Twenty-two keys to la belle vie


Gayle Smith Padgett is a Languedoc Living reader living in Saint Remy, and she wrote to us about her book Passion for Provence: 22 Keys to La Belle Vie.

Falling for France wasn’t part of the Mediterranean honeymoon agenda. Pale rosé, languid lunches on a sun-dappled terrace, and a dash of reckless abandon may have been to blame. Americans Gayle Smith Padgett and her husband, Ralph, leap into a long-distance love affair with La Belle France. Two decades and many beguiling assignations later, they finally launch a quest for a nest in Provence. Despite a lack of French skills and connections, the couple plunges full-time into French life. Through a series of faux pas and lucky encounters, they unlock intriguing mysteries, including France’s food-first policy and its dependence on Gallic shrugs.

Gayle is a UCLA graduate, has two master’s degrees, neither in French. After studying in Mexico and South America, she worked as a language specialist in California and Virginia and later as a management analyst and US government liaison in Heidelberg, Germany. In 2011, she and Ralph moved to France, and she wrote this charming book about all the ups and downs of finding your feet in France.

We’re delighted to be publishing several chapters of her book over the summer, and we will be offering readers a chance to win a signed copy.

In the meantime, pour yourself a cool drink, put your feet up, and enjoy the extracts, starting here.