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 France24.com 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 hospitality...at 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 ProvencePost.com 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 (provenceblog@aol.com). 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

Contact: karenstrideprovence@yahoo.com

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

Contact: karenstrideprovence@yahoo.com

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.

Contact: masstant@aol.com

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

Contact: sandrapeskin@googlemail.com

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.

Contact: stephanie@provenceparadise.com

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.

Contact: masha.feigelman@gmail.com

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: cburtonboy@mac.com

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

Contact: apt@cent-cinq.fr

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.

Contact: booking@chezmanon.com

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.

Contact: mc.auliffe@hotmail.com

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.

Contact: villanovafr@gmail.com

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

Contact: mdmariandavis@gmail.com

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 Ventoux...an 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.

Contact: jennylamattina123@gmail.com

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.

Contact: neassa@provencepeaceofmind.com

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.

Contact: contact@chateaularoque.com

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: juliemautner@aol.com.

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 (provenceblog@aol.com). I have more than 300 rental homes in my database and would be very happy to help!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Join Us! Photographing the White Horses of the Camargue


One of the most-special experiences I've booked for my clients is a day devoted to photographing the famous white horses of the Camargue...and the cowboys (gardians) who look after them. To do this, I've teamed up with a terrific photographer who knows the best ranches, best places to shoot and best time of day for the most-magical images. She took all the photos above.

Not only will you improve your skills considerably but you'll get an exciting glimpse of a cherished Provençale tradition that many travelers miss. 

Shooting lasts roughly 90 minutes but there’s a 45-minute tutorial beforehand, plus travel time to the shooting site, so plan to spend about three hours. Workshops are suited to all levels, from beginner to professional, using smart phones to DSLRs. The best time to shoot is around sunrise and sunset so the timing changes with the seasons. Workshops are either public (where you can book as a solo and be paired with other people) or private (for you and your peeps only). Public workshops are on set dates; private ones can happen anytime.

Please note that the photographer is observing all COVID safety protocols. Masks are mandatory and group sizes have been reduced for social distancing. 

By the way, people often refer to these horses as "wild" but that's not the case...there are no white horses just lurking around the Camargue! They're all owned by someone and most live on ranches (manades), behind fences or sometimes gates. Many ranches are indeed open to the public at certain times...but that's another story for another day. In general, you don't just roll up to a ranch and start shooting the horses...and you almost certainly wouldn't get great shots. So that's why these workshops are ideal.

Two types of private workshops are available on your choice of dates.  A group of 7 to 10 horses running in the watery marshes is 825€ (for up to 8 people). A group of 5 to 7 horses on the beach (and running in the sea) is 1650€ (for up to 10 people). The price is a flat fee for your group; each workshop includes gardians in traditional gardian garb! Private workshops are available year round.

Public workshops are available on set dates, starting three hours before sunset. June is sold out but the dates for the rest of the year as as follows:  July 1, July 8, July 15, July 22, July 29, Aug 5, Aug 12, Aug 19, Sept 5, Oct 3, Oct 10 and Nov 7. These alternate between the marsh (180€ pp) and the beach (235€ pp). 

Whether you sign up for a public or private shoot, you’ll meet the photographer in or near Aigues-Mortes, about 45 minutes from Arles. For the marsh shoots, be sure to wear water-proof boots to the knee. For beach shoots between May and October, bare feet or walking sandals and shorts are fine. Masks won't be provided...you need to bring your own.
This same photographer also offers three-day workshops, shorter sessions focused on the birds of the Camargue (flamingos and others) and workshops on demand for groups of all types. Let me know what interests you and I'll reach out! 

In May 2021, there will be special workshops with mares and their new foals...probably five of each. These public shoots will be held on a private ranch, in a typically marshy and lovely Camargue landscape with birds, reeds, etc. 

For more info or to book: whattodoinprovence@gmail.com. 
*Note from Julie: If you're heading for the South of France, please check my websites ProvencePostTravel.com and WhatToDoinProvence.com. There you'll see all the ways in which I can help, whether you need a completely custom itinerary or just a couple fab tours or activities. We do lots of hotel and villa booking too, all over Provence and the Cote d'Azur, and would love to help you find the perfect place!

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