Lost in Translation

Holiday decorations remain in the old city of Aix-en-Provence

Our first morning at IS-Aix language institute, we stopped in at Café Joseph across the street for a jolt of caffeine. It has added free WiFi service since our last stay seven years ago.  On the wall was the “mot de passe” or password.  Only the cafe had written “mot de passe = plug you…

Aix is but a snowstorm away

Depending on the weather gods, it could prove a matter of perfect timing. “I have a half teaspoon of herbes de provence left,” Kathy announced at breakfast the day after Christmas. “Just enough for the pork roast.” Just enough for us to board that airplane this Friday, first to London and then Marseille, France. From…

Castles Around Every Curve

With Kathy giving instructions, I never know what perilous road our car will end up on. I wrote about this adventure, in the Aude region of southern France, for the Christian Science Monitor in 2008.

Carcassonne, France

As we drive southeast of this restored medieval village on the narrow, two-lane D611, triangular signs with images of falling black boulders line the route. I’m never quite sure how to guard against these rock slides, but the signs do cause me to grip the wheel of our gray, puttering Ford Fiesta with both hands.

Reflecting on a Time Like No Other

What makes Provence so special? I tried to answer that for myself in this article for the Christian Science Monitor, written on our last extended visit there in 2007.

There is nowhere else in the world where you can keep busy doing so little and enjoying it so much. One day you’ll understand.
– Uncle Harry’s advice to Max in Peter Mayle’s ‘A Good Year.’

In the 15 years since his best‑selling book “A Year in Provence” made this region a tourism magnet, author Peter Mayle often has been pilloried by the French: Mayle casts Provence as a trifle, it’s been said, buoyant but lacking in depth. His characters are exaggerated. He first profited from the region, and then left it behind when crowds of tourists converged on the places he’d helped make famous.