Book with Confidence Guarantee
Covid-19 promise: At Provence Days we believe in doing the right thing by our customers, should you need to cancel your holiday plans we will ensure you get a full refund or transfer your holiday dates if you prefer.
(For full details see our updated terms and conditions.)
1. Find your house
Choose from a beautiful selection of hand picked Provence rental properties we know and love, photographed and described by us.
2. Use our local know-how
We live and work in Provence – we give you insider knowledge and tailored add-ons for the perfect Provence stay.
Favourite Squares of Provence – Place Richelme, Aix
This is the first of an occasional series on our favourite squares in Provence – for a market, a cafe, or watching the world go by, and preferably all three. One of the best squares in Provence for letting the hours slip by and the blood pressure drop is Place Richelme in Aix-en-Provence. Place Richelme is a gorgeous setting with the high golden facades and wooden shutters so typical of Aix, and the towering plane trees that bring welcome shade in the summer – you feel you are right at the heart of the town here. Place Richelme has two distinct personalities, by day and by night. Its daily food market is one of the key attractions of the old part of Aix, and yet it is not overrun with tourists. This is where the locals shop as they have done for centuries, from the elderly down to students pulling together a picnic lunch to munch on a sunny step. It is this demographic smorgasbord that makes Place Richelme so great for people-watching, and the best place to do that is at one of the cafe tables on the square, where the colours and sounds of the market and its […]
Provence in the movies
There’s no better way to get in the mood for a trip to Provence, or indeed to reminisce upon your return home, than through the medium of the movie. Here are our favourite films set in Provence to whet your appetite. To Catch a Thief (1955) Cary Grant & Grace Kelly (Côte d’Azur) Classic Hitchcock crime caper on the Côte d’Azur in the golden era, with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly messing about on the Riviera. It was while promoting this film that she met the prince of Monaco, who would quickly make her his Princess Grace. And God Created Woman (1956) Brigitte Bardot (St Tropez) The film that launched Brigitte Bardot and put St Tropez on the map, taking it from sleepy little fishing village to the place to be seen. Jean de Florette & Manon des Sources (1986) Gerard Dépardieu, Daniel Auteuil, Yves Montand (Aubagne, Vaugines, Ansouis, Mirabeau) A wonderful pair of films, faithful to the books of Marcel Pagnol, that made quite a splash on release in the 1980s – these films forged the idealised image of Provence and the region has never looked more beautiful on film. La Gloire de mon Père (1990) […]
Another day, another market
Wherever you are in Provence, you’re never far from a market. There are literally hundreds of markets, big ones taking over whole towns and smaller ones consisting of just a few stalls in villages. Some of them have been going for over eight hundred years (there are mentions of Uzès market as long ago as 1226) and each market, big or small, has its own special atmosphere, selling everything from hats to rotisserie chickens, tablecloths, espadrilles, antiques, santons (Provençal crèche figurines), herbs and spices, baskets and, of course, fruit, vegetables, olives and cheeses… Regular markets take place in the mornings from 7 or 8 and start packing up promptly at midday. Evening summer markets normally start at 5 or 6pm for a couple of hours but some go on till 11pm. There are also many specialist seasonal festivals or markets celebrating one product such as truffles, pottery, wine, flowers, goats’ cheese, asparagus, strawberries, cherries, melon, lambs, garlic, lavender, petit épeautre (spelt), apples, lemons… In recent years, Christmas markets have also increased in popularity. Specialist market at Provence lavender festival. Every market is unique but none more so than the farmers’ market at Velleron (near L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in the Vaucluse). It takes […]
A Year in Provence: 30 years on
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle was written 30 years ago – the book had an initial print run of three thousand copies, and Mayle was assured by his publisher that there would be plenty left over unsold. Since then it has sold over six million copies, in forty languages: an astonishing success for any book. Peter Mayle and his wife moved to Menerbes in the Luberon region of Provence in 1987 with the idea of writing a novel. However he kept being distracted by his new life and these distractions became the subject of A Year in Provence, retold in Mayle’s witty, warm and anecdotal way. A Year in Provence was followed by two more best-selling sequels – Toujours Provence and Encore Provence – but it also accidentally spawned a whole new genre of travel writing, one of relocation and renewal, allowing other best-selling writers like Frances Mayes in Italy (Under the Tuscan Sun) and Chris Stewart in Spain (Driving Over Lemons) to find a huge, ready market. How Provence has changed Since the publication of A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle has been accused of ‘spoiling’ Provence but, living here, it’s hard to see how. It’s true […]
Autumn in Provence
It’s autumn in Provence: the grape harvest is finished and the vines are slowly turning red and gold. Out walking, you’ll spot the occasional blue-black bunch of table grapes the pickers have overlooked. The grapes will be sweet and delicious, and as the month goes on they will turn more raisin-like, and you might prefer to spit out the tough skin. But it’s not just the vines that are glowing, cherry orchards drip red and gold too and in the woods the pistachio bushes turn every shade from ox-blood to palest apricot. You’ll find yourself gazing at trails of ruby-red Virginia creeper flowing over a fence or at a clump of bright golden autumn crocus at the foot of a dry wall. Provence in October is special. Whilst you’re unlikely to take a dip in the pool or have dinner outside, it’s still warm enough for lunch on a sunny terrace or a picnic now that the hiking trails are open again. The famous Provencal light has lost much of its summer harshness and is soft and golden. The sun stays lower in the sky, it’s a wonderful time for photography all day. Day-time temperatures are warm and perfect for […]
Mwa! mwa! mwa!
If you stay long enough in Provence to make friends, you are going to be doing a lot of kissing. Because if you turn up at some sort of gathering you may find yourself kissing everyone there on arrival and departure. If you sneak off without the kissing thing, that is known as an ‘English departure’. Although this type of kissing is French it should under no circumstances be confused with French kissing – it is called ‘faire la bise’ and means a mwa on the cheeks. The complication is how many cheeks? Even within Provence there are variations. Rule of thumb is 3 kisses in the north and 2 everywhere else. See the map for kissing precision. If you think 3 is exaggerated, bear in mind there are parts of Corsica where FIVE is the norm. And while it may seem like all that kissing is really eating in to your day, think of it as a moment where time slows as you pay your dues to friendship – the important stuff in life. This is the slow lane, after all.
Tipping in Provence
It’s often quite hard to know when and how much to tip in France – particularly when the final price shows that the tip (15%) is included (service compris). There are no real ‘rules’ – tipping generally isn’t expected – think of it as a gesture of appreciation. It’s up to you but tips should always be given in cash – don’t try to add them on to your credit card. Here are some pointers. In a hotel Bellhops: 1-2€ per bag Concierge: 5-15€ if he or she goes out of their way to help you book reservations, gives you recommendations, directions etc. Doorman: 1-2€ if he or she hails you a cab or helps with your luggage Hotel maid: If you’re pleased with the state of your room, tip 1-2€ per day or at end of stay (in cash) Room service waiter: 1-3€ per delivery even if a service charge has been added Travelling Porter or skycap at airport or train station: 1€ – 2€per bag Taxis: 5% to 10% depending on the quality of the service. You never tip an Uber driver. Tour guide: about 10% of tour price In a café and bar When you pay for […]
Provence rental houses for large groups (16 and more!)
When you are planning a trip to Provence for a large group – a reunion, a family gathering, a celebration, or a team-building exercise – you need to book well ahead. So here in plenty of time for next year are some ideal, large Provence rental houses with pool, for 16 people and more… Avalon, sleeps 20, €5600-8400 per week Avalon (see also top picture) is a beautiful country estate near Gordes with extensive grounds including its own lavender field and vineyard, and an artificial grass tennis court. This big Provence rental sleeps 20 in 10 bedrooms with 9 bathrooms. The furnishings and decor are high-end. Avalon is an old house, with the layout following the logic of centuries of adding on, taking away, knocking through – in other words, it has bags of charm and character. Some bedrooms are accessed off the central courtyard, and there is a separate annex with two bedrooms and a large living space, which can be used by teens or a family wanting a little privacy. The life of a house usually revolves around the kitchen and Avalon is no exception, especially as the kitchen opens out to a shaded terrace with view, […]
Flea markets in Provence
One of the best ways to feel instantly immersed in Provence life is to wander round a flea market on a Sunday morning. Even if you plan to keep your wallet firmly in your pocket, it’s worth going for the sights: tables piled high with antique linens, silverware and glasses, giant spools of colourful thread, curious garden and farming tools, memorabilia of a bygone age, and a mysterious number of huge iron locks and keys that surely belong to a nearby chateau… A popular find is the linen – heavy, hand-embroidered and frequently monogrammed. You just may be in luck and find your initials. Also fun to take home are old French school posters and encyclopaedias – charming reminders of pre-internet schooling. Other good souvenirs are vintage promotional items from classic French brands such as Pastis 54 and Citroen, while metal advertising plaques are still easy to find. Doorknobs, handles and boxes of chandelier crystals are plentiful; old iron cots, weathered shutters and elaborate mirrors whisper of their past. Some of our favourite finds have been shoe lasts and heavy flat irons (they make great door stops), industrial lamps, delicate glass perfume bottles and intriguing faded postcards. Brocante is the […]
Know your lavender
If anything says ‘Provence’ it’s lavender. Snaking, parallel humped lines of glorious scented, purple lavender – the icon of Provence. And if you’ve been lucky enough to be in Provence when it’s in flower it’s a sight (and scent) you’ll never forget. Particularly at the end of the day when the warm evening air is heavily perfumed and vibrating with the hum of a thousand insects hovering over the purple flowers, gathering pollen before nightfall. Lavender flowers from mid/end June to late-July or mid-August depending on the region. Generally speaking, the higher the lavender fields, the later the flowering and harvest. Harvest depends on the weather and the humidity of the air so it can vary. Lavender is grown principally in the Drôme-Diois valley, the Drôme provençale, in the regional national park of Les Baronnies, around the Mt Ventoux, the Luberon and the Lure mountains and in the Verdon region in the Alpes de Haute Provence. Several different varieties of lavender grow in Provence but really only two varieties are cultivated; ‘la lavande fine’ and ‘le lavandin’. ‘La lavande fine’ (or ‘real’ lavender) grows naturally above 700-800 metres (approx. 2,600 ft). It’s very robust and able to cope with conditions […]