Ville et Village - European Vacation Rentals

Newsletter Archive


In This Issue:

The Cost of the Euro
Mastering the French Open-Air Market
Beautiful Tuscany – Montepulciano
Staying in Paris – in the Marais
New Houses in the South of France

Receive our Newsletter!

Your email address will never be shared and you can unsubscribe at any time!

Ville et Village has been written up in Travel and Leisure, The New York Times, The LA Times, Food and Wine, Consumer Report Travel Letter, Fortune Magazine, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, American Express Departures, The New York Post and many regional papers.
Looking for Holiday Rentals in France, Italy or Spain?

We have rentals in most regions of France, including the Dordogne, Provence, the Riviera, Brittany, Burgundy, Normandy and the Loire Valley. Visit our website for many listings, but call or e-mail us if you don’t see what you’re seeking. In some regions, the properties are shown just in our printed catalog.

In Italy, we have our largest selection in Tuscany and Umbria. We also have listings on the Amalfi Coast, the Lakes, Sicily and in the cities of Florence, Rome, and Venice.

In Spain we have a very large selection in Andalucia as well as Catalunya, Valencia and inland. For Portugal, there are charming rentals as well.
France Information
The Cost of the Euro

Okay, it’s true. The Euro costs more this year. When the euro was instituted in 2002, we Americans were in heaven. It was so easy to calculate the cost in dollars because the euro was roughly equivalent to the dollar. One euro—one dollar. No more figuring out the lire at 1600 to the dollar, or the franc at 5.45 to the dollar. But as of the writing of this column, the cost of the euro is around 1.25 to the dollar. So here we are, once again calculating the cost of items in France and Italy. And the bad news is due to the weak dollar a €2.50 latte now costs $3.13!

There is good news for those of us who love traveling to Europe: renting is a wonderful way to keep down your expenses. Eating out in restaurants can take a huge bite out of your travel budget. Renting allows you to shop in local markets, get good values on fresh produce and eat the occasional meal at home. Think of all the delicacies that you love to eat in France or Italy: robust cheeses, complex wines, hearty breads, home-made pastas, foie gras, marinated Provencal olives, elegant chocolates, pastries, and so on. Ordering these items in a fine restaurant can be expensive. Buying them in the local market and having them at home is a bargain. Shopping is a huge part of the fun. The weekly open-air markets held in most major villages and all bigger towns in France are an event in and of themselves.

Pre-made foods are another special treat for those who want to eat local specialties at home without the work. Forget the take out counter at Safeway—this is a totally different species. At the open-air market, the poultry vendor will have revolving spits with chickens roasting bathed in local herbs. In Provence the sausage vendors will have a huge pan with paella cooking. You request the quantity you want, and they seal it in a plastic container, and you take it home. A wonderful midday meal! During the rest of the week, larger French villages have a traiteur, a store offering a large selection of pre-made food with such things as roast rabbit, sliced roast pork, homemade pasta, poached fish as well as elegant desserts in individual portions, and more. And in Italy go to an enoteca or pasticceria. These are typically restaurant quality and are a wonderful way of getting a meal of local specialties you can enjoy in your own charming rental. Much less expensive than going to a restaurant.


Mastering the French Open-Air Market

Check with the local Tourist Office (or our own local information that comes with your rental) to see what days the local markets are. Find out which is the biggest one and be sure to visit that one.

Markets are half-day only. 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. So get there at least by mid morning. As all the locals are shopping that day, too, parking is always a challenge. Arriving in the early part of the morning helps.

Take a straw basket for your purchases. Merchants will give you little paper or plastic bags, but they get cumbersome to hold. Many houses will have such baskets in the kitchen for you to use. Or buy one at the market.

Bring cash. Merchants only take cash for food purchases. Usually there are ATM machines around for you to get more if you need it, but it will save you time and footsteps if you come prepared.

Explore. Many towns have very large markets. There are streets with stands just for fish and meat, others for cheese, olives, spices; still others for kitchen supplies, or flowers, or clothing. Take your time and explore.

Socialize with the vendors. Although the vendors are busy—this is after all their way of making a living--they often love to talk about their products. Most are local farmers and will offer tastes of cheese or honey or salami.

Notice how other shoppers select their purchase. Often vendors prefer to handle the produce for you, but will give you the exact piece you want. Don’t worry about asking for a specific weight in grams. You can ask for “trois pêches blanches” (3 white peaches) or “huit tranches de saucisson” (8 slices of salami).

[back to top]


Beautiful Tuscany – Montepulciano

In the fall, I visited houses in the area of Tuscany that is southeast of Siena. It was a cool grey November afternoon, as James, the regional rep and I drove up to Montepulciano for lunch. We parked below the walls of the city and hiked up the cobble-stoned streets past pretty stores selling famous Brunello wine--the Vino Nobile, Italy’s oldest DOC wine. As we reached the cathedral at the top, James told me about the Corse delli Botti. Held the first Sunday in September, teams from competing neighborhoods race to push wine barrels to this very spot. It seems the perfect event to celebrate their pride in the famous wine. We leaned over the wall and enjoyed a breathtaking view of rounded hills stretching off to the distance.

This part of Tuscany is heavenly, and Pope Pius II thought so too, when he had the city of Pienza designed and built as the ideal city. We have many lovely houses in this region, all with beautiful views. Stand outside the gate of TM056 at Monticchiello, a beautiful large house with pool and see a view that is the most photographed site in the Tuscan countryside. TM39 and 40, two charming small houses with olive trees above and vineyards below have a view of verdant hills and a footpath leading to Montepulciano.

A convenient train station at Chiusi is the central railroad stop between Florence (1.5 hours) and Rome (2 hours). So for clients who do want to see both Tuscany and Umbria, the Montepulciano area is the answer. Order the catalog to see the full selection or call us with your specific dates and requirements.

[back to top]


Staying in Paris – in the Marais

The Marais, the local name for the 3rd and 4th arrondissement is one of the most popular neighborhoods for renting in Paris. The name comes from the French word for swamp but today it is a charming area with its maze of tiny streets, charming little parks, and elegant 17th century palaces.

The complex history of the Marais is the basis of its rich diversity—exactly what attracts Parisians and tourists, too. In the 13th century the Jewish community first moved here, and there is still a strong presence on streets like Rue des Rosiers with its wonderful collection of kosher food shops and restaurants. In the 1600s Henry IV built the Place des Vosges with nine nearly identical mansions, two of which were built to house royalty. It remains one of the prettiest squares in all of Paris. In 1965 after a period of decline, Paris declared the Marais an historic district, and it became instantly stylish. Affordable initially, new residents purchased property, opened up dark spaces, exposed beams and revived the community. Young families and the gay community moved in, as well as independent designers who could afford the retail rent. It is now a diverse, lively and fashionable area. The famous Centre Pompidou, the Picasso Museum and the Carnavalet are located here as well as many excellent restaurants and cafes. It is a terrific place to be.

We’ve a wonderful selection of apartments there. PA035 on Rue des Tournelles, just a block from the Place des Vosges, is a beautiful, spacious one bedroom painted all white with exposed beams and a romantic bedroom. PA045 on St. Croix de la Bretonnerie is a pretty one bedroom decorated with antiques in a building near Rue des Archives a street with trendy bars and shops—several of them gay. PA048 is a charming studio close to Les Halles and its pedestrian-only streets. PA032 is a duplex with a tiny wrap around terrace on 2 sides and a lovely view offering two bedrooms/two baths. And there are more. Visit the Paris section on our website for rentals starting with PA03– or PA04–.

[back to top]


New Houses in the South of France

We have lots of new houses to offer. Here are a few to entice you. You can visit them all on our website. Click on France, Provence, then scroll numerically.

At Roussillon visit PR073 a jewel of a village house. Located at the top of the famous village, which is perched on ochre-colored cliffs, this clever apartment has a totally private terrace with views of the pristine countryside beyond. Its artistic owner has decorated this two-bedroom apartment with ornate chandeliers, pretty paintings and romantic charm. Others may visit Roussillon, but you can stay in the famous little village and feel like you’ve left today’s world behind.

At Villars in the Luberon, we have PR060 a charming 2-bedroom house in a hamlet surrounded by cherry trees cultivated by the owner. Stay in this lovely property and meet a farmer who was born and raised on this spot. Walk into the little village of Villars. Sit on the broad patio and enjoy a stunning view of the Vaucluse mountains to the north. Enjoy the very central location for touring all of the Luberon Valley then return each afternoon to your quiet retreat.

In the Bouches du Rhône at Paradou we offer PR302 a newly renovated spacious Bergerie or shepherd’s cabin that borders on the Alpilles National Park. It has 4 bedrooms/3 baths, a beautiful pool and is in a very special location. It is 10 minutes to Les Baux, 15 minutes to Arles and has two charming villages on either side, each with a great selection of restaurants and an open-air market. The Bergerie is a U-shaped stone building with a stunning master suite and two beautiful living rooms. Visit it on the web.

On the Riviera, we now have RV130 a beautiful 2-bedroom/2-bath cottage with a huge lawn and a stunning view of Menton below and the Mediterranean. You can walk down to the town and the beach! It is rare to find a small house that is so prettily decorated. This is the perfect property for a small family or 2 couples. Menton is the ideal location for touring from the Italian Riviera to Nice. Call right away--there is still spring and fall availability.

All the Private Listings (those we represent directly with French owners) are on the web. Visit them at our website.

[back to top]

Ville et Village - Home and Search