Here Are the Top 5 Things to Do in Nîmes, France

If you’re visiting Provence on your upcoming vacation to France, then there’s one city you cannot miss: Nîmes! This gorgeous roman city has stood the test of time and is a must-see during your trip to the South of France. See incredible historic sites, stroll through elegant gardens, and eat delicious food—these are among some of the best things to do in Nîmes! Read on to learn more and plan the best day trip to one of our favorite French cities.

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5 Things to Do in Nîmes You’ll Love

Nîmes is more than a beautiful French city—it’s a real temple of history! Did you know that it was once called Nemausus? Back in the days of the Roman empire, it was an important hub along the famous Via Domitia: The first Roman road built in France (then known as Gaul). It’s the perfect destination for history buffs, and is only 30 minutes away from our properties in Uzès! Let’s dive in and discover five things you need to do while in Nîmes.

Les Arènes

Your first stop is one of Nîme’s most famous buildings: Les Arènes. This Roman amphitheater is more than 2,000 years old and is used today as a stage for various events and concerts. Did you know it can host up to 24,000 spectators? If you love amphitheaters, make sure you also stop by the one in Arles! It will make for another fun day trip. 

Jardins de la Fontaine

If you enjoy the outdoors, particularly French gardens, you must take a stroll through the Jardins de la Fontaine. Feel like Marie-Antoinette as you walk through these grand 18th-century gardens and marvel at the balustrades, broad stairways, various statues, and marble vases. Did you know that the Jardins de la Fontaine was one of Europe’s first public parks? Make sure you stop by the Temple of Diane, an impressive Roman monument (which supposedly used to be a library in Roman times).

Musée des Beaux-Arts

How does traveling back in time through art sound? The Musée des Beaux-Arts, or Fine Arts Museum, hosts a beautiful collection of paintings from the 1500s to the 1800s. This fascinating museum, founded in 1821, is the second largest in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It hosts several works by artists like Rubens, Paul Delaroche, and Pieter Coecke Van Aelst. 

Pont du Gard

Nîmes is also home to one of the most iconic Roman buildings in the world: the Pont du Gard! This 50-kilometer long aqueduct was built in the 1st century A.D. and features three stories of limestone blocks as well as impressive 25-meter arch gaps. It’s an absolute must-see during your trip—you’ll learn so much about South of France history as you enjoy beautiful views of the Provençal countryside. 

Les Halles

After visiting these marvelous sites, you’ll most likely be hungry! Head over to the Halles de Nîmes and discover a wide array of fantastic Provence products. This amazing covered market offers a sumptuous display of olives, oysters, peppers, fresh fish, meat, cheeses, bread, charcuterie, fruits, vegetables, and cooked meals! We highly recommend the paella—it’s to die for!

What Are You Waiting For? Provence is Calling!

Chez Vous living room

Now that you know what an amazing trip you can have in Provence, it’s time to make arrangements. Why stay in a hotel when you can find a home away from home? Commendable Rentals offers several stunning properties in the lovely village of Uzès. Make yourself at home with loved ones, and enjoy the French lifestyle like a true local. Don’t wait another second — book yours today!

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Your Guide to the Best Provence Products

The South of France is a beautiful place to visit. Between its scenic landscapes, romantic riviera, and incredible history, it’s a dream come true for travelers. The most wonderful thing about Provence is the vast selection of products it offers. Picture juicy fruits and vegetables, tasty pastries, succulent oils, wines, cheeses, and traditional lavender creations. The list goes on and on, so keep reading to discover some of our favorites and get ready to come home with a suitcase full of goodies!

What Do You Need to Know About Provence Products?

Where to Find Fresh Local Products?

One of our favorite places to find delicious Provence products is the Uzès Market. Not only is it one of the most beautiful markets in France, but it’s also a prime spot to find delicious products and mingle with the locals. Picture yourself with a basket in hand and a baguette under your arm, strolling through the market and smelling the fresh foods. It’s a wonderful shopping adventure where you can choose from a wide range of Provence products and find unique gifts to bring home with you.

What Are the Most Iconic Provence Products?

  • Savon de Marseille

One of the most iconic products (and the easiest to bring back home!) is the savon de Marseille. Provence’s handcrafted soaps are famous for their quality and gentle cleansing. They have been a staple since the 9th century! The original recipe (that is still in use today) came about in 1688. We recommend buying lavender soaps –after all, it’s Provence’s authentic scent!

  • Rosé Wine

You can’t visit France and not indulge in some serious wine tasting. Provence offers great options for red and white wines, but its specialty is rosé. There’s nothing better than sipping this delicious beverage after a long, hot day. Look for the Duché d’Uzès wines on the market and taste some of their best rosés! You’ll love the fruity freshness. Get a bottle to bring home and pair it with a delicious olive tapenade toast and grilled sardines!

  • Olive Oil

Are you ready to taste the best olive oil you’ve ever tried in your life? With its shining sun and warm weather, Provence is a prime spot for harvesting olive oil. This product is more than a staple; it’s a whole culture! You can find a wide range of olive oils in Provence, all boasting lovely local names: Grossane, picholine, salonenque, aglandau, cayon, broutigan, cayanne, and more! Pair it with a delicious fougasse or baguette and you have yourself the perfect apéritif!

  • Goat Cheese

Another thing you want to indulge in as much as you can while in France is cheese! Did you know Provence is home to some of the best goat cheeses in the world? Alpine goats are abundant in the region and produce some of the freshest, most delicious milk. Provence’s goat cheese is usually fresh, spreads easily, and pairs perfectly with dried fruits, nuts, or herbes de Provence. If you’re in Uzès, head over to Fromagerie Albert to sample some of them!

  • Calissons d’Aix

If you have a sweet tooth and wish to taste a unique treat, then the calissons d’Aix are made for you! These delicious little sweets are indigenous to Provence. They are made of a smooth, pale yellow melon-candied paste and topped with a layer of hard almond icing. They’re exquisite –an absolute must-try! They are also great souvenirs, since you can tuck them in your checked bag.  

  • Truffles

Last but not least, try one of our all-time favorites: The truffe de Provence! These rare, underground mushrooms are a renowned product all around the world, and Provence is full of them. You can find three species there: The black truffle (also known as the black diamond), brumal truffle, and white truffle.

It’s such an iconic product that the town of Uzès even has a truffle festival (when they’re in season in January and February)! During that “Semaine de la truffe” (Truffle Week), all the local restaurants feature truffle specialties and dishes. You can even attend demonstrations on la Place aux Herbes, where pigs show off their truffle-finding skills.

Our “Chez Vous” Villa Is Perfect for Your Provence Getaway

Chez Vous living room

Chez Vous means “at your place” in French, and that’s precisely why it’s the ideal base camp for you and your loved ones. Make your trip to the South of France the best it can be with this beautiful 2-bedroom home. You’ll love its elegant and cozy decor—not to mention its proximity to the market on la Place aux Herbes! You can sip on an espresso in the morning out in the garden, go for a swim after lunch in your private swimming pool, and sleep under the gorgeous wooden beam ceiling every night. The master bedroom features a comfortable queen-sized bed, fine linens, and antique furnishings. The double-glazed windows and exterior shutters even keep the room cool during the afternoon sun.

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What Can You See at the Uzès Market?

Charcuterie stand at Uzes Market

Are you traveling to the south of France? You can probably already picture yourself roaming the cobblestone streets, visiting ancient sites, meeting locals, and sipping espresso on the terrace of a cafe. You’re going to have the time of your life! But, if you want to experience the local culture at its best, you need to visit the Uzès Market. In this blog, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the famous market. Get ready to plan the ultimate trip to Provence with your family!


How to Make the Most Out of Your Visit to the Uzès Market

Get Familiar With Regional Products

Did you know that the Uzès Market is one of the most beautiful markets in France? When you visit, you’ll understand why. It’s held in the center of town on the Place aux Herbes and is full of history. The market is surrounded by medieval buildings, picturesque scenery, and beautiful, 100-year-old plane trees. It’s more than a market; it’s a celebration of Southern French life!

At the market, you’ll be able to discover unique products like clothing and flowers, as well as foods like charcuterie, cheese, vegetables and fruit, spices, honey, bread, and, most importantly, the region’s famous olive oil. (No trip to Provence is complete without tasting shiny olive oil on a baguette!) We also recommend that you try the local paella and bring home some Carpentras strawberries and Tarascon apricots for a mouthwatering fruit salad.

Note: The market is open every Wednesday and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Indulge in a Delicious Lunch

Once you’ve finished your tour of the market, it’s time to sit down and enjoy lunch under the shade of the trees. One of our favorite restaurants on the market square is La Famille. You’ll love its quaint location and friendly atmosphere! The menu showcases fresh ingredients in dishes like salads and charcuterie boards. Locals also love the bruschetta and home fries, marinated calamari, and tarte tatin dessert. It pairs really well with a cappuccino!


Take a French Cooking Class

With regular visits to the market, you’ll be an expert in local products in no time. So, why not take a French cooking class during your vacation to perfect your skills? You’ll learn how to recreate classic Provence flavors like herb-sweetened lamb and can try delicious cheese, local honey, fragrant olive oil, juicy fruit, and tasty bread. Uzès offers a few options when it comes to cooking classes, and you can be sure we’ll find the right one for you!

Stay Near the Uzès Market With Commendable Rentals

Inside of a Uzes Home with quaint antique decorWouldn’t it be magical if you could walk to the market in the morning and come home with a baguette, to be savoured with the artisan jams and honeys that you have tasted and selected? Well, we have just the home to make that dream come true! Our splendid Chez Vous in Uzès property is a match made in heaven for visitors to Provence. It’s only steps away from La Place aux Herbes and offers the comfort and charm you seek for your vacation!

Enjoy antique furnishings, fine linens, queen-size beds in two bedrooms, and the fully equipped kitchen. Chez Vous also features a heated pool and garden. It’s the perfect house for families looking to have the ultimate French experience!

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Here’s Why the Pont du Gard Is a Historical Landmark You Need to Visit

Pont du Gard three-tiered aqueduct was built in Roman times on the river Gardon.

Are you ready for the impressive historical landmarks in the South of France? If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a history buff planning a trip to the marvelous region of Provence. If there’s one site you cannot miss during your stay, it’s the Pont du Gard! This spectacular, ancient bridge—one of the most magnificent remains of the Roman empire—will dazzle you beyond belief. Read on to learn all you need to know about this famous UNESCO site and start planning your visit today!

The Pont du Gard Is a Must-See When Visiting the South of France!

What Is the Pont du Gard?

The Pont du Gard is by far one of the most impressive ancient sites from the Roman Empire in France. The 50-kilometer long, towering aqueduct was built during the 1st century A.D. to supply the city of Nimes (then known as Nemausus) with water. The bridge rises three stories high, or approximately 50 meters above the ground. It is made of yellow limestone blocks and features 25-meter arch gaps. It’s impossible not to marvel at the magnificence of the building, and at its well-designed architecture that still stands today, several centuries after its creation.

Prepare For Your Visit

Now that you know more about the Pont du Gard, it’s time to prepare for your visit! The site is accessible seven days a week all year round, but its hours vary depending on the season. Here are the hours for each time of year:

  • 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in January, February, March, November, and December
  • 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. in April and October
  • 9 a.m. to 9 a.m. in May
  • 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. in June and September
  • 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. in July and August.

An adult ticket costs 9.50 euros and is free for children under 18. You can book your tickets online in advance here

There are several ways to see the bridge. You can either walk there yourself and sit in the shade of the olive trees as you marvel the structure, or you can hop on a guided tour. The best part? You can be your own guide! Download the app and follow the instructions as you pass points of interest and learn more about the history behind them.

After visiting the grounds and seeing the impressive bridge, make sure you stop by the museum. Contrary to the bridge, the museum is modern and interactive. Just a hint: avoid wearing white or you’ll glow like a neon! Go on a lively journey back in time through the Roman era—view reconstructions, learn the day-to-day life of the Gallo-Roman towns, and watch the bridge being built in front of your eyes as you advance through the galleries! Don’t forget to stop by the shop on your way out and buy some calissons. These famous, local treats are made out of a smooth paste of candied melons and oranges, with a thin layer of royal icing on top, and they’re extremely delicious!


Stay Near the Pont du Gard in the Lovely Town of Uzès

Chez Gigi view of the upstairs balconyAfter your visit of the Pont du Gard, come back to the comfort of your home in Uzès at the Gigi House! This quaint townhouse has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and can sleep up to six people. You’ll love its location at the heart of the townonly 15 minutes away from the Pont du Gard! You’ll get to enjoy morning walks to the market on the Place aux Herbes to buy your daily baguette and fresh fruits!

Set up the table in the outside courtyard with butter, jams, your freshly baked bread, and sip on a hot cup of coffee while enjoying the sound of chiming church bells and chirping birds. At night, you can either walk back to the Place aux Herbes to have dinner, or cook yourself a meal at home in your fully equipped kitchen. Then, dream the night away on comfy mattresses, and start all over again the next day!

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Here’s Why You Need to Visit the Arles Amphitheater

Arles, France: ancient Roman Arena, a 1st-century amphitheatre,

Are you planning a trip to Provence? If you love history and wish to discover fabulous sites during your visit, you’ve landed on the right page. In this blog, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the impressive Arles Amphitheater. Between the stunning architecture, history, and surroundings, you’ll be equipped to spend a wonderful day in the city. Read on to get all our tips and start writing down ideas!

 

What You Need to Know About the Arles Amphitheater

 

It’s a Must-See Attraction

Did you know that the Arles Amphitheatre (Arenes d’Arles in French, which means arenas), is one of the most important remaining monuments of colonized Rome in the world? It’s an absolute must-see when you visit the area.

The building is more than 2,000 years old and boasts incredible architecture. When it was in its original state, the amphitheater could welcome up to 21,000 spectators through a series of doors, arches, galleries, staircases, and floors. It featured Roman entertainment such as gladiatorial battles, chariot races, and theatrical performances.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the amphitheater was turned into a fortified fortress and became the epicenter of the town. Today, the amphitheater is mainly used for theater performances, concerts, and bullfighting, which explains the French name “arenas.” It’s also registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Spend the Rest of the Day Exploring Arles!

After your visit to the amphitheater, wander around Arles to discover many more wonders! First, grab lunch at a nearby restaurant. Chez Felix is a slow-food restaurant right across from the amphitheater that offers a menu filled with fresh, local ingredients. Sit outside to enjoy the view of the arenas and order the Menu Magret! It includes an organic salad, duck breast with apple or fig dressing, and the dessert of the day. You can also choose from gluten-free options! For even more local creations, walk a few streets over to La Pergula. This quaint restaurant has a beautiful terrace under the trees and serves the best bull ribs, grilled cuttlefish, and roasted camembert cheese in the area.

Once your stomach is full of delicious delicacies, continue your historical tour at the Baths of Constantin and enjoy a lovely walk along the river. Make sure you also check out the Roman Theater and the Museum of Ancient Arles!

 

Your Dream Home Awaits in Saint Rémy-de-Provence

Garden of the house with outside seating in the shadeAre you looking for the perfect, picturesque home for your upcoming vacation in Provence? Look no more, because we have the one you need. Bastide de la Lavande is a ravishing five-bedroom house with a splendid 18-meter heated pool. Imagine bathing in the sun, eating apricots beneath the shady trees, and reading your favorite book. You can embrace the slow pace of Southern France and unwind from your busy life back home!

This charming house is tucked in a glorious garden filled with olive and cypress trees. The home features two summer kitchens and two inside kitchens. There’s also a modern reception area, a large room with a fireplace, a dining room, and more amazing amenities. Plus, it’s just a 15-minute walk from the center of Saint Rémy-de-Provence and its countless restaurants, cafes, and markets.

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Multigenerational travel in Provence: experiences and ideal roofs to share

Travelling as a multigenerational group can be an exciting, rich and rewarding experience, and Europe draws many families to its history, art and culture. At Commendable Rentals we have great family properties in France and Italy, and this week’s trip will be taken in two of the most beautiful Natural Regional Parks of the French South: the Alpilles, where we will stop at Saint-Rémy and Les-Baux-de-Provence, and the Préalpes d’Azur, home of Grasse and its ancient perfume industry. Motivations for extended-family travel differ with each family of course: it could be to involve the elders in an active trip, a celebration travel, or simply to reunite after some time: multigenerational trips are a good opportunity to reconnect for families whose members are geographically separated. Finance, too, plays a large role as a holiday shared is usually better value for money, but perhaps the most important reason is that in a globalized world, older generations prefer to introduce their younger relations to things they’ve never encountered before in a friendly and secure environment. For a relaxing summer stay with grandparents and children, Provence and Côte d’Azur are certainly the best places to visit or revisit; strolling among olive trees, lavender fields and vineyards, waking up to clear light pouring from a vast blue sky, wandering through raw and natural landscapes, gazing upon nature from a limestone hill, eating fresh, locally grown foods, swimming in the Mediterranean sea or drinking rosé wine under the stars, those are but a few examples of how to spend your time in these beautiful regions.

Most vacationers insist time is more relaxing when several generations are involved, especially as duties such as cooking, shopping or babysitting are spread out instead of concentrated on the parents. To take a break from the hectic pace of your daily routines, Bastide de la Félicité is certainly the best option: with its nine delightful bedrooms -including two garden suites- spacious bathrooms and very extensive game room, it can easily welcome up to eighteen guests of all ages.

Apart from its charming interior decor and luxurious setting, many extra features will please you outside as well: kids can run to the hen house each morning and afternoon to gather fresh eggs for breakfast or a French “omelette”, the whole family can play hide-n-seek games in the well-tended gardens and the playhouse, the two pools are as much relaxing areas as they are gathering ones: the larger pool has a pool house with showers and its own outdoor kitchen, and the smaller one is hidden in a private garden, with comfortable sunbeds and even a charming hut for the elders to take a nap after lunch, or the children to invent games, quests and safaris. Thanks to the two friendly donkeys of the property, grandparents will be able to share knowledge with their grand kids on feeding farm animals, and at the end of the day, they will certainly call them repeatedly so that they finally come down from the tree house to get ready for dinner. Finally, the tennis court will be the perfect setting for a family tournament! Unforgettable memories will be built in this wonderful property, so much that you will want to spend a lot of time right there!


For a more unusual stay in the Alpilles -and the priceless, unmistakable look of awe of your children’s eyes when they discover their room!- Le Dernier Château is the villa you want: set into the limestone hillside of Les Baux-de-Provence, this troglodyte luxury villa is an enchanting shelter in a spectacular and unique environment, with pool, terrace, and panoramic views over the Baux-de-Provence golf course and the mountains. Your family will be all set in the 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, all perfectly fitted out, and the fireplace and spacious living room are just the perfect setting for privileged family moments, telling stories, reflecting on the activities of the day or planning the next excursion.

Indeed, within each family are wide range of different needs, abilities and desires, which make holidays that much more exciting. Whether you want to all stick together or go your separate ways during the day, excursions, curiosities and visits in the area are diverse and accessible to all: you are located right in the middle of the golden triangle formed by Avignon, Arles and Aix-en-Provence. Explore Aix and visit the city as the famed post-impressionist and pre-cubist painter Cézanne experienced it, from the old town to the Montagne Sainte Victoire, which he painted almost 80 times, through all four seasons, in different light. From Aix to Avignon, do stop at La Roque d’Anthéron for a piano concert, or several: the 39th edition of the International Piano Festival will be held from July 20th to August 18th 2019.

From there, you can then reach Gordes and l’Isle sur la Sorgue (the Venice of Provence), two of the most charming and popular villages of the area -both of them are part of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France association- where you can stop for a delicious local meal, stroll through flea fairs and farmers markets, visit the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Sénanque while tasting -and eventually buying!- their lavender honey, or admire the countryside from the rampart walk of the castle of Gordes.

Stroll through fields and pick fruits and flowers, practice your golf swing or take a journey into the heart of the Middle Ages at the castle of Les Baux, which architecture and siege engines will delight young and old alike! Finally, for a multimedia, immersive experience, do visit the Carrières de Lumières for a must-see, original, playful and full of emotion experience!

Should you be more attracted to the chic glamour of the French Riviera, our Bastide des Roses is ideal! Just a stone-throw away from all the fashionable buzz of the French Riviera, encircled by high hedges and greenery, this beautiful hidden property will, according to our guests, “makes you feel like a romantic character in movie or a book set in Provence”! It is the ultimate luxury stay, with its timeless charm, unpretentious glamour and impeccable taste; it will be the perfect fit for a family up to 9 people seeking comfort and refined style. The swimming pool and its adjoining pool house are at the end of a rose garden, olive groves surround the gracious historical building tastefully decorated in Provence style, and the cobble stone patio roofed by old vines will be an ideal stage to admire each sunset and for astronomy lessons… Can you hear the sound of crickets?

The vast lawns and the many shady corners under olive, pine and palm trees will offer many opportunities to spend the day in solitude -everyone need their rest once in a while!- or with a big family, and the kitchen is very large, equipped with everything you need to cook delicious meal after a grocery shopping spree to the nearby towns of Vallbonne or Grasse. Family travel often means everybody gets to do at least one activity of their choice, which can lead the rest of the family to discover passions they never knew they had; leave it to the Côte d’Azur to endlessly surprise you. Strolling the streets of Grasse, do stop at the International Perfume Museum or the Fragonard Museum, a visit we recommend even with kids! Just an hour away, Nice offers a wonderful day excursion for all ages as well: enjoy a Fenocchio artisanal basilic flavored sorbet on the Promenade des Anglais, and visit the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art or the Théatre de la Photographie et de l’Image. From Nice, you are just an hour away from Monaco with its Exotic Garden and its Oceanographic Museum, or Menton and the Jean Cocteau Museum. Numerous beaches and coves will welcome you for a picnic or a swim all along the coast of course.
We will attend to every step of the organisation of such trips, so feel free to ask us anything! We can provide cooks, housekeeping services, breakfast delivery, pool setting and cleaning, transportation for the youngest and oldest, and much more, so you won’t be focusing on every little detail and will enjoy the big, important family moments of your trip!


Amazing Provence

Last week we sketched an attractive yet very short portrait of Provence (to read what a family reunion can be in Provence, click here). It is one of our favorite regions of France and holiday destinations, and as we are currently in the area (Chez Vous Uzès) we would love to talk to you a little more about it! Provence is a diverse region that extends from Bouches-du-Rhône to Hautes-Alpes, passing through various territories such as the Vaucluse, the Drôme, the Var, the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Alpes-Maritimes. In Provence you can lie in the sun on a fine sandy beach, ride white horses in the surf, go hiking, climb hills and mountains, feast on the sun-filled cuisine based on olives and olive oil, superbly fresh vegetables, fish from the sea accompanied by lovely rosé wine. You can visit amazing towns and monuments from early Roman, Medieval and Renaissance through incredible contemporary structures signed by Frank Gehry (Château La Coste), Norman Foster (L’Ombrière), and more. Then mark your calendar to enjoy the many art, music, design, and local culture festivals: all is possible. The only drawback is to first admit you won’t be able to see it all at once!

Today we explore the massif of the Alpilles, an authentic nature reserve just an hour away from Uzès and the well-known cities of Avignon or Aix-en-Provence. There, nestled in the golden triangle between Les-Baux-de-Provence, Saint-Remy-de-Provence and Eygaliéres, you will be able to enjoy most of the region’s authenticity and traditions in style and refinement, without having to drive far.

Les-Baux-de-Provence offers you incomparable panoramic views over the Alpilles mountain range, and the 400 souls who live within its walls jealously protect a patiently restored and unparalleled heritage from more than one million visitors coming here each year. We strongly recommend a visit to the ruins and vestiges of the Castle of Les Baux, a 11th century fortress that you can visit in open air, discovering with every step what the castle looked like originally with the secular and religious remains, siege engines -that are sometimes operated in front of you! -, the military remains and of course the Baux outcrop & the valley. Many events bring the fortress back to life: the “Médiévales des Baux” from late March to the end of August, “Secrets d’Artisans” every weekend in September and the “Automnales” in October (Les Automnales). The narrow, history-filled cobblestone streets of the old village will lead you to architectural masterpieces, art galleries, crafts workshops, boutiques and museums, and gourmet restaurants. Take you time to really let the peace and calm of this marvellous environment sink in: why not enjoy a lavender ice-cream while you stroll through the village! For a lovely and unusual stay in this exceptional setting, we recommend Le Dernier Château: Le Dernier Château, an extraordinary troglodyte villa set into the stunning rock hillside of the village.

If you’re inspired by Le Dernier Château’s setting, you should not miss the Carrières de Lumières: the former quarries dug out by the hands of man since the Roman and used to build Les Baux and its citadel offer today to the visitor a magical world of images and music. The program currently includes a never-seen-before multimedia event devoted to Picasso and the Spanish masters.

A mere 20min drive will take you from Les-Baux to Saint-Remy, another remarkably preserved village of the Alpilles which was and is a great source of inspiration for many artists, including Vincent Van Gogh, who stayed as a patient at the Saint Paul de Mausolé monastery where he painted no less than 150 of his most well-known works, including the famous Self Portrait and The Starry Night.

Coming from Les-Baux, just before entering the city, you will find the archaeological site of Glanum: over a century of excavation on the site has revealed an outstanding collection of architectural antic relics. But Saint-Rémy is also in the heart of a land of gastronomy: renowned olive oils and AOC (PDO) Baux de Provence wines, as well as the famous Herbes de Provence, lavender and honey can be found in abundance every Wednesday morning at the colorful and busy weekly market in the centre. The town has indeed preserved its traditions and its personality. Festive events add flavor to the town life throughout the year: the Route des Artistes, a contemporary art fair (the next event will occur on October 7th), the bullfights and the Transhumance festival in the summer, concerts, plays and exhibitions. And where to rest from all this if not in our Bastide de la Lavande, where you can enjoy its glorious garden full of lavender and roses, olive trees, and vine-coved corners.


From there, you can reach Eygalières in less than 20min and discover the most beautiful village of the Alpilles. A visit on Friday mornings will show you how lively the village can become with its great Provençal market.


Read on about Provence:
Commendable activities in Provence Part 1 & 2
Magnificence in Provence
Local Tips
Family reunions!


Precious family time…

What a world we live in! With globalization and tough competition, job relocation is sometimes the lot of many scattered families around the globe. Believe us, we can relate! What better way to keep the family bound tight than to organise a family reunion? It could be for a family birthday, for a holiday celebration, an anniversary, or simply because it has been too long. Here is a simple, yet very effective recipe to any successful family gathering. First and foremost, you must pick a place, and not just any place: it should be in an attractive area, central or at least easy to get to, preferably with mild weather (we wouldn’t want to be stuck inside all the time, now, would we?), both extensive and comfy, with a homey feeling that makes all relax: as the host, you want to have your family close by and comfortably settled. The surroundings should offer both activities for every generation and relaxed and intimate areas for time out or reacquainting moments. And finally, what would be a family reunion without qualitative family meals? To ensure you get all that – and more! – we recommend two choices, in two different countries which, although very different, easily check all of the above.

Should your family be spread throughout Europe – lucky you! – or should you simply look for an exceptional venue, Mediterranean countries always come first to mind. There is first beautiful Italy, where we found right next to Rome, its capital, the perfect Villa for your family retreat. And though we are of course accustomed to organizing parties and events, it is always with a bit of surprise – and a warm feeling of pride – that we read the wonderful reviews our guests leave us after some time spent in our wonderful properties. Villa Vesta was praised numerous times by its visitors, and here is how they describe it in their own words:
“absolutely beautiful”, “has to be seen and experienced!”, “a beautiful location and a wonderful trip managed end to end exceptionally well”, “we look forward to our next trip”, “We loved the location, the peacefulness, how well equipped it was and the pool was wonderful to swim in after a long day in Rome. We would highly recommend this place to anyone!”

Need we say more? The area around Villa Vesta offers of course beautiful Rome, always a good idea no matter what time of the year, Tivoli and the marvellous gardens of Villa d’Este and Villa Hadriana, but also Castelli Romani, a natural volcanic park with amazing scenery, pretty Ariccia and its Palazzo Chigi (barely a 20min ride), Frascati with its flourishing vineyards and enotecas, Castle San Castello in Sora, and of course Grottaferrata, built around the Abbey of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata, founded in 1004, and summer home of the Popes. But the Villa will certainly captivate you and your loved ones, as everything there is designed to make you want to stay.

France would be more convenient for you? Fear not, the French Provence welcomes you at the Bastide de la Félicité. Located in one of the most interesting parts of Provence to visit, anyone who visits La Félicité will nevertheless want to spend a lot of time there, as our happy guests sum it up themselves:
“Paradise”, “Essence of Provence in total luxury”, “Fantastic property, bedrooms, grounds, pool, playground and tennis court”, “sumptuous property”, “the staff was so very helpful, friendly and accommodating”, the long list of praise matches the extensive attention to every single detail inside and outside the house.

But you will want of course to discover the charms Saint-Remy, Avignon (a 30min drive) with the Popes Palace, its city center which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, and the Festival d’Avignon, l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a wonderful site famous for its many antique shops and Sundays antique markets, Eygalières, only 15min away and probably the most beautiful village in the Alpilles, Arles, home to the Rencontres de la Photographie, and finally Les Baux de Provence and the Carrières de Lumières, a high technology multimedia performance in the ancient and giant caves that were quarried to build the town.

In Italy or in France, we will of course take care of your transfers, itineraries, visits, wine tastings, or any activity you would feel like trying. Call your loved ones, set a date, and reunite in style!


Commendable Activities around Provence (Part 2)

We continue our list of Commendable Activities around Provence, that was initially prepared as personal suggestions for close friends visiting us at Chez Vous in Uzès. We happily share our recommendations for all who will one day visit Provence or will travel to Provence again. There are so many things to see and do in Provence, that one trip certainly cannot capture it all. We continue to find new places, events, and changes in this fascinating region, and will continue to share these discoveries with you.

Here’s the link to Part 1 in case you missed it!

Avignon Piazza
Avignon Piazza from top of the Papal Palace

AVIGNON

Less than an hour from Uzès is the prominent city, Avignon, home of the Popes for 68 years in the 14th century. No visit to Provence is possible without a visit to Avignon, a special provençal town steeped in history. The historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, once home to the Popes, which left the impressive Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace). Another iconic site is the Pont Saint-Bénézet, or Pont d’Avignon, a seemingly unfinished (rather, destroyed) bridge across the Rhône river.

Travel Tip: Two minutes from the Palais des Papes is the notable Michelin guide restaurant of Hôtel Mirande, with a beautiful courtyard area and marvelous dining.

Travel Tip 2: Just across the river from Avignon, is the fascinating town Villeneuve-les-Avignon. A medieval castle, which can be seen from Avignon, the Saint-André Fort occupies a strategic position at the top of Mount Andaon, above Villeneuve-les-Avignon, with its own panoramic view of Avignon. The castle is open to visitors.

Side Trip: ISLE-SUR-LA-SORGUE

About 30km east of Avignon, L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue is famous for its many antique shops and hosts antique markets most Sundays. It has many waterside cafés and restaurants, all within walking distance of each other. Its many attractive water wheels throughout the town are still in working order.

Isle sur la Sorgue

Chateau de Beaucastel
Photo Credit: Chateau de Beaucastel

Side Trip:
CHATEAUNEUF-du-PAPE

18km north of Avignon, Chãteauneuf-du-Pape is a village and one of the most renowned AOC’s (appellation d’origine contrôlée) in the Rhône wine region. Mentioned in our recent recommendations of Provence Wineries, Chateau de Beaucastel at Châteauneuf-du-Pape is well worth a visit, with intriguing history tied closely to the papal presence in Avignon. Visits to Château de Beaucastel are by appointment only.


St. Remy Glanum mausoleum
Glanum mausoleum

ST. RÉMY-DE-PROVENCE

South of Avignon is a charming village with countless fine restaurants from casual to elegant, great boutiques, cafes, and markets, St. Rémy-de-Provence is a historic town steeped in local Provençal traditions. With narrow, cobbled streets, cooling fountains and shady squares, surrounded by magnificent landscapes, St. Remy is an artist’s haven, with one of the most notable painters, Vincent van Gogh, creating many of his famous paintings while institutionalized in St. Remy.

Travel Tip: This historic village is also built on one of the oldest archaeological sites in Europe. Amongst other treasures, you will find the remains of the “Comptoir de Glanum” just outside the center of Saint-Rèmy, an ancient city founded in the 3rd century BC and then passed into Roman hands under Julius Caesar. It fell along with the downfall of the Roman Empire, and was eventually abandoned for centuries. Excavations began in the 1920’s, preserving the ancient monuments that lay below.


Les Baux Castle
Les Baux Castle

LES BAUX-DE-PROVENCE

Just 10km south from St. Rémy is the Medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence, the legendary home of the Lords of Baux, who constructed their medieval castle on a site that dominates the area. Walking through the town’s narrow cobblestone streets will lead you up to the Chateau-Fortress, a large rocky space with ruins of the former castle, reproductions of ancient weapons of war, and a magnificent view of the countryside.

Travel Tip: Find yourself floating in art at the #1 ranked thing to do in Les Baux, at the Carrières de Lumières, a high technology multimedia performance in the ancient and giant caves that were quarried to build the town. The current exhibit features Bosch, Brueghel and Arcimboldo, with past shows sometimes recurring as special events: Klimt and Vienna, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Chagall.. We highly recommend a visit! Note: The quarry remains very cool even in warmer outdoor weather, so bring a sweater.

Immerse yourself at the Carrières de Lumières – view this clip from our summer visit. Until next time..


Commendable Activities around Provence (Part 1)

As part-time residents in one of the most beautiful towns in the South of France, and with many years’ experience in leading friends and visitors on international adventures, we love to share with others all the things we have experienced and appreciate about our travels. There are so many choices of things to see and do when planning a trip to Provence! We recently compiled a list of recommended activities for close friends that were coming to visit, and thought it was a great list to share with those who may one day visit the region.Please enjoy these commendable activities around Provence from the base of our home, Chez Vous in Uzès.

*We’ve decided to split this post into multiple posts, starting from Uzès and moving outwards. Enjoy!

Uzès Markets 

The Uzès outdoor market is famed all over France. The larger and more diverse Provencal market is every Saturday morning, and sprawls throughout the town from the Place aux Herbes (Uzès’ main square), through alleys and neighboring streets. Don’t miss it for the best of French local produce, homemade jams, charcuterie, local tapenades, spices, cheeses, as well as a variety of goods, clothing, soaps, housewares, and much more. On Wednesdays, the market is more focused on produce and regional foods, with an array of colorful and fragrant fresh flowers. There is also a Sunday antique market which is exceptional.

Tip: The town tends to be crowded on market days, so allow extra time if you are driving out of the town on those days. For those staying at Chez Vous, it is a few minutes walk, which is great for buying fresh groceries or dropping off the treasures you’ll find.

Duchy of Uzes

Duchy of Uzès 

In the center of Uzès is one of the best preserved buildings in the town center, with much history attached spanning from the Feudal days. With traces left of various periods in which the castle was built, the Middle-Ages, Renaissance, 17th century, and modern times can be seen in the architecture. The family of the current Duke of Uzès has owned this impressive property for a thousand years, and parts of it can be visited with a guide, including the Tower, where you will have magnificent views over Uzès and the countryside.

Tip: Estimate half an hour to an hour for the whole tour, with time to take photos. Every year in July, there is a music festival in Uzès, with some of the concerts held at night in the courtyard of the Duchy.

Hiking in the Valley of the Eure

A cool respite for warmer days, head down into the valley from Uzès town center, for a splendid hike among shaded trails and along the river. The river takes you to the source of drinking water in Uzès, as well as the spring once used by ancient Romans to deliver water to Nîmes via the Pont du Gard aqueduct. An incredible hike, you will come across the remnants of the Roman aqueduct, abandoned buildings, and enjoy the pleasant natural surroundings with many wildlife throughout.

Tip: Estimate an hour for the circuit. There are many trails you can hike through the park and valley

Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard

An obvious follow-up to the Valley of the Eure, and one of the most visited monuments in France, is the Pont du Gard, 15 minutes from Uzès by car. A must-see, the Pont du Gard is the famed intact portion of a 2000 year old Roman aqueduct that once brought water from Uzès to the city of Nîmes, a distance of over 50 kilometers and over the River Gard. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and displays great genius by the ancient Romans.

Tip: Enhance your visit to this grand site by cycling through the countryside or renting a kayak or canoe for an exciting trip down the river!

St. Siffret

St. Siffret is a tiny and charming hill-side hamlet a few kilometres from Uzès. Many of the homes have been beautifully preserved, and carefully restored. There are a few small shops, a cafe, a bar, and a restaurant. It is a pleasure to stroll its historic streets and walk to its neighbouring villages. 10-15 minutes from Uzès by car.

St. Quentin La Poterie

As can be derived from its name, St. Quentin La Poterie has a heritage of pottery and craftsmen. With narrow streets and colorful Provencal homes and medieval doors, the village also has several workshops and stores catered to its crafts. 10-15 minutes northeast from Uzès by car.

To be continued..

Uzès, one of the most beautiful towns in Provence

 


Local Tips: 5 Recommended Provence Wineries

PROVENCE

Welcome to the largest wine-making area of France! Established 2,600 years ago by the Phoenicians, the vines of the area are an added  bonus to travel enjoyment. They incentivise a drive on the shores of Cassis, in the foothills of the Alpilles, on the slopes of the Sainte-Baume, and in the sands of the Camargue…. Get ready to enjoy: Côtes-de-Provence, Côtes-de-Provence Sainte-Victoire, Coteaux d’Aix En Provence, Palette, Baux-de-Provence, Cassis, IGP Bouches-du-Rhône, Alpilles

In rosé, it goes without saying that Provence is a star, but for its reds and whites excellence has been achieved and is on the rise. At the heart of these “terroirs” ( meaning literally from the soil of the land), independent winegrowers and cooperatives encourage epicureans to taste their wines, discover their trails and their charming chateaux and cellars and their local products. They also propose for your pleasure, jazz concerts, or a film in the heart of the vines, and often even an exhibition of contemporary art.  In short, do take advantage of an abundant offer of cultural pleasures, beyond the wine… while journeying the territory and inhaling the air of Provence the sea and the “garrigue”. A true experience, unique and exclusive to repeat again and again.

What follows is a very personal list of vineyards as the variety of wines in this region is simply overwhelming. These are producers whose wines we like and whose properties we like. We have not gone into detail about all of their wines, as that is the joy of your wine tourism.


Photo credit: Château de Beaucastel

CHATEAUNEUF-du-PAPE

* Château de Beaucastel
This is arguably one of the two best Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines (the other being “Le Vieux Telegraphe”). It lies between Orange and Avignon.

  • In 1321, under the reign of Pope Jean XXII, four barrels were brought from the papal cellar to be filled with wine in Châteauneuf. Then, the Popes planted new vines and the legend of the papal wine began. We find the first evidence of Château de Beaucastel as it exists today in the sixteenth century. In 1549, Pierre de Beaucastel bought a « barn with a plot of land extending to “52 saumées at Coudoulet”. The manor house will be built then with the arms of Beaucastel sculpted on a stone wall of the drawing room.
  • In 1687, Pierre de Beaucastel was appointed « Capitaine de la ville de Courthezon » by Louis XIV, in recognition of his conversion to Catholicism. Louis XIV’s letter, also said by Colbert, is still visible at the Château.
  • The property is now owned by the Perrin Family who also own many vineyards through the Rhone Valley and are recognised as highly successful producers down to their their “la Vieille Ferme” wines, red, white and rosé, as daily drinking wines in the €5-€8 price range.
  • Château de Beaucastel is in the €55-€65 range.  

VISIT
Visits of Château de Beaucastel are by appointment only. Contact by e-mail to make an appointment.

CONTACT
Famille Perrin | Château de Beaucastel | Chemin de Beaucastel
84350 Courthezon
Tél. : +33 (0) 4 90 70 41 00
Fax : +33 (0) 4 90 70 41 19
E-mail:
contact@beaucastel.com
Site: http://www.beaucastel.com/en/

There are “Famille Perrin” shops in both Avignon and Aix.


BEAUME de VENISE

* Domaine de Durban
Some 20/25 minutes east of Châteauneuf du Pape is the small appellation, “Beaume de Venise”, that produces re Côtes de Rhone wines, and the lovely sweet white wines, “Muscat de Beaumes de Venise”.

  • Nearly two thousand years ago, Pliny the Elder wrote in his Natural History:
    “The Muscat grape has been grown for a long time in Beaumes and its wine is remarkable”
  • In 1248, St. Louis took supplies of it with him on his 7th Crusade, and during the early 14th century, at the time of the reign of Pope Clement V, production was increased by 70 hectares to cater for the demand from the Popes’ Palace in Avignon. So there is considerable experience behind these wines that are priced at a fraction of Bordeaux’ famous Sauternes.
  • The Domaine de Durban is a small producer located on a hillside plateau overlooking the village of Beaumes-of-Venice, and was founded in 1159. The Domaine dominates the vineyard and offers an impressive panorama.
  • Since the Sixties, the Leydier family has nurtured and developed the production of the now internationally-renowned wines.

VISIT
As they are a small producer, it’s a good idea to call ahead to check if a visit is convenient. As they are tucked away on a hill, GPS may not be accurate.

There is a map on how to reach the vineyard on their website 

CONTACT
Leydier et Fils
Domaine de Durban,
84190 Beaumes-de-Venise
Tél. : 04 90 62 94 26
Fax : 04 90 65 01 85
Mail : contact@domainedurban.com

For further information, please fill out their contact form by clicking here.


CASSIS

* Domaine de Bagnol

Cassis, on the coast east of Marseille, deserves a visit in any circumstance. With a picturesque little port, it is within the famous “Les Calanques”, the glorious white cliffs and coves that stretch to Marseille.

Of equal interest are the lovely white wines of Cassis. The town can be very crowded in summer and cars are not permitted into the centre, so visitors are required to park and be bussed in.

However, access by car is still possible to the Domaine de Bagnol, which is just outside the centre of town.

  • The wine in Cassis is really a very long story! Archaeological excavations have dated its presence since Roman times and the texts of March 16, 1199 mentions vines that prove that wines was being produced in the Middle Ages.
  • The Domaine du Bagnol, which takes its name from the district where it is located, is one of the oldest in the country.
  • The modern history of the Domaine begins in 1997, when Jean-louis Genovesi bought it.
  • Since 2003, Sebastien his son, after specialized studies, has taken it over.
  • Today, the “Marquis de Fesques” cuvée is the spearhead. The motto of the Estate is to work in the most natural and organic way possible.

CONTACT
Domaine du Bagnol
12, avenue de Provence – 13260 Cassis
lebagnol@orange.fr
Tèl. : 04 42 01 78 05
Site : www.domainedubagnol.fr

 

Other excellent Cassis producers:

* Domaine du Paternel

* Clos Sainte Magdeleine


Photo credit: Château du Seuil

COTEAUX d’AIX-en-PROVENCE

* Château de Seuil
On the route of the Luberon, north of Aix-enProvence, the Château du Seuil is one of the most original architectural projects of the 13th-17th centuries in Aix-en-Provence.

  • Its French garden is classified on the French Supplementary Historic Monument List. It consists of a 55 hectare vineyard on the sunny slopes of the Trévaresse mountain chain, in the centre of the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence designation. The estate has 280 hectares of woods which provide a natural setting for you to discover. A full range of red, white and rosé available.

VISIT
The wine-tasting cellar, open 7 days a week; from Monday to Friday – 9:00-12:30 and 2:00-6:00, and Saturday, Sunday and public holidays – 10:00-1:00 and 2:30-7:00.

CONTACT
4690 Route du Seuil, Puyricard, 13540 Aix-en-Provence
Tel: 04 42 92 15 99
www.chateauduseuil.fr/en/


ST.REMY

* Château Estoublon
This property, in the heart of Provence, up against the southern slopes of the Alpilles, carries with it the heritage and even some vestiges of a Roman patrimony. Halfway between Arles and Avignon, the estate of Estoublon and its 18th century castle is nestled in the sumptuous landscape that has often inspired painters and writers. The land of the Alpilles has offered Vincent Van Gogh its most beautiful models.

  • In this privileged environment, Château d’Estoublon has been passionately perpetuating since 1731 the tradition of olive oils and exquisite wines.
  • Château d’Estoublon was bought in 1999 by the Schneider family from Switzerland who have renovated everything with exquisite taste. The estate is managed by Valérie, daughter of Ernest Schneider, and her husband Rémy Reboul.
  • There is a restaurant on site, the Bistro Mogador, and a shop that sells the estate’s wines and olive oils.

VISIT
The bistro is open in June every day for lunch 7/7 and on Saturday evening. In July & August it is open every day for lunch, and from Monday to Saturday in the evenings. Closed on Sunday evening. There is a Grand Brunch every Sunday lunch and public holidays.

CONTACT
Château d’Estoublon
Route de Maussane – 13990 Fontvieille
Tél. : +33 (0)4 90 54 64 00
http://www.estoublon.com/

Cheers!

 


New Villa Listing on the Côte d’Azur – Special Introductory Price

Bastide des RosesWe are excited to introduce our new listing, La Bastide des Roses, a 6 Bedroom Villa set in an enchanting garden estate. Approach the Villa through lavender and jasmine-line paths, and admire an earthy stone exterior highlighted by lush greenery – a calming entrance to a French Riviera escape.

The idyllic home projects true Provençal living with authentic country chic decor, several terraces for al fresco dining and relaxing, and a magnificent gardens of ancient olive trees, tall cypress hedges, bright oleander, fragrant lavender, figs, pears, cherries, and of course, flourishing roses – hence the name. Situated near Grasse, France, considered the world’s capital of perfume, the Villa reflects the floral identity of the region.
Bastide des Roses garden
One key feature of the Villa is the magnificent pool and poolhouse oasis. Surrounded by high hedges and scenic gardens, the pool house is the perfect, private sanctuary. Ease your mind with a swim or just enjoy this stunning oasis in Mediterranean paradise.
Bastide des Roses PoolIf you’re looking to travel to the French Riviera, Bastide des Roses will be sure to delight. Don’t miss an exclusive opportunity for an introductory price.

See more about Bastide des Roses


Magnificence in Provence, Countryside and Culture in Southern France

Provence Lavender FieldProvence is one of the most sought after parts of Europe for visiting, and living. An important colony for the Romans, it remains an important attraction today for the French and foreigners. The Roman colony of Provincia (hence “Provence”) was established in 120BC at Aix-en-Provence. The Romans left their mark in countless monuments, including such notable edifices as the Arena and the “Maison Carré” Temple at Nîmes, the Pont du Gard Aqueduct, the Theatre at Orange, and the Amphitheatre at Arles.

The Pont du Gard: a structure that may, at first glance, look like merely a bridge, has instead such historical importance and the construction of incredible skill that it is one of the top attractions in France, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Through the centuries of changing empires, this ancient Roman aqueduct has transformed from its original purpose, built by the Romans to carry water from a spring in Uzès to Nîmes, but remained largely intact and historically preserved.

Pont du GardTruly a magnificent feature in Provence, the renowned southeastern region of France, the 18th century writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote upon visiting the famous site:

“I had been told to go and see the Pont du Gard; I did not fail to do so. It was the first work of the Romans that I had seen. I expected to see a monument worthy of the hands which had constructed it. This time the object surpassed my expectation, for the only time in my life. Only the Romans could have produced such an effect. The sight of this simple and noble work struck me all the more since it is in the middle of a wilderness where silence and solitude render the object more striking and the admiration more lively; for this so-called bridge was only an aqueduct. One asks oneself what force has transported these enormous stones so far from any quarry, and what brought together the arms of so many thousands of men in a place where none of them live. I wandered about the three storeys of this superb edifice although my respect for it almost kept me from daring to trample it underfoot. The echo of my footsteps under these immense vaults made me imagine that I heard the strong voices of those who had built them. I felt myself lost like an insect in that immensity. While making myself small, I felt an indefinable something that raised up my soul, and I said to myself with a sigh, “Why was I not born a Roman!”

Extraordinary architecture in Romanesque and Gothic styles can be found all over the region. One of the notable features are the hilltop medieval towns and villages, vestiges of the violent period of more than a thousand years following the end of Roman rule.

Uzes Village in Provence
The Village of Uzes

At the original source of the water which supplied the town of Nîmes via the Pont du Gard, is the town of Uzès. Uzès is a small town with a large reputation. Its wonderful buildings and architecture, along with its thriving cultural activities, and renowned weekly markets (Wednesdays and Saturdays) have contributed to its fame. In 2014, the Guardian newspaper in England designated it as the second best place in the world to visit (the first was Cape Town, another of our favorites), a remarkable endorsement for such a small town. The town has attracted many artists and artisans, as well as up-and-coming chefs, as the numerous excellent restaurants attests. There are many attractive villages in the surroundings of Uzès, and walks, bike rides, or drives through the many vineyards to these ancient villages are very appealing, and a great introduction to the region of Provence.

Among the countless sights of Provence, you cannot go wrong putting the Pont du Gard at the top of your list. In addition, settling into the charming town of Uzès will have you feeling “Chez Vous”.

Uzes stroll
A stroll through Uzes

Uzes chic apartment
A glimpse of one of our Uzes apartments

See more places to stay in Provence


Top Three Snow Escapes This Winter

Here it is – the top three snow escapes that should be on your radar this winter. We’re delighted to bring you a glimpse of our kind of winter at these must-see destinations. Sharpen those skis and pull out your scarves – mountains and magic awaits.

3. Kitzbühel, Austria – An Alpine Winter Wonderland

Skiing in the Austrian Alps with 170km (that’s 105+ miles!) of ski-ready slopes and 53 cable cars and lifts is an impressive adventure to check off your list. Just north of the Hahnenkamm mountain, host of the annual World Cup alpine ski races, Kitzbühel is amongst the largest ski regions and  most exclusive winter sports resorts in Austria.

Not only beautiful and enjoyable in landscape, the town itself presents everything picturesque; a quaint city nestled against the backdrop of alpine charm. When winter settles into the town, a true winter wonderland offers glimpses in and out of glimmering windows in colorful buildingswith a historic glow and cozy hearths. When not on the slopes, exclusive shopping among the cobblestone streets or a tasty pastry in a cozy cafe, will charm and delight you.

Whether you ski, snowboard, like a brisk winter hike, or prefer the indulgence of fabulous spa treatments, Kitzbühel is your literal breath of fresh air.

A convenient Commendable Rental in Kitzbühel:
Here is your chance to live in the large 4-bedroom penthouse apartment with charming chalet style. It’s one of the biggest and best in town, and it’s right in the center of Kitzbühel. Along with your grand living quarters, the apartment offers fantastic views. The terrace faces south, and from there one can see the famous downhill finishing slope, Streif, of the “Hahnenkamm “race.

With this apartment as your base, you have the perfect location to explore some of the snowy mountains of the Austrian Alps, as well as an elegant and soothing home. Each of the 4 bedrooms has its own en-suite bathroom. There is a separate dining room and a living room with a beautiful, large open fireplace. The apartment is located in the historic center of town, just a stroll away to the ski-lift. The best restaurants and bars are right around the corner, as are Ski rental and ski-school for children. In addition, there is a private ski room for all the ski equipment and garage parking for two cars.

We can also arrange a private cook!

Kitzbühel is so charming!  Find out more details here or below –

Reserve your winter wonderland today

2. Chamonix-Mont Blanc, France – An Adventure in the Alps

The host of the first Winter Olympics, Chamonix and its separate ski stations offer some of the the greatest and most challenging skiing in the world. It is a treasure spot for winter sports, alpine mountaineers, and bikers to get their heart racing in a daring experience among the Alps. The site of one of the highest cable cars in the world brings views of the impressive mountain range and Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps.

A day on the Glacier of the Vallée Blanche, descending from the “Aiguille de Midi”, is an incredible adventure of Glacier skiing that every serious skier should do at least once in a lifetime. Les Grand Montets offers endless, long runs of challenging skiing, and often superb powder snow. For those easing into the sport, easier slopes are available in the closer slopes of the Brévent and Flégère.

The town of Chamonix offers chic boutiques, restaurants from bistro and brasserie up to the Michelin 2-Starred restaurant at Le Hameau d’Albert Premier (and don’t miss its wonderful spa, either). Spend some time at the Chamonix Casino or shake loose in one of the many French-style or modern bars and nightclubs.

A convenient Commendable Rental in Chamonix-Mont Blanc:
This superb Chalet on a quiet street, a stroll from the center of Chamonix, is flooded with sunlight and enjoys beautiful views of majestic Mont Blanc and the Aiguille du Midi. Decorated in chic but traditional Alpine style, it combines charm, refinement and authenticity in a warm, comfortable, yet totally luxurious environment. This is an exclusive chalet of the highest quality, elegantly decorated and furnished, where daily cleaning and a chef can be supplied on request.

The Chalet can accommodate up to 12 people.  It has two master bedrooms with large balconies or terraces and en suite bathrooms. There are four more double bedrooms, all of which have mountain views and their own bathrooms. The large double living room with fireplace is 70 sq meters. The kitchen is well equipped for serving 12, and opens onto the outdoor dining terrace.

The house is surrounded by a large private garden with tables and chairs for 12 for outside dining.

Other great features include a sauna, perfect for apres-ski relaxation, a large fireplace in the living room, TV in all bedrooms and in the lounge, terrestrial and cable/satellite TV, 3 DVD players, Wi-Fi, Hi-Fi, and even a ski room equipped with boot warmers. Additionally, there is a washer and dryer, plenty of parking, and even a heated driveway. We still have weeks available.

 

Chamonix-Mont Blanc is an esteemed adventure! Find out more details here or below – 

  

Be daring and reserve your adventure today


1. Klosters, Switzerland – A Haven to Be Royalty

Klosters is unique. A picturesque Swiss village with an enviable snow record and many great restaurants. It offers great skiing for all abilities, some of the longest runs (12 km) and most exciting skiing in Europe, thrilling off-piste, as well as the wide open slopes of the famous Parsenn. Renowned for its powder snow and long a favourite with its international clientele (including the British and Swedish Royal families) here is a welcoming haven, family oriented, and away from the mass market.

Klosters shares its extensive skiing network with nearby town of Davos; combined, they offer 190 miles (307km) of downhill slopes, with 97 individual pistes, served by 52 lifts.
 Also in Davos, there is access to over 100 shops, several art galleries, 2 museums, and a casino. Klosters is proud of its many restaurants – both on and off the slopes – from fondue stublis to the Michelin starred.

To relax and unwind, there are many spas as well as the famous one in the Vereina Hotel. There are miles of cross country ski trails as well as skating, sledging (with 7 long sledge runs), horse-riding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, winter polo, snowshoe trekking, snowboarding (with access to a half pipe), paragliding, swimming, bowling, tennis and squash.

A convenient Commendable Rental in Klosters:
Welcome to a wonderful private luxury chalet in the exclusive ski resort of Klosters, Switzerland. Recently named as one of the top 10 private chalets available to rent in Switzerland, it sits on a small hill, with sensational views and a 5 minute walk to the lifts and centre of the village.

One of the last log chalets left in Klosters, this chocolate box of a chalet was completely refurbished in 2006. It has 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms and sleeps 8 people.
 A superb chef and house keeper will look after your every need, whilst you can relax in front of a roaring fire after a great days skiing.

It now offers cosy sitting rooms, bedrooms with wonderful linen, and three fire-places (one of which can be found in the master bedroom). It also features beautiful balconies and a terrace overlooking the stunning vista of the resort.

Klosters offers the utmost in luxury. We provide daily room service of morning coffee and tea, breakfast in front of the fire, and fresh flowers and newspapers. but that’s just the beginning. Also enjoy personal dining, a private garden, and all the amenities to meet your every comfort.

Klosters is utmost luxury! Find our more details here or below – 

   

Feel like royalty and reserve luxury today




I love Paris in the Winter…..

The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris in January

I Love Paris in the Winter……….

Paris simply thrills, whether you are a first time visitor, or you have lived here a lifetime. We have arrived on a cold night in January, this time staying on the Ile St. Louis, which has a timeless neighborhood feel and is a stroll away from the little bridge that leads to the Cathedral of Notre Dame on the neighboring Ile de la Cité. I cannot imagine anything more beautiful than the intricate stone tracery of  those flying buttresses, set off, lace-like against the  blue-black night. Or I could not until I entered. No matter what your beliefs, the Cathedral is breath-takingly glorious, and the combination of its soaring arches,  massive monumental columns in the chiaroscuro of candlelight, the wavering perfume of incense, and the voices of a choir, is an evocative experience not to be missed.

When Vernon Duke composed "April in Paris" in 1932, he chose not to call it "January in Paris". But while January may not be the acclaimed time to be in Paris, it is still wonderful. Paris charms and seduces at any time of the year. And in January, the bistros seem cozier, the Museum Expositions more irresistible, and the oysters are in season. And besides, its when they have the best sales! If you are a shopper you won’t want to miss out.

While France, in a gesture of Franco-American solidarity, has just lost its Triple A rating at one of those fine rating agencies that were so prescient about the financial crisis that they helped precipitate, no evidence of the consequences are immediately visible. There is still an accordionist playing "La Mer" at the bridge connecting the Ile St.Louis to the Ile de la Cité, the Louvre is still packed with visitors, the restaurants are still serving delicious food, and Carla Bruni is still feeding her baby at the Elysée Palace.

With the French Presidential election only 4 months away, politics is in the air and on the air, but for a visitor to Paris, it is possible to be unaware of all of that. What you cannot be unaware of is the cornucopia of culture available in this city. Whatever your interest, and whatever your French language skills, Paris has something fascinating for you. From museums devoted to even the most arcane activities, to performances of every kind of art, Paris doesn’t just have it, it flaunts it. And this is January ! Exhibitions at the Grand Palais alone currently include (i) the fascinating exhibition devoted to Gertrude Stein’s and her brothers’ influence and relationship with the great painters of her period, with many works of the likes of Matisse, Picasso and Cezanne on display, (ii) La France en Relief – From Louis XIV to Napoléon III – Relief maps and models of fortified towns were produced for military purposes from the reign of Louis XIV to the end of 19th century. These incredible objects of quality and size shed light on a range of historical phenomena, including the development and setting of borders, siege warfare and fortifications, map-making, and the transformation of the town planning and the landscape, (iii) Hair & Science – Hair is at the same time familiar and mysterious, revealing its secrets and multiple facets in this exhibition. These are followed by further fascinating events over the coming months. At the Louvre, in addition to its unsurpassed permanent collections, special exhibitions include (i) Georgio Vasari – Drawings from the Louvre – to mark the fifth centenary of his birth, the Louvre pays tribute to Giorgio Vasari, Italian painter, architect, and writer, with an exhibition of the finest of his drawings in the museum’s collection, (ii) Fantin-Latour, Manet, Baudelaire: the Hommage à Delacroix – It was 1863, a seminal moment in the history of art in France: the year Manet sparked a scandal with his Déjeuner sur l’Herbe, and the year of Delacroix’s death. Shocked by the lack of official recognition, for the next Salon, Fantin-Latour created his Hommage à Delacroix. At the Musée d’Orsay, special exhibitions include Degas and the Nude and Imressionism and Fashion.

This is the tip of Paris’ cultural iceberg. We cannot spend too much of our time investigating the iceberg further as we have been adding to the Commendable Rental’s portfolio of Paris properties. Andelightful addition is an exceptional property in the 7th arrondissement, a penthouse we have christened, l’Orchidée. It’s close to Les Invalides, and a stroll from the Eiffel Tower. On the 7th floor of an elegant 1932 building, this apartment has balconies over a wide boulevard with a close up view of Les Invalides itself, and a distant view of Sacre Coeur on Montmartre. It is wonderfully decorated, with quality furnishings, refined taste, and stunning modern art. It offers impressive principal rooms with picture windows on both sides, two gorgeous large bedrooms with elegant bathrooms, and an open plan kitchen to die for.

Also,a wonderfully cosy apartment at Le Marais, we’ve called Le Rose Violet. Just two minutes from the magnificent Place des Vosges, this is a charming and attractive romantic hideaway with a library/study that is so comfortable that it might keep you there reading instead of seeing the attractions of Paris.

As the charms of winter give way to the glories of spring, and as the chestnuts begin to blossom, and asparagus fills the markets, so do the Paris activities reach full flower. Vernon Duke’s song will soon be timely. Stay tuned, we will keep you up to date.

Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris Facade

 

30 January, 2012, Susan and Adrian Doull

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