28 Feb 2017

Q & A With VA: The Split Life In Provence

Q&A with VA: Life In Provence on vickiarcher.com

I have another new idea for this year.

I have called it Q & A with VA.

I receive many emails I would love to share with you and they are emails with all sorts of ideas and questions, from fashion and beauty to life in France. I often think, when I read them, my readers would like to know this or maybe that’s a great idea for a new feature. I thought it would be fun to have a Q & A once a month and answer some of these questions.

The question I am asked often is about life in Provence.

How can I ever leave Provence and split my time between Saint Rémy de Provence and London?

The simple answer is it is never easy to leave either place.

Provence is my happy place. It is home and where my heart belongs. Well most of the time, because I say the same about London. I have trained myself to feel at home in two equally interesting but entirely different destinations.

Our home in Provence is filled with memories of life in Australia, our children as they grew up and all the treasures and paraphernalia we have collected since we married. It is where we celebrate holidays and special occasions and it is where we unwind together as a family or as a couple. Our home in Provence is where we “breathe”, slow down and enjoy nature’s bounty. Provence, if nothing else, is overflowing with natural beauty and a way of life to reflect those pleasures.

I have poured my heart and soul into making our home one that is both beautiful for us and welcoming to others. I cannot spend all year here because real life practicalities interfere; maybe in the future it will change.

Over the years I have become accustomed to the tear a split life leaves. It is emotionally confusing living in two different countries and moving between the two. (Not to mention I am Australian and try and visit Sydney as often as I can.) Each year it becomes a little easier to adjust between the two or should I say to transition more easily. I justify the double life with the thought that each place has advantages and disadvantages so the clever way to live is to try and take the positive from both, blend them together and find a balance that works.

Provence is calm and tranquil; patience is a virtue and a skill that requires practice. As a person who wants it all done yesterday; Provence has taught me to sit tight and wait. London is a city I have come to love over the years. Like Provence, it was alien to me at first. Now I feel right at home in the quaint nooks and crannies and find the old fashioned habits endearing. I like the formality of manner and the breadth of culture; there is all and everything to do in a city like London. I never feel bored and I never feel alone. London keeps me on my toes and my mind on pace; Provence reels me back, calms me down and sets me on course.

It is a winning combination and I am very fortunate to live with this mix, despite the emotional push and pull that leaving either inevitably brings. When I am in Provence I miss my children and their comings and goings; when I am in London I miss the peace and tranquility of my quiet time.

Isn’t that the joy of life?

We must miss in order to truly appreciate. That’s how I like to look at this split life of mine.

There is no easy answer. xv

image carla coulson

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Taste of France

It’s interesting to hear your take on this. You are lucky to have the option of going between the two.
As a city girl, I found it hard to adjust to life in the slow lane in the south of France. However, more and more I appreciate the profound meaning to life here, vs. the busy chatter of keeping up in the city. As long as I have the intellectual stimulation of my work (and frankly living in an adopted culture is pretty intellectually stimulating as well), then I am happy anywhere.


That is so true… I didn’t think I would need a “city” life and imagined years ago that Provence would take all my time and happily so. Obviously the pull to London is strong because my 3 children live there and my husband’s job is there.. but even so I do love the “gritty” side of life and the buzz that goes with a metropolis like London. Without it I think I would take country life for granted..
Work makes everything right and these days we are lucky to be able to work everywhere… I am either typing and looking at olive groves and hearing birdsong or listening to blaring horns and seeing row upon row of terraces as I work..
I love them equally :) Contrast is a fabulous thing …


Yes we do make a home wherever we go, Lidy… I even “home make” a hotel room… Can’t help myself!


I a man deeply envious of you being able to live in London & St. Remy de Provence. I live in a small town in the west of Ireland but love the vitality of London & the ambience of St. Remy. I am lucky in that I manage to go to each place every year lately & of course Paris is another favourite.


I think those of us who live in Europe are blessed with the choice of countries we are able to visit… I was thinking this morning about Paris (I usually am) and almost tempted to take the train up… it’s that easy… I remember years ago looking at the destination board at Heathrow airport and being stunned at the cities available… I still am in awe of the variety of locations only 1 hour away… I grew up with a 24hr flight or a 12 hour car trip being the norm… :)


Lovely interesting post. I have just started reading through your first book again. Pondering why my garden doesn’t look like that (surely Provence summers just as hot as Australian ones?) and hoping you might one day bring out another book to share your stories.


I will be in LONDON the week of MAY 21st………..
Perhaps we can squeeze in a TEA.I am with a GROUP and do not have much FREE time but would love to say HELLO!
AS for going back and fourth………….IT IS TRUELY A DREAM.YOU MADE IT ALL COME TRUE!
AND YES,I will have to have a PHOTO with YOU if you will be so kind as to indulge me………….XX


What a lovely way to explain your way of life and to know how much you enjoy making your dream come true.

Anita Rivera

You are so right Vicki. We must take the void with the plenty. I think both of us and many of your readers are on this beautiful journey upon which one cannot avoid learning these truths. Light and dark exist together, hope and doubt, failure and accomplishment. One without the other wouldn’t be the complete human experience. OH HOW I LOVE YOUR ROSES!

Pauline from Phillip Island

What a blissful way to live, Vicki. Living in Australia there really is no option to live in two different countries. The distances are just too great. As my family is in Europe l would love to be able to move around as you do. Still, I am sitting here in the sun with my cup of coffee reading my favourite blog, listening to the ocean…..life is not so bad.


I think both sound wonderful. You essentially have your town and country homes! Sounds perfect to me.

Clare xx


Beautiful post, Vicki! I, too, wonder what a split life would be like as I continue to contemplate and dream about owning property in France one day too. It was great to read about how you do it and your thoughts on the matter. :)


Vicki, I have lived in both places and I know you have the perfect combination.

Keith Van Sickle

“Each place has advantages and disadvantages so the clever way to live is to try and take the positive from both.” How very true. You are wise to take such a thoughtful approach.
I am lucky to be able to split my time between California and St.-Rémy. Like you, I try to enjoy the best that each has to offer. My wife and I just arrived in France and had our first filet de rouget last night – heaven!


Vicki, I enjoy all of your posts, but todays was an all time favorite. Will read many times. Thank You, Nona Moran


Vicki, I visit St Remy for six weeks in the summer, at Easter and in October and love it! If we arrive through Plan d’Orgon in the summer I see the plane trees arched over the road, sheltering any weary cyclists, and my whole body relaxes and my mind feels calm. It always has this effect on me and gives me a warming positive feeling. I even hung out of the car window once and took a photo for me to glance at when I needed a relaxation vibe at home. I am looking forward to my visit at the end of July. My lovely husband retires then and he can’t think of a better place for him to totally switch off from 35 years of teaching. I’m returning for the academic year and leaving him there for a couple of weeks more so he can soak up, not only the sun, but the sheer pleasure he will feel at not returning for the start of the academic year!!!


Hi Vicki. I have read your blog for a long time and really enjoyed this post. I have experience of living in both places – London and Provence – and think you have the perfect combination; the hustle and bustle of a great and unique city and the beauty and tranquility of Provence. You are indeed lucky. I am pretty happy with my little spot in Australia these days, although the pull and attraction of Europe is still very strong.

Clare Robinson-Gale

Hi Vicki,
Your blog is fabulous! I would adore to visit your precious place in Provence and see it’s charms in the flesh. Oh to be a piece of furniture owned by you and being moved from one excellent location to another!


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