Ville et Village - European Vacation Rentals

     A Newsletter by Carolyn Grote and the rest of the staff
Summer 2013
In This Issue:
Plan Now
It is very important to plan now for your 2013 trip. June tends to be the first month to book up, so early planning insures you’re getting the largest selection of properties.
Our Online Catalog for France
Remember that we do offer rentals in most regions in France. We have since 1998! Brittany, Normandy, Languedoc, Dordogne, etc. To see these properties, go to our online catalog. You can search by region, by size and by dates. Get the benefit of lots of photos. Visit our online catalog Cottages4You.
Marseille and Pagnol
Marseille is dear to the French because it was the home of the famous novelist, playwright and filmmaker Marcel Pagnol. His works are considered a masterpiece. You might have seen or read Marius, Fanny, or Manon des Sources (which was later remade as movies with Gerard Depardieu and Yves Montand). In fact, while you stroll around the Vieux Port, you can see where one of the movies was filmed.
Our Online Catalog for Italy
We do offer rentals in Tuscany, Umbria and other regions in Italy. We have since 1998. Visit our online catalogs. There are two. One for private, freestanding properties with pools. And one for all types of properties including apartments in restored farmhouses. Visit our Online Italy Catalog. And of course, you are still booking through us and get our support.
Purchase Your Books Through our Link
Don’t forget to order your copy of any of these books through the Amazon link on our website. You pay the same price and we get a small commission which we appreciate.
VetV Recommended Books

I had a very successful trip to France in November and have added some great new properties. In our last newsletter I profiled one new Paris rental-- PA068 Rue de Grenelle, a classic 2 bedroom/2 bath apartment in the heart of the stylish 6th arr. Visit this link to see it again.

Now, here are a few others that are particularly special and would appeal to folks who want a smaller property. We often have parties of 2 who are looking for a small, charming place in the French countryside. Such properties are not so easy to find. Small places can often be simple----not elegant or romantic. Not this year! Here are a few really sweet small properties:

Au Dessus l’Eglise PR348.
This lovely two room apartment is located in the small village of Eygalières which is tucked away on a side road not far from St. Rémy. The heart of the village is the crossroads of two small streets where you’ll find two popular cafes with locals hanging out at the outdoor terraces. There are a few quite fine restaurants, a good selection of shops and a weekly market that stretches up and down the narrow “main street”. If you follow that main street up to the top of the little hill, you’ll find the “vieux village”. Here the remnants of the ancient fortified castle still exist, and the “old stones” have been renovated into a nice selection of homes. Our property is the ground floor of one of these architectural gems. Its double glass doors face what was once the village park, now a quiet plaza with a lovely view of the village below. The main room has vaulted ceilings, an open fireplace, and a few nice original pieces of art, a queen bed and comfortable seating. The dining room is furnished with an antique refectory table and chairs. Imagine staying here and taking a morning stroll down into the village each morning for fresh croissants. Follow this link to take a look at this apartment.

Le Moulin de la Pinede PR311
This is a perfect renovation of an ancient mill. It is situated on a hill (of course) overlooking the rolling, fragrant countryside south of Les Baux, the famous perched village. This is the area that Alphonse Daudet wrote about in his Lettres de Mon Moulin, and you can imagine the sounds and scenes he saw when you’re sitting in this moulin. From here you can walk down into the tiny village of Paradou with its few shops and famous Bistrot de Paradou. Or drive west for 15 minutes, and you’re at Arles, with its Roman coliseum. It’s a great location! This charming property has been renovated by a local French couple whose mother’s black and white photo is hanging in the mill showing her sitting there in the 1940s. In front of the mill is a beautifully landscaped terrace with tables and chairs. Inside, a stylish décor makes this one-room-per-floor accommodation feel spacious and open. It is decorated in white, black and red with simple yet striking furniture. The bedroom on the top floor is absolutely romantic with a big bed and a contemporary bathroom. Click here to visit this property.

Le Coquelicot PR086
The Luberon Valley is an area often requested by clients who have read Peter Mayle’s book A Year in Provence. This is an area east of Avignon with a big open valley and mountain ranges on both the north and south sides. Tucked on those hillsides are many small villages which have retained their local character. Each year, my goal is to find some of those original stone houses which have been renovated in a tasteful manner. This year I found a lovely small house with 2 bedrooms/1 bath and a pool, situated on a terraced, tree-lined hillside yet close to the lovely village of Bonnieux. Bonnieux is one of the well-known stone-built villages with tiny lanes leading into the heart of the village which ends at the summit with a church. Lovely. This property is located a few miles outside the village down a tiny dirt track. It’s only 10 minutes by car to the village, yet feels like you’re all alone in the countryside. The main living room/dining room has exposed beams and lots of windows which take advantage of the wrap-around terrace and views across to the village of Lacoste. It’s unusual to find such a charming renovation of a small house with pool in this very lovely area. The price is great, too! Follow this link to see the property.


Mon Jardin RV101
I am fortunate to have added this wonderful apartment for 4 in the seaside village of Villefranche-sur Mer. In years gone by, Villefranche was the border between France and Italy. One can still visit the ancient fort which looms over the village at the top of Mont Alban. Villefranche has the deepest harbor in the south of France, and it’s a treat to sit at a seaside café and enjoy the stunning view. Our apartment is in a private home on the hillside above the village. The building which has been owned by the same family since the end of WWII has been recently expanded to create 3 separate apartments—one per floor--only one of which (ours) is available for rent. Located on the top floor it has a wonderful balcony and stunning views from all windows in the apartment. The bathrooms and kitchens are rather elegant with the latest in fixtures. The main room with dining, seating and open kitchen will be a delight for our clients. Here is a property where you can easily manage without a car. The owner, himself, walks down into the village for his daily swim in the clear Mediterranean! Visit this property by clicking this link.

Beau Paysage RV065
Cap d’Antibes is the peninsula that extends into the sea from Antibes and Juan les Pins, two of the more charming towns on the French Riviera. Both towns are vibrant centers adored for their famous Jazz Festival, Picasso’s chateau Grimaldi, tree-lined graceful boulevards, the daily outdoor market and many lovely shops. Remarkably, they have retained a small town atmosphere with no big chain hotels or high-rises. The “Cap”…where our house is like a stretch of garden extending out into the Mediterranean. In fact, the owner of our lovely house usually describes her visits there as trips to the “country”. The Cap is a verdant residential area where tiny lanes lead past walls over which peek flowering shrubs. Our property has a very large garden with flowers, vines and trees. The house, itself, is a cozy family affair with 3 bedrooms/2 baths. From here, you can easily walk to the beach or into Juan les Pins. This is a wonderful situation and a charming property for the right family or two couples. Visit it by following this link.

In addition to the ones above..there are lots of others Check them out:

PR013 Le Figuier- village house with courtyard and balconies in Sablet.
PR091 The Road’s End- a spacious family house on large grounds outside Bonnieux
PR312 La Maison du Centre- small village house with balcony in St. Remy
PR345 Mas Douce Nuit – a renovated barn at Maussane
PR353 Le Mas du Champs- a renovated barn on a large field outside Eygalières
PR354 La Maison du Beau-Pere-large new house on a large field outside Eyalières
PR355 La Maison des Parents- a pretty new house on a private garden outside Aureilles

PA020 Rue Volney- studio near the Opéra
PA025 Rue Sainte Anne-2 bedroom/2 bath near the Louvre
PA039 Blvd. Beaumarchais-1 bedroom/1 bath near the Bastille
PA041 Blvd. Beaumarchais-1 bedroom/1 bath near the Bastille


I am French from Cannes, and I love Marseille for its special character. As one of the major ports on the Mediterranean, Marseille is a unique melting pot of cultures and traditions. Thus it is a city of vibrant energy and spicy flavors. And now in 2013, Marseille has been chosen as the “European City of Culture.” So it’s a perfect time for me to share what I love about this exciting city.

A day trip from any of our rentals in Provence will give you the chance to sample some of her delights. But as Marseille is the second largest city in France, you might wonder, “Where to start?” I recommend driving to the Vieux Port, which is the heart of the city. The harbor is a huge U-shaped body of water surrounded by the city on three sides. Locals and tourists alike stroll the water’s edge, watching the small fishing and tourist boats as they dock and unload. Across the street many cafes have tables and chairs set out to enjoy the view. The view of the port with the sun-kissed city gently climbing up the hills beyond- is a unique and unforgettable scene.

The fish market, a Marseille institution, is held every morning on the Quai des Belges where you can buy the catch of the day fresh off the boat. Expect red mullet, bream, grouper and have it weighed and cleaned for you while you wait. Even if you don’t buy, simply watching is fun. This is where local restaurateurs purchase their fish for the day's bouillabaisse, the classic Marseillaise fish stew. You, too, can enjoy this extravagant stew at one of the many restaurants nearby. But don’t forget to start your meal with a pastis, the local drink at one of the terraces before you leave.

If you look up while at the port you’ll see the elegant white domed Notre Dame de la Garde high on a hilltop above. The citizens of Marseille have adoration for this basilica, which they call “La Bonne Mere”. To have another impressive view of the city, drive up to the Basilica and park. This has been an observation post since pre-historical times. From the hill where it stands, you will have a panoramic view of the city and the sea beyond.

You can also choose to discover Marseille by the sea. Walk, bike, or drive along the Corniche, the seaside road. From here, looking out over the Mediterranean, you will see the islands of Marseille, with their beautiful mansions and hidden beaches.

Finally, if you leave the city and drive east to Cassis, you’ll pass the National Park of the Calanques --a must see. They are a spectacular series of looming, white limestone rocks scored through with deep valleys, a unique ecosystem with peaceful creeks and clear turquoise water. You can hike quiet trails and enjoy the view. Or take a rental boat out to swim in the cool waters. Be sure to stop at one of the colorful small fishing villages nearby to enjoy a glass of Bandol rosé, the famous local wine.

This will be an especially festive year and there will be many special events such as circuses, art shows, street entertainment, fireworks, concerts, and street food fairs. Be sure to check this online blog for a list of what events might be going on during your visit.


Aioli is a classic dish in Marseille where you’ll see it on most menus. There are even competitions there for the best one. An aioli is a dressing, basically a mayonnaise with garlic, but in Provence we think of it as a “dish”: traditionally served with morue (salted cod), steamed vegetables, boiled eggs and condiments such as olives, pickles, etc. You can bring Marseille into your kitchen by preparing this dish. Here is my recipe.

Aioli dressing (for 4 servings):
- 1 egg yolk at room temperature       (very important)
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 5 garlic cloves.crushed

It is all in the technique:
In a bowl, put the egg yolk, the salt and the mustard. Pour in a very small amount of oil(1 TBSP) and start whisking right away with a fork or a whisk and always in the same direction. Then, very slowly, add more oil. The consistency should very quickly look like the consistency of the mayonnaise you buy in a jar. Add the rest of the oil, very slowly, while continuously whisking. At the end, whisk in the lemon juice and finally the garlic. Bravo, you have made a real aoli!

Serve with steamed vegetables (potatoes, artichokes, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, etc…), hard boiled eggs, olives, pickles (cornichons, onions, capers, etc…) and fish. Bon appétit!


I just changed our rotating photos on the home page, and this time I’ve added a photo I’ve taken of Venice. I adore Venice. It is one of the most romantic and beautiful cities I know. Once in Venice you have entered a different world. There are no cars, no billboards, no modern buildings. Everything that surrounds you is from the 15th-18th century. And of course, added to that is the special magic of the canals which are the main arteries of “traffic”. (Occasionally one of our clients doesn’t realize there are no cars in Venice!)

The architecture is beautiful with graceful arches everywhere from the small bridges that connect island to the next… to the ornate windows in the palazzos .. to the curve of the traghetti that crisscross the canals. And being a city on the sea, the food is marvelous with visits to the famous morning fish market a particular treat. So Venice has the 3 qualities I require in a destination: a distinct culture, a beautiful setting, great food or wine. What could be wrong?

Well, being that Venice is so popular, it can be crowded with tourists. That, however, is easily avoided by renting an apartment in a neighborhood. Did you know that our apartments can be rented for as few as 3 nights? When you stay in an apartment you are away from the main tourist spots but still close enough to walk there. You are living in a neighborhood and can share in the pace of daily life in this special city. Here are the sestieri (neighborhoods) that you can choose from:

San Marco- the neighborhood where the only “piazza”(large square) in Venice is located… the Piazza San Marco. This is clearly the most visited spot in Venice. There are, however, many small streets in this area where you can feel a part of the city.
Cannareggio – the old Jewish quarter famous for its local outdoor markets and its residential feeling. It is only a short walk to the Rialto Bridge.
San Polo- the area near the Rialto Bridge where the famous outdoor fish market is located and where the Fenice, the Venice theater is located. This is a lovely area with small squares (campos) and many residential streets.
Castello- the area just past the Piazza San Marco reaching out to the sea where the famous Arsenale is. This is the old shipyard where now the Venice art shows is held.
Dorsoduro- the neighborhood near the Guggenheim museum and the Accademia. From here you can get across the Grand Canal by taking one of the small traghetti which crisscross the canal for a small fee.

Visit our listings, and remember they are just a few samples of our many offerings in Venice. VE053 Saluté, VE218 Rialto Mercato, VE259 Biagio 2, VE269 Accademia.


The Comfort of Strangers is a book by Ian McEwan which takes place in an unnamed city which is clearly Venice. And although like all his books, this one has a disturbing dramatic element, the description of Venice is engaging. Like the main character of this book, if you haven’t gotten lost in Venice, you haven’t truly immersed yourself in this lovely city.

Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series by Donna Leon is a true delight. There are as of today 21 in the series. Here Brunetti lives in Venice with his wife and children and works in the local police bureau. You walk the streets with him each morning as he downs his coffee at a local bar, you learn the history he discusses cases with his wife a university professor, and you meet the locals as he investigates each case.

Death in Venice, by Thomas Mann comes under the heading of “required reading”. It is a novella set in 1912 and tells the story of the writer suffering from writer’s block who comes to Venice and becomes obsessed with a beautiful youth. How fitting that a story about passion takes place in this pre-war romantic city.

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