“Paris is always a good idea,” Julia Ormond famously noted in the 1995 film version of Sabrina. Like many Americans enamored with la belle France, I tend to agree, as does American journalist and author Elizabeth Bard.
More than 10 years ago, Bard had a lunch date with a handsome Frenchman in Paris and never went home. That story is chronicled in her first memoir, Lunch in Paris, which I read several years ago and loved. So I was delighted to hear that Bard was releasing a second memoir, Picnic in Provence. As its title suggests, this book follows Bard, her French husband Gwendal and their infant son Alexandre as they leave Paris behind for a quieter life in the Provençal village of Céreste.
I love a good memoir—especially one featuring food, travel, or both. So I’ve read my fair share of true-life tales set in France. I’ve come to expect some of their common elements: rhapsodies about the food, the difficulty of putting down roots in a new community. (Anyone who has read Peter Mayle will expect the home-renovation subplot that crops up at one point.) But Bard’s memoir, while full of gentle humor (and luscious food descriptions), goes deeper.