Englishmen in France or Is the Hundred Year’s War actually over?

Every since I can remember, the thought of running off to  France, to immerse myself in the culture, the food, the history,and of course,  the glorious weather has been a cherished dream. In the case of these two Englishmen; sometimes living a dream is not quite what you expect.

provencePeter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence” chronicles in a month by month account, the joys and trials of Mayle and his wife’s first year living in the remote country village of Luberon restoring a two century old stone farmhouse. Nothing in their quiet English pasts prepared them to cope with the cavalcade of eccentric neighbours, bizarre laws and strange customs that characterize the village. The book is a hilarious read, as well as a seductive introduction to  all the earthy pleasures of Provencal life.

A Year in the Merde is the almost-true account of the Stephen Clark’s adventures as an expat in Paris. Based on his own experiences and with names changed to “avoid embarrassment, possible legal action and to prevent the author’s legs being broken by someone in a Yves Saint Laurent suit”. Narrated by Paul West, a twenty-seven-year-old Brit who is brought to Paris by a French company to open a chain of British “tea rooms.” He must manage of a group of lazy, grumbling French employees,  a treacherous Parisian boss, and a succession of lusty merdegirlfriends. Clark paints each character with love and humour and the driest of English wit  .

Both books have spawned a number of sequels, Peter Mayle has also continued his adventures in “Toujours Provence“, “Hotel Pastis” and “Encore Provence“, as well as other culinary and cultural adventures in France.  Stephen Clark has continued Paul West’s saga in “Merde Actually“, “Dial M for Merde“, as well as “Talk to the Snail”.

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