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the best Provence and Luberon guidebooks, movies and literature
TheLuberon.com’s recommended books and films to do with the Luberon and Provence. This page is for US users, if you live in the UK, please go to the UK shop.
If you don’t know Peter Mayle’s books, you should read at least the first one, A Year in Provence. It was written when Mayle lived just outside Menerbes and is a warm and charming account of an English couple’s first year living there and renovating their farmhouse. It also serves as a good guide to the Luberon’s attractions, markets and restaurants. There are two sequels, Toujours Provence and Encore Provence. Also, the BBC made a 6-part TV series of A Year in Provence, all shot in the Luberon, and available on DVD.
A Good Year
|The one Peter Mayle book to make it to Hollywood is his novel A Good Year, which was made into a movie by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe as a city trader who inherits a winery in the Luberon – actually Chateau la Canorgue in Bonnieux. If you have been to the Luberon you will recognise many of the villages and locations where it was filmed, and if you have not been yet, it will make you want to come.
A Good Year
Recommended Provence guide books
|I particularly like the Eyewitness Guides for their rich pictorial content. With excellent photography, 3-D mapping, and cutaway illustrations, they show you what the other guides can only tell you about…
|…And if you just want to jump straight to the best bits, there is the Top 10 guide from the same publisher, with Top 10 lists of everything to see in Provence.
|More specialised Provence guides: one for the best drives around Provence; one specifically on the markets of Provence; and Provence Byways, a really useful guide written by a local English-American couple.
Provence hiking guides
42 walks in different regions of Provence, including the Luberon.
30 walks with route descriptions and accompanying maps.
Provence Cookery Books
Cooking in Provence
Alex Mackay shares his passion for the relaxed, rural lifestyle and simple cooking of Provence.
The Provence Cookbook
Patricia Wells shares her favourite recipes as well guides to markets, suppliers and vineyards in Provence.
At Home in Provence
175 recipes from Patricia Wells’s Provence kitchen, including chapters on salads, vegetables, pasta, and bread
A Small Cheese in Provence
A book dedicated to cooking with goat cheese, which predominates in Provence.
The art of Provence
Provence through the eye of the watercolourist, exploring the landscapes and the wealth of historical architecture of the region.
Postcard from Provence
Julian Merrow-Smith is a Luberon local who does a painting a day: this beautiful book takes you through the seasons in Provence.
The Most Beautiful Villages of Provence
A photographic celebration of the most beautiful villages of Provence, from the mountains of Luberon to the village perchees of the Alpes-Maritimes.
Provence Food & Wine:
The Art of Living
More than a recipe book, more than a coffee-table book, a regional guide to Provence, its food and wine, with beautiful photography, local stories and easy recipes.
Living in Provence
Bringing together the region’s most remarkable interiors, classical and contemporary, this book paints a gorgeous picture of Provencal living, seen from the inside.
Provence high-brow selection
Ford Madox Ford spent his last years near Toulon. In “Provence” (1935), he explores both the place and the idea of it: ‘not a country nor the home of a race, but a frame of mind’.
Caesar’s Vast Ghost
The author Lawrence Durrell lived in Provence for 30 years, his last book is a homage to the land he loved: part travelogue, part writer’s notebook, part autobiography.
An exploration of the landscapes of Provence and the Languedoc, focusing on a particular place or artifact and musing on the meaning of things. Not for the faint-hearted.
Most unusual story of a truffle-loving linguist’s romance with the spirit of his dead wife. Lyrical, poetic, and evocative of the Luberon landscapes it is set in. The author lived here for many years.
Unearthing a Provence beyond the idea of a holiday home for the summer, this book explores the cultural idiosyncrasies and deeply anchored heritage of this Mediterranean land.
First published in 1905, Old Provence provides a remarkable insight not only into the area’s history and architecture, but also its literary and cultural significance, from the ancients to the turbulent middle ages.
Provence: A Cultural History
Through its architecture, literature, and popular culture, this book analyzes and celebrates the identity of a region famous for its pastis and pétanque.
Two Towns in Provence
Two Towns in Provence brings together M.F.K. Fisher’s unforgettable portraits of Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, which she describes as “my picture, my map, of a place and therefore of myself.”
Books by people who moved to Provence (and are not Peter Mayle)
Perfume from Provence
Charming account of an English couple’s life in a Provence village, filled with sights and scents, builders, village fetes, quirky locals – like Peter Mayle but from the 1930s.
Village in the Vaucluse
In the 1950s the author lived for a year in the then-isolated village of Roussillon in the Luberon. It’s a sociological study of life in provincial France but full of interesting anecdotes.
Farmhouse in Provence
What happens when a Vogue travel editor marries a Frenchman and buys a ruined farmhouse and vineyard near Avignon? Pretty much this…
The Luberon Garden
A British landscape gardener recounts anecdotes of life in the Luberon through the prism of garden projects and clients in the Luberon
Have you thought about a Kindle?
Rather than weigh your luggage down with books for your holiday, you could get a Kindle, an electronic book reader that can wirelessly download and store thousands of books, as welll as your usual newspapers or magazines. There are over 4 million books and publications to choose from on Amazon.
The basic model with WiFi
The best-selling Kindle, with high-resolution screen and built-in light so you can read at night.
New, top of the range: lighter, brighter, thinner, longer battery life, and the cover charges the device
Movies based on the books of Marcel Pagnol
Marcel Pagnol was a writer and film-maker absolutely synonymous with Provence. When something funny and typically Provencal happens here the locals say “C’est du Pagnol!
Superb films on every level: acting (the cream of French actors), storyline, cinematography (Provence at its best), even the music is outstanding. They are really two halves of one film – here they are together on DVD. (Manon des Sources is also known as Manon of the Springs).
Two magical, moving films based on the memoirs of the legendary Provencal writer and director Marcel Pagnol. Heavily imbued with the atmosphere of summers in Provence and the wonder of growing up.
Movies shot in the Luberon region of Provence
A Good Year [DVD]
Russell Crowe comedy based on Peter Mayle’s best-selling novel about a banker who relocates to Provence when he inherits a vineyard. Beautiful Luberon locations ensue.
The Horseman on the Roof [DVD]
A historical epic with heaving bosoms, thundering horses, spicy swordfights, and glorious cinematography, including the rooftops of Cucuron.
Swimming Pool [DVD]
Charlotte Rampling in a sometimes bizarre tale of a writer coming to a house in the Luberon to write. The house has a big swimming pool, hence the title. Everything is not as it seems…
Simply the best books I have ever read for a page-turning vacation read, but written by proper authors
Any Human Heart
The Sea, the Sea
Snow Falling on Cedars
The Perfect Storm
Into Thin Air