My Provence: An Interview with Susana Iwase of Provence Living

I’m very happy to present the next installment of “My Provence” with Susana Iwase of Provence Living. Susana was born in Tokyo, grew up in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Berkeley (California), and traveled extensively for work until she finally found “THE PLACE” to call home.

“I can’t imagine living anywhere else now as my family and I are very very happy here. Cotignac is a special place – amazingly international and sophisticated for a Provençale village and life is bustling here – a little utopia.”

Susana is very active with the local Parents’ Committee in Cotignac, raising funds for the school children to benefit from.  In her free time, she loves making sushi and also started a Facebook page called Provence Living a year ago which now has 760 + followers.  Today she shares with us her tips for living la belle vie in Provence.

1. What is your connection to Provence, and how long have you been living in or traveling to the region?

I have been living in the south of France for 11 years now. I used to be married to a Brit who purchased a holiday house in Théoule sur Mer (Cote d’Azur) and we spent our summer holidays there. After our divorce in 2003 I lived there for a while and met my current Frenchman (from Brittany) in Cannes. We have been together since and have two bilingual children who go to the local schools here in beautiful Cotignac where we moved to 4 years ago seeking a safer, less trafficky, and more peaceful lifestyle.

2. Where is your favorite place to visit? (a tough one!)

My favourite places to visit around here would be the Lac St Croix in summer, Moustiers Ste Marie in the fall, Cannes in the winter, and hanging about our very own village in the spring (it really is wonderful).

3. Do you have a “best travel memory” for the region?

Best travel memory of the region would involve private boat trips from La Napoule to St Tropez in the summer. Beach dining then swimming all day in the warm turquoise waters, lazy ride back in the sunset, and late dinners out at the port.

Place de la Mairie, Cotignac VAR Place de la Mairie, Cotignac

4. Can you think of one piece of advice or recommendation for travelers to Provence?

Advice for travellers: remember that many shops close for lunch and sometimes do not open again until as late as 4pm. Remember too that much is also closed on Sundays and even Mondays (like local banks) and dinner reservations usually start no earlier than 7pm. If you are lucky enough to be invited to dinner somewhere, get there 15 – 20 minutes later than the time invited, and prepare to stay for the entire evening (leaving after midnight is most common). Dinners and lunches out take a lot of time here in Provence. Nothing is hurried.

5. Finally, can you give us one sentence which you feel describes Provence?

A sentence that describes Provence: One of the most desireable places to inhabit in the world – lush with vineyards, olive groves, oak, pine, and plane trees that dominate the Medieval villages, and good cheep wine.

Cotignac 4 fontaines

 Cotignac, the 4 fontaines

A very warm thank you to Susana for her insights into Cotignac and for sharing her Provençal experiences with us.  I have a strong feeling we’ll be making a sidetrip to Cotignac very soon.  Please see Susana’s Facebook page, Provence Living, for countless beautiful photos and important updates on activities in the region.

7 thoughts on “My Provence: An Interview with Susana Iwase of Provence Living”

  1. Very interesting. I am not familiar with Susana’s village of Cotignac. It certainly looks like a pretty village. We have invited local villagers over for dinner several times and whether we set the time for 19 30 or 20 00, they always show up right on time, at least so far, usually to my great dismay because I am not totally ready. I wish they would be late just a little. I will have to remind them that they are French living in Provence and they are supposed to be late. They stay till midnight, no problem there.


    1. Thank you for your comment Michel. We’ve also found that there are several different types of people who live in the South – those who arrive right on the dot and those you can count on to be at least a half an hour late. Turns out the ones who are right on time don’t originally come from Provence (in our case at least) – wonder if that has anything to do with it! At any rate, things are very slowed down at the moment… summer’s in full swing…


  2. Cotignac is a very favorite village of mine….in the heart of the Var wine region, it is a diamond in the rough. Always love our Sunday lunches at Chez Lolli (Fontaine de la Table) and the Sunday marché. And Susana is ‘spot on’ with the answers to your questions.


  3. Ladies, it is time to visit Cotignac before the crazy busy season!! Hope to see you sipping a glass of rosé on the Cours Gambetta. Bisous x Susana


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