In the fall of 2014, educators Eric and Rixa Freeze moved with their young family to Old Nice, a medieval town-within-a-city on the famed Côte d’Azur. They’d bought a 700-square-foot dive, an apartment in need of renovation just a couple blocks from the Mediterranean.
They were a family with a plan: to live differently. No home in the suburbs with a two-car garage, no bedroom for every child, no 24-hour Walmart.
Carefully researched and vividly written, French Dive chronicles the Freeze family’s integration into a culture where large families aren’t all treated alike. What they find—spearfishing for food, renting their car to strangers, fixing and selling old furniture from the garbage depot—is that a city gives back the more you give to it.
Morally complex, unflinching in its analysis of contemporary life and the things that keep human beings apart, Freeze tackles racism, homelessness, art, reality TV, social media, and parenting with wit and humor. Along the way he and his family learn what it means to be a neighbor, a member of a community, and a global citizen, how to treat others with empathy and understanding as they try to carve out a place in this world.
French Dive is one of the best travel memoirs I’ve ever read. It’s as intellectually enlightening as Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon, and it has all the emotional impact of a novel. This is a moving meditation on contemporary life and a testament to the importance of exploration and discovery.
Michael Dahlie, author of A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living
At the warm heart of this enchanting book are answers to one of the most fundamental questions of life: how to live well. Eric Freeze and his family moved from the US into a tiny apartment in Nice—and into new lives centered around family, food, discovery, and living boldly. As the French say: depenser moins, vivre mieux: spend less, live better.
Anne Giardini, author of The Sad Truth About Happiness and Advice for Italian Boys
Eric Freeze makes for an extraordinary travel companion and French Dive is the kind of read that spirits you from one location to another but leaves you ready for your next adventure. What Freeze is capable of doing, with his keen eye and even more impressive ability to examine people and cultures, is nothing thing short of incredible.
Jared Yates Sexton, author of The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters on Your Shore: A Story of American Rage
The motto of the French who call themselves les décroissants: ‘spend less, live better,’ permeates this story of faith, dedication, life goals realized on a shoestring budget, and where there’s a will there’s a way. In these pages you will fall in love with Nice, spearfishing, and the family Freeze. You’ll ponder how to make what’s right for you and what’s right for the world coincide.
Pam Houston, author of Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country