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Choose from a beautiful selection of hand picked Provence rental properties we know and love, photographed and described by us.
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We live and work in Provence – we give you insider knowledge and tailored add-ons for the perfect Provence stay.
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!)
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 […]
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 […]
Provence wine – a drinking guide
The French classification of wine can put one’s head in a spin, and that’s before the tasting begins. We hope this quick guide will help you negotiate (and enjoy) the wines of Provence. First things first For the absolute beginner here are some basics. Provence has two main wine regions: Provence and Rhone (which includes the far north of Provence). In the Rhone region are the mainly red Cotes-du-Rhone wines, which include the almost mythical Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cote-Rotie and Hermitage. Meanwhile the southern Provence wine region is noted as the home of rosé – wine that is really enjoying its moment in the sun right now – and thankfully as its popularity increases so does the quality. French classification system At the bottom of the league table of French wines are Vin de France or Vin de Table (table wine), and Vin de Pays (country wine) – these are what you might find as the ‘house wine’ in a basic restaurant. From here on up wine is ranked by the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlée, or controlled designation of origin), which is a certification granted to certain wines, cheeses and other produce. AOC produce must be made using traditional methods, with certain […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 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 […]