Book review: Taking Root in Provence

Taking Root in Provence by Anne-Marie Simons is the travelogue of someone who lived in Washington DC and then retired in Aix-en-Provence, a small city in southern France. It is kind of a second edition of Ten Years in Provence by the same author.

The book is organized into brief chapters on retired life in Provence; most are 4-5 pages long. Although an interesting look at retired life in Aix-en-Provence, if you actually wanted to retire there the book might not help you much at all. For example the chapter, “A house in Provence,” says that real estate is getting expensive and your best bet may be a modern gated community (though the author bought an apartment in the city itself). We’re left with no idea about the prices of either kind of home though – or about how difficult it is to actually buy a home if you’re not a French citizen.

Similarly, the teaser I got in my press release implied that the book would reveal some secret swimming spots. I read that there were secret swimming spots known only to locals but the book doesn’t seem like it will help me find them.

But as long as you’re not looking for practical advice, Taking Root in Provence is a fun look at life in the south of France. I especially like the chapter on cultural differences (and wish it were more than 3-4 pages long) that talks about how roads are one way and narrow so if a kid stops to pee in the road or if someone stops to grab something from a store, traffic stops (and waits patiently – no honking). Good stuff.

Filed Under: Travel gear

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  1. Sharon says:

    This reminded me of the villages of Ajijic and Chapala and the town of Taxco in Mexico where I visited and lived for a while. The cobbled stone streets were so narrow that only very small cars could fit going one way at a time. Even at that, they had to straddle the narrow sidewalk curb and stop for horses, donkeys, and people coming in and out of stores opening right onto the street. People were amazingly patient,however…certainly not seen in cities or large towns of the U.S. But then, nothing and no one is in a hurry in these small villages in Mexico.

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