Peter Mayle. Star Tribune file photo

Peter Mayle. Star Tribune file photo

Sad news via an email from the folks at Alfred A. Knopf. Writer Peter Mayle, author of the much beloved and much emulated memoir, "A Year in Provence," has died. He was 78 years old.

In a 2001 interview with the Star Tribune (over a leisurely lunch at Cafe Un Deux Trois in Minneapolis), Mayle talked about how he nearly ruined France for himself after writing that book. He had included real names and places and, when the book became a best-seller, he was inundated with visitors. 

"I had Germans and Americans and Japanese, Swedes, Dutch, everybody coming to the house just to say hello and have the book signed - it's a very easy house to find," he told the Star Tribune's then-food writer Jeremy Iggers. "We put up with all that for two years. Two things decided us that we had to move. We found a couple of Italians in the swimming pool with a video camera, quite unabashed. They seemed to feel that since they had read the book, they were entitled to the run of the house."

The last straw was a group of tourists "who had been sold a tour of Provence with a visit to our house, which we hadn't been asked about."

The Mayles left France for a few years but later returned. Mayle died today at a hospital near his home.

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