Ville et Village - European Vacation Rentals
France Information
Winter 2011 
In This Issue:
Other beautiful Ville et Village properties in this area include:
Fête de la Musique on June 21 in Paris. This is a lively summer event and one of the most popular in Paris. It starts at sundown and takes place throughout the city. {more]
Regional Info. Take advantage of the descriptions we have online for many regions in France and Italy. They are a great introduction to each region and can help you decide where to go on your next trip. [ more ]
International Driver's License Italy now requires an International Driver's License for foreign drivers. And this is recommended in France, too. So be sure to stop by your local AAA and get your International Driver's License before you go this year.
Taste Olive Oil in Lucca In 2005, Lucca was granted D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta), a seal of quality, for its extra-virgin olive oil. Next time you're in Lucca, stop at one of the quality merchants and buy a bottle to enjoy in your rental.
Visit Some Houses in the Languedoc:
Look for us in Travel+Leisure
April 2011 (iPad edition)
Article on Villa Rentals
ERIN'S PARIS: PARISIAN DREAMS & THE 6th ARR. by Erin Eaton-Zaleski

If you've ever fantasized about Paris, chances are the 6th arrondissement served as the backdrop to your daydreams.

Whether you've actually visited the city is irrelevant. The word "Paris" conjures images of narrow cobblestone streets, impossibly chic boutiques, stylish sidewalk cafes, and les bouquinistes selling weathered copies of Camus' "The Stranger" along the banks of the Seine. Spend some time in the 6th, and these visions become marvelously tangible.

Although I lived in the neighboring 7th arr. the 6th, specifically St. Germain des Près, quickly became my favorite part of the city. When I take early retirement later this year and move back to Paris (hey, a girl can dream!) it will be to the 6th. Specifically, to an apartment like PA0617 which just joined our portfolio.

Tucked away on the tiny Rue Jean Ferandi just off the bustling Rue du Cherche Midi, the newly-renovated apartment is perfect for a couple in search of a pleasant and affordable pied à terre. Although the property is in the heart of animated St. Germain des Près, the street is tranquil and with a village-like feel, which makes for an ideal location.

The neighborhood itself is steeped in history, specifically among the literary and intellectual sets. During the 1920s, Gertrude Stein ran her famous salons out of her flat at 27 Rue Fleurus, while literary lions like Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Earnest Hemingway congregated at Café de Flore.

These days the cafe's patrons are more likely to comprise fashionistas and tourists than literary luminaries, but it is worth stopping in for a coffee or tea anyway. The prices are steep and the attitude aplenty, but the people watching more than makes up for it.

Although I enjoy lounging around cafes as much as the next parisienne, the best way to experience the 6th is on foot. My advice? Get lost! Begin at the St. Germain des Pres, St. Sulpice or Odeon metro stations and just wander. The most enticing treasures of the 6th are tucked away on its tiny side streets, where the area's artistic legacy is still apparent in the form of numerous small bookstores and art galleries.

There is a reason that the 6th is famous for shopping. Posh without being staid, the area offers everything from designer clothes to African objets d'art to hand-crafted children's toys to sleek home furnishings. Grab some edible goodies at Poilâne on Rue du Cherche Midi to experience why the international bakery has been luring Parisians since the 1930s. For a true movable feast, a Sunday visit to the Marché Bio (organic farmers market) on Boulevard Raspail is a must for fresh produce, mouthwatering cheeses and hearty galettes. The friendly vendors will often offer you free samples.

However, my favorite 6th district pastime is also among the most simple. On a warm day, brave the line outside of Amorino on Rue Vavin for some of the shop's famed gelato. Walk to the end of the street, cross over to Rue D'Assas and enter the Luxembourg Gardens, the prettiest park in Paris. Formerly the residence of Marie de Médicis, the 25-hectare park is populated with statues, a small orchard of apple and pear trees and a puppet theater for kids (or kids at heart). The little ones also enjoy renting toy boats and sailing them in the water basin adjacent to the palace. PA064, Ville et Village's bright, modern 2-bedroom is just a block away.

Settle into a bench, savor the last of your gelato and drink in the atmosphere. The sun-dappled statues, shady walking paths and the fluid cadence of nearby French conversations will make their way into your daydreams long after you have departed Paris.

Take it from the 6th Arrondissement's youngest would-be expat retiree.


Each year when I take my business trip, I stay in one of our rentals in each region. Regular readers of this newsletter know that is one of the ways I can experience our properties and the regions. This year, in Provence I stayed in St. Rémy a town that's often requested by our clients. Surprising to me, these are even clients who have never been to Provence. So when I inquire why they selected this town, these clients often respond that a friend recommended it. Where does this reputation arise? Well, since I stayed in the village in November, I thought this was a good time to explore this question.

St. Rémy de Provence, its official name, is located in the Bouches du Rhône region of Provence, a region that spreads out like a fan from Avignon towards the Mediterranean. It is the alluvial plain of the Rhône Valley, and thus tends to be gently rolling land covered in scrub brush. It's an arid region and available water is carefully channeled in ditches to irrigate the fields. One of the prettiest parts of this region is right around the Alpilles, the small mountain range that is just east of Arles. This small chain of limestone hills is especially beautiful. It is said that the view of these twisted rocks inspired Dante as he wrote The Inferno. St. Rémy is tucked up against this beautiful chain of rock and thus enjoys a special setting.

St. Rémy is also very close to Les Baux de Provence, the perched village at the top of the Alpilles. Les Baux, is the source of the name bauxite-the mineral discovered there in 1822. With its twisty cobblestoned lanes and ruined castles, Les Baux has such a spectacular mountaintop setting and such expansive views, that it is perhaps the most famous perched village in France.

From St. Rémy it is an equally short to drive to Arles as to Avignon. So the town is well placed for touring some of Provence's famous cities. And in fact, it is reasonably close to both Aix en Provence and Marseilles (both about an hour). So the location is excellent for driving to the major large cities in the area. That said, there are many other small charming villages around St. Rémy whose locations offer similar advantages: Mouriès, Maussane, Fontvieille, Eygalières to name a few. In fact, Eygalières, is prettier in some ways as its old town is located on a freestanding hill and thus is visible from a distance. So what is so special about St. Rémy?

In 1920, ancient structures were found just at the exit of St. Rémy close to the start of the Alpilles. Glanum, so called because the original inhabitants in 3BC were known as Glanics, is the site of 3 historic developments including a large Roman settlement in 49 BC. So this has been an inhabited site for thousands of years. And today, of course, it is special to be able to stay in town and actually walk to this wonderful excavation.

Moving closer to modern times, in the 19th century, St. Rémy was an inhabited small town set in the quiet countryside in the 19th century. Thus it was an ideal location for a monastery and then, too, its psychiatric hospital. Thus in 1890, when Van Gogh, who was in Arles to enjoy the special colors of this region, became ill, he decided to go to St. Rémy to find a restorative retreat. Once there, he painted many scenes of the local countryside. Consequently, the area holds a special magic for us even today.

Nowadays, the town itself has a population of 10,000, but still feels very small when one drives the narrow ring road with its plane trees and pretty cafes and restaurants. Inside the ring is the pedestrian-only center, where the well-known farmer's market fills most of the streets on Wednesday mornings. Most of the population lives in the quiet countryside on parcels of land bordered by bamboo and etched by ditches with their flowing water. Thus, the town itself retained its small village feeling and the charm of its ancient architecture which attracts tourists who seek the simpler Provencal village life.

The town is an excellent repository for local culture, which of course is appealing to folks. It has a bull ring and, like several other local towns, hosts the Corse Camarguaise, the provencal-style bull fights which are great fun to see. Here the bull isn't killed, but is in a ring with several runners. A rosette is tied around the bull's horns, and victory is to the runner who successfully scoops up the rosette.

Over the years as out-of-towners have appreciated all these virtues, famous people have bought country homes tucked in quiet corners nearby. Thus, the town boasts a few art galleries as well as a good selection of cafes, restaurants and other kinds of shops ranging from very local to a bit elegant.

So the reputation of this town was due in part to its location, in part to its history and in part to its setting in the gentle countryside. And eventually, St. Rémy developed a cachet all its own. Thus renting a house at St. Rémy does offer a lot, but also means prices might be a bit higher due to the special reputation the town enjoys. And clients always compliment the location. So there is value in the staying at St. Rémy. Ville et Village does offer properties at St. Rémy because we love it, but we also have a nice selection in other villages nearby which are also great locations and are also a good alternative.

St Rémy houses:

  • PR327 Charming small house with 3 bedrooms/1 bath and pool in a beautiful setting on the outskirts of town. Great house for a small group who want to be within walking distance to town.
  • PR320 Elegant large house also on the outskirts and in walking distance. 4 bedrooms/4 baths, sleeping 8/10 with pool and a beautiful garden with views of the Alpilles.
  • PR307 Our newest accommodation in the town. Small house sleeps 2-4 and is right in town.
  • PR305 Lovely house with views of the monastery where Van Gogh was hospitalized. Wonderful setting at the end of a cul de sac with the pine forest behind.
  • PR303 Charming villa with garden, sleeps 6 in 3 bedrooms/2 baths with pool. Walk into town.
Other houses at nearby villages:
  • PR359 A new listing in the countryside with stunning views of the Alpilles. A large house with pool and huge garden.
  • PR332 Charming 2 bedroom/2 bath house in Maussane the village just south of Les Baux. I stayed here!
  • PR340 A pretty smaller 4 bedroom/2 bath house with pool and open country views at Mouriès, one village to the east of Les Baux.
  • PR380 Beautiful restored mas sleeping 8/10 just north of St. Rémy.
And there are others. Look for the codes PR300s for houses in this region.


Tuscany tends to be the region of choice for clients wanting to rent a country house in Italy. But where to stay in this large region? -We get this question a lot.. More and more clients are choosing country homes in the Lucca area, the northern portion of the region. Here's why.

Lucca is a totally walled medieval city that is very well situated for exploring this northern portion of Tuscany. Drive west one half hour and you're at the Mediterranean. Drive east an hour, and you're in Florence. How perfect is that? And if you want to explore the Chianti area and Siena, this is easily accomplished in a day's trip. And because Lucca is the gateway to the Garfagna, a beautiful valley in the Apennine mountains to the north, there are many opportunities to explore mystical medieval villages and hike lush mountain trails. All told, the location is terrific for touring.

There usually is a good selection of houses to consider for rental as the green hills provide many quiet spots where old farmhouses have been converted to lovely vacation villas often with big open views. And the good news is that, by and large, most properties tend to be a short drive down to Lucca, the sea, or Florence. In comparison to the Chianti area north of Siena where prices are higher due to the cachet of the name, houses in the Lucca area are usually more reasonable. Thus, renters tend to get more value for their money here. And in comparison to renting in the Florence area, driving into Lucca is much less stressful as there is a less metropolitan sprawl. Hence, going into Lucca for dinner is a pleasure even if your house is in the countryside.

Lucca is pretty with its pink brick ramparts surmounted by a grassy, tree-lined promenade. This park is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike who stroll, run or bike around enjoying the view of the distant mountains. Inside the walls, Lucca is mostly pedestrian-only and fortunately, parking is relatively easy. Find a space outside the walls or drive into the city and pay for a space in one of the lots just inside several of the 17thC portes. Unlike Florence, which has an abundance of American college students on a semester abroad, Lucca is mostly inhabited by locals. In the morning, it is a pleasure to walk the streets as parents bike their children to school. In the early evening, the pleasure is joining the passagiata, when Italians stroll arm in arm up the Via Fillungo window shopping in the warm evening air. Because Lucca has such beautiful architecture within its walls, it does attract its share of tourists, but the city still has a local feeling. There are towers to climb, churches to visit, daily Puccini concerts to attend and even the piazza of the Roman amphitheater to visit. It's a lovely city with lots to offer.

Using Lucca as a base to explore Tuscany, it is a short drive to Viareggio and the Mediterranean. Here, both north and south, you'll find broad sandy beaches and lively seaside villages. In the other direction to the east, one can visit Florence. For convenience, park a car at Lucca and take either the train or bus to Florence thus avoiding the traffic and parking hassles.

Montecatini Terme is an Old World spa located between Lucca and Florence where you can enjoy many therapeutic treatments. For a day's fee, you can enter one of many gated portals, take long walks through landscaped gardens, sample different mineral waters from ornate fountains and listen to music played on an ornate bandstand. Then in the evening, drive up the hilltop to Montecatini Alto, the elegant old village and sip prosecco or have a meal at an open air café on the main piazza high above the newer city.

Cinque Terre is also easy to visit from the Lucca area. These 5 perched villages are just across the "border" from Tuscany in Liguria. Park your car at one of the more southern villages then hike the hillside trail from village to village. There is also a train that links the villages and even a ferry. Here, you'll feel far from highways and shopping centers as these tiny villages have been mostly untouched by time.

So there's lots to see and do in this portion of Tuscany. We have numerous properties to offer in the Lucca are. Here are a few to start with: Il Mezzanino, Al Castello, Al Palazzaccio, TS075 La Capannina.


Been to Provence? Done the Alpes Maritimes? Consider the Languedoc as another destination in the south of France. I spent a week here in the fall and was impressed with the breadth of things to see and do. Here's a brief list:

Bézier -Capital of the wine region of the Languedoc and gateway to the Canal du Midi.

Montpellier - Elegant town with an opera house, symphony and famous university.

Nîmes - Location of a fully-intact Roman coliseum and capital of the Gard region

Viaduc de Millau - Spectacular new bridge at Millau. So beautiful it's worth the 90 minute drive from Montpellier. Stay the night here and visit Roquefort the next morning.

Roquefort sur Soulzon - Not far from Millau, is the tiny village tucked into the rock face which is where the famous Roquefort cheese is made. Legend says a local shepherd, distracted by his girlfriend, accidentally left his lunch in the cave. When he returned the next day and tasted it, he appreciated the flavor caused by the mold. A visit to one of the family-owned producers is definitely worth the trip.

Broad sandy beaches - There are many lovely beaches along the coast with lively small villages.

Canal du Midi - Outside Bézier, one can drive to the famous Canal. Built in the 1600s it covers 150 miles with its 91 locks. Take a boat along the placid waters or follow the riverside path on foot or by bike.

Cathar Castles - Visit Carcassonne and other Cathar castles.

Medieval villages - Many villages are tucked into canyons in the causses and are fun to explore.


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