One Sip At A Time: Book Review
“Every man has two countries – his own and France.” Thomas Jefferson
“A walk in Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty and the point of life.” Thomas Jefferson
Living in France is a dream of many Francophiles but few get to enjoy the reality of it. Keith Van Sickle and his wife Val have however made their dream of ‘living in Provence, the land of brilliant sunlight, charming hilltop villages and the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean‘ come true. We read as they ‘quit their jobs, become consultants and split their time between two countries’. Living between Silicon Valley in the US and Provence in France couldn’t be more diverse in its two lifestyles but Keith and Val seamlessly move between the two with ease and show the way how with passion and determination anything is possible. For anyone dreaming of spending more time in France and relocating part or full time, this book will definately inspire and fuel your dream.
Living in a foreign country for an extended time is always different than holidaying. You will need to buy essential items that might otherwise be provided by your hotel or can be attended to later at home. Getting haircuts, purchasing small electrical appliances, and filling medication renewal scripts can be a few of the little housekeeping activities that would be simple at home, but can turn into disasters if you are not fluent in French. Buying a beard trimmer of all things tests Keith’s patience and his good manners prevail in a frustrating situation. He accepts that when living, rather than holidaying in France, you never know when you will find yourself smack in the middle of a testing situation that after a deep breath, and possibly a glass of wine or two, will be laughed at with a shrug of the shoulders.
I certainly agree with Keith that France captures your heart. The history of the country is inescapable even on a walk through a village, short bike ride from town to town or a drive to your friends’ place. History abounds in the villages, along the canals, in the countryside and of course in the grand cities. This is one of the drawcards for Keith and Val and I feel that their story of changing gears and learning what joie de vivre is all about has only just begun and they will continue to return to France, and of course share more of their adventures with us, their readers and fans. Lucky us!
Short recollections take the reader through daily events, festivals and the occasional faux pas making this book an easy read. This is a perfect book for when you only have a spare moment or two as it can easily be picked up and returned to again, however, if you’re like me you won’t be able to put it down once you start. Lunch All Afternoon; Joyeux Anniversaire and the celebration of Val’s deliciousness are all little snippets into a life in France.
Bêê Bêê Black Sheep, the Transhumance Festival is one of the most authentic and earthy festivals connecting people, their animals and the earth throughout the seasons. I love the way Keith shares their experience of this festival for us all to enjoy.
Go with the Flow is just one of Keith’s antidotes that give a insight into how the French approach life differently to that of a US citizen. It is oh, so French, to block roads, expect everyone to wait while they attempt the impossible, and often incredibly unsafe, motoring manouvere, and of course ignore all protests directed towards them.
Take 2 Comprimé and Call me in the Morning is a funny tale of a visit to the pharmacy. In France everyone patiently waits to take their turn to talk to the pharmasist, often about very private issues, who then checks you out and makes a decision on whether you appear responsible enough to dispense medicines to. Keith compares the differences between how the US and France define ‘safe substances’ and what is allowed, or not, over the counter with, or without, an indepth interrogation by the pharmasist and, of course, live audience. I believe Australia is similar to the US in their approach to pharmacies and over the counter medications.
So for everyone who has dreamed of relocating to France or if you want to refuel your dream, I recommend One Sip at a Time by Keith, a technology industry veteran, lifelong traveler and now part time Frenchman.
Keith’s website can be found here where he shares more of his adventures (and misadventures) of living in Provence. Perfectly Provence is also another fabulous website that draws on a number of authors to cover a comprehensive range of topics with the focus on, you guessed it … beautiful Provence.
Au revoir till next time… Annette xx
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