Today … I’m in Paris (Day 8) and I thought it only appropriate to have author Patricia Sands here who has a new release – The Promise of Provence – which is set in France! I hope you enjoy 🙂 I’ll eat a delightful bonbon today to celebrate this post 🙂

Hey Steena, thanks so much for inviting me to stop by on my blog tour for the launch of my new novel, The Promise of Provence. I am delighted to be here! You know how I never miss a chance to talk about France, a country I have loved for a very long time.

It didn’t surprise me when you suggested that I might want to write something about chocolate in France. We all know what a true chocophile you are!

I immediately knew this post had to begin with a shout out to the movie Chocolat which stars Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, and …swoon … Johnny Deppe and was filmed in a charming French village. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.  But I must warn you that as swoonworthy as Deppe is, the chocolate in the film is even more so! 

Let’s talk history for un moment.

Cacao beans first appeared in Europe in the 1500’s when Spanish explorers returned home with them from Mexico and South America where the crops were cultivated by the Aztecs. When Anne of Austria, a Spanish princess (go figure), married Louis XIII of France in 1615 she brought with her the Spanish custom of drinking chocolate and that’s how the whole craze began.

Initially only the very wealthy could afford the luxury of chocolate but today it’s out there in every way imaginable for each of us to enjoy. I’ll raise a toast with my Godiva Chocolate Martini to that! ~ clink ~

Since the 1700’s, chocolate has been referred to as the “food of the gods”. The French became renowned for their dark chocolate and the art of being a chocolatier developed into a truly artisan craft. Today Paris is celebrated as a chocolate lover’s paradise and since I know you are visiting there soon, I’ve got some tips for you and anyone else planning a trip to France.

The three basic types of French chocolates are bonbons (filled chocolates – often with creamy ganache), tablettes (bars) and truffes (truffles). Pardon me for drooling …

An article I recently read described the new crop of artisan chocolatiers as having raised the bar not only in quality but also in originality of presentation. Trust the French! One thing a visitor notices immediately is how artistically presented everything is in France: from the food displays or flowers in the markets to windows full of baguette sandwiches to boulangeries with their shelves of baked products to couturier salons featuring high fashion. It is all exhibited with artistry.

There is a lot to say about where and how to buy chocolate in Paris  – because each mouth-watering possibility must be discussed, of course. So I have attached three links below for those who want more details, including a list of the top ten locations in which to make your wildest chocolate fantasies come true.

Steena, since I know the hotel where you are staying in Paris, I am thrilled to tell you that several of these amazing shops, with their seasonal eye-popping displays as well as traditional standards, are nearby. You were recently asking about macarons, so prepare yourself for a visit to the hyperchic shop of Pierre Hermé, on the Rue Bonaparte near the Église Saint-Sulpice. Apparently you will first notice the line snaking out the door and down the street as buyers patiently wait specifically for his dazzling macarons au chocolat, reputed to be the best in the country.

Be sure to take good shoes with you because in Paris you must be a flaneur, a stroller. It’s the best way to appreciate the beauty of this magnificent city and to find your way to some of the most tantalizing and delectable chocolate ever. Vive le chocolat! Vive la France!

About the Author

Patricia Sands lives in Toronto Canada most of the time, Florida some of the time, and the south of France whenever possible. With a happily blended family of seven adult children and, at last count, six grandchildren, life is full and time is short. Beginning with her firstKodak Brownie camera at the age of six, she has told stories all of her life through photography. Her debut novel, The Bridge Club, was published through iUniverse in August 2010 and her second novel, The Promise Of Provence, will be released in early 2013.  Her stories celebrate the rewarding friendships of women and examine the challenges life often throws in our paths. Becoming a published author at this stage of her life was not on her agenda but she knows now she will never stop writing.
Patricia is a popular speaker with women’s groups on the subjects of writing and self-publishing. At other events (as one half of Sommers & Sands) along with her speaking partner, author Susan Sommers, through keynotes, workshops and conferences, audiences are encouraged to embrace change and see challenges as opportunities. “It’s never too late to begin something new,” she enthuses. “As the saying goes, just do it! Be a possibilitarian!”

About the Book

Surprise, shock, and a shift in life as she knows it tumble into Katherine Price’s world when least expected. The future she envisioned suddenly vanishes, leaving little to focus on beyond her career and the caregiving her elderly widowed mother might require.

Fate has other plans for Katherine.

June in Provence is full of promise when Katherine arrives from Canada, eager to feel renewed by her surroundings. Endless rows of lavender prepare to burst into pink and purple blooms. Fields of sunflowers flow in golden waves among vineyards and olive groves. Ancient hilltop villages beckon. It’s the postcard setting she envisioned, but is that all she needs?

After a year of heartbreak, Katherine has impulsively agreed to a home exchange in the south of France. Colorful locals, a yellow lab named Picasso, and the inspiring beauty of the countryside breathe new life into her days.

Seeking to shed the pain of betrayal and loss, she struggles to recapture her joie de vivre and searches for the answer to a haunting question: is it too late to begin again?

As Katherine explores the romantic cobblestone lanes of medieval towns, the beautiful boulevards of Paris and the sun-kissed Mediterranean coast of the Côte d’Azur, unimagined possibilities present themselves.

An enduring story of hope and change in life’s later years is woven through the author’s love-letter to France. Like a well-travelled friend, Patricia Sands invites readers into a world she loves and entices them to linger.

I had the privilege of reading this before my trip. It helped to whet my appetite for France and made the anticipation to discover Paris stronger! Thanks Patricia for sharing France and chocolate with us today 🙂