Simplicity is key to this spiritual retreat

In her new book, Henrietta Heald looks at the elegant art of living in the French style. Here she explains her creative inspiration and presents one of the featured homes, located in the Luberon

La Vie est Belle is a celebration of the best things about France, from its champagne to its cheeses. By focusing on five areas with their own strong character, each one popular with both the French themselves and visitors, it aims to extol the particular qualities of the country as a whole.

Each chapter contains a selection of classic recipes associated with the area in question. Also covered are aspects of history and customs, food and wine, architecture and interior design, including the flea markets of Paris, the winegrowing regions of Bordeaux and the origins of toiles de Jouy.

La Vie est Belle by Henrietta Heald, published by Ryland, Peters and Small, £19.99

There is also a series of features on beautiful homes in each of the chosen regions. Including an artist’s retreat in Burgundy, a restored chateau in the Luberon and an antique collector’s home in Nîmes, all these properties have a distinctive identity that has been shaped and nurtured by its owner or owners.

All the houses featured have something in common. Despite their individualist approach to interior design, ...

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