Ville et Village - European Vacation Rentals

     A Newsletter by Carolyn Grote and the rest of the staff
Fall 2013
In This Issue:
Don’t forget to check out our blog which is updated nearly every week with interesting tidbits about all things French, Italian and rental related. If you click on “Update Notifications”, you’ll get a reminder each time there is a new post.
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A Common Question
Folks often ask about hair dryers. If your rental provides a hair dryer, it will be listed in the “amenities” section of our description. If you bring your own, most have a switch to change the current from 110 to 220. You still need to bring a small plug to convert the prongs from round to flat so it can fit in the European outlet. These plugs (one for France and one for Italy) can be purchased in many US hardware stores. Don’t wait ‘til you get overseas. Stores over there, might be all sold out. Be prepared.
Plan early
Each fall we remind folks that now is the time to reserve your special rental for 2014. This is especially important for large parties, for folks booking 3 or more weeks, and for those with particular needs like a bathroom for every bedroom. Availabilities are excellent now, and we can quote 2014 prices.

Have you read the recent articles about the authentication of the painting “Sunset at Montmajour” by Van Gogh? That article really rang a bell for me, and I suspect it did the same for many of my clients. Why? Because those of us who stayed at any of my properties near St. Remy, drove by the ruins of that abbey any time we went to Arles! So that gives us a personal connection to the painting.

The Abbey of Montmajour dates from the 17th century and is set on a small hill overlooking the plain that stretches out to the Camargue. If you’re driving from Les Baux to Arles, you’ll pass it on your left as you get close to Arles. I, myself, have a poster in my office advertising a performance of Gregorian chants that I attended there one magical summer evening many years ago. Just two years ago, I visited the ruins again in the late afternoon and remember gazing out over the golden fields. And now, here is this stunning painting by Van Gogh capturing those very fields and the stones of the ruins bathed in the glow of sunset.

Van Gogh, as all my Provencal clients will know, lived in Arles from 1888 to 1890 when he abandoned Paris drawn to the vivid colors of the Arlesian countryside. One can walk the streets of Arles and gaze at many of the scenes he immortalized. And one can even go to St. Remy and visit the hospital and the very room in which he stayed as he recovered from the feverish mental condition he developed.

The article about the authentication includes a quote from Van Gogh’s own notes about his visit to the fields below the abbey: “Yesterday at sunset, I was on a stony heath where very small twisted oaks grow, in the background a ruin on the hill and wheat fields in the valley. ..The sun was pouring its very yellow rays over the bushes and the ground, absolutely a shower of gold.”

So although I knew that Van Gogh was enchanted by the beauty of the Provencal countryside, with this painting only being recently authenticated, it almost feels that I discovered it first ….and that he agreed with me! I’ve always enjoyed offering rentals in beautiful locations many of which have historical or artistic significance. “Sunset at Montmajour” is just one more example of the joys of Provence.


As those of you know who have followed my blog, I recently spent a week of my vacation renting one of the apartments I represent in Venice. Even though I have been to Venice before, I was still overwhelmed by the beauty of this enchanting city. It was one of my best vacations ever.

This is some of what I love about Venice.

The vaporetto. It’s so much fun taking the waterbus along the Grand Canal. They pass such ornate architecture that people are always taking pictures. Although the vaporetti are often crowded, the conductors who unhook the gates and control access are unfailingly polite and helpful -- to mothers with babies in strollers, to folks who need a bit of extra help, to tourists who aren’t sure of their stop.

Sitting in a café in a campo. I love taking the time to sit quietly and observe the beautiful buildings around me while drinking a “spritz" on a warm late afternoon.

The tiny bridges. As I walk around there are many small arched bridges that link one island to the next. Glancing down the canal I cross, there is always something beautiful to gaze at: a carving on a wall, a balcony with flowers, an ornate window.

A local osteria. In Venice, locals often go to small wine bars, order a cool beverage and ciccheti (Venetian appetizers). I love having a prosecco standing alongside the Venetians relaxing after a day of work.

My apartment. I love opening the street door to “my” apartment building and walking in as if I were a permanent resident. How much fun to feel like I live in this beautiful city.

Observing life in this water-based city. On this trip I saw many such events. An undertaker parked his boat and entered a nearby building, returning with a stretcher carrying the mortal remains of a Venetian. Workmen rowed their boats filled with linens for the hotels. Garbage boats docked by the mercado to load up with garbage.

There is beautiful architecture, colorful frescos, graceful sculptures everywhere you look here, on every street, on nearly every building… or so it feels. And there is an awareness of the centuries of artisans who created it all.

So go to Venice. And stay in an apartment so that you can feel as if you are a resident of this remarkable city. On our website we have a few sample properties, but we have many more. Follow this link to visit the apartment I stayed in San Vio. Read my blog to read about the Biennale, the contemporary art festival.

To plan your trip, send us an email with your proposed dates, and we can offer you a great selection of apartments available your dates.


The 6th arrondissement near the famous Abbey of St. Germain des Prés is a very popular choice of our clients and for good reason. That very corner has been popular for decades.

The Café des Deux Magots and the Café de Flore were hangouts for many intellectuals like Sartre. These cafes still exist and are a terrific place to order a beverage, sit and enjoy watch the elegant Parisians walking by. When you take your seat, don’t rush away. Take your time and relax. Consider of the cost of your beverage as your ticket for enjoying the view.

This intersection, Blvd. St. Germain and Rue de Rennes/Rue Bonaparte, offers something special in all directions. Cross the Blvd. St. Germain from the abbey and you enter a world of elegant small shops like Armani, Sonia Rykiel, Zara, or Louis Vuitton. Walk down the Boulevard toward the 5th arrondissement, turn left toward the Seine, and you’re at Rue de Buci, a market street with a broad variety of food shops, cafes and restaurants. Or just walk on the Rue Bonaparte toward the Seine, and you’ll encounter elegant antique stores.

St. Germain des Prés is also an excellent location for touring. There is a Métro station right there, and buses run up and down the boulevard. A taxi stand is directly across the street. You can walk to the Seine and then across to the Louvre. Or walk the opposite direction to the Luxembourg gardens. All told, rather central for visiting Paris.

Tucked along the side streets are many lovely apartment buildings and the apartments inside are correspondingly elegant. We have three apartments we currently offer in this nieghborhood. You can visit them by clicking these links.

Oct. 2013 - Ultimate Paris

Photographer Céline Clanet writes about spending time in her friend’s elegant apartment on the Place des Vosges in Paris. The photos show how beautiful the Marais is; the article describes how wonderful it is to stay in an apartment. Since, not everyone has a friend who owns her own Paris apartment., so Travel & Leisure recommends companies that specialize in rentals in Paris----Ville et Village is recommended.

To see one of our apartments near the Place des Vosges, visit PA043 Rue de Turenne.

DVD REVIEW: The Kings of Pastry

I love looking in the bakery and chocolate shop windows in France and seeing the beautiful displays. This is a true French specialty. I have even been to 2 or 3 star Michelin-rated restaurants where I’ve observed sugar sculptures displayed under glass—a particular skill I’ve found a bit odd. The motivation behind such an intense desire to create and design delicious as well as ornate desserts is both fascinating and perplexing. And here’s a film, which explains it all and is surprisingly fun and suspenseful.

The Kings of Pastry gives us a personal window into the motivations of pasty chefs to maintain and achieve such a high standard of taste and presentation. Produced in 2009, the film takes us on a personal journey as sixteen pastry chefs prepare for the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (Best Craftsmen in France). “The blue, white and red striped collar worn on the jackets of the winners is more than the ultimate recognition for every pastry chef – it is a dream and an obsession.”)

I downloaded this for free as part of my Netflix subscription. It is also available on DVD in fine stores.

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