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France: Paris and Provence 2 - Books & Movies
RECOMMENDED READING 
  • Fragile Glory: A Portrait of France and the French by Richard Bernstein. An enormously entertaining account of contemporary France from the former Paris bureau chief of The New York Times. Bernstein combines personal memoir, informed observation, and news-hound curiosity to offer a stirring and unforgettable panaorama of France--at times exalted, troubling, and occasionally absurd.
  • Savoir Flair: 211 Tips for Enjoying France and the French by Polly Platt. Having lived in France for over 30 years, Platt brings her first-hand knowledge to this useful guide.  Entertaining and funny, this book features little known French habits and their cultural context. Everything from WiFi to cell phones, blogs to rollerbladers, and all else in between has been added to make this one of the most current books on actual life and travel in France. 
  • The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafes, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour by Joan DeJean. Why do we celebrate with champagne? Why are diamonds a status symbol? One of the foremost authorities on seventeenth-century French culture provides the answer to these and other questions in her account of how the French under Louis XIV set the standards of sophistication and style that survive today.
  • The Food of France by Waverley Root. Embraces not only the marvels of French cooking but French history, language, landscape, and customs as well. Here is France for the traveler, the chef, and the connoisseur of fine prose. Maps and b & w line drawings throughout.
  • A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. In this witty and warm-hearted account, Mayle shares the realization of his long-cherished dream to move into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. A Year in Provence transports us into all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.
  • The Road from the Past: Traveling through History in France by Ina Caro. Caro takes us on an unforgettable driving tour of France, from Provence to the Loire Valley to Paris. With Caro as an epicurean, knowledgeable, and delightfully opinionated guide, we can always be sure to find the most breathtaking vistas, the most extraordinary châteaux, the most inspiring cathedrals, and the very best meals.
  • Hotel Pastis: A Novel of Provence by Peter Mayle. Life seems idyllic for Simon Shaw, an ex-advertising tycoon who has found love and refuge in a small village in the Luberon.  But when his path crosses with a recently-released crook from the Marseilles prison, his heaven on earth threatens to turn upside down.  Mayle regales us with a wonderfully entertaining novel of escape, romance and adventure played in the Provencal landscape he has made so irresistible.
  • Postcards from France by Megan Mcneill Libby. As a junior in high schoool, Libby left behind the familiar comforts of suburban New England to live abroad as an exchange student. Now, in this charming collection of thoughts and vignettes, she takes readers of every age on a delightful, memorable tour through her year in France. The perfect letter from a friend, Postcards is a rare gem of a book that will delight anyone who has ever dreamed of traveling or living in a foreign country.
  • French or Foe?: Getting the Most Out of Visiting, Living and Working in France by Polly Platt. The trick to getting along in France is understanding the culture and learning to accept it on French terms instead of your own. Although this book is designed primarily for people who will be living or working in France for extended periods, the lessons Platt teaches about manners, attitudes, and culture are invaluable for first-time visitors and vacationing travelers.
  • Two Towns in Provence: Map of Another Town and a Considerable Town by M.F.K. Fisher. This memoir of the French provincial capital of Aix-en-Provence is a vibrant and perceptive profile of the kinship between a person and a place, a delightful journey filtered through the senses of a profound writer. M.F.K. Fisher scans the centuries to reveal the ancient sources that clarify the Marseille of today and the indestructible nature of its people.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING 
  • Funny Face (1957) by Stanley Donen (with Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire). Fred Astaire's inimitable dancing feet come full circle in George and Ira Gershwin's airy 1957 musical gambol about high-fashion photography in Paris, co-starring a luminous Audrey Hepburn as a newly discovered fashion model.
  • Dangerous Liaisons (1988) by Stephen Frears (with Glenn Close, John Malkovich). Privileged and bored 18th-century French aristocrats Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont entertain themselves by making a bet focusing on the virginal Cécile de Volanges and the virtuous Madame de Tourvel.
  • Amelie (2001) by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (with Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz). When impish gamine Amélie (Audrey Tautou), who lives alone, finds a long-hidden trove of toys behind a baseboard in her apartment, she's inspired to repatriate the items, an impulse of generosity that sparks more benevolent acts. A celebration of life and love, French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Oscar-nominated charmer stresses the importance of small wonders that surround us, if only we paused to look.
  • La Vie en Rose (2007) by Olivier Dahan (with Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud). Director Olivier Dahan paints a poignant portrait of legendary Parisian singer Édith Piaf, whose passion for music saw her through a life filled with tragedy. The film follows the chanteuse from her childhood in a brothel to her premature death.
  • Paris, Je T'Aime/ Paris, I Love You (2007) by Gus Van Sant, Wes Craven Paris comes to life in this whimsical patchwork of 18 five-minute shorts united by a common theme -- love in the City of Lights -- and helmed by an international cast of filmmakers, including Gus Van Sant, Olivier Assayas and Alexander Payne. Natalie Portman plays an American actress who captures the heart of a blind student; Juliette Binoche is visited by a ghostly Willem Dafoe; Bob Hoskins solicits a prostitute's advice on pleasing his wife.
  • Midnight in Paris (2011) by Woody Allen (with Owen Wilson, Kurt Fuller). In this charming romantic comedy, legendary director Woody Allen focuses his lens on an engaged young couple whose experiences traveling together in Paris make them begin to question the kind of life they want to live.
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Why travel with other women?
Many women do not have families or compatible friends who wish to travel. When going on a main-stream tour, women often find that most activities are geared towards couples and quite often they feel left out. Singles' tours are not always what women are looking for. If you do not have a traveling companion, there is also the issue of the expensive "single supplement", sometimes as much as 50 or even 100 percent of the tour cost. By going on women-only tours, women can easily avoid paying for the single supplement by sharing a room with another woman traveler.
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