Ville et Village - European Vacation Rentals

Newsletter Archive


In This Issue:

Southern Tuscany
Provence and its Outdoor Markets
Summer Heat and Renting

There is still good availability for the fall. Call now for your reservation!

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Ville et Village was selected by Condé Nast Traveler as one of its top rental agents. We are one of only 4 agencies listed for France! See the June 2006 issue for details.

Also visit the June 2006 issue of More Magazine to read more about Ville et Village.
Now is the time to start early planning for 2007. We are able to confirm more properties now. So reserve the perfect property for your dream trip. Plan early!
Ville et Village offers 200 rentals in France and Italy personally selected by Carolyn, our owner. Plus we have over 1000 rentals we offer via select local French and Italian agencies with whom we have worked closely for many years. Many of these properties are personally inspected by our staff, as well. You can rely on us.
France Information
Southern Tuscany

Ancient hilltop villages…golden hillsides…vineyards….olive orchards….lines of cypress trees…fine wines….mineral springs and spas…local cheeses…hiking and biking trails…This is southeastern Tuscany.

Located southeast of Siena and next to Umbria are the areas known locally as the Valdorcia and the Valdichianna----The Valley of the Orcia and the Chianna Rivers. Montepulciano and Montalcino are the two famous villages here. Chianti, produced north of Siena, has traditionally gotten the most attention abroad. But the Vino Nobile of Montepulciano is now surpassing its northern cousin in fame. Made from a blend of Sangiovese and local grapes, this ruby red wine is produced according to strict DOCG requirements. Unlike other wines it must be stored only in large wooden barrels called botti, creating a very specific taste. In Montalcino, the famous Brunello wine is produced with the highest requirement for aging of any wine in Italy--4 years, half the time in wood! It is arguably the most famous wine from Italy currently and can range in price from $50 to $300 for a bottle. You can taste these famous wines as you explore the area in wine shops, enotecas, restaurants or the wineries themselves.

There are many other attributes to this region. It is an area that has been largely untouched by industrialization. Beautiful rolling hills seem to unfold endlessly. The villages are all located on the hilltops, and the roads stretch along the ridges offering incredible views. Hillsides are covered with a patchwork of olive orchards, vineyards and grasses. Gravel roads reach down into the gentle valleys and connect ancient monasteries and farmhouses to the villages nearby. The views are wonderful in any direction. And there’s always another village to explore on the next ridge.

Montepulciano has cobbledstoned streets that reach up the hill to a vast open piazza bordered by massive churches. Tiny streets lead to openings between the buildings with breathtaking views. Montalcino stretches along the ridge of another hill. Its castle and garden are open for exploring. Pienza was designed for Pope Pius I in the 15th century as his summer residence to comprise the ideal proportions of a Renaissance town. St. Quirico d’Orcio is home to the beautiful Horti Leonini, manicured gardens where you can wander and enjoy the quiet or picnic lunch.

In addition to tasting wine and exploring ancient stone villages, there are naturally occurring hot springs to enjoy. In ancient times, the reliable flow of water was used to run mills. Villages like Bagno Vignoni owe their existence to these sources of power. Today, you can climb down the hillside and visit the remnants of the ancient mills. Below the mill is a small warm pond for wading. Hotel Marcucci in town offers hot mineral water pools in a modern setting for a small fee. The view across the valley from the pool is wonderful. In other villages nearby spas offer massages and a variety of treatments in addition to mineral pools.

For those who like to hike, there are trails galore. A stop in one of the Tourist Offices can provide you with maps for hiking trails. You can also purchase books with detailed descriptions of individual trails. And for bikers, this is an area of quiet gravel roads and incredible views. But be prepared. Most bike rides will be hilly!

And there’s more to visit. Pottery factories, cheese factories, museums with Etruscan artifacts, and even a monastery where you can hear Gregorian chants daily. This is a wonderful area.

Ville et Village offers a terrific selection of houses here, both large elegant ones for parties of 8-12, and some simpler ones for parties of 2-6. Visit TM059 for an example of a charming apartment in Montalcino. As always, contact us as early as possible. We are taking reservations NOW for 2007.

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Every morning in Provence, traveling merchants set up outdoor markets in different villages. These weekly events feel like a little circus coming to town. Merchants arrive in the morning and set up their wares. A vibrant scene ensues. The bigger towns in each geographic area have the largest and most extensive markets. Each one takes place on a different regular day of the week, and each has its own special character. The market at Apt at the east end of the Luberon Valley fills all the streets from one end of the town to the other, culminating in a carousel where little children can enjoy a ride. At Vaison la Romaine in the Côtes du Rhone Valley, the market fills the entire open parking lot on the outskirts of the town and may even have a street performer. At Carpentras at the southern end of the Côtes du Rhone Valley, there are streets where just honey is sold, areas just for soaps, other areas for olives. And at St. Rémy in the Bouches du Rhone the market fills the pedestrian-only center and has a vast selection of fabrics as well.

At these outdoor markets you can taste local sausages, fresh goat cheeses, various marinated olives, or honey from different flowers. Each market starts around 8:30 am in the morning and lasts until around 1:30 pm. Arrive early and you can park easily. Arrive late and you get to purchase the food that has been cooking—paella in vast pans, chickens roasting on spits, rabbits grilled in provencal herbs.

The smaller villages also have their markets, each unique in its own way. The outdoor market at Ménerbes, although small has been described by Patricia Wells as the most authentic in the region. At Maussane the market fills the little square and you can buy fresh fish from Marseille. At Gordes you can buy wonderful Cavaillon melons.

These markets have something for everyone, the cook, the photographer, the shopper, the wanderer.

All of our houses in Provence are located in the prettiest areas and all have charming outdoor markets nearby. When you get to your rental house, check the tourist office to find out which days the local markets take place. Then plan your itinerary to take in at least one or two. You don’t need to cook to enjoy the food. You can simply bring home premade food, fruit, cheeses, salamis and local pastries and enjoy a feast without doing any work.

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We have two wonderful new properties to offer in Paris. Visit PA070 for a beautiful one-bedroom apartment in the 7th arrondissement. It is located on the elegant Blvd. St. Germain des Près. Situated on the 7th floor with elevator, the apartment windows have a lovely view of the ornate architecture of the buildings across and the trees below. This charming apartment also has air-conditioning.

PA061 is in the heart of the Quartier St. Germain. It is a 2-bedroom/2-bath apartment on two floors. It has elegant, but comfortable décor, excellent lighting, and air-conditioning. Although it is surrounded by tiny streets filled with elegant shops, it is a haven of quiet as it faces a pleasant internal courtyard. This is a very special apartment. Although it is just newly offered, it booked up quickly in 2006. So make your plans early for 2007.

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Summer Heat and Renting

Most of our country rentals are authentic structures and do not offer air-conditioning. This is simply not a part of French or Italian country life.

In the countryside, homes are made of native stone. They have thick walls and heavy shutters. During the day when the sun can be strong, locals keep shutters closed. When the sun goes down, the shutters are opened to let in cool nighttime breezes.

In Europe, utilities are expensive and are a limited resource. Thus Europeans conserve energy as well as economize. On hot summer afternoons, stores close at 1:30 pm, and people go inside. They go to restaurants, or return to their cool homes, have a leisurely lunch and then rest. After 3:00 or 4:00pm, when the heat subsides, they re-emerge.

In the cities, things are changing a bit. When we started Ville et Village 14 years ago, none of our city apartments had air-conditioning. In fact, at that time, the number of really hot days in Paris were few. Now, however, as European cities are facing more extended hot weather, we are starting to see apartment owners adapt. We do have a few Paris owners who have put air conditioning in their apartments. Many apartments do have portable fans, which can also be very helpful. In Florence, where building requirements in the historic center are a challenge to some modern amenities, our owner there has now successfully installed air conditioning in most of her apartments. And in Rome where the temperature can often be hot, there is a selection of apartments with air-conditioning.

That said, if you desire or require air conditioning, be sure to request it, and read your property description carefully. As air conditioning is an amenity, it will be specifically listed as such. If it isn’t listed, it isn’t provided. It is important to read the property description carefully and be sure the property you’ve selected provides all the amenities you require. Remember it is you who makes the final decision.

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