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.
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. […]
4000 sheep go window shopping in St-Remy-de-Provence
The elegant Provence town of St-Remy-de-Provence will be transformed on 16th May by a tidal wave of sheep (not forgetting goats and donkeys) sweeping through the streets accompanied by their shepherds, sheepdogs and a cacophony of bells! For this is the Fete de la Transhumance – an enduring tradition marking the day that the sheep leave the drying lowlands and head for pastures new in the high Alps. During winter in Provence, flocks of sheep and goat are moved around the fertile lowlands – often keeping the grass at bay in vineyards and orchards, but as the ground begins to dry they are moved back up to the mountains. The journey used to take 10 days on foot, but is more likely to be done by truck today. To join in you’ll need to park outside of the old town of St-Remy-de-Provence by about 10am and find your spot along the side of the road. Festivities carry on for the whole day with sheepdog trials, cheese market and bric-a-brac stalls. To really feel part of the action, join the lunch held on the Plateau de la Crau – buy tickets in advance from the Mairie (Town Hall). Timings for Fete […]
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 […]
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 […]
Come and taste the Black Diamond of Provence!
“Food-lovers of all eras have never been able to utter the word ‘truffle’ without tipping their hat” – Alexandre Dumas It’s winter in Provence, and one of the consolations of colder days and longer nights is that it is also truffle season. France produces more truffles than any other country, and 80% of them come from Provence. So if you love truffles there is no better place to be at this time of year. In the middle ages, monks were banned from eating truffles due to their apparent aphrodisiac effect. Today you are free to indulge. Pigs, dogs and goats are used to hunt for the truffles, though small flies may also mark the spot. The Ancient Greeks believed that a strike of lightning on damp soil created a truffle. In fact they are fungi that grow around the right sort of tree, like an oak, but they were right about the dampness of the soil, as truffles grow best after rain. The location of fertile truffle grounds is highly secretive, you will never be told where to go and look, unless you are being deliberately sent in the wrong direction. Fortunately you can buy truffles more easily than finding […]
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 […]
Eating out in Provence
Our guide to eating out in Provence will help you negotiate the menu, order, pay and tip – even if you speak no French at all. Lunch and dinner (less so breakfast) are taken seriously in France – rarely will you see the French snacking in between meals or eating on the go. Lunch is often a three-course affair with a glass of wine and usually a cooked main course. Time will be taken over dinner – in the more expensive restaurants you may end up with five courses. Types of restaurant in France Restaurant: Here you’ll get a complete meal of 3 to 5 courses and a choice of ordering a la carte or from a fixed price menu. The quality and price range of restaurants will vary widely. We say look for where the locals are eating or do your research well. (See our restaurant recommendations – we only mention those we have eaten in ourselves – and we are fussy!) Brasserie: A more relaxed affair, brasseries tend to have similar menus with dishes such as steak frites (steak and fries), salads, croque monsieur (cheese and ham on toast). Again, the quality and price range of brasseries […]
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 […]