An Ideal Day in the Luberon


Luberon Villa RentalAn Ideal Day in the Luberon France

In May of 2014 I was fortunate enough to stay at Le Mas de Gancel outside the small town of Vernègues in the South of France. While staying at this lovely villa, I was able to explore villages in the Luberon and the Alpilles, as well as spend some time in Aix-En-Provence. To say I enjoyed my time in Provence would be an understatement — I loved it. Every village felt like a profound discovery, and while I’m reluctant to play favorites, I’ve put together my recommendation for what I think makes a fantastic day in the Luberon.

 

My ideal day in the Luberon starts in Rousillon, cited as one of the most beautiful villages in France. I love the way the morning sun hits the magnificent ochre cliffs; the yellows, reds and pinks of the ochre against the blue sky, contrasting with the vibrant green foliage — it’s simply captivating.

Explore the ochre trail (though don’t wear your whitest whites, or they will no longer be your whitest whites), noticing how the colors and vegetation change with the elevation, keeping every step and turn interesting. After, stroll through the village to enjoy the shops featuring local art, pottery, crafts and the colorful tablecloths so typical of the region. Be sure to then go to the top of the village for a wonderful overview of the landscape. Before heading on, take a moment to reflect with a café creme near the square, overlooking the ochre hills.

 

I then suggest you carrying on to Goult, this tiny, innately walkable hilltop village is scenic shift from Roussillon. Park in the main square and head up the narrow road. You can follow the numbered path on the self-guided tour or simply meander along the quiet streets. Either way, you’ll enjoy the wonderful old buildings and homes, some carved out of stone. A picturesque ancient windmill greets you at the top of the village, where you’ll take in the gorgeous, panoramic views. Admire the hillside terraces as you head back for lunch in the village square. Café de la Poste is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The food is authentic and the atmosphere is lively. Sit outside, order the beef carpaccio salad and a glass of rosé, and you’ll feel like you could stay here forever.

Luberon Village

 

If you love truffles, or want to give them a try, head to the medieval village of Ménerbes and stop in at Maison de la Truffe et du Vin. Built on a ridge, this walled, stone village is filled with 16th and 17th century architecture and provides fabulous views of the vineyards and farmland below. On your way out of town, stop by Domaine de la Citadelle for a wine tasting, a self-guided tour of the facility and an entertaining jaunt through their corkscrew museum.

 

If you can squeeze in one more stop, pay a visit to Lourmarin, a quaint village with cobblestone streets, blue shutters and flower pots on every ledge. It is quintessentially Provence and the perfect way to close out a day in the Luberon. Stroll through the Chateau’s seasonal flower garden and olive grove, then browse through the small shops in the village center. Relax at a café, taking in the late afternoon sun with a pastry or an apéritif. Take a deep breath. You’re somewhere spectacular.

 

Interested in renting your own private luxury villa in the Luberon? Contact Only Provence to get the inside scoop and plan your holiday!




The Beautiful Flowers Of Provence


Lavender, the iconic flower of Provence, is the image everyone conjures when dreaming of the south of France, though magnificent flowers bloom throughout the year. Whenever you choose to visit Provence, you’ll find a rainbow of colorful flowers to enjoy, from the brilliant yellow mimosas of winter, to the red poppies bursting in spring, through the famed lavender fields of summer — every new season brings with it a vibrant, multicolored landscape.

Provence Flowers poppies and lacoste

Flowers are easily found almost any time of year. Wildflowers and wild herbs flourish year round in the Alpilles and Luberon regions of Provence, bringing various hues and tones to the hillsides. Daily markets feature cultivated flowers, making it possible to enjoy fabulous bouquets at your villa rental. Many villa gardens gorgeously spotlight regional flora.

Winter comes alive with yellow mimosas and purple irises. Don’t miss the beauty of the fruit tree blossoms — the white and pink of the almond tree, the pinks of the plum tree and the pale pink of the apricot tree blossom. Rosemary thrives in Provence, blooming from winter through spring in light purple.

Spring brings more fruit tree blossoms, hinting at the bounty summer will bring, from the palest pink of the apple tree to the warm pink of the peach tree and the white of the cherry tree blossom. Red poppies, prevalent in Monet’s works, grow as wildflowers throughout Provence. Peonies range from white to pink to yellow. Lavender colored wisteria flourishes in the sun. Yellow broom flowers emit the sweet smell of honeysuckle. Thyme blossoms in soft purple in spring and beyond.

Summer delivers what everyone’s been waiting for — gorgeous yellow sunflowers and lavish fields of lavender. Clusters of hyacinth grow in a range of colors throughout Provence, favoring olive groves and vineyards.

Provence Flowers Sunflowers

With Fall comes the fiery beauty of turning leaves on grape vines and fruit trees, showcasing dynamic oranges, reds and yellows.

The beautiful flowers of Provence have inspired many artists, perhaps most famously Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings of bright yellow sunflowers and gorgeous purple irises from his time in St. Remy. Come to Provence and see for yourself the glorious flowers that inspired Van Gogh, Cezanne and Monet.

Interested in renting your own private luxury villa in Provence? Contact Only Provence to get the inside scoop and plan your holiday!




Two Great Restaurants In Aix-en-Provence


Aix-de-Provence RestaurantsAix-en-Provence is often called a mini-Paris, as it’s very walkable with excellent shopping and an abundance of restaurants. Known for the fountains throughout the city and the Plane trees that line the every popular Cours Mirabeau, Aix is an easy city to negotiate on foot, but a map certainly doesn’t hurt. There are markets from Monday through Saturday, the biggest on Saturday.

If you’re looking for a little change of scene food-wise, Aix has plenty of options and far more variety than in the smaller villages of Provence. Being close in proximity to the port of Marseille, you’ll find lots of seafood and several menus with North African and Spanish influences. There is no doubt in working up an appetite strolling though Old Town and browsing the eclectic shops along Rue Paul-Bert.

Here’s a bit about two very lovely restaurants in Old Town:

 

 

 

Aix-de-Porvence-le zinc d'Hugo meal

Le Zinc d’Hugo

22 Rue Lieutaud, 13100 Aix-en-Provence

Le Zinc d’Hugo is a wonderful, unfussy and delicious bistro. The decor is open and simple in the best way, with a large fireplace, zinc counter and wood fire grill. There’s a prix fixe menu (set menu) as well an à la carte and an excellent wine list curated by the restaurant’s owner, a former sommelier. Le Zinc d’Hugo prides itself on sourcing fresh, local ingredient by developing relationships with small farmers, herders and fromagers, thereby presenting the best of Provencal products.

The wait staff is friendly, knowledgable, accommodating and fluent in English. When ordering wine, I was very specific. My request was repeated back to me, yet far more articulately. He asked if I’d prefer something local and I was thrilled to have the option and emphatically agreed. He then brought me a wonderful wine that went perfectly with my scrumptious grilled steak.

Open Tuesday – Saturday, for lunch and dinner

Closed Sunday

Aix-de-Provence Rochester NY

 Vintrépide

48 Rue du Puits Neuf 13100 Aix-en-Provence

Vintrépide is a small restaurant on the north-east edge of Old Town with less than 40 seats – get one if you can! Though run by just two people, the chef and the host, this extraordinary dining experience goes forth without a hitch.

The food is extremely well executed, utilizing locally sourced ingredients. The menu of four starters, four mains and four desserts is written out daily on a blackboard and changes regularly, depending on what’s in season and available at the market. The menu is in French, but the host is fluent in English and very willing to translate, with detailed description.

Dining at Vintrépide is true pleasure. An amuse bouche arrives shortly after the cocktails – delicious. The starter and entree are spectacular, with wonderful wine pairings arranged by the host. The meal concludes with a dessert treat from the chef. Perfection.

Reservations strongly recommended.

Open for Lunch Tuesday – Saturday

Open for Dinner Monday and Tuesday, (closed Weds) and Thursday – Saturday

Closed Sunday

Aix-de-Provence Restaurants

 

Interested in renting your own private luxury villa in Aix-en-Provence? Contact Only Provence to get the inside scoop and plan your holiday! http://www.onlyprovence.com/Provence/Villas/Aix-En-Provence




Eygalières Village: A Hidden Gem


A Hidden Gem….Eygalières Village

Eygalières is a small village on a hill in the Alpilles, not far from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. There’s a quiet charm to this special village, though it’s often overlooked for the more well-known. The views from the summit are spectacular Eyglières making it a favorite resting point for hikers and bikers taking advantage of the scenic trails through nearby olive groves and vineyards.

 

Eygalieres VillageEygalières is an easily walkable village filled with quaint store fronts and beautiful stone houses, most with a touch of greenery. Everything you might need for the day can be found within a few steps – restaurants, bakery, market, butcher, wine and cheese.

Be sure to wander up the main street of this lovely village and pay a visit to the old church on the crest, La Chapelle des Pénitents. Continue up the hill to explore the castle ruins, taking in the magnificent views and looking out over the plains below and across the Alpilles.

Friday is market day in Eygalières. This very manageable market is filled with fresh produce, bread, fabrics, clothing, seafood, cheese, cured meats, local jams and paella made on site. The feel is definitively and beautifully local- vendors and residents jovially sharing wine, eating flan and sampling cheese as early as 10am.

Despite its understated charm, Eygalières boastsseveral very good restaurants on the main square. Cafe de la Place in the center of the village is worth a visit for its eclectic decor and neighborhood’s cast of characters. For an exceptional meal, try the Michelin starred Chez Bru.

Just outside the village is a spectacular tree-lined entrance to Domaine de Valdition. Stop in for a wine tasting or to pick up decorative and gourmet products at the boutique.

Don’t forget to stop and see the famous 7th century Roman Chapelle de Saint Sixte, located on the Route d’Orgon between Eygalières and the National Route 7 (N7).

It’s hard to put into words what’s so wonderful about Eygalières. Perhaps it’s the way the sunlight hits the stone, orthe way the breeze passes Eygalieres Vacation Rentalthrough ever so gently. Or maybe it’s just the energy of the terroir. Whatever it is, there’s a warmth and peace to this village that shouldn’t be missed.

Interested in renting your own private luxury villa in Eygaliéres? Contact Only Provence to get the inside scoop and plan your holiday in the Alpilles! http://www.onlyprovence.com/Provence/Villas/Eygalieres/




Planning Your Gordes Vacation


Planning Your Gordes Vacation

While on vacation in the south of France, be sure to visit Gordes, one of the most beautiful villages in Provence. Built on a hilltop, Gordes offers breathtaking panoramic views of the French countryside. Sunset is particularly wonderful time to go, perhaps to enjoy an aperitif in the Luberon.

As you round the final corner leading up to Gordes, you’ll be struck by the stunning village before you. Notice the stone lined road as you approach – this “pierres” theme will continue throughout. All houses in Gordes are required to be made of stone, fences included. There are a few places to stop to take pictures en route and the view definitely warrants a photo.

In the center of the village, you’ll find the a Renaissance style castle, established in 1031 and rebuilt in 1525. Continue a few steps further and you’ll find a charming church. Be sure to go inside — the interior is a classic treasure that transports you to another time.

The best way to soak in this gem of a village is to wander the narrow cobbled streets, winding your way through. You’ll no doubt happen upon yet another spectacular view of the valley be-low. Pop in and out of shops at your leisure and enjoy a coffee at one of the many quaint cafes or a meal from a selection of good restaurants.

Tuesday is market day in Gordes. Arrive early, before 10am, to beat the rush. You’ll find the market vendors very friendly, encouraging you to taste samples. Fresh fruit and vegetables, honey, cheese, oil, cured meats, fresh baked bread… all simply delicious!

Gather up what strikes your fancy at the market to enjoy a picnic lunch and head to the Abbey de Sénanque. While the lavender in front of the Abbey is an iconic in its own right — what no one tells you is that the drive to and from the Abbey is as magnificent. I found one of the best treats of the drive to be a little designated picnic area overlooking some of the most peaceful and serene views of the Luberon region.

Interested in renting your own private luxury villa in Gordes? Contact Only Provence to get the inside scoop and plan your holiday in the Luberon!

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Five Great Reasons To Visit Saint Remy de Provence


Five Great Reasons To Visit Saint Remy de Provence

A vacation in the south of France should absolutely include a trip to Saint Remy de Provence. Close to the Luberon, and just south of Les Alpilles (mountain range) near Avignon, St. Remy is known as the birthplace of Nostradamus, the village where Van Gogh sought refuge and a delight for visitors exploring Inland Provence. Some highlights:

Saint Remy Market

1. Market & Shopping:

Wednesday is market day, where you can find anything and everything – Food, fabrics, clothing, ceramics, accessories, even shoes! Find gifts to bring home as a reminder of your fabulous vacation and tasty treats to enjoy at your villa rental.

Stroll through the pedestrian streets of Old Town where you’ll find wonderful architecture and unique shops with a Provencal flair.

 

2. Food:

St. Remy is home to a fantastic cheese shop , a great spice store and is filled with wonderful restaurants – over 40 in all. Two have earned Michelin stars: La Maison Jaune and La Maison a Bournissac.

3. Art:

A haven for artists, writers and musicians, St. Remy is where Van Gogh committed himself to St. Paul de Mausole  and while institutionalized, produced some of his best known works of art. You can visit his room (which still has paint on the floor) and walk the grounds to admire the views that inspired much of his work.

Find several art galleries and many arts festivals throughout the year. Also home to some lovely museums: Le Musee des Alpilles and Musee Estrine.

 

St Remy

4. History:

Just south of St. Remy lies the ancient Roman ruins of Glanum. Just across the way, visit the remarkably well preserved Arc de Triomphe and Mausolee des Jules, together known as “Les Antiques.”

5. Events:

There’s always something exciting happening in St. Remy – a festival or celebration of some sort. This weekend (July 19 & 20), for example, there’s the Terroir des Alpilles and the Tour de France comes through on Sunday (July 20). Coming up, there’s a Wine Festival (July 25 – 27), the outdoor arts festival, Routes des Artistes, (August 3, September 7, and October 12), the Festival de St Remy  (August 12 – 17) and September brings a Jazz Festival on the 18th – 21st.

 

Interested in renting your own private luxury villa in Saint Remy? Contact Only Provence to get the inside scoop and plan your holiday in the Alpilles! http://www.onlyprovence.com/Provence/Villas/Saint-Remy