Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 3995: La Madone, Apartment Lin
1bed/1bath apartment in Apt, Provence
April 2008, 1 week
La Madone is a renovated, large manor house across the Calavon River from central Apt. The neighborhood was quiet, well-kept, and easily accessible from the main roads. It is surrounded by similar, large, manor homes. We appreciated the secluded neighborhood and its proximity to the old city.
All necessary amenities were less than a mile away from the apartment (Rue du Ballet) and most within a quarter of a mile. There are three restaurants/cafes, two banks, a boulangerie (Fournil du Luberon), and the tourist office near Place de Bouquerie.
Within easy walking distance, our local butcher was El Moussaoui Omar (Rue Republique) and our local grocer was La Mangue (Rue Docteur Gros). There are a wide variety of grocers (including an organic one and a high end specialty shop), cheese shops, candy shops, butchers, and bakeries all within the center of town.
La Madone is an older manor house with expansive views over the city center and up into the Petit Luberon mountains. The building is named for the statue of Madonna that graces an alcove near its roof line. The exterior of the building is original and preserved. The interior has been renovated to include the owners' apartment on the first floor with four rental apartments on the second and third floor (American). Jean-Bernard has done all of the renovations himself and Nathalie, an antiques dealer, has decorated all of the apartments. The quality of their work is breathtaking.
We stayed in Apartment Lin, a one bedroom/one bath apartment with an open design. Apartment Lin is located on the third floor (American) and is only accessible by a shallow, spiral staircase. We found it easy to access but those with limited mobility would not be able to access the apartment. Several windows in the apartment look south over the town center and up into the mountains. Bedroom and bathroom are separate from the kitchen and living area.
La Madone has a pleasant outdoor sitting area. Breakfast is served here during warmer weather. There is a lovely pool, as well. The area is secluded from neighbors by a wall and lush plantings during the summer months.
The apartment was comfortably furnished, very clean, and neatly presented at check-in. The living room has two small and comfortable sofas, a coffee table, and a small television. The kitchen and living room are in one large room with the bathroom and bedroom located separately off of the living room. Large windows in the living room and kitchen provide ample daylight on both sides of the apartment and make main lighting unnecessary during the day. There is an electric heater/air conditioner placed over the door to the bedroom that heated the apartment adequately.
The bedroom was comfortable and large. The bed is queen-size and relatively new with a not quite soft, not quite firm, comfortable feel. My husband, who had a cold during our visit, spent many hours huddled up and happily sleeping in the bedroom. The bedroom includes an armoire for hanging clothes and extra space to open luggage without cutting off walkways. There is a skylight for extra light and two reading lights on either side of the bed.
The bathroom is finished with a modern sink, toilet, and shower. It is reasonably sized for one person to use at a time. The shower was tall enough for my husband (6'6") to stand in fully. All linens are provided.
The kitchen area has a large, antique farm table with four chairs perfect for meals. There is a cooktop, oven, and dishwasher in the kitchen area. Serving dishes, utensils, and cooking dishes are provided enough to serve four people and cook a full dinner. We always took breakfast in the kitchen, prepared a picnic lunch, and often cooked full dinners in the kitchen as a couple. It is a good workspace for two cooks to share.
Each morning, they deliver a breakfast with your choice of beverage, fresh squeezed orange juice, a selection of baked goods (croissants, chocolate croissants, baguette sections) from Fournil du Luberon, and homemade jams. At least one evening during the week, they host an aperitif hour for their guests.
Jean-Bernard's attention to detail is apparent in his renovations that maintain charm (exposed beams in Apartment Lin), while effectively using every available space. Nathalie's decorative style provides a calming, stylish oasis that captures the spirit of the Provence way of life.
I cannot recommend Nathalie and Jean-Bernard enough to slow travelers. They speak moderately fluent English for those who have limited French. They are personable, their home/apartments are elegant, and their additional staff charming. When they would see us on the streets in town, they would always pause to greet us as if they had known us all their lives. Their hospitality and generosity is quite humbling.
Jean-Bernard was prompt in answering our emails prior to our reservation and periodically checked in with us between the time we made our reservation and arrived on site. The quality of the rental exceeded the description and photos provided on their website.
We paid €500 in April 2008 for a one week stay. Stays are Sunday to Sunday, something to take note of when booking. They have recently instituted a mid-season and peak season difference in rates at €700 and €900 respectively.
We are absolutely planning on staying with Nathalie & Jean-Bernard again when we return to the Vaucluse. I would recommend anyone looking for a self-catered, calming sanctuary in the heart of the Luberon to consider a stay at La Madone. We were particularly pleased with the proximity to many amenities in the old town section of Apt.
I would not suggest this location for those with limited mobility as all apartments require the use of the shallow, spiral stairwell.
With La Madone located just across the river from the old section of Apt, there is a wide variety of activities available. In the region, we ranged from short trips like Bonnieux & Gordes to long trips to Pont du Gard, Gorges de Nesque, and Serre-Poncon.
Our favorite stores in Apt included: La Mangue (vegetables & fruits), Fournil du Luberon (baked goods), El Moussaoui Omar (butcher, spices, and grains), Bonbonniere (candies), and Alan Bouchard (pastries/chocolate). I stumbled across both a knitting store and a needlework store just off the N100. There are many restaurants, some of which we have reviewed for Slow Travel (Le Flamant Rose).
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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