By Michael Sanders
I've travelled to Paris and throughout some smaller towns in rural France and I'll admit, that title hooked me. I enjoyed the allure of the rest of France much more then I did Paris. Normally, I love reading books about travel adventures, small towns, cooking, and people adapting but honestly I struggled with this one. It was just too slow for me. Maybe it was because their way of life is just so much slower than mine and that had to set the pace of the book. I also felt that Sanders repeated things he'd already told us a lot. Often within a few pages of having already told us something, I had to check that I wasn't re-reading a page. But alas, lets get to the good points for there are many.
'From Here, You Can't See Paris' is the story of Michael Sanders and his wife and 6 year old daughter who move to the small village of Les Arques (small = 159 people!) in the district of France known as The Lot for 1 year to write about how a restaurant has made this village thrive again. The restaurant is La Recreation, and while other small villages are falling away, theirs fills up every day with rich tourists to visit the one business in the town. The wonderful thing is the locals also visit, and obviously benefit from, the restaurant. It speaks to the slow food movement and the wonders of growing organic which I really enjoyed. La Recreation is owned by Jacques and Noelle Ratier.
What I did love is the descriptions of village life and the random characters that often fill it up. I enjoyed how they had to adapt from their life in Maine to one in rural France - it led to many funny moments. I enjoyed the descriptions of the food and how it made for a positive and uplifting story. Maybe it's one of those books that would be better if I had just been there or was about to go there but standing on its own with no thought of me going to France any time soon, it didn't capture me like some of my other favorite books set in rural France, 'A Year in Provence' or my fiction favorite 'Chocolat'.
(This book was given to me by my mom. Thanks G!)