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The Côte d’Azur – a writer’s paradise

09 Dec 2022

Artists, athletes, celebrities and tourists visit  the South of France in their droves – drawn by the sparkling sea, glorious climate and impressive landscapes. Over…

Artists, athletes, celebrities and tourists visit  the South of France in their droves – drawn by the sparkling sea, glorious climate and impressive landscapes. Over the years many international writers have also caught the ‘Provençal bug’ and been inspired by this destination.

So, in preparation for the cooler winter months, which call for quality time spent in the comfort of your Parc du Cap residence, here is a reading list to get lost in. All the books recommended here have been inspired by or are connected to the area immediately surrounding Parc du Cap.

Starting close to home in Antibes

Antibes’ dazzling properties and coastline provide the backdrop for many novels, old and new.

  • Tender is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1934)

Author of the famous The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald is widely regarded as one of the best American writers of the 20th century. Tender is The Night is a semi-auto-biographical account of the author’s life as well as a depiction of the glowing highlights and epic downfalls of the elite of the Riviera.

  • Villa America by Liza Klaussmann (2015)

Villa America, inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald himself, vibrantly depicts the glitz and glamour lifestyles of the Murphys and their friends. The Murphys, a real-life couple, lived in the French Riviera in the early twentieth century, with its jazz-age parties and balmy summers and followed an extravagant lifestyle. However, like many of these stories, emerging secrets lead to fiery debates.

A dive into the mysterious side of Provence

If the idea of crime, mystery or thriller novels influenced by the Côte d’Azur tickles your fancy, there are plenty of novels with a Provençal twist to indulge in.

  • Maigret on The Riviera by Georges Simenon (1932)

Maigret on The Riviera is a good old-fashioned, easy-to-read crime novel with French flair. With his iconic bowler hat, Inspector Maigret arrives in Antibes to solve the mystery of the murder of a retired Australian sheep rancher. However, Maigret must first overcome the captivating glamour and beauty of the sunny Antibes.

  • The Other Side of Silence by Philip Kerr (2016)

Set in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat in 1956, the mysterious protagonist Bernie Gunther becomes involved in a blackmail case and a game of British spies. The New York Times described this as “one of Kerr’s best novels” making it well worth a read.

Discovery of the self

The South of France often provides the backdrop for individuals embarking on adventures of self-discovery and uncovering of secrets.  Below is a selection of novels inspired by these kinds of episodes:

  • Cooking For Picasso by Camille Aubray (2016)

Based on the true-life story of artist Pablo Picasso, who hid out in Juan–les–Pins when his wife discovered the existence of his mistress, the novel tells the tale of Picasso’s time in hiding there.  He hired a local chef called Ondine. The two quickly become friends and were inspired by each other’s creative work. The narrative transitions to the modern day and Ondine’s granddaughter, who wants to find out more about her grandmother’s life on the Côte d’Azur.

  • Akin by Emma Donogue (2019)

One of the most recent novels on our reading list, this story follows the adventures of an unseemly and generationally separated couple – a retired New York professor and his young great-nephew. Together they embark on a mission to discover the wartime secrets of their relative in Nice. Akin was described as the ‘next masterpiece’ by New York Times bestselling author Emma Donoghue.

Celebrating the beauty of Provence

Unsurprisingly, the breath-taking scenery of the region has sparked creativity for many authors and writers.

  • The Forgotten Summer by Carol Drinkwater (2016)

Actress and prolific writer Carol Drinkwater lives in the French Riviera and has written several books inspired by her experience of the region. The Forgotten Summer is set on a magnificent vineyard and olive estate in a fictional location in Provence where a family drama erupts. Carol’s heartfelt and intricate descriptions of Provence leave the reader feeling transported to the landscape of her novel.  

  • A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle (1989)

This classic has been described as the book to read if you desire to lose yourself in a witty and warm-hearted account of a couple’s dream to live abroad. In this case, the dream is to move into a charming 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote and spectacular area of Lubéron. If you enjoy this best-selling novel, why not try Mayle’s sequel, Toujours Provence.

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