction monastery (from the 10th to the 18th centuries) where Van Gogh painted frequently. (Note, there’s quite a bit of climbing here, but you may also have a choice to return early to St. Rémy.) Then we’ll return to our hotel for the evening.


    6pm. Drinks and conversation at the hotel.



    Friday, April 20

    10am. We again depart in small vans for the nearby town of Les Baux, situated atop a high rocky promontory with views for miles. We drive through olive groves and under the white limestone cliffs of the Alpilles.


    Our first stop in Les Baux is the Carrières des Luminières. In the 1800s, Les Baux was a mining center for bauxite, aluminum ore. The quarries left from that time are actually a hollowed out mountain with white walls soaring high above. Inside the dark and mysterious space (bring a sweater; the quarries are always cool), artists’ works are projected onto the walls. The pictures swirl all around you and high overhead, accompanied by music. At this writing, we don’t yet know which artists will be featured, but in past they’ve included Cézanne, Chagall, Klimt, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, among others.


    Then we’ll walk or drive the short distance to the village of Les Baux, which has been built up the hillside to a ruined medieval castle. There are plenty of restaurants and shops along the climb up. We’ll have lunch in one of the many restaurants with beautiful views across the valley.


    2:30pm. We gather at the vans for our ride home. On the way, we’ll stop at the Moulin du Calanquet, a beautiful olive farm for a private tasting of their oils and olives – and maybe buy a few gifts to take home.


    6pm. Gather at the hotel for wine, conversation and good-byes.



    Saturday, April 21

    This morning we all depart St. Rémy. We’ll help you make your forward travel plans on to Marseille, if you’re flying out of there, or on with us for the optional extension.


    Optional Trip Extension:

    Three Days in Avignon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and Marseilles

    If you still haven’t gotten enough of the south of France, we invite you to join us, beginning on Saturday, for a three-day excursion. We’ll begin with a day in Avignon, spend another day in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and end with a day at the Vieux Port in Marseilles. If you’re going on the extension, you’ll definitely want to book your flights in and out of Marseilles.


    Saturday, April 21

    9:30am. We depart St. Rémy in a small van to set off for the short drive to Avignon. Here we’ll visit the Pope’s Palace and the Pont d’Avignon, and then have plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere in Avignon’s charming cafés and boutiques.


    Sunday, April 22

    9am. We depart St. Rémy for the charming small town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, famous for its wines. We’ll have time to explore the village, see some spectacular views from the ruined 14th century pope’s palace, and prowl around the winemaker’s museum. The centerpiece of our visit, of course, will be tasting the wines.


    Monday, April 23

    9:30am. We depart for our drive to Marseilles, where we’ll spend one night at the 3-star Hotel Escale Oceania, located perfectly right on the Vieux Port, with its wide quays overlooking the harbor full of boats, with many restaurants and shops.


    After settling into the hotel, we’ll go for a spectacular lunch on the terraces overlooking the Mediterranean. Afterwards we’ll visit the MuCEM, a recently-opened anthropological museum located on the water, as well as a ride up to the Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde with magnificent views over the city and the Mediterranean. You’ll have time to wander the old port, or just sit and have a pastis in the sunshine. (Note, we can’t guarantee the sunshine.)


    We’ll go out together this evening for dinner in the Vieux Port.


    Tuesday, April 24

    Depart for the airport on your own, depending on when your flight onwards leaves.


    3-Day Extension Cost: $1600, based on single occupancy. There are no single supplements to pay.



    The price of the trip is $3600, based on single occupancy. There are no single supplements to pay.


    Here’s what’s included:

    - Six hotel nights, three in Aix-en-Provence and three in St. Rémy

    - Breakfast every morning

    - Three-day city bus pass in Aix

    - All group transportation to other towns

    - Wine socials every evening

    - Full set of maps for each town we visit (Aix, St. Rémy, Arles and Les Baux)

    - Your choice of activities every day. Donna or Sheila will accompany you and others, or you can set off on your own

    - Directions for how to get to anything you’re interested in, and how to return – plus guidance on what to see and where to eat

    - Restaurant reservations made for you if you like.

    - Personal consultations with Donna and Sheila to help you plan your days


    What’s not included: lunches and dinners, transport to and from the airport, tickets to museums and attractions not covered by city passes, out-of-town train tickets, your flight to France and back home or anything else not listed under “What’s included.”


    The cost for the extension is $1600, which includes two additional nights in St. Rémy and one in Marseilles, a Marseille transportation pass, and entrance fees to all museums and experiences we’ve described.


    How to Register for the Trip

    First, be sure to read all the Frequently Asked Questions and Terms and Conditions. If you have more questions, you can contact:

    Sheila Campbell

    Wild Blue Yonder


    301 587-4555



    Donna Morris

    Best Friend in Paris



    Ready to Pack Your Bags?

    Click here to reserve your space.

    A Few Frequently Asked Questions

    Q. Who should come on this trip?

    This is the perfect trip to take by yourself; you’ll make new friends and will always have people to do things with if you like. Or come with a friend or spouse or partner. You can spend time with each other and also have time to pursue your separate interests.


    Do note that we’ll do a good bit of walking on this trip – often on old and uneven sidewalks. You’ll also need to be able to climb a flight of stairs easily.


    Q. Do I have to pay a single supplement?

    No. This trip is priced based on each person having his or her own hotel room.


    Q. I’m coming with a spouse or partner and we want to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate? 

    For people who share a room, we offer a discount of $150 each. We’ve priced the trip primarily for people to have their own rooms, because French hotel rooms just aren’t as large as those in the U.S. But of course you can share a room if you prefer.


    Q. How many people will be on the trip?

    The maximum number of people is 18, so you won’t feel like you’re part of a huge group.


    Q. Where do I fly to?

    We strongly recommend flying to Marseille; it’s only a half-hour’s bus ride from the airport to Aix-en-Provence. Depending on where you live, you probably won’t get a direct flight to Marseille and will have to change planes in Paris. Generally the airfares to Marseille are about the same as to Paris, even though you’re going further.


    If you do want to fly just to Paris, you can catch the TGV high-speed train from Charles de Gaulle airport direct to Aix-en-Provence. It’s about a three and a half hour ride. BUT, if you’ve booked your TGV ticket in advance and miss the train, your ticket isn’t refundable and you’ll have to buy another one. That’s why we suggest flying into Marseille instead. If you want to add Paris on to your trip, you might do it at the end, when you can be sure to catch the train on time from Marseille.


    Q. Why do you call this a “trip” and not a “tour”?

    We’ve included the things we like best about group travel, including the convenience of having someone plan daily itineraries. But there are lots of things we dislike about tours, so here’s how this trip is different:

    - You won’t follow a tour guide, trying to keep up through crowded museums.

    - You won’t be seated at long tables for big group meals at “We accept bus tours” restaurants.

    - You won’t have early morning calls to leave the hotel.

    - There’s often a choice of two itineraries daily.

    - You’ll have lots of support, but also lots of independence and choices about what you’re particularly interested in.


    Q. Tell me about the trip leaders.

    Donna Morris has lived in Paris for the last ten years. She founded her business, Best Friend in Paris, in 2009 with her signature tour, Follow Me, an experience for her clients that helps them see Paris with the same love and appreciation for the City of Light that she has. She has developed and organized bookstore trips to Paris, Provence and the Loire Valley. She speaks fluent French.


    Sheila Campbell of Wild Blue Yonder has been organizing informal groups of travelers for years – often on hiking trips in France, England, Italy and Spain. In her day-to-day work, she’s a group retreat leader who understands how to ensure everyone is involved and having a memorable experience. She lives in Washington, DC, where she was a docent at the National Gallery of Art for many years – but she spends a couple of months a year in France and knows the area well. She speaks excellent tourist French.


    Q. What will the weather be like?

    Nothing’s even guaranteed with weather, of course. The days should be sunny and crisp, and the nights cool enough to need a sweater or jacket – overall quite pleasant for walking around and eating outdoors. But it can rain anywhere, so be sure to pack an umbrella or raincoat.


    Q. Is there internet access at the hotels? 

    Yes, free wifi comes with your room.


    Q. What to wear? 

    Dress is more casual in the south, so you can wear whatever’s most comfortable for you. Jeans are perfectly acceptable just about everywhere. We expect to have some cool days, so definitely bring a jacket or sweater (Provence’s legendary summer heat won’t have begun by then.) It’s possible, of course, to have a colder day or two, so just make sure you have some layers if you need them.


    What’s most important is that you pack comfortable walking shoes, because we’ll be exploring on foot every day.


    Q. Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price? 

    Restaurants that accept tour groups are usually the last places we want to eat. And there are just so many delicious choices for meals in Provence that we want everyone to be free to eat where and when they want. One day you might eat a sandwich for lunch, sitting out on the Cours Mirabeau; or you might choose to browse the food stalls at one of the many street markets.


    Alternatively, we often make lunch the biggest meal of the day, maybe even eating at a restaurant that would be too pricey at night. You’ll choose where you’ll eat, and with whom and how much you want to spend.


    Q. I don’t speak French. Can you help me figure out what to eat? 

    Absolutely. We’ll provide a list of common menu terms, and let you know how to do things like ask for the check.


    Q. Is it safe to walk around by myself at night? 

    Absolutely. You’ll feel quite comfortable in the neighborhoods of our hotels and throughout the two towns – Aix and St. Rémy – where we’ll spend our evenings.


    Aix is a small city, so it’s prudent to keep an eye out for pickpockets in areas where there are lots of tourists – and at the markets, for instance. Just to be on the safe side, we recommend that you leave most of your money, credit cards and passport in the safe in your room, just taking with you what you need for one day. A handbag that you can sling over your shoulder and tuck high under your arm (with a good zipper) works better than bags with long straps that dangle below your waist.


    The final night of the extension is spent in Marseille. Our hotel is right on the Vieux Port, and, again, it’s fine for you to walk around without worry – so long as you’re alert to any pesky pickpockets.


    Q. Some friends are going to be in Provence while I’m there. Can they come along with us?

    Because we want to keep our groups small, we can’t invite your friends to come with us on our daily excursions. But you can bring them to our evening get-togethers. Please give us a day’s notice, and there’s a €10 per person charge for the wine and snacks.


    Q. When do I need to sign up by? 

    The sooner you put down your deposit, the better. We’re limiting the size of the group, so it’s best to reserve as soon as you think you’d like to come. We do have a minimum group size for this trip of twelve people, and five people for the extension.


    Q. You mention that Donna and Sheila will always be available by phone, but what if I don’t have an international cell phone?

    You can rent international phones at many major airports, or you might want to check in with your cell provider to see if you can buy an international calling package for the time you’re here.


    Of course, you’re not required to have a phone while in France; that’s up to you. If you bring a laptop, smartphone or iPad, you can always use Skype over wifi; that’s one of the least expensive ways to reach people in the States.


    Q. Do you require us to buy travel insurance?

    Yes, we strongly encourage purchasing trip insurance. Please read our Terms and Conditions carefully to see our cancellation policy. Please be aware that trip insurance companies are very strict about what they will and won’t reimburse you for, so read their policies closely. For many policies, you need to sign up when you pay your initial deposit.


    Q. If I want to stay longer than six days, can you arrange that?

    If you’d like to stay on at one of the trip hotels, we can certainly take care of that for you. And do consider the trip extension to Avignon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Marseille; seeing these historic towns adds another whole dimension of Provence.


    Terms & Conditions

    Please read this information carefully, as payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.


    Trip Prices

    Trip prices include hotel accommodations on a single or double occupancy basis, breakfast at the hotel, transportation to locations as outlined in the itinerary, evening social events to plan the next day’s activities, and the services of the trip leaders as outlined in the trip description.


    Not included in the trip price are entrance fees to museums and other attractions not mentioned in the itinerary; airfare and airline baggage fees; lunches and dinners; hotel, restaurant or airport tips; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry or room service; internet wifi except as established in the trip description; airport transfers or any other services not specified in the trip description.


    Please note that we cannot guarantee any special requests for hotel rooms.


    Registration and Payment

    A deposit of $550 per person confirms your reservation. Deposits may be paid by check made out to Wild Blue Yonder, Inc., or credit card via PayPal. There is a 3% surcharge for PayPal.


    Your deposit is refundable for two weeks from the date it is received by Wild Blue Yonder, except for deposits made less than 90 days before a trip departs; those deposits are completely nonrefundable. Two weeks after the receipt of the deposit by Wild Blue Yonder, deposits are not refundable for any reason and will be forfeited if you cancel your trip reservation. Cancellations must be in writing by either letter to Wild Blue Yonder or email to scampbell@wildblueyonder.biz. Cancellations become effective on the date they are received by Wild Blue Yonder.


    Once your reservation deposit has been paid, you will receive a confirmation email and further information to help you plan your trip.


    We reserve the right to cancel any reservations that are not paid in full at any time after the final payment is due. If you make your reservation after the final payment due date, payment in full will be required immediately.


    Full final payment is due January 7, 2018.


    Cancellations and Refunds

    For any cancellations made before January 7, you will forfeit your deposit but will be refunded 75% of other payments you have made. If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your notification, which must be made in writing either by email or letter. After January 7, no refunds are possible. Should you have to cancel your trip at the last minute, we cannot offer refunds, because we will have already paid the costs of your trip to our vendors.


    We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance when you pay your deposit for this trip.


    Changes to Your Reservation

    After January 7, if you make any changes to your reservation, a $100 per person administrative fee will apply. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy, you will be charged the single occupancy rate.


    Travel Documents

    You are responsible for securing your own passport, valid for at least six months after the completion of your trip, and with at least two blank pages for French entry and exit stamps. No visa is required for visits to France.


    Health and Medical Issues

    We welcome most travelers, but you must be in good health to participate in our trips. This trip requires a reasonable amount of walking – up to a mile, possibly uphill or on uneven pavements or cobblestone streets and streets without curb cuts. You must be able to climb several flights of stairs and board buses on your own. We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance if you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you, and you will have to incur the costs of taxis or other special transport.


    If you are unable to navigate this amount of walking, you will not be able to participate fully in the trip, and we suggest you choose another type of trip. We cannot provide individual alternatives to the planned group activities. If your fitness level does not allow you to keep up with the group and/or travel on public transportation, you will be responsible for planning your own activities and for any additional costs incurred (for instance, but not limited to, personal taxis, train tickets and entrance fees).


    Trip Insurance

    We strongly recommend that you purchase both trip cancellation insurance and traveler’s medical and evacuation insurance for your trip. Please note: Medicare is not valid outside of the United States.



    Arrival and Departure Dates

    It is your responsibility to make sure you arrive on the specified trip start date. We cannot refund part of your trip if you arrive late or leave early, unless you have notified us of your different start or end date by January 7.



    The liability of Wild Blue Yonder and Bookstores, individually or jointly (referred to hereafter as Trip Planners), is strictly limited. In no event will the Trip Planners be liable for amounts in excess of the amounts payable to the Trip Planners in accordance with the terms hereunder, nor will Trip Planners be liable for any consequential indirect or incidental damages arising from this agreement. Trip Planners purchase accommodations, transportation and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing trip arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility and liability for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents or representatives.


    Trip Planners are not liable for injury, damage, death, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including but not limited to, without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, defects of any vehicle, adverse weather conditions, natural disasters or the negligence or default of any third party, nor for personal accidents.


    In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the trip, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release the Bookstores, Wild Blue Yonder and their officers, employees, representatives or agents, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this trip, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour. By registering for this trip, the participant agrees to all of the Terms and Conditions herein.


    Trip Planners reserve the right to correct errors in advertised prices. We reserve the right to cancel an advertised trip, decline to accept a reservation or remove a person from a trip if it is determined by us to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general well-being of other trip participants. Should you be removed, you will not be entitled to any refund for unused or missed services or costs incurred as a result of termination of your travel arrangements, including, without limitation, return travel, accommodations, meals and incidentals.


    We will make every effort to conduct our trip as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary and other changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will make every effort to select alternative accommodations of the same quality. The forgoing terms and conditions and all aspects of the relationship between Trip Planners and you shall be governed by the laws of the State of Maryland.


    Recommended Reading

    We love to read about the places we’re visiting, and we suspect you do too. Here are few you might enjoy.


    Although there may be some discussion of books in our evening salons, this is NOT required reading.



    Death at the Chateau Bremont

    Death in the Vines Murder in the Rue Dumas

    The Curse of La Fontaine

    The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche

    are all books in the Verlanque and Bonnet mystery series by M. L. Longworth. The books are set in contemporary Aix and provide an intriguing picture of Provençal culture today.


    Jean de Floret and Manon of the Springs by Marcel Pagnol are two iconic books about the people in the Provençal countryside, made most famous by the films of the same names.


    Hotel Pastis by Peter Mayle is a comic novel that displays his own deep familiarity with Provence. It’s set in a fictional town, with many distinctive characters and a caper-novel plot.



    Dear Theo: the Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh, edited by Irving Stone. This collection of letters from Van Gogh to his brother Theo in Paris presents his often-anguished musings on his life and work.


    Cézanne: A Life by Alex Danchev is a recent biography of the artist, his life and relationships, and his passion for his art.


    Memoir and Essays

    Two Towns in Provence by M.F.K. Fisher. Fisher lived in Aix and Marseille many years ago and describes them – and their foods – warmly.