on 10 September 2004
Durable hardboard covers, with dust-jacket open to 383 high quality pages, packed full of brilliant colour photography which just whisks you off to Provence!
'Sun-kissed Provence has long been a favoured destination for innumerable travellers. Stretching from the heights of Mount Ventoux in the north to the beach promenades of the Cote d'Azur, this region holds a host of delights -such as the fish market in Marseille, Jean-Marie Cornille's old oil mill, and the tempting restaurant menus of the 'Louis XV'.
The attractions of Provence are varied indeed.
Readers will discover all they need to know about:-
*traditional markets and festivals
*interesting culinary specialities
*first class restaurants and traditional Provencal cuisine
*select wine-growing estates and their excellent wines
To assist and guide the reader every step of the way, the book featues a detailed general map, an extensive index of recipes and a comprehensive address list.'
This is a charming, pocket-book size culinary guide, to Provence, and the Cote d'Azur. Books on the "Provence experience" require updating, and this is a fairly recent account, published in 2005. There are numerous quality pictures that will serve as appealing appetizers. There is an excellent map on the inside cover, and each section has its own individual stylized map which locates the reader to the particular area. There are numerous recipes for the reader to try... of course, the "trick" is to get the right ingredients, and they have a proper place to prepare them, which usually requires the rental of a "gite," something most readers will not be doing.
Francie Jouanin starts her coverage at the far northern "boundary" of Provence, at Montelimar, providing brief coverage (2 pages, around 300-500 words) on approximately 45 towns and/or areas. Just enough to stimulate your interest. Interspersed are sections on particular Provençal favorites, from Nougat, the olives of Nyons, and truffles. Of course, the wines of the region, as well as the more serious pastis, is likewise, covered. The author covers some of the restaurants, like one of my favorites, "Le Clos de la Violette," in Aix. The author also includes the principal towns of the Cote d'Azur (normally not consider part of Provence) from Cannes, Grasse, Nice, and all the way to Menton.
For me the most impressive, and "scary" part of the author's research is that she did a two page spread my very favorite market (which I will still not name); one that I considered "camera free," since it was not on the tourist route. Alas, perhaps no longer; but its inclusion is a clear indicator of the depth of her knowledge of the area.
She also covered a few other non-culinary favorites, such as Paul Cezanne's obsession with a particular mountain near Aix, as well as the region's passion for boules.
If you are tired of those movies and books that depress you enough so that you're ready to "slit your wrists," take a change of pace, "feel-good," and enjoy much that life still has to offer by visiting Provence, with this guide-book in hand. A 5-star effort.
(Note: Review first published at Amazon, USA, on November 11, 2009)