|The first book I've found set on Ile de Ré|
At the beginning of the week we took the bikes and a picnic over to the beautiful Ile de Ré, just off the coast at La Rochelle. As a very popular holiday destination it can be rather busy in the summer, but we just kept on peddling the cycle paths through the vineyards and salt marshes until we found ourselves a quiet spot. It is no wonder author Louise Candlish loves it so much she has set her latest novel there. Although we didn’t meet on the island I have been talking to her about what France means to her for my France et Moi feature.
Louise Candlish is the bestselling author of nine novels, including The Day You Saved My Life , set in Paris, and her new release, The Disappearance of Emily Marr , set in Saint-Martin-de-Ré. She lives in London with her husband and daughter.
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’?
Louise: I think it’s the sense that the quality of life has been preserved from more innocent times – but that may be just a figment of our English imaginations! Mostly, it’s the bread, the cheese, the wine, the sunshine…
2) With books set in Paris and the Ile de Ré would you say time spent in France inspires your writing?
Louise: Yes, those two locations have made very atmospheric settings for my stories. Paris is Paris, we all know why it’s the backdrop to a million movies, novels and paintings. For a writer, it’s the romantic reputation – you can’t help but take that and subvert it into something darker. The Ile de Ré is a very special place, it still has a sense of secrecy to it. I don’t write much when I’m actually there, though – the draw of the great outdoors is too powerful.
3) Do you have a preferred holiday location in France?
Louise: We almost always go to the Ile de Ré, but I hope to explore Brittany soon.
4) France has some beautiful cities and there are a few that constantly battle to be my favourite. What is your favourite French city and why?
Louise: I love Nice. I think everyone does. The light on the water is beautiful and you feel very relaxed there.
5) If money and commitments were no object, where in France would you like to own a property and what sort of place would it be?
Louise: I would have a big house with a pool near the Conche des Baleines beach on the Ile de Ré. It’s very wild and remote up there and a windswept walk on the beach is the perfect way to blow away the cobwebs, of which I have many.
6) Food is very important in France and every region has its own culinary specialty, are there any regional dishes you particularly enjoy?
Louise: I love the seafood of the Atlantic coast, the oyster bars on the water where every dish comes with a glass of white wine. Also the ice cream. I’m never happier than when standing in the queue with my daughter, deciding how many boules we are going to have.
7) Do you have a guilty pleasure you always buy in a boulangerie/patisserie?
Louise: Chouquettes, the little sugared choux balls, which we fill with salted caramel – and I don’t feel remotely guilty!
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?
Louise: Camembert is the king of cheeses in my opinion.
9) Best French tipple, and yes I know there are many to choose from?
Louise: A kir, but I’ll accept most others with a good grace.
10) Can you describe your perfect French apèro for us: the drink, the nibbles, the location and the company?
Louise: The aforementioned kir, or a glass of champagne, in a shaded, cobbled courtyard, with my husband, daughter and friends. I’d probably be in a deckchair.
Finally, do you have any current projects you would like to tell my readers about?
Louise: The Disappearance of Emily Marr has just been published – it’s a twisty emotional mystery, a kind of tale of the unexpected, with lots of scandal and tragedy and forbidden love.
Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about France and you.