Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 4108: Beverly Hills Luberon, Gordes - Les Bouilladoires
4bed/3bath house near Gordes, Provence
May 2009, 7 days
This cottage was located in a hameau, or hamlet, near Gordes. No grocery store, post office, or anything, just other houses ... completely silent except for the sounds of cigales. The setting is beautiful and the yard is totally private due to some nicely planted trees. Although the dirt lane is shared with another house, we never saw them and the driveway is a L-shape with enough room for three cars.
The nearest grocery was probably in Cavaillon, 9 km away. First you drove through Coustellet, which had some restaurants and a morning market. Les Imberts had about three restaurants but they were all expensive and packed on a Friday night in May when we tried. We mainly cooked in the cottage and bought groceries at the markets or hypermarkets in the towns we visited each day.
The building was in good shape. Note though, I didn't find any evidence of heating (radiators, floor heat controls, etc) so this must be a summer only house. All stone or wood floors. Three bedrooms upstairs (one double, two twin) and one double bedroom downstairs. Large living room, large kitchen with huge dining table. The bathroom situation was odd to us Americans ... the twin rooms shared a bathtub and the upstairs double had a shower room en suite. These three rooms shared a toilet in the hallway. The downstairs room had a shower room en suite and there was a toilet in the hallway downstairs. So, four bedroom but two toilets, two showers and one bathtub. The upstairs toilet didn't have a sink, so you had to go elsewhere to wash your hands. There was a large loggia outside the dining room with a table/chairs, another seating area, and a swimming pool. Two car garage connected to the house.
The loggia was wonderful -- shady, peaceful, with a ten-seat table and chairs. The other seating area was in the sun if you wanted that. The pool is much smaller than it looks on the website; probably 25 feet long. It was not clean when we arrived, and although it was heated, we didn't smell any chlorine so we really didn't use it. There is a cover for the pool, and the agent emphasized to us how expensive it would be if we broke it by mistake. A lawn company came and cut the grass on our third day and the yard looked very nice.
Furniture was in great shape. The house was spotless when we arrived. There is seating for 10 in the kitchen (on amazingly comfortable wicker dining chairs) and seating for probably eight on the two L-shape couches in front of the TV. There was a huge (52 inch, I think) flat screen TV with "satellite," which meant a lot of international channels and CNN, BBC and SkyNews. Actually, there were probably 300 channels, but only three were in English. The TV didn't work when we got there and the agency sent a repair man out to fix it (bad cable fuse in the wall). There was a DVD player as well.
Beds were very comfortable, linens were fine. One twin bedroom didn't have a wardrobe or dresser to put anything in, but the others did. No hairdryers. There were only one bath towel and one hand towel supplied per person, no bathmats or wash clothes, but on the last day, we found the linen cabinet in the garage so we could have helped ourselves if we'd known. Hot water was plentiful, but no hand soap in the entire cottage. Wooden shutters in every room, to make it very dark if you want.
The kitchen is what sold us on this house. It is beautiful and well set up. Huge American side-by-side fridge, microwave, six-burner stove/oven, dishwasher. The dishes were plentiful and adorable. Lots of utensils, pots and pans, of good quality. We cooked every night for dinner. There was a washer and dryer off the garage that we used several times, worked very well but took (as European washers and dryers do) about four hours to do a load. The phone in the cottage accepts incoming calls from US and Europe.
Problems or Bonuses
This is a house that a family lives in and apparently just decided to start renting out. There are a few things to be improved on ... a welcome book, with instructions on the TV, appliances, recycling, where the nearest grocery store is, how to lock the doors (no kidding ... we couldn't figure it out and had to call the agent for help! You lift handles up in France to lock, it seems), etc. We were the first Americans they had rented to, and the first time the house was represented by this agency, so perhaps there are some growing pains. The agent emphasized several times to replace any items we used (toilet paper, dish soap, spices) and that was a little off-putting but since it was a family home, and they were returning the same day we left, perhaps it is a cultural thing.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The house was listed for €1600 for a week in May and we were able to request a lower price of €1450. However, for €1450, we expected bathmats, hand soap in the bathrooms and perhaps an instruction book on where to put garbage (down the road, toward the end of the village, I found it on a morning jog). Beverly, the agent, was incredibly communicative before the rental and gave us her cell number, should we have problems while there.
We were disappointed, though, because the owners had said they would install Internet prior to our arrival, but one week before, the agent informed us that France Telecom simply didn't come out in time. This threw a wrench into our plans, because Internet was a requirement for us ... and we'd been told it would be there. As a compensation, they offered us a free night and heated the pool (normally a €150 fee) but we really would have rather had the Internet.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
It was a nice house but honestly, the bathroom situation, the lack of Internet, the feeling that we were intruding on someone's personal home, were all off putting. Beverly did tell us that in the other houses she rents, she has an information book, and that the cleaning lady forgot to put out more towels, etc., but we just felt slightly let down. On a scale of 10, it was an 8; we rented through Rural Retreats in England before and felt this didn't quite live up to that standard.
Things to do in this area
We went to Aix, St Remy, L'Isle sur Sorgue, Apt, Les Baux, Aigues Mort, Gordes, Lacoste and Avignon. Bought tons of linens, soaps and bedding. Had a great time.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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