Cover image for Encore Provence : new adventures in the south of France
Encore Provence : new adventures in the south of France
Mayle, Peter.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf, [1999]
Physical Description:
226 pages ; 22 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DC611.P961 M35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DC611.P961 M35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
DC611.P961 M35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DC611.P961 M35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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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.

Author Notes

Peter Mayle was born in Brighton, England on June 14, 1939. He began his career in advertising as a copywriter and rose to the executive ranks, but left advertising in 1975 to write educational books, including a series on sex education for children and young adults. His educational books including Where Did I Come From? and What's Happening to Me?

His travel memoir, A Year in Provence, received the British Book Awards' Best Travel Book of the Year in 1990 and was adapted into a television mini-series. His other nonfiction books included Toujours Provence, Encore Provence, Provence A-Z, and French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork and Corkscrew. His fiction books included The Marseille Caper, The Corsican Caper, and A Good Year, which was adapted into a 2006 film of the same name starring Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard. Mayle died on January 18, 2018 at the age of 78.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Englishman Mayle has recounted his penchant for and residence in the south of France before, in the hits Toujours Provence (1991) and A Year in Provence (1995). He's back at it, with no diminishment in enthusiasm or charm. He and his wife returned to Provence after an absence of four years, time spent mostly in the U.S. Mayle certainly did not forget "the smell of thyme in the fields" or "the swirl and jostle of Sunday-morning markets" while he was away. And his new book is all about the renewal of his acquaintance with the land he so loves. Essays range widely over Provencal life: from an ode to olive oil to a testimony to the virtues of the siesta to a local murder mystery that reads like good fiction (which, of course, will come as no surprise, since Mayle is also a wonderful novelist). Native cuisine continues to pique his palate, and the people among whom he lives still warm his heart; in fact, he says, "More than anything else, people make a place, and the local inhabitants don't seem to have changed at all." His observations and commentaries are laced with humor but encompass true respect and admiration for his adopted homeland. --Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

After a four-year leave, Mayle is back in the region he described in his bestselling A Year in Provence and Toujours ProvenceÄand the 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. In the first chapter, "Second Impressions," Mayle explains that he and his wife quit the convenient, efficient life in America for the "smell of thyme in the fields" and "the swirl and jostle of Sunday-morning markets" of Provence. Mayle goes on to make hash of former New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl's disparaging assessment of Provence, apparently based on a single August visit, and heaps scorn on those who consider themselves to be "travelersÄintelligent, well-mannered, cultured"Ärather than tourists (as he proudly labels himself). The author then assists future tourists by naming his favorite markets, vineyards, bakeries, chambres d'h“tes, even places to go for the best olive oil or honey. A chapter called "A Beginner's Guide to Marseille" is equally informative and offers the little-known fact that "La Marseillaise" was actually composed in Strasbourg. Mayle enticingly recounts his peregrinations around the truffle markets and his searches for the perfect corkscrew or melon, but it's his ability to capture the subtle cultural peculiarities that distinguishes his writing. Upon first arriving in France from the U.S., Mayle observes, "I think it was the sight of a man power-washing his underpants [with a hose] that really brought home the difference, cultural and otherwise, between the old world and the new." Line drawings not seen by PW. 130,000 first printing; author tour. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

After the astounding success of A Year in Provence (LJ 4/1/90) and Toujours Provence (LJ 5/1/99), Mayle and his wife moved to East Hampton, Long Island. But something was missing: "an entire spectrum of sights and sounds and smells and sensations that we had taken for granted in Provence, from the smell of thyme in the fields to the swirl and jostle of Sunday-morning markets." After four years, the Mayles returned to the region. Unlike A Year in Provence, whose chapters were organized month by month, this is a hodgepodge collection of essays on a variety of topics, from Mayle's first impressions on coming back to a charming piece about a school that trains blind children in the art of smelling perfume. There is a snide attack on former restaurant critic Ruth Reichl, and Mayle ends with a defensive postscript disputing charges by his British critics that his books have ruined the region by attracting hordes of tourists. "Provence is still beautiful," he writes. "Vast areas of it are still wild and empty." Mayle fans and patrons who enjoyed Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun (LJ 9/1/96) will want this. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/99.]ÄWilda Williams, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



From Chapter One 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 dogs had arrived back in Provence after an absence of four years. Much of that time had been spent in America, where we were able to slip back into the comfortable familiarity of a language that was relatively free--although not entirely--from the problems of being socially appropriate or sexually accurate. No longer did we have to ponder the niceties of addressing people as vous or tu, or to rush to the dictionary to check on the gender of everything from a peach to an aspirin. English was spoken, even if our ears were rusty and some of the fashionable linguistic flourishes took a little getting used to.         A friend of below-average height told us he was not considered short any more but "vertically challenged"; the hour, previously a plain old sixty minutes, had sprouted a "top" and a "bottom"; you were not seen leaving a room, but "exiting" it; the economy was regularly being "impacted," as though it were a rogue wisdom tooth; great minds "intuited" where once they had merely guessed; "hopefully," an agreeable word that never harmed a soul, was persistently abused. Important people didn't change their opinions, but underwent a significant "tactical recalibration."         There were many and hideous outbreaks of legalese in everyday speech, reflecting the rise of litigation as a national spectator sport. "Surplusage" was one of a hundred of these horrors. I noticed also that sophisticated and influential Americans--those whose comments are sought by the media--were not content to finish anything but preferred to "reach closure," and I have a nasty feeling that it won't be long before this affectation is picked up by waiters in pretentious restaurants. I can hear it already: "Have you reached closure on your salad?" (This, of course, would only be after you had spent some time bending your "learning curve" around the menu.)         We met, for the first time, the "outster," although we never saw a trace of his more fortunate relative, the inster. We were taught to give up our hopelessly old-fashioned habit of concentrating and instead try "focusing." Every day seemed to bring new and exciting vocabulary options. But these minor curiosities didn't alter the fact that we were surrounded by at least some version of the mother tongue and therefore should have felt quite at home.         Somehow we didn't, although it certainly wasn't for lack of a welcome. Almost everyone we met lived up to the American reputation for friendliness and generosity. We had settled in a house outside East Hampton, on the far end of Long Island, a part of the world that, for nine months a year, is quiet and extremely beautiful. We wallowed in the convenience of America, in the efficiency and the extraordinary variety of choice, and we practiced native customs. We came to know California wines. We shopped by phone. We drove sedately. We took vitamins and occasionally remembered to worry about cholesterol. We tried to watch television. I gave up taking cigars to restaurants, but smoked them furtively in private. There was even a period when we drank eight glasses of water a day. In other words, we did our best to adapt.         And yet there was something missing. Or rather, an entire spectrum of sights and sounds and smells and sensations that we had taken for granted in Provence, from the smell of thyme in the fields to the swirl and jostle of Sunday-morning markets. Very few weeks went by without a twinge of what I can best describe as homesickness.         Returning to a place where you have been happy is generally regarded as a mistake. Memory is a notoriously biased and sentimental editor, selecting what it wants to keep and invariably making a few cosmetic changes to past events. With rose-colored hindsight, the good times become magical; the bad times fade and eventually disappear, leaving only a seductive blur of sunlit days and the laughter of friends. Was it really like that? Would it be like that again?         There was, of course, only one way to find out. Excerpted from Encore Provence: New Adventures in the South of France by Peter Mayle All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Second Impressionsp. 3
The Unsolved Murder of the Handsome Butcherp. 22
New York Times Restaurant Critic Makes Astonishing Discovery: Provence Never Existedp. 38
Recipe for a Villagep. 53
Curious Reasons for Liking Provencep. 69
A Beginner's Guide to Marseillep. 85
How to Be a Nosep. 100
In Search of the Perfect Corkscrewp. 116
Eight Ways to Spend a Summer's Afternoonp. 134
The Genetic Effects of Two Thousand Years of Foie Grasp. 160
Discovering Oilp. 177
Friday Morning in Carpentrasp. 194
Green Thumbs and Black Tomatoesp. 211
P.S.p. 225