Learning to Live in Provence… One Sip at a Time (*Book Giveaway*)


Greetings dear readers and friends!  Well, it’s turning into a season of book giveaways and I couldn’t be happier. Especially having just zipped through the altogether charming, and downright hilarious, book:  One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence.

Keith Van Sickle, who makes his home-base in Silicon Valley, California, takes us on a grand adventure when, with his wife Val, he packs his bags for an extended-stay in Provence. Granted, this dream was a long-time in the making, as both experienced a 5-year expat stint in Switzerland where they were surrounded by French speakers and immersed in European culture.

Bitten by the transatlantic bug, but a bit shaky in terms of French skills (Val being the more proficient of the two), they decide to rent a house outside the hilltop village of Ventabren, near Aix-en-Provence. And let me just say, I was incredibly impressed with their ability to adapt and make friends (French friends!) given the language hurdles they had to overcome and the larger-than-life cultural differences they encountered on a daily basis.

And this is really what makes the book so fun. Instead of dwelling on the “faux pas” and cultural missteps he encounters, Keith turns them around and pokes fun at himself (and the French) by using lighthearted and very witty anecdotes throughout the book.

Often, I found myself laughing out loud. I think I’ve had a good 80% or so of the same experiences while living in France. Like when Keith describes French drivers. Oh my goodness, literally “hold onto your seatbelts” because, as he so correctly states,

“The French like to drive way too fast. No matter what road you are on or how fast you are driving, you can be sure that a French driver will be tailgating you. I think it is required by law. You could be setting a new land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats and if you looked in your rearview mirror you would see a French driver just inches from your tailpipe”.

Ha ha! So spot on and sums up my driving experience pretty perfectly.

In another chapter entitled, Lunch all Afternoon, Keith and Val invite their new French friends, Jean-Claude and Dominique, to their home for lunch. Well, technically it starts as a lunch, but as the hosts are quick to discover, a French lunch can last the better part of a day. “Our guests showed up at noon and stayed until…almost dinnertime”. Of course, as Keith writes, the three bottles of wine consumed did a lot in the way of helping the day progress, but still, the duration of a French meal can be quite surprising. Not to mention that the whole affair takes place in another language!

And this is one of the first times that Keith realizes that they are passing from “superficial” relationships to making real friends in their new home. Plus, Keith is making major strides in the French language – thanks to language-exchanges and making a concentrated effort to put himself in “uncomfortable” situations where he’s forced to practice his skills. I really applaud Keith’s (and Val’s) efforts as it takes great courage, and a willingness to laugh at yourself, to become a decent French-speaker. And when this happens, a whole other, deeper world opens up to you.

One Sip at a Time author Keith Van Sickle

And what a world indeed! Keith and Val share one unforgettable memory after another as they experience some of the best of living in the South of France – including many more long lunches, a birthday meal at a Michelin-star ranked restaurant in Arles, a boat tour of the famous Calanques in Cassis, and simple, everyday situations (do men really kiss other men to say hello?) that make for thoroughly amusing tales of life in Provence.

I have to say, I really loved this book. Bravo to the author and his wife!




If you’d like to enter to win a copy of One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence please leave a comment below telling us what kind of travel books you like to read.

(I like ones that take me to faraway places that I hope to visit someday – love seeing the country through the author’s eyes before I travel.)

A winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday, April 11th (12pm Eastern Standard Time) using random.org.


Please visit Keith Van Sickle’s website if you’re interested in learning more / purchasing One Sip at a Time:


The book is also available on Amazon and you can follow Keith (he’s got great tweets!) on Twitter,  Facebook, and Medium.


31 responses to “Learning to Live in Provence… One Sip at a Time (*Book Giveaway*)”

  1. ‘Learning to Live in Provence.. One Sip at a Time’ sounds like so much fun! We’ve been to Provence twice and our dream is to rent a house for an extended stay in Provence one day soon. I love to read travel books that teach me about the area then when we visit it feels familiar – especially in Provence, our favourite place!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My favourite travel books set in Provence are Carol Drinkwater’s Olive Farm books. I live in Marseille, sadly nothing like the idyll she describes in her book, but at least geographically not too far away. My other favourite travel writer is William Dalrymple, who writes beautifully about Asia and the middle East and particularly India.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like to read this kind of book before visiting a place: i read “under the tuscan sun” and a few others before moving to Italy a decade ago, and am reading books about southern france now. I would love to read this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Provence, my French friends in Provence are like family, I will be there this summer but while I am in the United States I like to read books about Provence. Merci, au revoir.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved the books about Provence by Peter Maille although they may be a little dated now! This book sounds similar in spirit! I also enjoyed Under The Tuscan Sun.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like travel books that not only offer tips and ideas for sightseeing, dining and shopping but also create a mood that fits the country or region.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It depends on what my specific goal is. Mostly I like the ones that are witty, reveal a good sense of humour and teach me more about the peculiarities of a specific region or country or continent. I also like poetic and colourful descriptions of people and places, landscapes, … often inspiring my own writing. As we are expats in French Provence too, I started to collect books on France: they teach me a lot, help me to feel less alone and make me realise that we are all in the same game.
    Bill Bryson, Elizabeth Bard (she published a third one yesterday) and Caro Feely (her third novel will be published in 8 days), to only name a few. My very favourites are the books by David Lebovitz: not only does he share the most delicious recipes, his observations of the French and the way he depicts his experiences in Paris sound very familiar and make me laugh out loud more than often …

    Enjoy the charms of the season in and near Toulon, Tuula! Near the river Verdon where we love, the colour palette and scents are truly rich right now …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Cococita, that is a great list of books! I too can’t wait to check out Elizabeth Bard’s new book, looks fantastic. And lucky you living near the Verdon, such a pretty place! Salut from Toulon 🙂


  8. What a delightful book! 🙂 I love travel books that A) Make me laugh over our shared human absurdities and B) introduce me to a culture/place/food I’m unfamiliar with. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My bucket list is filled to the brim with places to visit in France!! This book just makes me more eager to visit the area of Provence….. Any travel books on France grab my attention. I am looking forward to experiencing this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love meditative books on French experiences–not necessarily travels but just life in general. I really appreciated Thad Carhart’s “Finding Fontainbleau.” It described his boyhood growing up in Fontainbleau with his American expat family in the 1950s–a side of France that few people today remember and few stories are told about.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My dream is to someday travel to France….and Provence is where I hope to spend a long time! I LOVE reading memoirs about Provence, and learning more of the “personality” of the region!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A very big thank you to everyone for your comments (all so interesting and informative – I’ve got a lot of reading to do!). Belinda’s comment was chosen at random as the book winner, congratulations Belinda!


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