Are You a Juilletiste or an Aoûtien?

In France, the prime vacation months are July and August, when school is out and the weather is beautiful. Which raises a question: when should a French person go on vacation?

Traditionally, most people went in August, when factories closed and the country shut down. But as the French economy has evolved and manufacturing has declined, people can now choose which month to go on vacation. And they usually go at the same time every year, which has divided the country into two groups. They even have special names: the juilletistes, who vacation in July (July is juillet in French) and the aoûtiens (for août, or August.)

These two tribes have different characteristics and each views the other with a kind of suspicion, bordering on disdain. Some sociologists claim that the most important social division in France isn’t based on race, gender, religion, or even political affiliation, but by when you take your summer vacation!

I take a look at each tribe in The Good Life France!

Celebrity Rosé Wines of Provence

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, John Legend, and Jon Bon Jovi are just a few of the celebrities who have fallen in love with the delicious rosé wines of Provence. And not only do they love them, they make them! (well, maybe they hire someone to do the actual work…)

Who are these famous vignerons and, more important, are their wines any good? I decided to do deep research on this vital subject and am happy to share what I learned.

Read all about it in Perfectly Provence!

My Provençal Summer Menu

Summer is a wonderful time of year in Provence, with blue skies everywhere and brilliant sunflowers and lavender in bloom. My favorite time of day is the early evening when the heat of the day is past and you can look forward to a long, lazy meal.

Even if you are not in Provence right now, here’s a menu that will bring the flavors of the region to you. We start with a refreshing aperitif, move on to an appetizer and a main dish, and finish with a cool and refreshing dessert. I’ve chosen some of my favorite dishes, all very Provençal, and I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Read all about it in Perfectly Provence!

Eurovision: Europe’s Greatest Cultural Achievement?

What is Europe’s greatest cultural achievement? Is it the art of Michelangelo? The Magna Carta? French cuisine? For me, there’s no question—it’s the Eurovision Song Contest. For nearly 70 years, singers and bands across the continent have battled for the title of Best Original Song.

What makes Eurovision great? It’s not the music, because most of the songs sound alike. No, it’s the performances, and especially the cheesy ones (some might call them campy.) Who can forget the Bearded Lady? Or the man running inside a giant hamster wheel? Or the bare-chested fellows prancing in their sparkly gold shoulder pads?

Americans are starting to discover Eurovision. The number one movie on Netflix right now is Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams. It’s silly and fun and captures the spirit of Eurovision perfectly.

Eurovision was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus, but the official videos for the finalists have been posted online. I’ve watched them all and picked out the best for you.

Read all about it at MyFrenchLife!

How to Picnic French-Style

The sun is shining, the weather is warm—let’s go on a picnic! We may not be able to travel to France this year, but we can still add some French style to our pique-nique.

I’ve written a short primer on picnicking à la français. What are the basics that no French picnic can be without? What are the three courses of a classic French picnic? And is it ok to take a nap after you’ve eaten? I explain all!

Read all about it in France Today!

7 Favorite Villages and Vineyards in Provence

My wife and I spend part of every year in St-Rémy-de-Provence, a charming town nestled up against the northern slope of the Alpilles mountain range. It’s our favorite town in the area but there are others we love as well. There’s tiny Les Baux-de-Provence, for example, sitting just below a great fortress. Or rustic Eygalières, where I sometimes see horses at hitching posts, waiting patiently for their riders.

There are plenty of vineyards as well, because Provence is famous for its wines. Would you like white, pink, or red? We’ve got them all and they are terrific.

Let me tell you about some of my favorite villages and vineyards near where I live. You might like to visit some on your next trip to Provence.

You can read all about them at Perfectly Provence!

Understanding French Culture

France has a distinctive culture, reflecting its long and proud history as a great nation. And it has its quirks–for example, the French kiss each other when other people might hug or shake hands. Their driving habits are different than those other countries. And arguing is one of the country’s national sports.

Want some insights into French culture? Then check out this article in My French Life!

A Mysterious French Monster

History is full of horrible monsters. The ancient Greeks were terrorized by the Cyclops. The snowy Himalayas are haunted by the Abominable Snowman. And in Japan, Godzilla appears from time to time and stomps on Tokyo.

The French have their own terrible creature and—unlike the others—this one was real. The mysterious Beast of Gévaudan ravaged the French countryside in the 18th century, killing so many people that King Louis XV had to send troops to destroy it.

What was the Beast—a vicious wolf, an escaped lion, or something else? It’s a fascinating tale.

Read all about it in The Good Life France!

Where I Live

I was asked recently by Perfectly Provence to describe St-Rémy-de-Provence, the town where my wife Val and I live part of the year. What is there to see and do? Where is our favorite place for coffee or an apéro? How about our top picks for a romantic meal or for a casual bite to eat?

For anyone considering a visit to St-Rémy, you might find this helpful.

Read all about it in Perfectly Provence!