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Provence A-Z: A Francophile's Essential Handbook    by Peter Mayle order for
Provence A-Z
by Peter Mayle
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

From the author of A Year in Provence and A Good Year comes a new delightful book about Provence, France. Peter Mayle has written numerous books about his life in Provence. An English ex-pat, he has found his way into the life of the Frenchman, finding humor in situations that have baffled travelers from other countries.

In Provence A-Z, he wends his way through the alphabet, explaining the idiosyncrasies at least to those not from Provence of the way of life there, from the language to the Sardine festival in Martigues. From the game of Boules to Boutis, a quilted bedcover. Mayles claims that any village worth its name will have a Notaire. And tells of a perfume with the fragrance of garlic that is used to entice the eager diner to order well.

He feels, 'that you will not be surprised that the French currently hold the world record for snail consumption, at approximately twenty-five thousand tons per year.' Although many snails are shipped into France, the Provencal snail is known as petit gris and has been a local delicacy for thousands of years. The orchestra of Provence is mentioned in reality it is the sound of Cigales, an insect that makes a repetitive, jagged sound, somewhere between a chirp and a squeak.

Mayle meanders through the alphabet, explaining with humor and grace and an obvious love of Provence, various components that endear him to the part of the world in which he has chosen to live. He instilled in me the desire to take his book in hand with me on a trip to Provence and work my way through to embrace his take on that lovely section of France. Maybe I'd see some things in a different light at times than he does, but it sure would be fun.

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