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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) […]
The gardens of Provence
The first weekend of June in France is designated ‘Rendez-vous aux jardins’ – over 2300 gardens throughout France are open to the public (some by appointment only), in order to encourage people to see the remarkable gardens and parks of France – it’s the perfect time to discover some amazing gardens in Provence. Provençal gardens are a play of light and shade, of shapes, forms and fragrances, and all are determined by the precious supply of water. Provence gardens can be roughly categorised as follows: ‘classic’ gardens such as Château de Bourgane, le Jardin de Brantes and les Jardins d’Albertas; gardens round bastides (country houses) such as le Clos de Villeneuve, Romégas and le Domaine d’Orvès; ‘collection’ gardens such as the Jardin de plantes tinctorales or the Jardin de l’abbaye de Valsaintes, and contemporary gardens such as La Louve and Le pavillon de Galon. Then there are also the magnificent vegetable gardens at Château Val Joanis, the ethno collection at the Jardins de Salagon, the fascinating town garden of Villa Santa Lucia in Marseille, the marine garden at Domaine du Rayol, and the lovely sculpture gardens at the Commanderie de Peyrassol. Below are our recommended gardens to visit. Most of […]
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, […]
Christmas in Provence
Winter in Provence is a well-kept secret: you can visit popular attractions and feel like you have the place to yourself, the skies are still blue and some days lunch can be eaten outside in the sun. And though it may feel unseasonal to eat Christmas lunch outside, Provence is decidedly festive over the winter months. The region is steeped in Christmas customs and traditions, making for a magical holiday. Here are a few of our favourite things when we spend Christmas in Provence: Christmas markets Yes, Provence has Christmas markets too, beautifully lit, with wooden chalets selling arts & crafts and Christmas gifts, with traditional carousels for the little ones and mulled wine for the grown-ups. Some even have a skating rink. The bigger Provence Christmas markets can be found at: Aix-en-Provence: mid-November to end December, Cours Mirabeau. Christmas village/market, children’s rides, carousels. Carpentras: December, centre of town. Christmas market, free shows, lights, skating rink. Marseille: mid-November to end December, on the old port. Including the 142nd local Santons Fair (Foire aux Santons de Marseille). Monaco: December 2 – January 2, on the port. Christmas village/market, skating rink, activities. Nice: December 3 – January 1, Jardin Albert 1er. Christmas […]
Remember the Ice Saints!
Saint Mamert, Saint Servais, Saint Pancrace, de leur passage laissent souvent trace (Saint Mamert, Saint Servais, Saint Pancrace often leave their mark) The weather is always a major topic of conversation in Provence and during April and early May when the sun is shining and the temperatures seem more appropriate to June, you might well hear a local say ‘Remember, the Ice Saints haven’t been yet!’ This is normally accompanied by a gloomy shake of the head and a little ‘tut tut’ of the tongue clicking against the roof of the mouth which always signifies disapprobation. This means that until the feast days of Saint Mamertus, Saint Pancras and Saint Servatius (called the Ice Saints) on 11, 12 and 13 May have passed there could still be frosts. ‘Avant Saint Servais, point d’été, après Saint Servais, plus de gelée’. (Before the feast of Saint Servais, no summer, after Saint Servais, no frost.) Of these three, apart from the fact that his feast day marks the end of frost, Saint Servatius might be the most useful in day-to-day life as he’s the one to invoke against rats and mice as well as ‘foot troubles, lameness, rheumatism’. It’s not clear what the […]
Persimmons – a Provençal ‘Christmas tree’
If you’re lucky enough to be in Provence between October and January you will probably catch sight of a bare-leafed tree hung with bright orange globes. These fruit are about the shape and size of oranges and very festive they look too. But they aren’t oranges, they’re persimmons, or kakis as they’re known here: a wonderful and healthy winter fruit. Smooth-skinned and ranging in colour from orange to deep red, persimmons are an exotic fruit from Asia and not native to France, but much prized by connoisseurs here. Persimmons are ripe when they are so soft that the skin is almost translucent and liable to squish in your hand as you pick them. In this state they are very fragile so it is unlikely you will be able to buy them fully ripe in a shop or market – you can ripen them in a warm room or in a paper bag with some apples. And they must be perfectly ripe (and squishy!) when you try them, so for ones you have bought you will need to wait a few days before cutting them in half and scooping out the sweet flesh with a spoon. That’s really the only way […]
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 […]
What to pack for Provence
Toiletries Supermarkets stock big-brand toiletries but local pharmacies (there is one in most villages, look for the green cross sign) will have the better quality ‘cult’ brands of skincare, suncare and haircare such as La Roche-Posay, Darphin, Bioderma and Nuxe. Bigger towns will have a Marionnaud or Sephora selling perfume, make-up and skincare. For even basic medicines such as aspirin you will need to go to a pharmacie. One medicine that may be sold over the counter where you live but needs a prescription in France is anti-histamine, for example Clarityn for hay fever. Food ‘Bio’ is French for organic – more and more Bio shops are cropping up. Look out for Bio-Coop – a mini supermarket selling organic and special dietary foods, also organic skincare brands such as Dr Hauschka. All supermarkets have an organic (bio) section and a special dietary section (gluten-free, sugar-free, weight-loss). Most also have a ‘global foods’ section – the focus is on Asian food with some American and British staples. You can even find Marmite, proper teabags and baked beans if you look in the right place. Clothing – summer In Provence in summer you will probably be eating outside 3 times a day. […]
Café like a local
If your school French has long faded, but you want to make some kind of effort when you stop for a coffee, here’s our guide to getting by… Never feel bad about just having a single coffee in a bar, it’s perfectly normal. The most important rule is the simple “Bonjour”. Launching into any kind of request before saying hello is considered impolite. In the morning many cafes will have a basket of croissants to choose from, if not, it’s usually OK to bring your own from the bakery. Busy cafes will ask you to pay up front, others will leave the bill when they deliver. Leftover change is the ideal tip. You don’t tip as much here as in the USA or UK for example. The French tend to drink a coffee in the morning and one after lunch. This means an espresso: small, black, simple. If you expect anything else when you ask for a coffee you will be disappointed with what is brought to you. Here are some useful terms: Un café a small espresso Une noisette a small espresso with a dash of milk (macchiato) Un café allongé a long coffee (americano) Un grand crème a […]