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.
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 […]
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.
Carpentras strawberries – Provence’s delicious early crop
There are about 190 Fraternities (Confréries) in France and at least 30 of them are in the Provence region. They exist for the promotion and protection of apples, wine, bread, crèche figures (santons), truffles, figs, olive trees, garlic, pumpkins, Brignoles plums, mimosa, sausages, chickpeas, etc. And strawberries. The members of the Carpentras Strawberry Fraternity have very jolly red and green costumes that actually make them look quite like strawberries. However, members of the Fraternity have a serious role to play in making sure that strawberries advertised as ‘Fraises de Carpentras’ are, indeed, from Carpentras in Provence. And not, as has apparently happened in the past, from places as far away as Toulouse. Strawberries have been grown around Carpentras for about a hundred years and the scented red berries are amongst the first on the market. Annual production is about 4000 tonnes. ‘Fraises de Carpentras’ means the strawberry you are buying comes from the area around Carpentras, not what variety it is. It could be round (for example the Pajaro or Clery varieties) or more elongated in shape (Gariguette or Ciflorette). Where to buy the strawberries of Carpentras? The best place is any of the hundreds of markets in Provence, from […]
The tree as high as the church
Cucuron is one of Provence’s prettiest villages and every May it hosts one of its strangest festivals: Le Mai de Sainte Tulle. Le Mai de Sainte Tulle dates back to 1720, the time of the Great Plague that killed 100,000 people in Marseille, and had spread out to the provinces. In Cucuron, 1,000 lives were lost when the villagers prayed to Sainte Tulle for salvation. And suddenly… the plague stopped in its tracks. To thank Sainte Tulle for saving them, every year since and for ever more, the people of Cucuron pledge a poplar tree as high as their church in honour of their saint. To take part in the 2016 running of this intriguing festival, head to Cucuron on May 28th. You will be met with a tide of humanity bearing a great poplar tree, ridden by a child dressed in period uniform and bearing the tricolore flag, till they reach the church square. With shouts of encouragement and much advice, the tree is hoisted into position against the church to verify it really is as high. When the bells are rung, the village is safe for another year, and Provencal dancing ensues. If you miss the festival itself, […]
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 […]
The shutters of Provence
It’s hard to imagine a Provençal house without shutters. When you think of hilltop villages, towns or coastal fishing ports you imagine the different coloured shutters against the rendering or local stone. Open or shut, they give character to houses. However, you can’t just paint them any colour you like. If you live in a town, a National Park, or within 50 metres of a National Monument, the palette of colours you are entitled to use is restricted and controlled. Traditional colours in the Luberon region of Provence are deep red, dark green and brown, but lavender has been popular in recent years, and shades of beige often denote second homeowners. Shutters on the coast tend more to blues, greens and beiges. Nice has a very specific palette depending on the facade; recommended colours are browns, beiges, greys and green or grey blues. The colours in the old town of Aix-en-Provence are the most strictly regulated and you must apply to the town hall to check the approved colour for your facade before you get out your paintbrush. Traditional shutters are wooden and, in many places, modern metal shutters are not allowed. Depending on where you are in Provence, shutters […]
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. […]
Know your lavender
If anything says ‘Provence’ it’s lavender. Snaking, parallel humped lines of glorious scented, purple lavender – the icon of Provence. And if you’ve been lucky enough to be in Provence when it’s in flower it’s a sight (and scent) you’ll never forget. Particularly at the end of the day when the warm evening air is heavily perfumed and vibrating with the hum of a thousand insects hovering over the purple flowers, gathering pollen before nightfall. Lavender flowers from mid/end June to late-July or mid-August depending on the region. Generally speaking, the higher the lavender fields, the later the flowering and harvest. Harvest depends on the weather and the humidity of the air so it can vary. Lavender is grown principally in the Drôme-Diois valley, the Drôme provençale, in the regional national park of Les Baronnies, around the Mt Ventoux, the Luberon and the Lure mountains and in the Verdon region in the Alpes de Haute Provence. Several different varieties of lavender grow in Provence but really only two varieties are cultivated; ‘la lavande fine’ and ‘le lavandin’. ‘La lavande fine’ (or ‘real’ lavender) grows naturally above 700-800 metres (approx. 2,600 ft). It’s very robust and able to cope with conditions […]