Australian author Marianne Bayliss has been invited here to share the inspiration behind her short story “Sweet Provence” in the LOVE IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES romance anthology.
I greatly enjoyed Marianne’s story, set in the beautiful southeastern region of France, and hope you will too. Download a copy of the collection or buy the print version from your favorite online retailer, lift the cover, and delight in the sweetness of love and chocolate inside. ~Best, Adele
From Marianne Bayliss:
The inspiration for my story SWEET PROVENCE came from a wonderful holiday I shared last April with my 21-year-old daughter.
Our globe-trot included one glorious week in Paris, four days in Provence and ten days in Italy. We loved it all, but we loved Provence the most.
In Provence, we made our base in Aix- (pronounced: ‘aches’) -en-Provence and booked mini-van day tours to surrounding towns, just as my heroine did.
While each town was charming, with specific traits that made them unique, we discovered similarities that linked them.
First, the light. It’s golden. Everything appeared tinged in a caramelised aura. It had us turning our face to the sun and basking in the gentle glow: something we rarely do in the harsh Australian sunshine. While now I can’t remember the exact shade, I still recall the impression of the faint butterscotch blush and I tilt my head up when I call it to mind, as though the memory and the action are linked. It was easy to see why the great painters Cézanne and Van Gogh favoured this unique light and created their most famous paintings in this area.
Second, the scenery. Every aspect is postcard worthy. I was producing photos similar to those filling my ‘365 days in France’ calendar. I, as the photographer, needed no skill; Provence did the work. Each cobbled-stone laneway, fountain and potted plant appeared to have been designed with the camera in mind (yet with that nonchalance at which the French excel). While we, the models, may not have always photographed our best, Provence provided the perfect backdrop without fail.
Third, the food. Buttery, flaky croissants accompanied by creamy coffee or rich hot chocolate for breakfast. Crunchy baguettes filled with fresh produce for lunch. Whole roasted Camembert topped with stewed cinnamon apples for dinner. Need I say more?
Fourth, the friendliness. To be fair, I speak basic conversational French and tried to use it as much as possible, but we found the locals were warm and helpful. Our experiences started with a Boulanger, sucking a cigarette outside his bakery, who fixed a problem with our accommodation then gave us crisp pastry treats in a sweet little bag to enjoy while we waited. Two waiters shared a Limoncello with us ‘on the house’ during their shift. A stall holder in Roussillon engaged us in charming conversation after having seen us wander the market in Saint-Rémy the previous day. And a married couple from Marseille, who we met on the flight from Provence to Venice, insisted we join them in their private water taxi from Venice airport to the main island, instead of travelling by crowded water bus!
Outside Aix-en-Provence is the village of Puyricard, and home of France’s famous chocolaterie of the same name. This became the inspiration for my hero’s world and the location for much of my story. (My daughter and I actually outlined the story one evening on the walk from our accommodation to the café; by the end of dinner we had full stomachs and a basic plot!)
In SWEET PROVENCE, children’s book author and illustrator, Katie Monroe, seeks inspiration when she travels to Provence. But romance finds her in the form of Luc Julienne, the owner of France’s famous chocolaterie.
When distance and work conflicts threaten their relationship will Katie choose the job she loves or the man who has melted her heart?
LOVE IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES presents sixteen stories that capture both the sweetness and variety of a box of chocolates. Ranging from new loves to rekindled relationships, these stories are filled with sweet meet-cutes, nutty quirks, and the unexpected richness hidden beneath the surface of the characters and their developing relationships.
You can purchase a copy of Love is Like a Box of Chocolates from your preferred retailer here: