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.
Van Gogh returns to Provence!
In 2016, for four months only, a van Gogh retrospective in the very place that so inspired him: Provence. Wherever you look in Provence you’ll see the wonders that fill van Gogh’s masterpieces – from almond blossom and irises to immense star-filled skies, from the colourful cafes of Arles to fields of sunflowers and olive trees. From May 14th the Vincent van Gogh Foundation in Arles hosts an exhibition to showcase his transition into one of the modern greats, with 31 works from early to last days. Van Gogh moved to Provence in the hope of finding the colour of the Japanese landscapes, popular at the time. He found more than just colour however – he found extraordinary inspiration – and his creative output soared. Based mainly in Arles and Saint-Remy-de-Provence, van Gogh produced 500 Provence paintings in the 2 years he had left to live, and many of these are considered his greatest works. But so revered is van Gogh now that there is currently only one of his paintings on permanent exhibit in Provence. So this is a rare opportunity to experience his works in Provence itself, where he found his muse, but tragically also lost his mind. […]
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 hotelBellhops: 1-2€ per bagConcierge: 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 luggageHotel 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 TravellingPorter or skycap at airport or train station: 1€ – 2€per bagTaxis: 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 your café au lait or your pression beer […]
September in Provence
September is a glorious month to visit Provence. The heat of summer has passed, and most of the visitors have gone home, leaving cafés, restaurants, markets and roads relatively empty. In Provence in September you are more likely to be held up by a tractor and trailer taking harvested grapes to the local co-operative than anything else. Here are some of our favourite things to do at this time of year. Wine time You’ll notice aisles in the supermarkets full of stationery, books and backpacks for ‘La Rentrée’ (the start of the new school year). If you do find yourself in a supermarket, steer clear of harassed mothers checking lists as they fill their trolleys with shiny new exercise books, pencils and pens, and head to the wine section. Most of the major supermarkets have a ‘Foire aux Vins’ (a wine sale) in September or October and you should be able to pick up a few interesting bottles. The grape harvest in Provence takes place in September, although thanks to a warm spring and a very dry summer, harvest in parts of Provence started about two weeks early this year, in August. It’s a busy time for wine makers […]
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 […]
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 […]
The shutters of Provence
It’s hard to imagine a Provençal house without shutters. When you think of hilltop villages, towns or coastal fishing ports you imagine the different coloured shutters against the rendering or local stone. Open or shut, they give character to houses. However, you can’t just paint them any colour you like. If you live in a town, a National Park, or within 50 metres of a National Monument, the palette of colours you are entitled to use is restricted and controlled. Traditional colours in the Luberon region of Provence are deep red, dark green and brown, but lavender has been popular in recent years, and shades of beige often denote second homeowners. Shutters on the coast tend more to blues, greens and beiges. Nice has a very specific palette depending on the facade; recommended colours are browns, beiges, greys and green or grey blues. The colours in the old town of Aix-en-Provence are the most strictly regulated and you must apply to the town hall to check the approved colour for your facade before you get out your paintbrush. Traditional shutters are wooden and, in many places, modern metal shutters are not allowed. Depending on where you are in Provence, shutters […]
It’s asparagus time in Provence
There is no surer sign of spring in Provence than the arrival of the first tender asparagus spears on market stalls. Appreciated by both the ancient Greeks and Romans – Pliny the Elder recommended it as an aphrodisiac – asparagus has been cultivated in France since the 15th century. Madame de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV, also valued asparagus for its aphrodisiac potential, and in the 18th century French court the tips were called ‘pointes d’amour’ (which roughly translates as ‘arrows of love’). At that time in France, green asparagus was rare and favoured by the bourgeoisie. The white stems were for ‘the people’. Nowadays, the situation is more or less reversed and white asparagus is highly prized for its sweetness. The Provence region is the third biggest producer of asparagus in France and the sandy soil found along the Durance river is particularly favourable. The main season for asparagus lasts about two months – principally April and May – although some producers prolong the season from mid-February through to mid-June. White, violet or green? The white are sweet and delicate, the violet have a slightly more pronounced flavour and the green are fruitier. France is also home to […]
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 […]