Where would you want to stay if you were heading to Provence? I had the image of either a beautiful chateau nestled in the mountains or a picturesque little stone cottage in the green hills with a tiny medieval village down the road.
The chateau thing turned out to be far too complicated and too far south-west to serve our purposes or itinerary. The stone cottage, however…
The pretty town of Lorgues is about an hour south-west of Nice. It ticks all the boxes – or ‘les cases’ as they say in France – of that perfect setting to enjoy Provence. Its narrow streets wriggle between old stone houses and ancient churches. Its main road is lined with little cafés, bars and restaurants.
This same road – the Boulevard de la République – becomes a full on market every Tuesday. But get there before 1pm because everything disappears faster than my lunchtime cheese plate after that.
Both sides of the road are lined with stalls of delicious fromages, cured meats, bread, and fruit and vegetables, and the road’s closed to all but foot traffic.
As you head out of Lorgues, fields of olives and wine grapes, patches of woodland and beautiful gorges make up the Provence countryside. And an hour south, over some excellent mountain roads, is St Tropez and the Côte d’Azure – the blissful coastline of the French Riviera.
The big question is where do you stay? There are hotels in Lorgues itself, but our dream stone cottage was only about five minutes out of town.
Thanks to AirBnB.com, we have two new friends in Provence. Heather and Steve, who own the property, are awesome. They welcomed us to our new digs like we were coming home.
AirBnB – if you haven’t heard of it before – is a site that allows people to let their property out. As a guest, you can rent anything from a room in an apartment all the way up to an entire house. The places are always furnished and you meet with the host to get keys, instructions etc.
The little stone cottage we’re staying in is completely self-contained with a little kitchen, a sofa and even a log-fired heater. The queen-sized bed is incredibly comfortable, and on the other side of the stone walls is the infinity pool that looks out into the French bushland.
We were so happy here, we even spent a couple of days just lounging by the pool or in the hammock. With the aid of a good WiFi connection, we turned Heather and Steve’s place into just about the best office we’ve ever had.
I think the sight of us wedged behind our laptops worried them a bit, but we were so happy and comfortable. We were even kept company by Steve and Heather’s two loveable pooches.
And when we needed a break, we had a dip in the pool or went up to chat to Heather and Steve’s two beautiful horses.
But the very best thing about our stay here though was the food!
As we unpack, we find Homer Simpson’s dream stash in our little kitchen. There was a huge bag of potato chips, a pot of coated chilli nuts and a packet of biscuits. There are even few bottles of local beer and a bottle of Provençale rosé…
And then there was breakfast. Every morning we’d wake up to a package of pastry heaven left outside our door. Heather would go to the bakery early to pick up fresh goods every day.
Think a box full of croissants, almond croissants and the ultimate in pastry ingenuity: the sant christin. A foot-long spiral of choux pastry with an inner helix of incredible chocolaty nutty gooey filling.
And don’t forget their fig trees…
After four nights there, we were felt like we really were home. We loved it there and would be back in a second.
What’s your idea of the perfect place to stay in Provence?