Welcome to ‘France et Moi’ where this week, continuing on from my Book Worm Wednesday review of The Promise of Provence I am talking to author Patricia Sands about what France means to her, as part of her virtual book tour. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win a Kindle ebook copy of this book. Just email FrenchVillageDiaries@gmail.com with The Promise of Provence as the email subject by Wednesday 10th July when my Dad will pick the winner from the hat during our final aperos of their holiday.
Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else. An admitted travel fanatic, she can pack a bag in a flash and be ready to go anywhere … particularly the south of France. With a focus on women’s issues and ageing, her stories celebrate the feminine spirit and the power of friendship. Encouraging women of all ages to stare down the fear factor and embrace change, she has heard from readers ages 20 to 83. Her award-winning debut novel The Bridge Club was published in 2010. Her second novel, The Promise of Provence is an Amazon Hot New Release as of April 2013 and you can read my review here.
Firstly, I think France is a special place and it is famed for many things including its cheese, wine and diverse holiday locations plus, dare I say it strikes and dog poo littered streets. What do you think makes France so very unique and ‘French’?
Patricia: Where to begin? There are so many special aspects to this beautiful country and culture! What constantly takes my breath away is how centuries of history surround me wherever I go. Obviously we see it in the architecture of towns and villages but also in the traditions, religious and otherwise, that continue to be celebrated, in songs that are sung, stories that are told, in the markets and even in the games of boules/petanques that continue to be a focus in the town squares. I love that!
2) What is your fondest memory of time spent in France?
Patricia: Ha! Every visit is memorable but in 2011 my husband and I lived in Antibes for five months, just on the edge of the old town. We seldom needed a car as we could walk everywhere or hop on the coastal train just up the street. My heart is still there!
3) Your second novel The Promise of Provence is set in Provence so would this be your favourite holiday location in France?
Patricia: I do love the pastoral countryside of Provence but truly my first choice is the Côte d’Azur, Antibes in particular. The Mediterranean adds another dimension to life there. Having a beautiful beach just a few minutes’ walk away or taking a boat cruise along the coast are lovely options to have on a hot summer day.
4) When did your love for France start?
Patricia: After university, I spent a year backpacking around Europe with friends and working from time to time. I was 21 years old and fell madly in love with France. I lived in Quebec for a few years as a child so already had a slight grasp of the language, which helped. I was simply captivated by the beauty everywhere we went and amazed that one country could offer so much variety from one departement to the next. I have been fortunate to return many times throughout my life. Forty-five years later that love has only grown!
5) How does France inspire your writing?
Patricia: I know I see France through the eyes of a romantic, as my French friends constantly tell me, but I see beauty everywhere including the crumbling ruins, peeling paint and uneven cobblestones. I’m also a photographer and the photo ops are endless. I love all the old doors and ancient keyholes! It all galvanizes me to sit down and write. When I was writing in Antibes for five months, as I sat at my computer I looked out over the harbor, across the Baie des Anges to Nice and the Alps beyond. That view with the spectacular changing light was more inspiring than I can describe.
6) Imagine you are sitting outside a French café at 10.00am on a sunny morning watching the world go by, what do you order from the waiter?
Patricia: Un cappuccino, de l’eau, un croissant, s’il vous plait.
7) What is your favourite thing to buy in a Boulangerie/Patisserie?
Patricia: a.m. - Pain aux raisins p.m. – Tarte aux citron meringuée.
8) France has many different cheeses, a silly question, but which French cheese are you? A hard and mature Tome, a soft, fresh and lively goat cheese, the creamy and rich Camembert or maybe the salty and serious Roquefort?
Patricia: I guess at this point in life I would have to be an ‘entre deux’ Cantal that has aged a little longer! Its strength and taste increase with age and I like to think that way about life.
9) Can you describe your perfect French apero for us the drink, the nibbles, the location and the company?
Patricia: Bien sur! Pastis (Ricard) served with lightly salted peanuts on a terrace in a shaded square of a town or village, with my husband and other friends, chatting and laughing as we watch the late afternoon activity or local boules contests.
10) Do you have any plans to visit France again soon?
Patricia: I am counting the days to September 12 when we will spend a month in Nice. I am going to have a book launch party at the English Book Shop in Antibes and am excited beyond words about that! Come and join us! (FVD: now wouldn’t that be lovely, having read your book I need to visit Antibes!) In 2014 we hope to spend an extended time in France once again and will work it around the 10-day women’s tour I will be leading in June.
11) Do you have any current projects you would like to tell my readers about?
Patricia: I have had many readers ask when my next novel will be out so I am motivated to make progress on that. The story is simmering now and will be partly set in the south of France once again. There is just so much to write about!
Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about France and you.
Patricia: It was great fun! Thanks for asking!