Though organized from A to Z, this is hardly a conventional work of reference. It is rather a selection of those aspects of Provence that Peter Mayle in almost twenty years there has found to be the most interesting, curious, delicious, or down-right fun.
In more than 170 entries he writes about subjects as wide-ranging as architecture and zingue-zingue-zoun (in the local patois, a word meant to describe the sound of a violin), as diverse as expatriates, Aix-en-Provence, the Provençal character, legends, lavender, linguistic oddities, the museum of the French Foreign Legion, the museum of the corkscrew, the origins of “La Marseillaise,” and a bawdy folklore character named Fanny.
And, of course, he writes about food and drink: vin rosé, truffles, olives, melons, bouillabaisse, the cheese that killed a Roman emperor, even a cure for indigestion. The wonderful accompanying artwork includes curiosities Mayle has gathered over the years—matchbooks, drawings, century-old ads, photos, tourist brochures, maps.
Provence A-Z is a delight for Peter Mayle’s ever-growing audience and the perfect complement to any guidebook on Provence, or, for that matter, France.