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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.
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.
Bonjour from Provence
In Provence, where life is lived determinedly in the slow lane, nothing is more important that stopping to say bonjour. If you only speak one word of French, make it bonjour. Nothing is more certain to put your waiter or sales assistant in a grump than not saying hello as you enter their domain. Taking time to smile and say bonjour, even if you have nothing to follow it up with, will ensure decent service. After about 6pm bonsoir will replace bonjour, and though au revoir is a catch-all for goodbye, you may hear bonne journée (have a good day), bonne après-midi (have a good afternoon) or bonne soirée (have a good evening). A bientôt! (See you soon!)
One of the joys of being in Provence is a day-trip to Marseille. Already a dazzling city, the €7 billion spending spree to prepare it for European City of Culture status has transformed it into a must-see destination – in fact the New Yorker magazine has ranked Marseille at no. 2 in the list of ‘must-see’ cities of the world. Marseille used to have a reputation as lively but run-down, intriguing but risky. That view has now changed… “it has just about everything a visitor could ask for. Until Marseille was made European Capital of Culture for 2013, it may have been one of the most under-appreciated cities on the continent”New York Times “brimming with cutting-edge architecture and art”Conde Nast Traveler “Marseille now feels richer and not at all dicey, but it has something in its character that wealth can’t wash away. I don’t think it’s nostalgia that makes me love it like this. I just think I was right all along”Zoe Williams, travel writer “tremendous beauty and culture… a picture-book seaport, bathed in light of blinding clarity, crowned by larger-than-life neo-Byzantine churches, and framed by massive fortifications”Fodor’s Travel “one of the most invigorating, exciting and cosmopolitan cities in France”The […]
Provence alive to the sound of music
If you haven’t sat outside under a starry sky listening to live music, you haven’t truly experienced Provence. For this is a musical land and in the balmy summer nights wherever you turn you will find it. Whatever your musical bent there is something for everyone in Provence this summer, from jazz to opera, steel bands to baroque. Many concerts are free, ticketed events start at around 15€ and you can usually book tickets online. Here are our favourites: Jazz dans les Vignes, Vaucluse 25 June – 6 July A series of concerts set in some prestigious vineyards just to the north of Avignon. Sit back with a glass of Gigondas or Vacqueyras and let the music wash over you.http://www.jazzdanslesvignes.fr/ Aix Festival, 30 June – 20 July A huge festival with 3 main components: Opera – this is serious stuff – most evenings are in the stunning Grand Theatre De Provence and it kicks off with Così fan tutti. Also works by Debussy, Handel, Stravinsky. Tickets start at 30€, expect to pay 270€ for top tickets. Concerts – in a variety of venues in and around the city. There are many free concerts and a huge choice of music from […]
The secrets of lavender
Lavender has a big role to play in Provence – it feeds the bees, scents the soap, flavours ice cream and provides confetti at weddings, but its oil is also used every day. In fact lavender oil is the most used essential oil in the world. When there is a nit outbreak at the village school, the air will fill with the scent of lavender oil – a well-known insect repellent. And small cuts heal faster with a dab of lavender oil. It is also thought to be helpful in treating conditions as diverse as fungal infection, anxiety, acne and even hair loss! In Provence, locals soothe their headaches by rubbing lavender oil on their temples, and some swear that having the dried flowers by the pillow helps you sleep – hence the market stands everywhere in Provence that sell little decorative bags of dried lavender. Science agrees: studies repeatedly show an improvement in sleep regularity when a pillow is scented with lavender. Pain relief too! Muscular aches, rheumatism, back pain – rub some lavender oil in and you may well feel better. Recovering from major surgery? Then have the anaesthetist add lavender essential oil vapour into your oxygen and […]
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. […]
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) […]