Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 3258: Owner, La Charmeuse
One-room cottage in Aix-en-Provence, Provence
December 2007, 8 days
On a quiet, narrow street (actually an alley) a little over a kilometer from the center of Aix. Itís also quite close to a large public park, the Parc Jourdan.
A few blocks north are a patisserie/boulangerie and a mini-market (Petit Casino). In that area there is also a cafe, where we tried breakfast once, but we werenít very impressed. We really liked the coffee at La Belle Epoque cafe on the Cours Mirabeau (about 15 minutes walk away), and usually ended up going there for breakfast when we didnít make coffee at home.
The apartment is a cute little cottage next door to the large home of the owner. It is recently built, private and quiet, and very attractively decorated. Itís just one large room, plus bathroom, but feels quite spacious. It has a free parking space, something not easy to come by so near the center of Aix.
The pictures on the web site give a good idea of the appearance and furnishings.
There is no other rental on this property, although the owner also has an apartment for rent in another building not too far away.
There is a large garden (with outdoor furniture) shared with the owner. The property is surrounded by a wall, so the garden is quite private. Since we were there in December, we didnít use it, but it would be a nice place to relax in warm weather. No pool.
The apartment is attractively furnished, with a sofa, round table and four chairs, large closets, and a cabinet containing books, including some useful guidebooks for the area. Another cabinet holds the TV and stereo system, which we didnít really use. There was a computer in the cottage, but we had brought our own laptops. The wi-fi worked pretty well, although we did find that we inexplicably lost the connection sometimes and it could take a while to get it re-established.
Everything was clean and in good condition. Even though it was only one room, it was well laid-out and felt quite spacious.
There is not a separate bedroom; just one large bed in a corner of the main room. The bed is very comfortable, and the only slight problem is that since it is pushed up against one wall, the person sleeping on that side canít easily get up in the middle of the night (something people of a certain age are likely to do!). There are reading lamps on each side of the bed.
The bathroom is very attractively detailed, and the shower worked quite well, once we figured out how to position ourselves so that the water didnít splash out all over the floor. It was especially nice to have the heated drying rack in the bathroom, which allowed our washing to dry quickly.
The kitchen, including a regular oven, cook-top, electric coffeemaker, microwave, and washing machine, is in a corner of the main room, separated from the living area by a counter. It was well supplied with plates and utensils. We didnít do a lot of cooking, but mostly used it for heating up prepared dishes. All the appliances worked fine.
Problems or Bonuses
A nice bonus is a telephone that you can use to make free calls to land line phones in France, and most other countries including the US.
Other than an occasional glitch in the wi-fi, we didnít have any problems that I can recall ó everything was just as described.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The apartment is rented directly from the owner, who lives next door. Francoise was very pleasant to deal with (she speaks English), and ready to answer all our questions. We didnít see much of her except on arrival and departure, as it was the Christmas season, and she was pretty busy with her family. I would imagine that in warmer weather, you might have more interaction with her.
We stayed for eight nights in December and paid a total of Ä625. We sent her a deposit check in US dollars, which she returned when we left (after checking the apartment). The actual payment for the apartment was made in cash on our arrival.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes, I would not hesitate to recommend this apartment to any couple (or single person). It wouldnít work for more than two people, as thereís only one bed, and the sofa didnít seem to be one youíd want to sleep on. It was a beautiful and very convenient place to stay, in what weíve decided may be our favorite small city in France.
Things to do in this area
We loved Aix, and it was especially gorgeous at the holiday season, with all the lights along the Cours Mirabeau, the little Christmas craft chalets, and special exhibits like the Market of the 13 Desserts and the Santons Fair. There are three street markets every week in Aix (Tue, Thu, and Sat) with a nice selection of typical Provencal items. Aix is full of intriguing little shops in its old town, and great cafes along what has been called the most beautiful main street in the world. Itís a good town for walking and exploring.
Since we were able to have a car at the apartment, we took quite a few day trips. There are so many fascinating places to visit in the immediate area. We went to Bonnieux, where we had stayed some years ago, and had a fabulous meal (probably the best of our trip) at LíArome. It was bitterly cold the morning we visited the fortress chateau of Les Baux, but because of the weather, we had it practically to ourselves, really feeling as if weíd stepped back in time. We also enjoyed a drive through the Camargue nature reserve, with its abundance of wild birds, black bulls, and white horses. The Route des Cretes from La Ciotat to Cassis afforded spectacular views, and a very nice lunch in the little fishing town of Cassis. And we spent another day on the Cezanne trail, viewing the majestic Mt Sainte Victoire from every angle.
Those are just a few of the possibilities; you could stay in Aix for months and not exhaust them all. Itís definitely a place weíd love to come back to, and we highly recommend La Charmeuse.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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