"Taking Root in Provence by Anne-Marie Simons"Anne-Marie Simons worked for more than 30 years in the United States, mostly in the Washington DC area. In 1997, her husband had an opportunity to take early retirement from a career in international development banking and they decided to go in search of the ideal place to retire. They’d long enjoyed traveling in France where Provence, with its mountains, beaches, ancient cities, remote villages, glitzy resorts, culture and leisure became their favorite destination.

But did they really want to LIVE there for the rest of their lives?

In trying to answer that question they set aside part of their next French holiday to drive to villages where they thought they might like to live, and ended up rejecting one after the other. In the course of this research they came to the conclusion that year-round village life was not for them and quickly agreed on the city of Aix-en-Provence.

A year later they took the plunge, left Washington for good, bought an apartment in the old center of Aix, and started living like the locals. It turned out to be the right choice for these former Washingtonians who have since decided to make France their permanent home. Taking Root in Provence is their story.


This ‘warts-and-all’ account of life among the French offers us a close-up of the daily markets, strikes, gypsies, curious villagers, ancient traditions, truffle cheaters, pagan and religious celebrations, secret swimming spots in the middle of Marseilles, not to mention the French interest in food that borders on the obsessive. Add good weather, a pinch of hedonism, a dose of culture, and it all adds up to a tantalizing view of life’s most cherished and elusive prize: quality of life.

With warmth and humor Simons shares her joys and frustrations, her fun with the language and her lessons learned, giving us an insider’s view of a privileged place that, despite its contradictions, seems to hold the promise of a true life of quality. Is it possible to find that paradise is right here on earth?

Anne-Marie Simons took a journalism degree at San Francisco State in the late seventies. She was then hired by an English-language news magazine called To the Point International, with headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, and a European office in Antwerp, Belgium. TPI also owned a car magazine called SA Motor. She worked at the Antwerp office for the news magazine and also covered the Formula One races in Europe for SA Motor. She worked as a translator, teacher, journalist, sportswriter and as director of corporate communications. Her husband left a career in international development banking to become an expert on Provençal cooking and other local pleasures. His recipes are featured.