Summary and book reviews of Encore Provence by Peter Mayle

Encore Provence

New Adventures in the South of France

By Peter Mayle

Encore Provence
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  • Hardcover: Jun 1999,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2000,
    240 pages.

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Book Summary

After trying--what folly!--to live in other places, Peter Mayle is back in his beloved Provence. He celebrates his homecoming by sharing with us a whole new feast of adventures, discoveries, hilarities, and culinary treats, liberally seasoned with a joyous mix of Gallic characters. The pauses for refreshment include an unforgettable meal in a converted gas station, a rendezvous with the very best bouillabaisse, and visits to eventful weekly markets.

But there is life after lunch, and we also discover a school for noses in Haute Provence, a gardener who grows black tomatoes, the secret of the oversexed butcher, a celebration of Alowine (Halloween) Provence-style, and the genetic effects of two thousand years of fois gras. There is a memorable tour of Marseille, a comprehensive lesson on olive oil, a search for the perfect cork-screw, and invaluable recommendations for splendid local cheeses, wines, honey, bread, country restaurants, and off-the-beaten-track places to stay.

Never has Peter Mayle written with more unabashed pleasure about his heaven on earth.

I think it was the sight of a man power-washing his underpants that really brought home the differences, cultural and otherwise, between the old world and the new.


It was a cold, still morning in early winter, and the pulsing thumpthump, thumpthump of a high-pressure hose echoed through the village. Getting closer to the sound, it was possible to see, over a garden wall, a laundry line totally devoted to gentlemen's underwear in a stimulating assortment of colors. The garments were under attack, jerking and flapping under the force of the water jet like hanging targets in a shooting gallery. Standing some distance away, out of ricochet range, was the aggressor, in cap and muffler and ankle-high zippered carpet slippers. He had adopted the classic stance of a soldier in combat, feet spread apart, shooting from the hip, a merciless hail of droplets raking back and forth. The underpants didn't stand a chance.

Only a few days before, my wife and I and the ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Mayle returns to Provence after an absence of four years and plunges into a new round of adventures (including a fascinating tour of Marseilles, a visit to a school devoted to the development of talented nostrils, and a search for the perfect corkscrew) and new reflections on the treasures that make even the most ordinary day in Provence memorable.

For discussion: Encore Provence
  1. Mayle writes "Memory is a notoriously biased and sentimental editor, selecting what it wants to keep and invariably making a few cosmetic changes to past events" [p 6]. Do you think this is true of your own memories of favorite times and places?
  2. How do Mayle's experiences in America sharpen his appreciation of Provence? Why does he cite...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

Mayle's continuing love affair with Provence takes him back to familiar themes but continues to yield fresh insights. . .

Kirkus Reviews

Mayle's continuing love affair with Provence takes him back to familiar themes but continues to yield fresh insights. . .

Publishers Weekly

[T]he British author's fans will be pleased that he decided to return to his adopted homeland, for his writing is as charming and witty as ever.

Publishers Weekly

[T]he British author's fans will be pleased that he decided to return to his adopted homeland, for his writing is as charming and witty as ever.

New York Time Book Review

Delightful, amusing, and appealing.

People Magazine

Mayle is the antidote to an over-wired age and its dot-commandoes....The ground may be a bit well-worn, but c'est la vie.

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