Julie Mautner is a freelance food, wine and travel writer who lives most of the year in Provence, France. She was a founding editor of Food Arts Magazine in New York and was its executive editor for ten years. Since she resigned in 1998 to freelance, Julie has produced hundreds of articles for top magazines and websites including Travel & Leisure, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Epicurious.com, Conde Nast Traveller UK, Elle Décor UK, Financial Times, New York Magazine, House Beautiful and others. Today Julie is Food Arts’ editor-at-large, a frequent contributor and a monthly columnist. She also handles a wide range of writing, marketing and culinary projects for international cruise, hotel and restaurant clients.
Since 2008, Julie has been publishing a popular blog about France called ProvencePost.com. Julie’s first book will be published by Random House/Clarkson Potter in November 2010.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Most of the year I live in St. Remy de Provence, France
Q: How long have you lived here?
A: Roughly 10 years.
Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
A: All alone!
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: I’m a freelance food, wine and travel writer. I produce stories for magazines and websites in the US and the UK. I also do marketing and consulting work for hospitality clients such as cruise lines and hotel companies. I also publish a blog about France called ProvencePost.com
About Provence, France
Q: What do you enjoy most about living in Provence, how’s the quality of life?
A: I moved to St. Remy after ten years in New York City. I’m sure the difference between the two places is a lot of what attracted me. But there’s definitely energy and magic in the air in St. Remy and in Provence. There’s history and physical beauty galore. And because it’s a resort town, there’s a vacation sensibility there… that feeling that it’s not really real life. Like a party waiting to happen. Plus, new interesting people are coming through this area all the time. Artists, writers, musicians, photographers… creative types from all over the world.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: Being able to open my mouth and say whatever I want to say (my French is still fairly terrible). Plus, I miss family, old friends, Borders Bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, Peanut Butter, A1 Steak Sauce, A&W Root Beer and The New York Times on Sunday.
Q: Is the Provence safe?
A: Yep! In Provence, the bad guys steal cars and break into fancy houses, but otherwise, I’d say it’s as safe as can be. Violent crime is very, very rare.
About living in Provence
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Provence as an expat?
A: I like living just outside the village. I get the benefits of the village, but the convenience of parking and a garden. I like being in a small town but close to larger towns. And being close to the TGV (high-speed train), for easy access to Paris and elsewhere in Europe.
Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Provence?
A: High, but expensive.
Q: What’s the cost of living in Provence compared to America? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Some things cheaper, some much more expensive.
Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: Locals here are accustomed to foreigners, strangers and tourists in their midst. They’re friendly if you’re friendly. The Provencal people have a great sense of humour, which I love.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: Very. But that might just be my charm and wit.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: If living in Provence or France or another country is your dream, go for it. If I was to do it over, I would try to learn at least some of the language first. I spoke not a word, and that made it quite difficult. But if it’s your dream, carpe diem! Moving to St. Remy from New York was one of the best things I ever did. Bon Chance et Bon Courage!
~ Interviewed February 2010