Imagine you're in Provence with these Top 10 books to read

The secret of a good book? It has to take us away in a few words or a few sentences. And what if that “away” was Provence which has been the incredible decor for so many stories? Sometimes poetic, sometimes full of suspense, a collection of stories to scour Provence as you follow the intrigue.

 

Corniche Kennedy by Maylis de Kerangal

Marseille, a challenge

Maylis de Kerangal was born in Toulon in 1967. This contemporary woman writer captures the essence of her Provence in her book on Marseille. When it was published in 2008,Corniche Kennedy was listed among the Best French novels. The book is about a group of reckless young people, excited by the attraction of what is forbidden, will move you as much as it has already moved thousands of readers. You will feel the breath of wind on the famous Marseille corniche, where these youths are ready to dive in and risk their lives. A perfect summer novel where Sylvestre, the policeman who tries to watch over the intrepid young people, will also leave his mark. A place for a pause between the beaches of Les Catalans and the Prado.

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The trilogy of Pan: Hill, Lovers are Never Losers and Second Harvest by Jean Giono

Giono, a heart firmly rooted in Provence

Jean Giono was born in Manosque and Provence was firmly rooted in his heart. His writing extolls his region and its fame. His work includes poems and novels, but… which book should you choose? Why not the famous trilogy of Pan: Hill, Lovers Are Never Losers and Second Harvest. Giono has his own distinctive style: realistic facts are intertwined with the irrational interpretation of the characters and the supernatural. Here, subterranean forces, the expressions of the God Pan, disrupt the life of the inhabitants. To complete this immersion, a 152-km itinerary to commemorate the writer will bring his writing alive for you on an outing to Manosque. From Banon to the Jabron valley and the Contadour, take a tour of the Montagne de Lure and (re)discover the “Gionoesque” territory.

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A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

Put yourselves in the shoes of a Londoner discovering Provence

The British writer Peter Mayle, who settled near Ménerbes in the 1980s, rapidly grew very fond of the Provencal territory. His series of books on Provence met with international success. Of them, the still famous captivating autobiography A Year in Provence. It takes the form of a monthly chronicle and will take you deep into the Luberon, its customs, and to meet its inhabitants… If you’re wondering which book to read to feel what it’s like to be a foreigner, the story of Peter Mayle, freshly arrived from London and taking possession of a little Provencal farm, will be sure to fascinate you.

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Le Secret des Andrônes by Pierre Magnan

A mystery and a maze of passage-ways in which to hide it

Pierre Magnan is the ultimate Provencal writer. Born in Manosque, like his mentor Jean Giono, he was a true lover and defender of his region. Le Secret des Andrônes is a regional novel with as its backdrop a police story which takes place in Sisteron. Lose yourself in this fascinating investigation. It all begins during a play staged during the Nuits de la Citadelle, a festival which takes place every year in the town. A body falls from the top of the edifice. Go back in time and explore the maquis with Commissaire Laviolette. A small teaser for you: the andrônes in the title are covered passageways between two often terraced houses. These passageways are characteristic of Provence.

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My friend Maigret by Georges Simenon

An investigation set against a deep blue backdrop

With 192 novels, 158 short stories, diverse autobiographic books, articles and reports published under his own name, Simenon was certainly one of the most prolific Belgian writers. He was also the author of 176 novels, dozens of short stories and tales published under 27 pseudonyms. People will tell you that one of best books and a must-read is My friend Maigret. This crime novel with its multiple twists features the famous character of Commissaire Maigret. One of his friends, a certain Marcellin, is killed on the island of Porquerolles. Maigret goes there with Mr Pyke to lead the investigation. Follow the two rivals as they move towards the final outcome. The ideal novel to escape and set off on an adventure among the Mediterranean landscapes of the beautiful island of Porquerolles.

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The Count of Monte-Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Classical but a real must

Alexandre Dumas was the author of many mythical books such as The Three Musketeers and La Reine Margot. The Count of Monte-Cristo went down as one of his greatest successes. This novel for the summer (or for the winter by the fireside) tells the story of Edmond Dantès, a twenty-year old sailor who was arrested for conspiracy on his arrival in the port of Marseille. Edmond was then held prisoner for fourteen years in the Château d’If, in the bay of the Mediterranean city. He manages to escape with the help of one of his fellow-prisoners. Now the Count of Monte-Cristo, the man can’t wait to take his revenge. This is much more than just a book about Marseille, it’s a really exciting adventure!

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On a volé la Sainte-Victoire by Joël Rumello

A book to share with your kids

In his novel, Joël Rumello, a journalist who came to live in Avignon before settling in Aix, follows in the tracks of the famous painter Paul Cézanne. This beautiful story of two children, full of tenderness and  squabbles, will probably make you nostalgic. Cézanne spent most of his life in Aix-en-Provence and painted the Montagne Sainte-Victoire which overlooks the town from all angles. But the novel is intriguing when it tells the story of how after a visit to the museum, the original painting of the Sainte-Victoire was supposed to have disappeared… strange, because it would appear that Cézanne never actually painted it!

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This is not a book but several extracts from Camus’ work

Lourmarin, Another Algeria for Albert Camus

Albert Camus, the famous writer, was born in Algeria. When he arrived in Paris, he missed his homeland terribly. The lands of Provence allowed him to find some of the colours and atmosphere of North Africa. From 1946, he stayed regularly in Lourmarin, in the Luberon. After having been awarded the Nobel prize for literature, he decided to settle there and bought a big house in the Grand’rue de l’Eglise, which has since been renamed rue Albert-Camus. Monsieur Terrasse, as he called himself in order to remain anonymous, was to write The First Man here. The village and its landscapes – “the mountains in the distance” – are often mentioned in his writing. Camus was buried in Lourmarin, a village you can discover after reading one of his books.

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Maurin des Maures by Jean Aicard

The spirit of the mountain

Jean Aicard is often known as a “poet of Provence” because he grew up in the Var. His work is mainly set in the region, such as the collection Poèmes de Provence or the famous novel Maurin des Maures. In these pages, he introduces us to a rather peculiar hero: Maurin, hunter. Maurin is in love with freedom and leads a life of illegality. You can appreciate this opposition between the portrait of a man and the portrait of a region, both claiming with force their right to exception. In the “field”, every year, the Massif des Maures hosts a race which traces Maurin’s route. Take a moment and plunge into the novel by this Provencal writer before setting off to discover the massif.

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Schatten der Provence by Pierre Lagrange

A mysterious German writer in Provence

But who is Pierre Lagrange? Simply the alias of a German writer who grew up in the countryside around Avignon, where his mother ran a small hotel. The author of a number of crime novels and thrillers, his real success was with theseries on Commissaire Albin Leclerc. As a suggestion of a novel to discover Provence, Schatten der Provence tells the story of an investigation into the tehft o works of art by the friendly commissaire and his faithful Carlin Tyson. Follow the two compères in an adventure where evrything is a question of life and death… The whole story is set in the region, near Carpentras, where the vehicle conveying the artwork was looted.

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