Keith Van Sickle and his wife Val made their first trip to Provence decades ago, and it was love at first sight. After that, they came back every year until 2008, when they began a part-time life there, splitting their time between Provence and California.  Keith has published two books about the couple’s experiences in Provence: One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence and Are We French Yet?  He also shares his local knowledge in a 3rd book called An Insider’s Guide to Provence.

Keith starts by talking about his journey from working in finance in California to living part of the year in France.  What started out as an expat business assignment in Switzerland led ultimately to a love affair with Provence.   He describes life in Europe as living in color and life in California as black and white.

Keith talks about some of the lifestyle differences between the US and Europe.  Often times in Silicon Valley California, people live to work while in Provence, people work to live.  He says life in Europe is much more balanced and includes a deep appreciation for the little things.

There’s also a slowness to the lifestyle in Provence.  In fact, he explains what it’s like to have a six-hour lunch!  During these lengthy lunches, you are simply enjoying one another’s company and you’re not in a rush.

Keith talks about how his travel blog in Europe evolved into a series of books.  His first book includes a collection of funny and embarrassing stories from his experiences in Europe.  He says he never set out to become an author, but the books have turned out to be very popular.

For anyone with a dream to live outside their home country, Keith offers two pieces of advice: be open-minded and be patient.

Since he is now retired, he has the happy opportunity to do what he wants a lot of the time.  In this way, he says he follows his energy.  He does the things that bring him the most joy today.

One of my favorite parts of the interview is when Keith brings up the words of wisdom from his wife’s late aunt Ruth.  At the time, Ruth was in her mid to late 90’s and she shared this advice with Keith and his wife.  She said: “first do what you have to do, then do what you love to do.”

To read Keith’s blog or find out more about his books, you can go right here: