Amour et Florand: A Strong Sense of Place

Amour et Florand

Thank you to everyone who participated in Amour et Florand, through guest posts, posts in your own blogs or comments. Merci beaucoup! The past few days have been pretty hectic for me so I still need to catch up on replying to comments. I know the blog event is finished but I had this post in mind and I couldn’t let it go, I hope the rest of you don’t mind that I’m posting it a few days late.

There are many reasons to love Laura Florand’s novels. Some of them have been discussed in detail in the other Amour et Florand guest posts. You can’t really go wrong with the combination of France, chocolate and hot guys, right? For this post, I want to focus on the strong sense of place in her writing. In her guest post for last year’s EWein Special Ops, Elizabeth Wein talked about how she loves books that have a strong sense of place. Here’s a snippet of what she said:

The world almost becomes a character in the novel itself. Setting shouldn’t just be there as a backdrop; a good sense of place will make a setting, fictionally speaking, into a living, breathing organism like our own planet, and the author’s love for and familiarity with the world of his or her creation guides us through the unfamiliar landscape like a virtual map.

EWein was actually talking about fantasy worlds when she wrote that bit but I think it’s applicable to the settings in Laura’s books: Paris for her Amour et Chocolat novels and Grasse for her La Vie en Roses series. Laura vividly describes these places to the point where you feel like you had a mini-vacation in France after reading her books. The sights, the scents and the sounds – all of these just pop out of the page to make the reader feel like you’re right there with the characters. I love how she describes the cobblestone streets, the old buildings and the bridges of Paris as well as the fountains and plazas or public squares in Provence. I know that she travels to France on a regular basis but even just by reading her books, I could tell that she’s done her research. In fact, she knows her stuff so well that you can use her books as guides when you travel to France. I knew France was famous for its pastries and desserts but I don’t think I would have known that chocolate was such a big deal there if I hadn’t read the Amour et Florand books. I was also not aware that Grasse is the perfume capital of the world until it was described as such in Laura’s writing. For someone who loves both chocolate and perfumes, I feel like I know a little more about these because of Laura’s novels.

One of my favorite quotes from The Chocolate Touch is this:

“Paris was a good place to fight your demons. The streets were so tempting to explore, the gritty realism of their dirt and crowds tempered by that element of fairytale inherent to the city.”

Because I like how Laura describes Paris and Grasse as places that are beautiful and charming, sometimes even magical, but she balances that with realism. We see it in the way her heroines feel intimidated by the city, and in how they become homesick or lonely but are too scared to go out and explore unknown places by themselves. Cade feels like this and is also annoyed with how sleazy men keep trying to hit on her because she’s a woman walking around by herself. Magalie feels smaller and less like herself the farther she ventures out of her island, even though she armors herself with fashionable clothes. Allegra falls in love with Grasse when she first encounters it but then becomes miserable as winter sets in and she doesn’t have the warmth of her family to wrap herself in. Summer hates Paris, especially the Eiffel Tower, and wouldn’t even visit the city if she wasn’t being forced by her parents. I feel like these descriptions and situations make the setting feel even more authentic because even the most beautiful place will still have its imperfections.

I’m very grateful that I got to go to France last April (first ever trip to Europe!) and I hope everyone who has ever dreamed of going there will get the chance to visit. I have shared pictures from my recent trip in my Snapshot From a Book posts here and here but to wrap up Amour et Florand, I want to share more shots that made me think of Laura’s books.

In my first few hours in Paris, I was able to visit a chocolatier:
Chachic in front of Paris chocolatier chocolatier in Paris

Laduree has branches in Singapore but not in Manila so we still dropped by their Paris store:
Laduree in Paris

I saw the Meilleur Ouvrier de France sign and told my friends we should go in because according to the Amour et Chocolat books, this shop will have excellent products. I thought their macarons were better than Laduree’s:
Georges Larnicol Georges Larnicol macarons

Not quite like Magalie’s but this a chocolat chaud that I ordered from one of the restaurants in Paris (no, I didn’t feel any different after drinking it):
chocolat chaud

The Eiffel Tower, of course:
Paris - Eiffel1 Paris - Eiffel2

Cobblestone streets of Montmartre:
Lomo - Montmartre

Gare de Lyon, the train station where Magalie meets her mother, who is traveling from Ithaca, New York back to Provence:
Gare de Lyon lomo

We visited Aix-en-Provence in the South of France and we really wanted to visit Grasse from there but unfortunately, we weren’t able to do so. The way Laura describes Grasse in her La Vie en Roses books reminded me a bit of Aix so I thought I would share some of my Aix pictures.

Fountains in Aix:
Lomo Aix Rotonde
Aix-en-Provence - four dolphins fountain Aix-en-Provence - fountain at night

Santons, terracotta nativity scene figurines, which were mentioned in A Rose in Winter:
Aix-en-Provence - santons

Lavender and roses:
Aix-en-Provence - lavender Aix-en-Provence - roses

Artisan perfumes made in Grasse:
Aix - perfumes from Grasse

Hope you all have fun browsing through these pictures!

_________________________

Links to Amour et Florand posts:
How did you discover Laura’s books?
Guest post from Michelle of See Michelle Read: Super Scholarly Thesis on The Addictive Properties of The Amour et Chocolat Series
Guest post from Holly of Book Harbinger: The Chocolat Awards
Guest post from Rachel Neumeier: Making Great Characterization Look Easy
Guest post from Angie of Angieville
Guest post from Laura Florand
Guest post from Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliophile: My Gateway to Contemporary Romance
Guest post from Maureen of By Singing Light
Guest post from Mandi of Smexy Books
Guest post from Nalini Singh: My first Laura Florand book (or how Laura Florand ate my weekend)

Amour et Florand posts in other blogs:
Genre Hopping: Five Things I love About Laura Florand’s Books
Pakwanstripes: Laura and the Five Senses
Pakwanstripes: Learning from Turning Up The Heat
Girl meets Books: 10 Things I Love About Laura Florand’s Books

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4 thoughts on “Amour et Florand: A Strong Sense of Place

    • We were just walking around when I saw that sign and I got pretty excited about it. But even if you don’t see something like that, there are so many chocolate shops and bakeries to explore all around the city. You can just try whatever looks interesting for you. 🙂

    • Aww thanks, Elaine! Glad you like the post. 🙂 I admire you for being brave enough to move to France. I know it must be an amazing experience but it’s probably also difficult? I’m just thinking out loud here, based on my own experience of moving from Manila to Singapore.

Comments are like chocolate. :) Maraming salamat / thank you! I try my best to reply to all the comments on my blog.

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