Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 608: France by Heart, Rose Cottage
2bed/2bath house in Saignon, Provence
June 2003, One week
We returned just three weeks ago from the Rose Cottage, and still feel the "glow" of our week in Provence. This was part of a two week trip to France that also included a one-week walking tour in Alsace. My husband and nine-year old daughter are big fans of A Year in Provence and know the BBC miniseries almost word-for-word. We had looked forward to this trip for a long, long time.
The village of Saignon is about ten minutes from the larger market town of Apt. It is not a "tourist" village, which is part of its charm. We visited the better-known villages of Gordes, Menerbes, Lourmarin and Rouissillon, but considered that "our" village of Saignon was by far the most special! Saignon is one of the perched villages -- an ancient village (one of the ten oldest in France) that sits not only on a hill but on a huge rock. Historically it provided the defense for Apt, and sits up above Apt. From the vantage point on the top of the rock, you can see perhaps a 300 degree panorama of the Luberon, even as far as Mount Ventoux in the far distance.
Parts of the village fortifications date back to the 10th century -- there were once three castles on the rock. The church is from the 12th century. There are tiny streets and fountains, hidden stairways and passageways. In the center of the village in the largest square is the hotel ... with tables adjacent to the largest of the three fountains.
The village has three restaurants -- we ate at all three. One was at the hotel and one was literally five steps from the door of our cottage. There are three or four small shops selling various items of Provence to the tourists that find their way to Saignon. And there is a boulangerie/patisserie which sells wonderful bread and croissants in the morning!
We were throughly comfortable in this special place -- felt like we got to know Christine at the bakery, Jean Claude at the shop, the various dogs that wandered the streets. We were comfortable enough that our daughter went by herself in the morning to buy our breads and alone for ice cream in the afternoon. (For our main provisions we drove about 20 minutes to a large grocery store ATAC in Apt ... they had everything we could possibly need. It was fun to grocery shop in another country!)
Rose Cottage was just charming -- that's not really a word I use often, but truly applicable to this special place. It is on a tiny square with its own spring-fed fountain. There must have been 20 villagers each day who came to the fountain to get their water from "the source," even though the tap water was just fine! The owner of the cottage -- Henrietta Taylor -- is an Australian who has settled in Provence and owns a few places for rent. She has her own website at www.henriettataylor.com and is a welcoming host. Rose Cottage felt authentically French, but has many of the extras that Americans appreciate! It is beautifully furnished and decorated, simple but warm. We were instantly at home!
The cottage has a kitchen, laundry room, dining area and spacious living room on the ground floor. The living room has two big couches and two comfortable chairs. It also has a tv, vcr with a decent video collection, library of books and magazines (in English). The living room has big windows that open out onto the square. On the outside, the cottage is covered with roses! You go up a small stone spiral stairway to the second level where there are two bedrooms, each with a bath. The smaller bedroom (not small) has two double beds. The larger master bedroom has a queen bed. The beds were so comfortable, and Henrietta provides fluffy towels, great linens and duvets, and bathrobes. The bathrooms are small but both have a good shower. There is not a terrace, but you can take a small table and chairs out to the square and enjoy a glass of wine. The kitchen had everything we needed.
When we arrived, Henrietta met us at the house to go over everything -- she had left a bouquet of roses and a bottle of wine. She also has written a type of guidebook for her guests with recommendations of where to go, what do to, where to eat etc. She called to check in on us during the week, brought additional reading material for our daughter, and was there to say goodbye when we left (reluctantly!) on Saturday morning.
We loved our week in Provence! We ended up going to four of the local markets -- each one different! There is so much to buy in Provence! Cavillion melons, cherries, herbes de Provence, lavender, soaps, fabrics, pottery, flowers. The colors are marvellous! How I wish I had bought another tablecloth, more pottery! We began with the large Sunday market at Isle sur la Sorge, which has a big emphasis on antiques. On Tuesday we went to the market at Gordes, and on Friday we went to Lourmarin and also stopped at the small market at Bonnieux.
We highly highly recommend lunch at Auberge de la Loube in the tiny hidden village of Buoux, not far from Saignon. You are served a tray of about 18 different appetizers, then a cheese course, then dessert. All this with a bottle of wine in a beautiful, unique setting.
Three days we made day trips of perhaps 100 miles: first to St. Remy, Arles, and Le Baux; then to Mount Ventoux, Chateanneuf de Pape and Pont du Gard; and finally to the Grand Canyon du Verdon. We saw three very different parts of Provence. Then the other three days we stayed within about 15 miles of Saignon... markets in the morning, visiting other villages, driving and enjoying scenery, hanging out in Saignon.
We are already dreaming of our next visit to Provence. Much as we enjoy experiencing new places, this is a place we want to savour more! Here is perhaps the best recommendation of all -- we would probably stay again in Saignon and most likely at the Rose Cottage!
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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