Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 5075: Owner, Le Petit Rêve
1bed/1bath apartment in Lourmarin, Provence
July 2011, 1 week
The apartment is in a little block which faces the D943; behind the block is Place Henri Barthélémy, where the Friday morning market takes place. The road is sometimes a bit busy, but double glazing cuts down the traffic noise. Convenient car parking right by the wall on the edge of the road, straight opposite the apartment. The windows all face north, so the apartment is never brightly sunlit - but this also keeps the midsummer temperatures down.
There's one mini-market, a couple of cafes, and a wine shop in the square straight behind the apartment. But it's only a three-minute walk into the old part of the village, where there's a more interesting little alimentation shop (Super Taf II), a good bakery, and many, many cafes and restaurants. The nearest supermarket, a reasonably large Super-U, is about 4km away, between Puyvert and Lauris.
The apartment block is modern, on three floors (with lift). Each floor has about eight apartments on it (I didn't explore fully!), but I didn't really meet any neighbours - it was mid-July, so peak holiday season, but I got the impression that several owners were away. The lift was useful when I had a lot of shopping, but there are stairs as well.
There's a tiny terrace leading off a corner of the living/dining room: you can eat out there. Because it's north-facing, the sun has gone off it by about 10am.
All was spotlessly clean, bright and colourful. The little dining table has chairs for four; there's a sofa (which makes up into a bed, but I'd suggest the apartment might be over-cosy for more than a couple), and an easy chair. Plenty of good lighting.
Good new double bed with a firmly supportive mattress, and some "firmish" neck-support-type pillows that I couldn't decide whether I liked or not. The bathroom is small, but fine: the over-bath shower has an irritatingly unadjustable angle (you can change the height, but the water comes at you a little too horizontally for my taste) - but the pressure is good, and the hot water is prompt and copious.
The kitchen (in a corner of the living/dining room) is small, but pretty well equipped. A four-burner gas stove, and a separate little electric toaster oven. An electric filter coffee-maker, fridge with little freezer, and a dishwasher. I was by myself, so had plenty of space to cook for myself; a decent supply of pots and pans, and a set of six Laguiole steak knives substituted for the lack of a decent cooking knife.
Problems or Bonuses
The big bonus is that the apartment is absolutely stuffed full of things to help the visitor's holiday. Tons of books - novels, guidebooks (all the expected ones on Provence, including two copies of the superbly useful 'Provence Byways', one suitable dog-eared (and annotated) so that you don't feel guilty about taking it out with you on trips), dual-language collections of short stories, art books, history books... A Francophile's dream library! And lots of DVDs, and a fair collection of CDs (good on Chet Baker and Django Reinhardt!). A laptop with free Internet access, a TV and DVD player, and a couple of radio/CD players. And finally, a superbly comprehensive and helpful house-book, with advice on shopping, eating, and much else.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
I had plenty of email exchanges with the owners before I went: all my queries were quickly and cheerfully dealt with. Deposit, installment and final payment were all done through Paypal. There's a local agent who opens up for you, and collects the key at the end: a charming Norwegian woman, who speaks perfect English. The price for a week in mid-July was $875 (around €610): excellent value for the facilities and location.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I suppose it's a little lacking in charm compared with some of the older, village-centre properties. But everything works very well, there's the computer, all those books, and on-street parking right opposite, so I think it's a strong recommendation for a couple who want to stay in Lourmarin.
Things to do in this area
There's the whole of the Luberon Regional Park to explore (drive north from Lourmarin, and you're soon in the heart of its more rugged parts). Aix is only half an hour's drive south ('Provence Byways' has a good route description which avoids the ugliest outskirts, and takes you straight to the useful Parking Pasteur).
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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