Ville et Village - European Vacation Rentals
France Information
Spring 2008
In This Issue:
Ville et Village was selected once again by Condé Nast Traveler in 2007 as "A Top Villa Agent."
To see More Regional Info on France or Italy click here.
To see sample rentals in Tuscany click here.

We are proud to say that Travel & Leisure, February 2008 selected Ville et Village as their one and only recommended villa agency for France.  This honor comes after Condé Nast Traveler has selected Carolyn Grote, the company’s owner as their Top Villa Agent for France in both 2006 & 2007….the only years they’ve done this survey.  In addition, Condé Nast Traveler has photographed one of our Provence properties for their June 2008 magazine cover.  Look for it (PR322 in Paradou). 

It is a real thrill to be honored by the two most important travel magazines for the good work we do in offering our client properties for rent.  Both periodicals mentioned the authenticity of our properties and how they are characteristic of the regions.  They both praised Ville et Village for our knowledgeable staff who help with recommendations and go to special efforts for our clients. Those of you who have booked with us in the past know this, and it’s a treat to get national recognition for it, too.  Visit our In the Press page to see all the media attention we’ve received. 

La Cour Verte

“It was just what we expected to see in Provence but never dreamed we really would.” Ruth B.

La Cour Verte (PR024) is a beautifully renovated village house that transports clients to an experience of ancient village life while providing all the comforts and aesthetics of a modern age.  The house is located in the tiny village of Le Barroux located on the east side of the Dentelles mountain range in the Vaucluse region of Provence.   This tiny village feels untouched by modern times.  Stone houses cascade down the hillside below the formidable 12th century castle of Le Barroux.  Cobblestoned lanes lead to the house which can be entered on both its lower level and the upper one.  The main dining room on the ground floor is built into a stone wall, a romantic touch.   An opening in the ceiling lets sunlight into an internal courtyard.  The main living room on an upper level opens to a balcony which looks down on the rooftops below.  A stairway leads to the pigeonnier, now an upper terrace with views of the castle above.  There are 3 romantic bedrooms, all with king sized beds and elegant bathrooms.  There is still excellent availability for 2008.  Visit it.


La Camillotte

“The setting is magnificent….the view spectacular.  The owner has done a brilliant job marrying the age and the history of the house with modern conveniences.  We felt remote from hustle & bustle, but were a “mere” 211 steps away from Centre Ville!” Donna R.

Want to visit the Riviera and experience the ancient villages?  Then La Camillotte (RV053) is the one for you.  Tucked on a lush green hillside above Grasse, in the Alpes Maritimes, this stone farmhouse has been converted into a charming rental with all the elements of a dream French summer vacation.  A mature plane tree shades the gravel patio with its stone benches and its view of the hillside below.  Stone steps lead down to the lower patio with pool and barbecue.  The house is a cozy 3 bedroom with a Mediterranean style of décor, original tile floors, white walls, exposed beams and simple yet tasteful furnishings. It even has one toilet located midway between 2 floors off the stairway—how French can you get?   It feels totally private, yet a path leads down the hillside to vibrant Grasse. 

Quartier Soubeyran

“This was our 4th rental in Europe and by far the best.  The house surpassed our expectations.  Beautiful house, great location, wonderful views.” Nancy I.

Located just below Gordes, one of the most famous villages in Provence, Quartier Soubeyran (PR099is a lovely house in native stone with wonderful views.  Look out from the terrace and see the Luberon Valley spread out before you.  Gaze up from the pool and see ancient Gordes above you.  The house is bright and pretty with white walls, exposed beams, fabric with Provencal patterns and select antiques.  It is what imagines a house in Provence will look like.  The grounds are spacious, offering that feeling of openness one expects in the French countryside.  Yet it is just a walk up into Gordes.  It has 4 bedrooms/ 2.5 baths and a lovely pool.  (This property just came back!  It was taken off our listing by the owner until just a few weeks ago and thus has excellent availability for this spring and summer!) 


We’ve added a new book list to our website that we think you’ll find very interesting. Want literature to get you in the mood for your visit to specific regions of France and Italy?  How about books to read while you’re overseas so you learn more about the culture you’re visiting?  And take a look at our suggested cookbooks that allow you to continue the flavor of your trip by cooking meals from the region when you return   And of course, you’ll find our recommendations for touring books, maps, and other resources to plan for your trip.  Click this link to read more.

Everyone wants to go to Tuscany, but it’s a big region.  “Where to stay?” is a question clients often ask. Lucca in the north?  Outside Florence?  By Siena?  Or even further south near Montepulciano.  How to choose?  We offer rentals in all these regions, and in fact, I’ve spent my own vacation in all these areas and loved each.  Tuscany is large.  To drive from Lucca to Montepulciano takes over 2 hours.  So clearly you can’t see it all from one location without spending a lot of time in the car.  Here’s a capsule overview of what you can see depending on where you decide to rent.

Lucca area.  Lucca itself is great. It’s very pretty being full walled and mainly pedestrian only.  Unlike Florence with its flood of US university students, this city doesn’t feel so filled with Americans.  You are surrounded by more Italians.  Lucca has a pretty town center and is fun to explore on foot. Having your rental house near Lucca ensures easy access to Cinque Terre the 5 perched villages on the seaside hills.  Coastal beaches are around a half hour away or closer.  They are broad and sandy with calm, warm waters.  The area is also an easy drive or bus or train ride to Florence and all its wonders.   

Florence.   In my opinion, any trip to Tuscany must include a visit to Florence unless you’ve already been.  The city is a true delight bisected by the Arno river with its beautiful Ponte Vecchio and other bridges linking the 2 banks.  It is a repository of some of the most famous Italian art and architecture.  The center is pedestrian only and thus a pleasure to walk through.  And with its many elegant shopping streets as well as daily open air market, it’s a great place to shop. Renting one of our apartments in the city is the ideal way to enjoy Florence.  Our apartments are centrally located and you can walk everywhere.  Here rentals can start any day of the week and be as short as 3-days.  If you are staying in the countryside, one can drive in, but parking is the challenge. There are parking lots, but may prefer to take the train or bus.   

Siena area.  Renting in the countryside south of Florence and north of Siena means you are midway between these two famous cities. The area closer to Siena is Chianti, famous for its wine and its hills dotted with lines of cypress trees.  Prices tend to be higher here due to its worldwide reputation.  In addition, there is limited development in this area and thus fewer houses translates into higher prices.  The roads here are windy and one can drive for miles without seeing another house or village.  The Chianti villages (Radda in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, etc. ) are fun to visit.  Siena is a beautiful city with an impressive central shell-shaped Pizza del Campo where the famous Palio horse race takes place twice a year.  And from here you can also drive west to see San Gimignano, the village of many towers, a solid half hour’s drive from Siena. 

Montepulciano area. This is the most southern area in Tuscany and is now becoming very well known due to its famous Vino Nobile and Brunello wines.  This is also a very beautiful area with rolling hills.  Unlike Chianti, here the roads are on the ridges making for wonderful views of hilltop villages.  There are many beautiful little villages to explore.  Pienza, created as the perfect papal village is just one.  In addition, this area is know for its hot springs, and one can visit many villages with lovely pools to bathe in.  Siena is still within reach from here.  Not being quite as famous as Chianti, this part of Tuscany can offer a region less invaded by American or European tourists, although it is nice to mix with the Italians, themselves, who enjoy vacationing here.

For help in finding a rental in Tuscany, e-mail us with your party size and dates.  Or call us at 510-559-8080

A TASTE OF TOSCANA-Fennel Salad (serves 4)

Italians love fennel or finnochio and use it in many ways.  One taste of this fennel salad and you’ll feel like you’re in Italy. 

One large fennel bulb
5 mushrooms
Parmigiana Reggiano (wedge)
Truffle (optional)

Olive oil(3TBSP)
Juice of one lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl large enough to hold the fennel later. Set this aside.

Prepare the fennel by cutting off the stalk so you have only the large bulb remaining.  Trim the very bottom of the bulb and rinse.  Then using a mandolin (if you have one—if not, carefully cut very thin slices), shave thin slices of the fennel, running the bulb from top to bottom.  Put the fennel in the bowl with the dressing and toss it.  Use tongs to lift it out of the dressing, draining any excess and display on individual salad plates.

Carefully clean the mushrooms with a wet paper towel and thinly slice or shave them as well.  Then carefully toss the mushroom slices in the dressing, drain the excess dressing and lay on top of the fennel on each plate.  Using the mandolin, shave large thin slices of parmigiana cheese, laying them carefully on top of the salad. If you have a truffle shave thin slices on top as a garnish.  You can drizzle any leftover dressing on the top of the individual salads.  Finish with freshly ground pepper on top.  Serve the salad with a chilled white wine like Verdicchio or Pinot Grigio.  Buon appetito!


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