Ville et Village - European Vacation Rentals

     A Newsletter by Carolyn Grote and the rest of the staff
Summer 2013
In This Issue:
We now have a Blog with lots of interesting news. It is located on our home page and updated regularly. Some recent posts include “Travel Theft and Protecting Yourself”, “Lily of the Valley-May Day in France”, “Taking Your Cell Phone to France”. Be sure to sign up to get notifications when there are new posts! Just complete the “VetV Blog updates".
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Our Online Catalog for France and Italy
Remember that we do offer rentals in most regions in France and also in Italy. We have since 1998! In France: Brittany, Normandy, Languedoc, Dordogne, etc. In Italy: Tuscany, Umbria, Amalfi, etc. You can search by region, by size and by dates. Get the benefit of lots of photos. Visit our online catalogs.
Summer Reading

Perfume (Le Parfum)
by Patrick Suskind

This is a great summer read. Story of Grenouille born with no body scent but gifted with an extraordinary ability to discern odors. We follow him as he becomes the greatest perfumer in France, but also an odious human being. He is driven by his obsession to collect and create odors that fulfill his lifelong cravings. Set in 1700s France, the book follows Grenouille from Paris, to the Auvergne to Montpellier to Grasse. Thus it is a study in human emotions, perfume production, French history, and a travelogue. Ideal reading for our clients.
Purchase Online

In April, one of our clients wrote me to say he’d had his wallet stolen while on the Paris Métro. So I wrote back and got details, always wanting to know as much as possible to help others. Turns out he had been reasonably careful. His wallet was in a front pants pocket (exactly where it is supposed to be to avoid theft) and yet was stolen anyway on a crowded car. Fortunately, in it he had only one credit card and some cash. He wisely had the rest of his valuables elsewhere. So the loss, although upsetting, wasn’t that terrible and did not significantly interfere with his trip.

It has been quite a few years since one of my clients has been the object of a theft, and so I was particularly interested that it had just happened. Shortly after, I left on my own spring trip. Most of it was hiking in France (more on that another time), but my husband, my friends and I did have a few days in Madrid on the way home. I was careful to remind everyone to be watchful of their wallets. We were. And yet… not watchful enough because one of us had a cell phone stolen right in front of our eyes! Here’s how it happened.

We were having breakfast at a café in a quiet piazza. A young person came up (as happens often in Madrid) and tried to get us to sign something. Then another person came up later and did the same thing.  Eventually a third young person came up and this time put his piece of paper on the table. When we waved him away he left taking the paper with him. And unbeknownst to us, the cell phone which had been on the table was scooped up with it. Like a good magic trick, it was accomplished in full view because the thieves directed our attention elsewhere. Later that day, we encountered at least 4 other people describing the same situation to police officers. Fortunately, our friend immediately called up his phone company and blocked the phone. So no data could be taken from it, and no calls could be made. And like my client’s experience, it was upsetting, but not really terrible and didn’t interfere too much with our trip.

So… this is a reminder. As a tourist we all become a target. We can’t avoid it. We don’t want to be so nervous that we can’t enjoy ourselves, but we can be smart travelers. When travelling in larger cities, be cautious. Don’t keep all your valuables in one place. Keep passports and extra credit cards in the most secure locations on yourself or in your rental. Make a copy of your passport and birth certificate and keep it separate from the actual passport. Or, scan them and send them to yourself in email. That way you can access it from afar. Always keep your belongs on you or with you. Be wary of leaving anything on the table on a chair next to you or on the floor. If possible even when sitting have your belongs hooked onto you—over a shoulder or in your lap or between your legs. Even your cell phone can be a target. And if you’re in a car, never leave your valuables on a seat next to an open window.

I grew up in New York and my mom taught me to be cautious. But even an ex-New Yorker can be caught by a new clever scam. So be prepared and even if it should happen to you, be consoled that you’re not the only one to fall victim. Quickly do damage control. Call and cancel cards or phones. Then, put the event behind you and enjoy your trip.

LA FETE DE LA MUSIQUE - JUNE 21st by Marianne

When planning my vacations, I always try to be in France June 21st, the day the French celebrate la Fête de la Musique. All day and all night France commemorate the summer solstice with more than 18,000 free concerts enjoyed by 10 million music lovers.

This event was first conceived in 1976 by the American musician Joel Cohen who was then working for Radio France. In 1982, under Mitterrand’s presidency, La Fête de la Musique became an official celebration. Today, more than 110 countries around the world participate in this event. In France alone, 5 million amateur musicians and singers contribute to the festivities.

If you’re in France that day, you too can be part of the celebration. This event takes place throughout France, but Paris is an especially exciting place to be during the festival. La Fête de la Musique aims to promote music by encouraging amateur musicians to perform in public places. And in Paris, streets are closed to traffic creating many open-air performance spaces. Cafes, bars and restaurants are allowed to stay open later into the night, and early morning, to welcome the crowds. Numerous larger stages are erected all over the city to welcome famous French and international professional artists.

There is music for every one on that day. Whether you are into electronic music, a classical concert in the Tuileries Gardens, or world music along the river…you will have many events to choose from on that day. Buy Liberation, a local newspaper, on that day to get a complete schedule of the main events in Paris with a map. Or, don’t plan at all and simply walk from one neighborhood to the next enjoying the diverse local bands performing on the sidewalks. As a matter of fact, it is definitely better to walk or take the metro which will be running all night for this event.

Outside of Paris, buy the local news paper in the morning and design your ideal musical journey. In some areas, you’ll find the event is called La Fête (or Les Feux) de la St Jean. This is another holiday also celebrating the summer solstice. Here there are still many musical events which in this case culminate in a very old pagan tradition: at nightfall, a huge bonfire is lit and participants celebrate the summer solstice by jumping over a fire. So be sure to see what happening where you are in France on June 21st and have a terrific time.


Surprisingly, we are still booking lots of clients for their summer and fall trips to France and Italy. And the good news is that we are still finding good possibilities for most folks. It is true that some weeks (late July and early August) have less to offer. But usually we’re able to find something for folks that meets their needs.

Here are a few properties in Paris and Provence with good availability:

PA067 This is a lovely 2 bedroom/2 bath apartment in Paris on the stylish Rue de Grenelle. It is new with us this year and our first clients have already rated it as excellent. Because it joined us a bit late, it still has some good availability it. Visit it.

PA101 A spacious and bright apartment in Paris around the corner from the Canal St. Martin. It has 2 bedrooms/2 baths and a study with sleeping for 1 or 2 more. So this is ideal for a large family wanted a comfortable accommodation in a real neighborhood. Click this link to visit.

PR013 Charming village house with a lovely courtyard and 2 balconies. Sleeps 6 in 3 bedrooms/2 baths. In the heart of the wine-producing village of Sablet yet very quiet. Lots of charm. Visit it.

PR375 Lovely large stone house with pool in quiet countryside outside the charming village of Fontvieille which has its own bullfighting arena. This lovely house is ideally situated to enjoy the treasures of the Bouches du Rhone being close to Les Baux, Arles, St. Rémy and the Camargue. Take a look.

PR009 Village house sleeping 4 overlooking the wonderful town of Vaison with its Roman ruins, famous outdoor market and lovely medieval village. This pretty apartment has a balcony with views of the town below and is an easy walk down. See it here.


Although I’ve been in northern Tuscany and even Lucca, several times, I never visited Pisa. I suppose I thought the “Leaning Tower” was its major claim to fame, and I avoided what I dismissed as a tourist draw. Yet, thoughts of Pisa have drawn me. So when my husband had the opportunity to spend a week on his own in Tuscany, I urged him to visit Pisa for me! He did and fell in love with this elegant walled city. He has kindly written some reflections on his visit. Read the following and be sure to include a visit to Pisa on your next trip to northern Tuscany. Carolyn

It was late at night, the first week of May when I arrived in Pisa by air and went straight to my pension and to sleep. When I awoke, the room was filled with light from a gorgeous sunny day. I had left the shutter open. I went to the window, looked out over the city and saw in the distance the surrounding hills. It was a beautiful panorama. But, before I take you with me on my one-day exploration of the city, here’s what was on my mind about Pisa. I was thinking about its history.

Pisa is on the Arno River, a historically significant fact. The Piazza dei Miracoli, the location of the famous tower, is located on the north side of the Arno. That is the side occupied by the Germans during the end of the Italian campaign in WWII. The Allies were on the south side of the Arno. Pisa had been an important transportation hub for the Germans and so became a major target for the Allies. Unlike Florence, Pisa was subject to more than 50 bombings in 3 days by the allies. Shortly after, an armistice was signed but those 3 days destroyed a great deal of the cultural heritage of the city. Now, years later, although much has been rebuilt, some scars from those bombings are preserved as a reminder of the horrors of war.

So on my first morning, when I walked out of my quiet pensione into beautiful narrow streets lined with old buildings, thoughts of the war were on my mind. I was, however, greeted with vibrancy. I saw open windows with flower boxes overflowing with colorful petals, and laundry hanging on lines stretched across the front of the buildings.  The buildings themselves had red-tile roofs and ochre-colored walls --a color it seems impossible to recreate elsewhere. I found my way to an espresso bar and bakery on the corner. It was filled with a delightful mix of people: men in suits, workmen in overalls, well-dressed women, housewives and college students. . All were talking while downing their espresso and eating their pastries wrapped in that little bit of tissue that seems a cultural tradition in Italian espresso bars.

I then walked along the Lungarno (the street by the river) and taking a peak inside the shops on the south side of the Arno. One of the great tragedies of the war was the loss of so many beautiful buildings. There are many left now which of course made me try to imagine just how much more beautiful this town had been pre-war. There was for me this back and forth between Pisa now and before the war. It gave me a deeper appreciation for the dynamism of Pisanos who rebuilt this lovely city then and who continue now to bring it into the new age while maintaining its history.

After, I spent a little time in front of the Palazzo della Caranova, a Renaissance building established by Cosimo di Medici which is now the Scuola Normale Superiore, a school for the most academically gifted students in Italy, specializing in science and technology. This is part of what is both ancient and new in Pisa.

This brings me to an aspect of Pisa that appealed to me most: its identify as a university town. The University of Pisa, established in 1343, is one of the oldest in the world. It is the number one university in Italy and among the most prestigious in the world. There are over 50,000 students in attendance. Add faculty and support staff, and you can see that this town of 88,000 people is as much if not more in the business of education and research, than it is in the business of tourism. This gives Pisa a very different feel than say Florence.

From the Arno I wandered across a bridge back up the street. As I got closer to the Piazza dei Miracoli I looked up and rising above the beautiful smaller buildings was this amazingly beautiful and delicately decorated tower leaning at a seemingly impossible angle. Here was the so-called “Leaning Tower”. The juxtaposition of the tower and these buildings was visually arresting. I walked into the Piazza. It is a relatively small area filled with these immense and beautiful white marble structures: the Duomo, the Campanile, the Baptistry and the Camposanto. They seem so different both in size and color from the rest of Pisa that there was for a minute a sense of unreality about what I was seeing.  I climbed the Campanile, visited the inside of the Duomo and then just sat outside and absorbed the sense of the structures. This was definitely not just a simple tourist attraction.

At last, I headed back to my room and a rest. In the early evening, I went out to enjoy the nightly passeggiata, the tradition in Italy of strolling arm-in-arm. Many people were out enjoying the warm evening with a glass of prosecco or an ice cream. I found a restaurant that had gotten wonderful reviews in several guides, the Osteria dei Cavaliere). This small restaurant was filled when I arrived at 8:00pm. The greeting was warm, and the food outstanding. 

That meal and my return to my pensione strolling amongst so many others ended my stay in Pisa. The next morning I was to pick up a rental car and head into Chianti. It had been such a lovely visit in Pisa that it was hard to leave. Perhaps I can return—maybe take a class or two at the university?


We have entered the world of social media. Ville et Village is now on Facebook and Twitter. These platforms are a very important means for us to build an even stronger presence on the internet. You can help. We know you appreciate our service and our offerings. You tell us so in your emails and on your evaluations. Use Facebook and Twitter to share the news. LIKE US on Facebook. And be sure to visit us on Facebook and Twitter to get our latest news.

And of course, don’t forget our new Blog which you can visit on our home page. Here we have really great new information updated regularly. Sign up to get notification with each new posting. Ville et Village Blog


We always recommend clients get Trip Insurance to protect against the unexpected. Our rentals are nonrefundable once confirmed. So Trip Insurance is an important backup for you. I recommend CSA and the link to their information is on our website. After much research we determined that CSA offers the best plan for the our clients needs. And we’ve now worked with them for nearly 10 years. Not only have we never heard a complaint, we do often find out that clients have submitted claims and have been satisfied with the results. I often tell clients my own story.

Several years ago my father-in-law became ill while my husband and I were on vacation in Italy and we had to cut short our trip. We submitted claims through CSA and got compensated. In order to get home quickly our only option was to fly home business class and although our initial ticket was for economy, the CSA plan covered 150% of our original ticket price. That was a life saver! In addition, they even covered the cost of my long distance calls to them from Italy when I was unable to find the number to call them collect.

If you do intend to get trip insurance, I recommend buying it when you book your vacation. Waiting doesn’t save you any money. And since you have to spend that money anyway, may as well be covered before some world wide event occurs that might affect your trip. Once a volcano explodes, you can no longer purchase coverage to protect yourself from any possible flight cancellation. See my point?

You can go to our website and get a quote to see what the cost would be. You simply enter, your travel dates, the ages of the travelers and how much you want cover. Only cover what you need to. No further proof is needed unless you actually make a claim. You can find the CSA link

- on the bottom of our home page
- on our Tips/Link page
- or right here

As it is an insurance plan, if you have specific questions about your own trip, it is best to contact them directly. You can even call them. If you do, be sure to say you were referred by Ville et Village (8270780).

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