Friday, August 21, 2020

Peony Confetti: Made in Provence with Love

My friends Debbie and Marcel van Eenennaam are the owners of Ferme Fleurie, a large, wholesale flower farm just outside Tarascon, between Avignon and Arles. They grow a wide range of flowers from October to June but they’re particularly well known for their peonies: gorgeous fluffy blooms in colors including Sarah Bernhardt, Duchesse de Nemours, Coral Sunset and many both “simple” and “double” varieties. 

The farm’s 130,000 stabilized peony bushes will produce roughly one million stems this year.

Deb and Marcel export 95 percent of their harvest to Holland, sending huge refrigerated trucks packed with blooms--all measured, clipped, bunched and boxed—two to seven times a week in season, to be sold at auction. But they always hold back plenty of reasonably priced bunches and bouquets to sell in their small farm shop. I have friends who “go to Deb” every week, keeping their homes filled with gorgeous fresh flowers all fall, winter and spring. Many local florists, hotels and restaurants also buy regularly at the farm.

And now Deb has launched an exciting new venture all her own: producing dried-peony-petal confetti for weddings and other special events, from peonies grown and hand-picked at Ferme Fleurie.

Called Pétales de Provence, the new confetti company currently offers eight colors, ranging from rich cream to coral to deep red. The petals are 100% natural, 100% dye-free and 100% biodegradable. The most-popular use, Deb says, will be as loose confetti to throw at weddings, but they’re also perfect for flower girls, table decor, petal paths and more. Prior to lockdown here in France, Deb was making the rounds of the Provencal wedding expos and she says the response so far has been super. Samples are available and the company ships worldwide.

“Pétales de Provence was born in 2018, after an extremely hot peony season with lots of open flowers in the fields,” she explains. “And rather than see them go to waste, I had the idea to turn them into confetti. Now three years later, we’re finally ready to share our fluttering petal-confetti clouds with you! From the planting to picking to drying to’s all done right here on the farm. We package them with love and post them to you wherever you are in the world. We like to think we’re selling smiles in a box."

In France, people traditionally throw rice at weddings so this is a new concept here, Deb explains. And most of the petal confetti already produced elsewhere comes from delphiniums,and cornflowers, which have much-smaller petals and no particular significance with regards to weddings. "Peonies have long symbolized romance and happy marriage, in both ancient and modern cultures," Deb tells me. "So in addition to being beautiful, they really do add special meaning to your day. Plus, they just look so amazing in photos!”

For more info (including prices and suggested quantities), visit the Pétales de Provence site here...and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

To learn more about the farm and boutique, read my recent blog post hereThe shop is now closed for its summer break (it’ll probably reopen in mid October) but after they reopen you can see shop hours and what flowers are available on the Facebook page here.

Photos: (1) Petal Pushers! Deb and Marcel met at a dinner party in Provence and quickly grew deeply connected. She's English, he's Dutch. They married on the farm in 2015. To learn more about the farm itself, click here. (2) The logo for the new company. (3) Peonies ripe for the picking; Deb and Marcel grow roughly one million stems each year. Marcel knows more about peonies than anyone. Many of his plants may very well outlive him...peonies can live to be 100 years old. (4) In peony season, the farm employs roughly 40 workers to get the flowers out of the field at just the right moment, then processed quickly for shipping to Holland. Marcel's brother receives them on the other end and does a final quality check before they go on to the Flora Holland Auction and world wide sales. Deb hopes that each year, more and more of the crop will become dried-petal confetti. (5)  Lily De Plano, who's studying immunology at university in Glasgow, helps out each year during peony season. Her friends think she has the best job in the world. (6) The first step is drying. (7) Beauty shot! Petals, leaves and buds in a basket. (8-11) Peonies come in every color but blue...who knew? Pictured are four of the eight varieties currently available as confetti: Duchesse de Nemours, Paula Fay, Sarah Bernhardt and Coral Sunset. (12) Deb made this petal path for a recent photo shoot at the farm. (13) Our favorite flower girl and her helper, Rejanne Havond, at a January wedding show in Aix-en-Provence. (14) You want samples? Just ask. (15) Deb says she feels like she's selling "smiles in a box" and will ship worldwide. (16) Personalized paper cones filled with confetti, ready to throw at Stephanie and Josh's recent wedding in Washington, D.C. (17) Pretty sure you get what's happening here. (18) The shop at Ferme Fleurie will reopen in October with the first flowers of fall: lillies. Then watch for anemones right though until peony season. 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Just Opened: The New Paradou

*All photo captions appear at the end of the text.

For anyone who asks me where to eat in Provence, the Bistrot du Paradou has been my secret weapon for years. (Around here the big question is not Is there a God? or What’s the meaning of life? but rather, Where should we eat?) Not that it’s secret by any means—Paradou is one of the most popular places around—but it’s a no brainer, a guaranteed great experience at lunch or dinner, year round. The food at Paradou is hearty, homemade, Provençal rustic, perfectly prepared, comforting...and superb. Plus, it’s different from just about anywhere the concept, service and vibe. “We’ve never found anything like Paradou, anywhere in the world,” says my friend Sandra Peskin, who calls it her go-to, her local, her home away from home. When she has guests, Sandra always takes them or sends them to Paradou, calling it “not a maybe but a must.” A couple years ago I had clients (a large group of food pros from New Orleans) who ate at Paradou three times in one week, asking me to cancel two other dinners in order to make that happen. Nobody doesn’t like Paradou!

So we’re all pretty excited that Paradou owner Vincent Quenin has finally opened his second restaurant, this one in St. Remy. It’s called Le Bistrot de Saint-Remy and it’s on the site of the former Cafe du Lezard, on avenue Gambetta or what locals call “the bottom of the circle.” It opened for lunch and dinner on Monday.

While no restaurant opening is easy, this one was probably harder than most. Renovation of the space began last year but came to a screeching halt on March 14 (when Covid shut down all non-essential business in France), and couldn’t resume until June 2, the day our restaurant lock down was lifted. Vincent completely gutted and rebuilt the interior, replicating the charming old Provençal ambiance of its predecessor but with all new furniture, fixtures and equipment. “When you come, you’ll remember what was here before—the decor is similar,” Vincent says. “But everything was very very old. And now everything still feels old but it’s completely clean and new.”

The new restaurant seats 40 inside and another 40 or so on the terrace.

Vincent’s partner in the venture is Bastien Maltagliati, who was a server at Paradou for many years...and who’s just as beloved around here as Vincent is. Bastien will run the Bistrot and continue to run the Le Bar Divin next door, the popular St. Remy hangout that he and Vincent also took over last year. “I wasn’t planning to buy two places but when they both became available, I knew I should,” Vincent says. “One bar, one restaurant, one big terrace...right next to each made sense.” Bastien and his father did much of the renovation work themselves.

The Bar Divin specializes in beautiful, classic and creative cocktails made from fresh and unusual ingredients. The beauty of the space is that the comfy terrace tables can easily be used for drinks both before and after dinner. There’s live music on Friday and Saturday nights and the crowd often spills onto the street.

Now that word is spreading that Vincent has opened in St. Remy, I notice the first thing people ask me is “Is it like Paradou?”

What they mean is, is it that same wonderful food, at one set price for everything?

The answer is yes, sort least at dinner, where for €49 (compared to €60 at Paradou) you’ll get a starter, main course, cheese course, dessert and all the wine you care to drink. Coffee and bottled water are extra.

At Paradou, the main dish at dinner alternates between lamb and chicken. Here, it will change daily but choices will be limited:  two starters, two mains (one fish and one meat) and a handful of desserts. You can always call ahead to check what the plat du jour is...and eventually there may be a weekly rotation just like at Paradou at lunch, where it’s usually tête de veau on Tuesday, chicken on Thursday, soupe au pistou and aïoli on Friday, lamb on Saturday, a fantastic cassoulet on Wednesday in winter... and so forth.

Just like at Paradou, the house wine in St. Remy is Château Mont-Redon from Châteauneuf-du-Pape (one of the oldest estates in the Southern Rhône); it’s included in the set price at dinner but not at lunch. They put the bottle on your table and replace it whenever its empty. It’s nice to know you can have as much or little red, white or rosé as you like...and for those who don’t know the wines of the region it eliminates having to choose. Plus, people know that if it’s the house wine at Paradou, it’s going to be good. For those who want a different label, there’s a full list and you pay accordingly.  

At lunch, Vincent will veer further from the Paradou format, in the style of cuisine, the timing and price. “That format, that country cooking, has been working at Paradou forever,” he says, “and people don’t want that to change. They know what we serve and that’s what they come for. Early on I tried to change the food there and my regulars were like, ‘Vincent, what the f*ck?’”

But Vincent knew that the “long lunch in the country” idea isn’t the best for a setting in the heart of a busy village.  “Here we need more choice, something lighter, faster and cheaper,” he explains. “This menu’s designed for people who are working in the bank, the insurance office, the shops...lighter, fresher, more brasserie-style. We’ll do tomato mozzarella salad or a tomato filled with straciatella,” he says, referring to the soup and not the ice cream, of course. “We’re doing homemade gazpacho, a proper carpaccio, a proper tartare we make ourselves.”

The lunch menu yesterday also showed foie gras stuffed with truffles, a homemade terrine, quesadillas (with tomato, pepper, avocado and cheddar), a croustillant of boudin noir and those fabulous snails in garlic butter that everyone goes crazy for at Paradou.

Vincent loves the famous Bouchon-style restaurants of Lyon and will pull some lunch dishes from those menus as well: duck pâté, roast pork, sausages and the like.  A three-course lunch (starter, main, dessert) is €29; cheese, wine and coffee are extra. Or skip the starter and have a main, dessert and glass of wine for the same €29 price.

If Paradou had a signature dish it would have to be the spit-roasted poulet de Bresse...and you’ll definitely find it here, circling in and out of rotation. My friend Philippe Goninet calls Paradou “my Madeleine de Proust” because it reminds him of family dinners as a kid. And he gives the chicken his ultimate compliment, calling it “almost as good as my grandmother’s!”

Born and raised in Arles, Vincent went to London after high school, primarily, he says, to learn English. Then he lived for a while in Thailand before coming home to Provence to stay. In 1997, he went to work at Paradou as a waiter, for then-owner Jean-Louis Pons; the two became like father and son. When Jean-Louis decided to retire in 2010, Vincent bought the restaurant...and has run it with his brother Pierre ever since. The two are extremely close.  

Set in an 1832 relais de poste or relais de diligence, the Bistrot du Paradou was originally built to accommodate travellers with horses and stagecoaches, a stopover on the route from Salon de Provence to Arles. “It was a place for people to eat, sleep and dance,” Vincent says, “a crossroads, a rest along the way. And later it was a village bar, a place to buy drinks and cigarettes, a place where people were looked after. Pierre is more mystic than me and has always said there’s a special energy there.”

Once he bought Paradou, Vincent decided he better learn how to cook. “I realized if I ever lost my chef, I’d be in serious trouble with no one to look after the kitchen,” he remembers. “So I started to work with Marie (chef Marie-Laurence Souici.) I really didn’t want to leave the front of the house—I loved the atmosphere in the dining room—and back in the kitchen I was a bit sad! Luckily Marie never left but I got used to the kitchen and stayed, working with her side by side.”

In St. Remy, Bastien is the operating partner, overseeing both bar and restaurant. But until the new restaurant finds its footing, Vincent will be at the stove, with a young Paradou chef named Joan Laget as his #2. “We need to learn who our customers are, figure out what works best,” Vincent told me. “And of course I want to be there.”

And while Vincent gets St. Remy off the ground, Pierre's in Paradou running the show. "If he weren't there," Vincent says, "I could never have opened in St. Remy."

One of the many reasons we all love Paradou is their “whatever, whenever” attitude. There’s one seating a night, starting at 8 pm, so you stay as long as you like. You want to start your meal inside then move out for dessert, coffee, Cognac, more wine? No problem! You want seconds? If they have enough, you can. You want to bring in a cake, send in a stripper, belt out a song, get up and dance? Seriously, nothing fazes anyone here. The servers are all fast, efficient, charming, funny, handsome and unflappable.

“I’ve definitely got a dream team,” Vincent says. “They always do a great job.”

Arriving at Paradou, you’ll smell the intoxicating aroma of good cooking wafting from the open kitchen. And you’ll find a nicely dressed, refined-looking crowd: couples on dates, families with kids, ladies who lunch, winemakers from down the road. There’s often a celebrity or two, who everyone pretends to ignore. But soon any semblance of French-restaurant formality falls away as people start greeting friends and making introductions, table hopping and switching seats, ambling in and out to smoke, gesturing for more wine. The music gets louder, the staff gets looser and that low-level buzz of polite conversation becomes more like a full-on party.

While writing this story I reached out to a few friends, all of them big Paradou fans, asking why they love it so much. My friend Neassa Grennan Hunt texted back quickly:  “Can’t talk now...I’m having dinner at Paradou!” I asked what was happening there and she said “not much yet...but it’s early!”

The next day she came back with this: “Paradou is our #1 restaurant by far and we tell all our clients it’s a must-do. But we never go on a ‘school night’ because the next morning can definitely be a bit rough!”

More than once my friends and I were still hanging out on the terrace when the staff was ready to head home after lunch service. They brought wine and water, said a bientot, locked the doors and left. (Where else would that ever happen?) And there were definitely times when we were still there when they came back to set up for the evening.

When the summer crowds converge, Paradou is packed, inside and out. On a typical summer day they’ll serve 100 at lunch and 100 at dinner...or more. In winter they’ll do half as many; everyone eats together inside and the crowd is heavily local. Vincent tells me that winter is his favorite season and that's when he feels his restaurant is at its finest. “Winter is when that energy Pierre talks about is the strongest,” he says.

One evening at dinner this winter, Jean-Baptiste Bert—who worked at Paradou for many years but left to open his own place a few miles down the road—came through the doorway and the whole room burst into applause. Again, where else would something like that happen? (Read my story about Jean-Baptiste's Le Relais du Castelet here.)

Earlier that same winter evening I saw Sandra Peskin hobble in, having had serious foot surgery just a few weeks before. “This is my first night out!” she said, sounding sort of guilty. “But I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to get out and of course it had to be Paradou! “

Just like at any super-popular restaurant, getting a table at Paradou takes a bit of strategy. If they happen to have space they’ll happily seat walk-ins but it’s always best to book. Reservations are by phone or Facebook messenger and you may have to try more than once. And very soon at the Bistrot de Saint Remy, I'm sure it will be just the same.

“Paradou is my favorite restaurant on the planet,” says Sandra’s husband Andrew, who could have easily bought the place with what he’s spent there over the years. “The welcome, the escargot, the value for money, the staff, the attention to detail, the buzz. I can’t tell you how excited I am about Vincent opening in St Rémy.”

The Bistrot de Saint-Remy & Le Bar Divin
12 blvd. Gambetta
13210 St. Remy de Provence
To reserve: +33 (0)4-90-21-11-59.
Lunch and dinner daily, except Mondays.
Three-course lunch €29. Four-course dinner with wine €49.

The Bistrot du Paradou
57 ave de la Vallee des Baux
13520 Paradou
To reserve: +33 (0)4-90-54-32-70. 
Also find them on FacebookTripAdvisor and Instagram.
Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday in Summer; closed weekdays for dinner in Winter.
Four courses with wine: €55 at lunch, €60 at dinner.

Photos: (1) Bastien Maltagliati (left) and Vincent Quenin in St. Remy. Bastien is the operating partner and he oversees both the Bistrot de Saint Remy and the next-door Bar Divin. Vincent will be in the kitchen, at least for the summer, while his brother Pierre runs Paradou. (2) Seating in both the bar and the restaurant spills out onto the street. Pictured here, the new restaurant at dusk. (3) Before the restaurant opened this week, large "planchas" of nibbles, served in the bar and designed for sharing, could easily make a small meal. (4) The Divin crew with Bastien at the center back and Vincent's sous chef, Joan Laget, second from the right, in black. (5) Divin has happy hour with drink specials daily and live music on weekends. (6) I had to try the cocktail called Passion à Saint Remy: rum, lemon juice, passion fruit purée, fresh coriander and fresh ginger. Excellent! (7) Dining tables in St. Remy are well spaced to allow for distancing...and the servers are all in masks. (8-10) Lunch dishes include caviar of aubergine, pasta pesto with gambas roti and a dessert that looked amazing on a hot day. When I popped in today, they were also serving chicken with mashed potatoes and artichaux barigoule...and gazpacho. (11-15) Paradou's greatest hits will be part of the dinner rotation in St. Remy but not so much at lunch. Pictured: salade frisée with lardons, snails in garlic butter, soupe au pistou, Bresse chicken with fresh pasta and morel sauce, cassoulet. (16) Save room for cheese! Paradou's famous serve-yourself tray (with accoutrements) is plunked down on every table at lunch and dinner, always eliciting lots of ooh-la-la!  (17) A battalion of bottles, open and ready for action. Mont-Redon is the house red, white and rosé at both restaurants. (18) Vincent and longtime Paradou chef Marie-Laurence Souici, photo courtesy of Via-Selection. (19, 20) The terrace at Paradou (ready for action in summer) and the dining room filling up in winter, when Vincent says the restaurant is its best version of itself. (21) Foodies love the kitchen table at Paradou. (22) Kids welcome! A pretty Provencal mural at Paradou, with high chairs at the ready. (23)  Everyone loves Paradou aprons! These aren't for sale but newer ones, with the escargot logo, are €30 at the restaurant. (24) Vincent calls the staff at Paradou "a dream team." (Thanks to Michel Augsburger for letting me pull some of the photos above from his blog.)

Monday, June 22, 2020

Where to Rent Now in Provence

It's such a strange time for tourism in Provence, as we approach the height of the season. The good news is that last week, on June 15, the French borders finally opened to other Europeans, which includes visitors from the UK. 

The bad news is that the French borders are still closed to everyone else...unless you have an essential reason to travel here. And while lounging poolside sipping rosé, playing petanque and running around in the lavender fields may seem essential at the moment, the French government, alas, feels otherwise.

The latest official announcement was that other nationalities will be approved "from July 1st" but on a country by country basis, depending on each country's Covid statistics.  But since no one has known when exactly the borders will open to whom, each week more and more travel to France has had to be postponed. That has meant the cancellation of countless family vacations, school and group trips, weddings, honeymoons, major festivals and more. If you're not an EU resident and you were planning to come this month or next, you've almost certainly cancelled by now. If you were planning to come in August or September, you may still be waiting and hoping...or ready to call it off...or completely unsure. 

Finding concrete info about who can come in to France--and when--hasn't been easy. A June 13 story on confirms what I heard about non-EU citizens probably being allowed in "from July 1st." A story in yesterday's LA Times (June 21) indicates the same: that international arrivals will begin July 1st, "from a list of approved countries yet to be decided." On June 23, the NY Times reported that its editors had seen a draft of the list of approved countries and that the USA is not on it. The same article says that the list will be revised every two weeks. So if you aren't an EU resident and you're planning to come to France,  I'd say definitely wait for the July 1st updates before you book.  Meanwhile for a concise look at the current Covid situation across Europe, see yesterday's Financial Times here.

If you can come to France and are looking for a hotel, rest assured they're up and running,  spiffed up beautifully for the season and compliant with rules for social distancing. But for travelers who want something other than a hotel--more space, more privacy, a full kitchen or a large yard/garden, for example--Provence is filled with terrific options ranging from cozy cottages to sprawling villas. But we all know that hunting online can be daunting if you don't know the region...and then of course there's the idea of sending packets of money to a stranger, hoping the house turns out to be even half as heavenly as it looked on the net. 

To help those of you still hunting for the perfect rental--or just starting to hunt--I thought I'd share some places I love, with good availability for summer and fall. In some cases you'll share the property and pool with other travelers; in others you'll have total privacy, with or without a pool.

I chose the homes below because they represent a wide range of prices, sizes, styles and locations. Plus I know all the hosts personally, know they're taking Covid precautions seriously, and know they offer extremely gracious prices the French would call "correct." 

Because pricing can sometimes be negotiated, it's best if you use the link to check house details and photos...but then book directly with the owner, via email. Please mention so they know that I sent you. And if you'd like my help choosing--or don't see what you want here--feel free to get in touch ( I have more than 300 rental homes in my database and would love to help.

Finally if you have or know of a lovely Provence rental with space available this summer, I'll be very happy to share it. Just leave the info in the comments section below and be sure to include a link and an email so my readers can reach you.

Alors...onward! Here are 17 places to stay this summer that I know you'll love...

Three-Bedroom, Three-Bath Apartment with A/C and Roof Terrace in St. Remy

Where/What: In the heart of the historic village, just steps from shops, restaurants, galleries, cinema, etc. Owned by an Australian interior decorator.

Perfect For: Three couples or a small family (no kids under 12 please)  who love a village setting and don't need a pool. Also available as a one- or two-bedroom rental.

Available: Good availability from mid June onward. Minimum 2-night stay.

Link for Photos and Details: click here


Two-Bedroom Home with A/C and Pool in St. Remy

What/Where: Fully renovated historic stone house just a short stroll (5 minutes) to the heart of the village. Filled with art and antiques, with a lovely eat in kitchen, the house was completely re-done in 2014. Private parking for one car.

Perfect For: Two to four people who want a decorator-designed house with terraced patios, pool and garden seating...but on a small scale very close to town. Five-night minimum please.

Available: From July onward. 

Link for Photos and Details: click here


Seven Houses of Various Sizes with Large Pool in Rognonas

Where/What: Renovated 17th-century farmhouse and converted outbuildings set on a 2/3-acre property, surrounded by orchards. Each house has a private terrace with garden furniture and gas BBQ. The large (12m x 6m) pool is shared with other guests. Owned by a charming couple from New Zealand, Mas Saint Antoine sits on the road between Avignon and St. Remy, perfectly situated for day trips to some of the best sites and villages in Provence. In the village itself, a short walk away, you'll find a boulangerie, food shop, restaurants, wine bar, etc. 

Perfect For: Singles, couples and groups of up to eight. The estate may also be privatized for up to 24 people, making it ideal for birthdays, family reunions, retreats, etc. It's also popular for walking, wine tasting, biking and painting holidays. Check-ins are taken any day of the week for a 3-night minimum stay. Cots, high chairs and baby baths are available.

Available: Good availability throughout summer and fall.

Link for Photos and Details: click here.


Five-Bedroom Home with Large Pool and Garden, 5 Min from St. Remy

What/Where: Provencal farmhouse completely restored in 2012, loaded with amenities, on a quiet, tree-lined country lane. Biking path, great hiking and high-quality wineries nearby. Two restaurants (including one that we particularly love!) and a bar/tabac/convenience store are within walking distance. St. Remy--with scores of shops, restaurants, galleries, etc.--is a few minutes down the road.

Perfect For: Families or groups of up to 10 people.

Available: Until July 18th and from September 5 onward.

Link for Photos and Details: click here


Seven Homes of Various Sizes on Historic Property with Pool in St. Remy

What/Where: Dating to the 17th century, this unique hamlet was lovingly restored over five years and then filled with antiques from all over France. Houses range from a small bungalow to a four-bedroom, three-bath home. Each house has a full kitchen stocked with supplies and everyone shares a pool, pool house and gardens. Welcome dinner and morning bakery delivery are included with rentals of five nights or more. (Read what I wrote about Provence Paradise a few years ago here.)

Perfect For: Couples, families and groups of all sizes. Privatization is possible.

Available: Good availability through the summer and fall.

Link for Photos and Details: click here.


Five-Bedroom, Five-Bath Home with A/C and Large Pool in Eygalieres

What/Where:  Large open plan home with heated saltwater pool in one of Provence's most charming, desireable villages, just steps from shops, cafes and more, with large terrace, garden and views of the Alpilles Mountains. Beautifully renovated in 2018. Sleeps 12, with a separate kids wing. Loaded with toys, baby supplies, kids movies, etc. Great hiking, biking and wineries nearby. Eygalieres is halfway between St. Remy and Cavaillon.

Perfect For: One family or friends traveling together. Sleeps 12.

Available: The weeks of Aug 15, 22, 29 and beyond.

Link for Photos and Details: click here.


Independent Studio in Provencal Mas with Shared Pool in Tarascon

What/Where: A bright, fully equipped studio with its own garden entrance and private patio, on one end of an 18th-century farmhouse, known as Le Mas de Lilou.  Located in a walk-to-town location in Tarascon, an historic and "undiscovered" village on the Rhone River. A major bonus to this location is that you can walk to a train station, for access to Avignon, Arles, Nimes, Marseille and beyond. The studio has a full kitchen, dining area, double bed, convertible sofa, washing machine, A/C and Wifi. The owner is Belgian/American.

Perfect For: Singles, a couple or a couple with a young child...anyone looking for reasonably priced, quiet accommodations with a large garden and lovely pool.

Available: Good availability through summer and fall.

Contact for Photos and Details:

Two Apartments in an 18th-Century Townhouse in Apt

What/Where: Located on the first and second floor, these two apartments, owned by a British couple, are fully renovated and loaded with amenities. The apartments are smack in the center of this popular market town, with lots of locally owned shops, cafes and restaurants all within walking distances. Each apartment has one bedroom and a sofa bed. 

Perfect For: Singles, couples or two friends traveling together. Also perfect for cyclists looking for the cooler autumn months. Kids 14 and up only please, and 3-nights minimum stay.

Available: Good availability through summer and fall.

Link for Photos and Details: click here


Five-Bedroom Mas with Private Heated Pool in the Luberon

What/Where: Fully restored 18th-century farmhouse with many original architectural elements and all modern comforts.  Located in a tranquil setting two km from Apt,  which has scores of restaurants, shops, a cinema and a fantastic Saturday market. 

Perfect For: Families and groups seeking a tranquil country setting close to a vibrant town. This is great base for discovering the historic hill town of the Luberon, the lavender farms of Sault and Valensole, the spectacular Gorges du Verdon (Grand Canyon of France), the Var region and more. Also a perfect base for cyclists.

Availability: From mid August onwards. 

Link for Photos and Details: click here.


Large Historic Estate with Multiple Homes on Riverside Property in Noves

What/Where:  A beautifully landscaped 12-acre estate on the site of a 15th-century mill, midway between St. Remy and Avignon, with a large, shared Roman-style pool and A/C. Great hiking and biking nearby. It’s all very secluded but just a five-minute walk to the closest boulangerie for morning croissants. Lodgings range from a small studio apartment to an eight-bedroom, seven-bath home. There’s pétanque, badminton, ping pong, volleyball, two large trampolines and plenty of safe space for kids to run around. The owners (he's Belgian, she's American) welcome guests with a gift, a tour of the property and a where-to-go guide. Seven-night minimum in summer. (Read what I wrote about it a few years ago here.)

Perfect For: Everyone from singles and couples to large families; particularly well suited for  gatherings that require lots of rooms. The largest house has a atelier ideal for workshops, reunions, meetings and receptions. The property can be privatized for up to 50 guests.

Available: Availability from July onward.

Link for Photos and Details: click here

Two Apartments in Avignon, Next Door to the Les Halles Market

What/Where: Owned by an adorable Franco American couple, these two pristinely clean and beautifully maintained apartments are just next door to the fantastic indoor Les Halles food market, a few minutes walk from the Palais des Papes and also walking distance (or a short taxi ride) to the Avignon Centre train station, which connects to the TGV (high-speed) train station by shuttle. If you need a pool, there's a nice pool club where you can pay by the day, just across the bridge from Avignon.

The first apartment (top two photos) is on the third floor of a 14th-century "Classified Historical Monument" building called Le Clos des Arts. It has free private parking, an elevator, A/C and a large private terrace. There's a beautiful view of the city from the entrance side while the terrace over looks a large, tree-filled courtyard. The loft has a queen-size bed and a single bed; there's a double-size sofa-bed below. Amenities include a fully loaded kitchen, washing machine and super-speedy fiber-optic WiFi. See the apartment here.

The second apartment (bottom photo) on the first floor of an 18th-century building, on a small, quiet street. It was fully remodeled in 2016 and has stone walls, high ceilings, wood floors, lots of light and lots of charm! There's one king bed (I'm told it's extra comfortable!) and a double sofa bed in the living room. A/C is provided by a a portable unit and bike storage, in a locked ground-floor space, is possible.  See the apartment here.

Perfect For: Singles, couples, small families and friends traveling together who want the convenience of a stay in the heart of this historic and beautiful city. The location is perfect for art museums, restaurants, site-seeing, shopping, water sports on the Rhone River and day trips by car, train and bike. At the Les Halles Market you'll find a vast selection of fresh ingredients and prepared foods, cafes, a florist, a wine shop and a cooking school.

Available: Good availability throughout summer and fall.


Two-Bedroom Town Home with Terrace in St. Remy

What/Where: Built roughly 13 years ago on the grounds of a large Belle Epoque villa, this gated compound of 15 pretty town-homes has attracted a nice mix of French and expat owners. The location is a 5-minute walk to the heart of St. Remy but feels like a quiet, country setting. You'll have a small private terrace off the living room (with dining table) and share the large garden area with other homeowners. A secure parking space is included.

Perfect For: Two couples, small family or two friends traveling together, who don't need a pool.

Available: Good availability through summer and fall

Link for photos and details: click here.


Small, Charming Home on One Floor with Private Garden in St. Remy

What/Where: A fresh and elegant one-bedroom house with front and side patio terraces, 5-minutes walk from the heart of St. Remy, fully renovated in 2017.  The bedroom can be made up with a queen or two singles; the ensuite bathroom has a high-end walk-in shower and separate toilet. The "gourmet" kitchen is particularly nice. The house is beautifully maintained and has great reviews online. The Canadian owner lives in the other part of the house, with a separate entrance, and is both extremely responsive and extremely discrete. Well behaved dogs are welcome!

Perfect For: A single traveler or couple who don't need a pool.

Available: Good availability through summer and fall.

Link for Photos and Details: click here


Three-Bedroom Home with Terraces, A/C and Plunge Pool in Bonnieux

What/Where: Ancient three-bedroom house, exquisitely renovated, perched on the hillside in one of the Luberon's most beautiful villages, with a three-level terrace and stunning views all the way to Mont extraordinary panorama! Your private turret forms part of Bonnieux's 12th- century city walls. The Australian owners chose elegant furnishings (Persian rugs, antique armchairs, chandeliers, marble vanities, claw-foot tubs) combined with brocante finds to create a luxurious-but-laid-back French Country vibe.

Perfect For: Families with older kids and small groups who love the energy of village life: boulangeries, cafes, restaurants, galleries and the weekly market, etc. are all just a short walk away. Great for hikers, bikers (you can rent electric bikes from Sun-e-Bike right in Bonnieux), wine lovers, history buffs...and getting out to explore the natural beauty of the Luberon and beyond.

Available: Good availability in June, in July and after August 29.

For Photos and Details: click here.


Four-Bedroom House with A/C and Pool in Maussane

What/Where: A four-bedroom antique-filled farmhouse in a walk-to-town location in Maussane, a charming village five minutes from Les Baux, 15 minutes from St. Remy and 30 minutes from Arles. This is a perfect base for hiking, biking, horseback riding, golf, wine touring and more. In the evening, everyone comes out to eat and drink on the church square, where there's often live music or art exhibits, and the kids can run around and do their thing. Included in the four-bedroom count is a self-contained apartment with inside and outside entries. Secure courtyard parking with electric gate and space for two cars.

Perfect For: Families and small groups who want a good central location in a laid-back village, with plenty to do nearby, and a peaceful private property with pool to come home to at the end of the day.

Available: Good availability in summer and fall

For Photos and Details: click here.


Five-Suite Hilltop Château with Pool in La Roque-sur-Pernes

What/Where: Completely rebuilt between 2000 and 2004, this luxury boutique hotel was created within the crumbling remains of an 11th-century fortified castle. You’ll find architectural details that had been hidden for hundreds of years...and interiors that mix elegant and “important” pieces with locally made art and lighting, brocante finds and more. You can book by the room but you can also privatize the whole château for total serenity and pampering.  

Perfect For: Families, groups and the most-special occasions! Fantastic hiking, biking, historic sites and wineries nearby. If you’re looking for night life and the type of village shops and restaurants that appeal to tourists, you won’t find that here. But this is an ideal base for exploring the popular and lesser-known corners of the Vaucluse (with easy access to Avignon, Isle sur la Sorgue, Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the other wine villages of the Southern Côtes du Rhone, the Luberon, Mont Ventoux, lavender farms, etc.) and central enough for day trips to Aix, Vaison-la-Romaine, St. Remy, the Pont du Gard and more. See my recent story about Chateau La Roque here.

Available: Good availability through summer and fall.

For Photos and Details: click here.


Four-Bedroom House with Pool and Tennis Near St. Remy

What/Where: I’ve just been told about this gorgeous villa with availability in July and August. The house had been booked by American and Australian clients, who’ve had to cancel their trips due to Covid travel restrictions. It has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a large pool, a tennis court...and is fully loaded with amenities.

Available: July 18 to August 29. 

Price: 7,150 euros per week.

For more photos and details:

Photos at Top of Story: (1,2) Maison Vue Provence in Bonnieux. (3) The pool at Moulin de la Roque in Noves. (4) This elegant three-bedroom apartment in St. Remy is perfect for couples or small groups who love to cook and don't need a pool. 

Note from Julie: If you don't find what you like in my article here, feel free to get in touch ( I have more than 300 rental homes in my database and would be very happy to help!


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