Ville et Village - European Vacation Rentals

     A Newsletter by Carolyn Grote and the rest of the staff
Spring 2015
In This Issue:
If You Go
Take the RER C5 line (yellow) towards Versailles-Chateau. The ticket cost currently is €8.5. Get off at the last stop: Versailles-Chateau. Follow signs for the chateau. You can go on guided tours or do your own audio guide tour (included in the admission price) and learn all about the decadent lifestyle of the royals. Visit just the main palace, or the Trianon palaces and Marie Antoinette’s hamlet… or both. Prices vary accordingly. I visited the main palace and gardens which took me a full day. There is so much to see that, in my opinion, a visit to the Trianon is best left for a second trip. Check out the website for hours, prices and special events. Avoid long lines at the gate by purchasing your tickets online.
Read our Blog which has lots of interesting news. It is located on our home page and updated regularly. Some recent posts include “Matisse in the South of France”, “the Picasso Museum Re-Opening in Paris”, Reading: The Little Saint by Hannah Green”. Be sure to sign up to get notifications when there are new posts! Just complete the “VetV Blog updates".
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When I lived in Paris one of my favorite sightseeing excursions was a trip to Versailles, a UNESCO World Heritage monument. To me, it was such a significant part of French history that I had to see it for myself. In fact, I visited it 3 times within 6 months!

Louis XIV, the Sun King, built it in the 17th century and it was the seat of the monarchy until the revolution. The king had highly skilled French artisans create a veritable showcase of French craftsmanship including fine tapestries, ornate furniture, silver furniture, and impressive paintings all designed to symbolize the power of the French monarchy. Marie Antoinette, the last resident, even had her own little palace, Le Petit Trianon, built to give her a bit of respite from the main chateau! With such extravagance, no wonder the peasants revolted!

Although outside Paris, Versailles is an easy 20-minute ride on the RER. You can pick up the RER at the Montparnasse Métro station. The price of the ticket is based on the distance you travel so be sure to hold onto your ticket to show at the exit. When I took the RER, I found the most confusing thing to be that the doors did not open automatically! You have to push a button to make them open. Once you have arrived at Versailles, it is a short 5-minute walk to the palace.

One of the most incredible features in the estate is The Hall of Mirrors. This gallery was a true sign of decadence because mirrors were one of the most expensive items at the time, and the hall has 17 gigantic mirrors in between arched windows reflecting and sparkling in the sunlight. Many functions were held in this beautiful room, even in modern history. The Treaty of Versailles, which ended WWI in 1919 was signed here. The gardens by Le Nôtre are another attraction of Versailles. They were planned out under the watchful eye of King Louis XIV, himself. It is reported that he wanted to know every detail. Many statues, sculptures and fountains were commissioned to decorate the gardens which even have a “grand canal,” large enough to be used for boating parties!

My favorite part about Versailles is that anywhere I looked, there was something beautiful. Every ceiling is painted elaborately, every wall has an exotic fabric or paper covering it, and there is no room that is at all plain or boring. I also loved the stunning facts in the audio tour about exorbitant costs and the amount of time that was spent building Versailles. When you see the extravagance here, you will really start to understand the conditions that led to the French Revolution, and also see that the royals and their court had an appreciation of all things beautiful. Be sure to plan your own day trip to Versailles.

Email us to book your rental in Paris.


Provence is our clients’ most popular choice for a summer vacation in France and no wonder. There is so much to see and do there. The countryside is beautiful, there are many charming small villages, the local wines are world-famous, and the food is flavorful. It offers us Americans entry into a simpler time where we can visit stone villages and shop in outdoor markets. Part of this experience is the wealth of medieval castles and ruins to explore. I’ve selected a few examples from each of the regions where we have our rentals.

In the Bouches du Rhône near Arles, you can visit the castle of Les Baux. Built in the 11th to 13th century it is perched high on the rocky cliffs of the Alpilles mountain range, a wise choice permitting the locals to observe the countryside for invading forces and to protect themselves. Today, you can stroll through the cobblestoned -streets and visit the fortified castle. In season, there are often music concerts and other performances that take place within the stone walls.

The Abbaye de Montmajour is an 11th-17th C monastery near Arles. Here, too, it is wonderful to explore the ruins and imagine life in Provence when monks made liqueurs from fragrant herbs and traveled between villages on foot or donkey. I once enjoyed a concert of Gregorian chants performed in the ruins of the chapel.

In the Luberon Valley, the village of Lacoste is the location of the ruins the castle of the Marquis de Sade. The castle dates from the 11th century, but it was in the 18th century that the Marquis de Sade purchased it for his summer visits. Destroyed in the French revolution, it is now in ruins. A walk up from the charming village to the castle above offers outstanding views. And as usual, there are summertime concerts in the ruins.

In the Vaucluse, the northern reaches of Provence, Vaison-la-Romaine has its “haute ville” or medieval city which is towered over by the ruins of the XIIIC castle built by the counts of Toulouse. One can explore the ruins, lunch in a charming café in the old village, and then walk across the Roman bridge into the main part of town! It’s a lovely way to spend a few hours.

To plan your vacation in one of these three areas of Provence visit our website and read all about Provence.


Want to feel like you’re in Provence in the spring? Read on for a dish that will evoke a sunny Provencal day.

In the winter newsletter I wrote an article about harvesting olives in Provence. Olives are indeed an important crop in Provence, and they are, also, of course, a major part of the Provencal cuisine. In addition to their use pressed as olive oil, olives are also marinated as a snack. Go to any outdoor market in Provence and you will see at least one table covered with colorful bins of olives marinated in a variety of flavors. I love preparing my own marinated olives and serving them to guests. Even if you can buy marinated olives in your local grocery, I assure you that using this recipe below and marinating them yourself will evoke raves from your guests. It’s easy and quick, but does require preparation least a week in advance of when you want to use them.

  • 2 cups black unpitted olives
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
  • 2 tsps red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp dried leaf oregano
In a bowl, combine the olive, garlic, vinegar, crushed red pepper and oil. Toss to blend. Rub the oregano between the palms of your hands and drop into the bowl. Mix the olive mixture again. Put it all into a jar and shake again. Leave in the refrigerator at least a week and up to a month. The longer you wait, the more pronounced the flavor. Bring to room temperature before serving.

(Based on a recipe from Patricia Wells’ At Home in Provence.)


In the past few years there have been several articles in travel press about the beautiful Via Giulia in Rome. It is a broad, quiet, medieval street in central Rome lined with churches and elegant palazzos. And it is a location where we offer several rentals.

Each year we have many clients going to Rome. Clients often want to be centrally located and so properties near the Piazza Navona or the Pantheon tend to be requested first. The Via Giulia, however, offers an alternate and perhaps better location. It is in historic Rome, is centrally located and provides a glimpse into ancient Rome without all the flash of high-end retail stores and the accompanying crowds of shoppers.

Via Giulia was built in the early 16th century, part of a plan to build roads near the Vatican. It is just a half mile long, is lined with elegant medieval buildings and is wide and quiet. Its location is great. It is close to the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, the long, busy thoroughfare that traverses most of historic Rome, and just two blocks from the bridge leading to the Vatican. It runs parallel to the river. It starts with an arch designed by Michelangelo and then continues with many beautiful churches and palaces. Two of the most famous and impressive are the white palace belonging to the 16thC Falconieri family designed by Borromini, and the San Giovanni Battista di Fiorentina designed by Borromini and Bernini. This latter one took over 200 years to complete!

On your next trip to Rome, make a point of strolling down the lovely Via Giulia.


Can you expect to find WiFi in your rental in Europe? While it is certainly not as ubiquitous as it is in the US, many of our urban rentals do now offer WiFi. Currently, all of our Paris and Florence rentals offer WiFi. In Rome and Venice, it is still not quite as common. Since WiFi is now listed as an amenity on our property descriptions, you can check to see if it is offered. Just look on the list on the left side of each property description.

Once at the property, if there is an access code, it will be listed in the house book left for your information. And if you’ve brought your smartphone, then be sure to connect it to the WiFi. This is not automatic; you have to select that option on your phone. Using WiFi on your smartphone means you are not using up your allotted data. This allows you to bypass some potentially expensive data charges.

Even if there is no WiFi in your rental, don’t worry. You can usually find a nearby a café or store with WiFi or computers.

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