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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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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) […]