Ville et Village - European Vacation Rentals
France Information
Fall 2008
In This Issue:
Read about Ville et Village in Travel & Leisure’s Unexpected France, a beautiful, new hard-back book highlighting the country’s special pleasures.  Ville et Village is listed as their recommended agent for renting in France! The book is filled with impressive photos of some of the prettiest places in France as well as creative ideas on where to visit. 
Don’t forget to check out our reading list to keep you in the mood even when you’re not overseas. 
New addition at Ville et Village!! Bianca is the proud mother of beautiful Lucia who was born on June 6. Bianca is back at work now and Lucia visits daily!
The New York Times, August 31, focused on Biarritz in its "36 Hours" special feature. Visit our Regional Info page to read why we, too, love this city. Then visit the houses we offer there: PYR100 and PYR115.

2008 marks the third year we’ve been included in Wendy Perrin’s “Villa Rental Guide” as one of her Top Villa Agents for France.  And this year, we made the cover!

That beautiful photo you see here, is the garden at OUR property PR322 Le Mas in Paradou! 

Le Mas is a beautiful property in Paradou, Provence.  The house itself is a gem.  It is a 400 year old farmhouse which has been restored with great care by its French owner. The house has retained its original characteristic features like exposed beams, stone floors, exposed stone walls, and a massive fireplace.  Each bedroom is decorated in a unique theme: coquelicots (poppies), Provence and  China-- each one beautiful and each with ensuite bath.  This creates an elegant ambiance – like your very own boutique hotel!  The kitchen is extremely well equipped and opens to the expansive patio in back which in turn opens to the garden and then open fields.  And it is that beautiful setting that attracted the photographer’s eye and graced the cover of Condé Nast Traveler’s June issue.  (Click here for more details about the house). 

Le Mas is located just on the edge of the village of Paradou.  Paradou is minutes from famous Les Baux de Provence, one of the most visited perched villages in France.  Paradou is tiny and cute with a weekly outdoor market, a post office, a small grocery and the well-known Bistro du Paradou.  The Bistro is a charming local establishment that brings a certain cachet to the village.  Charles Aznavour (France’s Sinatra ) often takes his dinner here in a private room at the back!  And for the rest of us, the owner is friendly and welcoming, and the food is terrific!  The location is great as there are so many wonderful things to see and do within a very short distance:  Arles, St. Rémy, the Abbaye de Montmajour, Roman ruins, hiking, biking and superb dining at many famous restaurants.  So this is the perfect place—gorgeous property, lovely setting, ideal location for touring.  And we’re proud that CN Traveler chose to share it with their readers.
AFFORDABLE EUROPE—How to Stretch the Buying Power of Your $

Even though gasoline prices have risen and the euro is expensive, there are still ways to save money when traveling to France and Italy.  If you’re like most of our regular clients, you love to travel to France and Italy but don’t want to let higher prices interfere.  So don’t be discouraged.   Here are some of my TIPS to help you get the best values.   

To use your Frequent Flyer miles, start NOW for travel in spring/summer 2009.  Early planning is essential to use free miles. 

Rent rather than staying in a hotel;  for 3 people or more, it’s usually a better value. 

When in France or Italy get the best exchange rate by using your credit card at an ATM machine to get cash.  And use the credit card for as many purchases as possible.  Even with the fee charged by the cc company, this is the best rate possible. 

Renting allows you to eat meals at home and save on expensive restaurant meals.  If you don’t like to cook, don’t worry.  It’s easy and fun to bring home premade food.  In France you can easily purchase paella, roast chicken, roasted pork, baked vegetables, fresh goat cheeses.  In Italy… pizza, cooked pasta, cured sausages, rice salads.  All this prepared in a delicious, local style.  

When you do go out to eat, choose carefully.  At elegant restaurants, fixed price “menus” are often the best value.  Don’t hesitate to request une carafe d’eau (tap water) rather than expensive bottled water. Eating out at lunch rather than at dinner is also much less expensive.  And, importantly, always read the menu outside before you sit down. This way there’ll be no surprises. 

In city cafes, be very careful how you order. Outdoor cafes charge a premium for the “view”.  So expect a beverage will be costly.  If you choose to do this, then be prepared to settle in and enjoy people watching, particularly pleasant in cities like Paris or Rome.   And remember, even a small purchase like a Perrier entitles you to some “quality” time at your table. 

Choosing smaller, family-run restaurants in the countryside will offer an excellent value.  Prices are better here and you don’t have to be so cautious in ordering. 

Remember tips are included at most restaurants, so no need to add an additional percentage.

Purchase food at the local market when you’re out touring and picnic.  I always take my handy Opinel folding knife along and for lunch we often find a lovely spot and have fresh goat cheese, bread, fresh fruit and maybe radishes or tomatoes whatever we can find.  In cities, you’ll notice the locals often have take out food and sit in a park to eat.  You can do the same. 

Select a country location for your destination.  Staying in Provence is cheaper than staying in Paris.  And remember, going to either location is cheaper than visiting New York!

If you decide to stay in one of the provinces, select one that is a good value.  So for example, visiting the Dordogne is cheaper than the Riviera.  In Italy, renting in Tuscany is cheaper than staying in Rome.  If you do want a city experience, renting in Lucca is less expensive than renting in Venice! 

When renting, select a village house.  Village houses tend to be priced at a lower price than comparable country houses because they have less “land” around them.  Yet, for many Americans, living in a village is their dream vacation.

Rent a house w/o a pool.  You pay a premium for your own pool.  If you rent a house w/o a private pool, it doesn’t mean you can’t go swimming.  Most villages of a reasonable size have their own (usually very nice) municipal pool.  And if you’re traveling with children, this is an excellent way to give them greater contact with the locals. 

Travel in off season (if possible).  Traveling in May or October gives you low season rates while the weather is usually still excellent. 

Plan early.  Advance planning means you can choose from the properties or the hotels with the best value for your money BEFORE they are reserved by someone else.


This May, I went to the Ile de Ré to visit the owner whose properties we’ve offered for many years.  As always when arriving on this beautiful stretch of land off La Rochelle, I am astounded by the charm and beauty of my favorite village, La Flotte.  When I arrived on a sunny noon, the village of La Flotte was pleasantly active.  Colorful boats dotted the harbor, families were buying produce at the outdoor market, and others were settling in at seaside cafes ready to order lunch.  The water by the beach was calm and little children were playing in the sand.  I love being surrounded by the French on vacation.  Hardly a word of English is heard here. I feel like I’ve entered another world. 

For lunch my friend Jacqueline, cooked a “simple” meal with all local specialties:  oysters harvested just outside her house; steamed white asparagus purchased at the  outdoor marché;  soupe de seiche made with cuttlefish fresh from the boats that morning!  Does that give you an idea of what life is like on this wonderful island? 

This island is so favored by the French for their regular vacations, that it is difficult to find vacation rentals here.  I am fortunate to have made friends with Jacqueline many years ago.  She was born and raised on the island, and was the local fishmonger for many years.  Now retired, she has 4 houses we offer for rent.  All the houses are at La Flotte, my preferred of the 6 villages on the island.  La Flotte has an outdoor market open every day of the year, a small harbor and a beach.  It is a lively and pretty village all year long. 

On the Ile de Ré everyone rents a bike and uses the many paths to explore the island.  Getting to the Ile de Ré is easy.  One takes the TGV from Paris to La Rochelle.  You can get a car rental there and drive across the bridge.  Or if you wish to manage without a car, you can take a bus from La Rochelle. 

This is an ideal new location to consider for your next trip to France.  There is plenty to enjoy on the island itself.  But if you can tear yourself away, La Rochelle is a beautiful city.  And the Marais Poitevin with its verdant canals and flat bottom boats are a short drive away.  Our rentals are all pleasant and comfortable and each offers a different ambiance.  All are walking distance to the village center, port, and beach. Click here to vist them.  ( RE011, RE012, RE014, RE017).

Start planning early for the Ile de Ré.   These properties book up quickly!


I ended my May trip to France with a stay in Paris, where I contracted with  several new city rentals and re-inspected some of our existing ones.  Here are some apartments I think you should read about. 

PA101 rue Bichat
I had the pleasure of staying here myself this trip.  The apartment is around the corner from the Canal St. Martin in the 10th arrondissement. Although I have visited this apartment before, it was my first time staying here and my first time coming in the spring.  The apartment itself is wonderful!  It’s a place you can settle down and just “live” for a while.  The living room is spacious and bright.  My husband likes a comfortable spot to sit and study his French and the sofas are very comfortable for reading.  There’s a big collection of music with a great sound system.  The dining table is quite long and so we could easily spread out all our guides and purchases while still having space to enjoy meals “at home”.  The bed was very comfortable and the bathroom bright and useable.  In all, it got a 10 for comfort from both my husband and me!  We even used the small garden table to sit outside when the weather turned hot!  A treat!  But the canal was the big surprise.  During the day, we could stroll by and see bateaux mouches glide on the canal while the pilot navigated the locks--a surprising bucolic scene.  At night, the edges of the canal were filled elbow-to-elbow by Parisians picnicking. And for the rest of us, there were many cafes to choose from.  This is a real vibrant neighborhood to enjoy!

PA052 Rue Vauquelin
How lucky I am to have contracted with the owner of this lovely apartment!  It has 5 small terraces—each one with furniture for sunning, enjoying the rooftop view or taking a meal.  Charming!  And the accommodation itself is lovely.  Natural wood floors, white walls, tasteful antiques, a few Persian rugs.  As the owner, an artist, uses it herself when she is in Paris, it is very comfortable.  It is a 2 bedroom/2 bath apartment on the top floor of the building with elevator.  Just a 2- block walk takes you to the wonderful Rue Mouffetard –a well known “food street” where my husband and I had a wonderful lunch in one of the many cafes and restaurants.  Roasting chickens rotated slowly in the butcher shop across the pedestrian-only street while we took our lunch on a table in the sun.  We bought white asparagus at the outdoor produce stand that is open daily.  All in all, the location is as great as the apartment. 

PA043 Rue des Turennes 
Coincidentally, the owner of this beautiful apartment is also an artist.  She is Italian and specializes in drawings of Pinocchio!  She was painting when I arrived.  This lovely apartment in the heart of the Marais is available for rent in spring/summer and early fall only.  That’s when the owner leaves Paris to return to her home in Italy.  In the cooler months she lives here herself.  The apartment is decorated with great taste as the owner furnished it for her own needs.  Pretty artwork covers the walls.  Comfortable and attractive furniture fills the rooms.  From the windows one can look out on the skyline of Paris. This is a top floor apartment with elevator.  The courtyard is gated and the apartment is quiet and calm.  What a superb location!  It is just one block from the famous Place des Vosges.  When we left the apartment,  my husband and I walked to the Place des Vosges and enjoyed seeing children playing in the park and young people picnicking.  Then we selected a restaurant from among the many that border the Place and I had an omelette au jambon et fromage avec sa petite salade.  You, too, can enjoy a similar Parisian urban experience by renting this apartment. 

PA068 Rue Joseph Bara
This wonderful 2 bedroom/1 bath apartment has returned to us now that the owner no longer lives there herself full-time.  It is an elegant and very comfortable apartment with terrace, air conditioning and elevator in the heart of the lovely, residential 6th arrondissement.  With silk wallpaper, fine artwork, tasteful antiques and stylish kitchen appliances, it is a real treat.  It is a very popular location and offers wonderful amenities. 


I’ve served as a resource for an upcoming article in Budget Travel on renting in Italy.  Our property Il Mezzanino in Lucca will be referenced.  I’ve been told the article will focus on things to see and do when renting.  All of our clients who book in Tuscany, receive our list of Things to See and Do in the area.  In the Lucca area where we have many properties, the list is particularly rich.  The article will mention 3 of our top recommendations:  a meal at the Buca di S. Antonio, a wonderful local restaurant in the walled city; a visit to the Villa Torrigiana, with its Renaissance garden and fountains; and an afternoon at Montecatini, a turn-of-the-century spa town.  Keep a look out for this informative and entertaining article. 


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