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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.
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 […]
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) […]
Cavaillon melons & how to choose one
‘Marriage is like a melon, it’s a question of luck’ (Provençal proverb) Melons are notoriously difficult to choose but, in summer in Provence, your chances are actually quite high of finding perfect, sun-drenched, sweet, succulent, scented melons. Eaten with raw ham, filled with Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (a sweet local wine) or simply just as they are, they are one of the highlights of a summer meal in Provence. When you come off the A7 autroute at Cavaillon, gateway to the Luberon, you can hardly fail to miss the huge sculpture of a melon beside the first roundabout. Weighing in at 9 tonnes, this enormous melon indicates that you’re entering the Melon Capital of Provence. Melons have been grown in the region since the Popes were in Avignon in the 14th century but the renown of melons from Cavaillon started in the mid 19th century when it became possible to ship produce rapidly to the Paris markets by train. In the 1950s melon production in Cavaillon accounted for 64% of the melons grown in France. This figure has diminished but the region still produces more than any other in France with an annual production of about 130,000 tonnes. There’s […]
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 […]
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. […]
The magic of Cezanne’s studio
Visit the studio where Cezanne painted his masterpieces, his actual coat and bowler hat still hanging on their hook, and you may feel like Cezanne has just popped out for a coffee. The spirit of Cezanne is everywhere in Provence, but one of the most moving places to visit is the Lauves Studio (L’Atelier de Cezanne) in his beloved home town of Aix-en-Provence. He painted here every single day during the last years of his life, producing the ground-breaking work that earned him the title ‘the father of modern art’. This is a very special place – all around are the easels, canvas satchels and umbrellas he used to paint on location, along with objects that crop up again and again in his still lifes: ginger jars, olive pots, fruit bowls, a plaster cupid. The drawers of an old wooden cabinet open to reveal mementoes, photographs, letters – even one written to Monet. The studio, or ‘atelier’ was built on land that had views of the city to the south and Cézanne’s revered Mont Sainte-Victoire to the north. Don’t expect the same view today – his garden has matured and trees now shield the house from the outside world. Though […]
A Year in Provence: 30 years on
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle was written 30 years ago – the book had an initial print run of three thousand copies, and Mayle was assured by his publisher that there would be plenty left over unsold. Since then it has sold over six million copies, in forty languages: an astonishing success for any book. Peter Mayle and his wife moved to Menerbes in the Luberon region of Provence in 1987 with the idea of writing a novel. However he kept being distracted by his new life and these distractions became the subject of A Year in Provence, retold in Mayle’s witty, warm and anecdotal way. A Year in Provence was followed by two more best-selling sequels – Toujours Provence and Encore Provence – but it also accidentally spawned a whole new genre of travel writing, one of relocation and renewal, allowing other best-selling writers like Frances Mayes in Italy (Under the Tuscan Sun) and Chris Stewart in Spain (Driving Over Lemons) to find a huge, ready market. How Provence has changed Since the publication of A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle has been accused of ‘spoiling’ Provence but, living here, it’s hard to see how. It’s true […]
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!)
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 […]
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, […]