Spring Time in Provence & St. Tropez

May 2013
by Jean Drewes | jdrewes@wimco.com

Steve and I had a fabulous trip to France. Our flight over on British Airways was smooth and easy. We found our Peugeot was much larger than expected and a standard to boot. Thank goodness Michael told me to rent a GPS thru Auto Europe.

Our first hotel, Hotel la Bastide de Valbonne, was such a great surprise. It was either going to be hit or miss and this was a hit. The breakfast room was a delight to see!  There were pastries, coffee, hot milk, cheeses, sausages, and eggs any style. I felt like a kid in a candy store. Never skipped a breakfast!

We dropped our bags at the hotel and went into the village of Valbonne. It was a holiday so many families were out and about enjoying the day. The best village square for people watching. 

Villefranche is a great location if you like to be where the action is.  You can walk down to the water front which has a varied collection of cafes. 

On Friday we started the day at villa AZR 043.  I loved this villa located in Mougins. You could walk to the village from the villa. I found this a very beautiful place inside and out.  The area is very large and private, with a tennis court as well. This is a villa with equal size bedrooms and baths ensuite.  

One of the most unique, exceptional Provencal style estates I have ever seen was AZR 178.  Steve was also fond of this villa. It can sleep up to 20 people comfortably with a heated pool, tennis court, billiards room, and security system for inside the villa and around the grounds.  This is a villa for the guest who wants to have it all. As far as maintenance is concerned, the property manager conveniently lives on the grounds. This magnificent villa was in pristine condition throughout.

We spent an hour walking around Mougin having coffee before heading back to the hotel. Then we had another lovely meal in the village of Valbonne. I’d say we got to know this place pretty well.

Asparagus we saw at a market during our travels.

We had some time to kill Saturday morning before seeing some more villas, so we drove around for a while before heading to Saint Tropez where we had lunch on a cliff side setting near Eze, with nice breezes and good food.  

We lucked out again with hotels in St. Tropez. The Hotel B Lodge was so central a location we were able to walk everywhere.  The rooms were a good size with balconies or terraces but the bathrooms were tiny.  However, you have to overlook that to appreciate B Lodge’s value.  The price was the lowest with proper availability I could find.  Steve and I really enjoyed our stay here and made friends also. 

Saturday down on the harbor front we found ourselves sitting at the Café de Paris. It was the spot to sit and watch the show. We ended up having dinner here also since we were so captivated by the boats. A race, Le Coupes de Dames, had been going on and Steve watched the start the next morning.

Sunday we started out by exploring the area, finding all the beaches and seeing the vineyards. We set out to have lunch in Ramatuelle Village and found ourselves at La Forge on their open terrace. The food, the wine, desserts, and company were all fantastic.  After lunch we headed for the village of Gassin to have a look but we somehow missed the area with all the restaurants at the top. We walked all around and the wind was blowing a gale called the Mistral.  There are multilevel hill top villages surrounding St. Tropez and really are a must see. 

Sunday evening we dined in town at Restaurant l’Aventure where we met guy call Jinx who is captain of the yacht Savannah.  It seemed everywhere we went we had conversations with everyone we met.  Steve is a great magnet for attracting people and getting them into conversations. Lots of fun!

Monday morning we set out to visit a mixture of interesting villas. From AZR 385, one could walk to Pampelonne and Nikki Beach in less than 10 minutes. I really thought this was a perfect villa in that location and it can sleep up to 14 people.

Steve and I went to have lunch at Key West Beach Club in Ramatuelle.  That was the best tuna I have ever had and Steve loved his sushi.  He also loved his view facing the topless women on the beach. I started to realize that all the espresso I was consuming was catching up with me and I was not sleeping but 3 to 4 hours a night… Had to stop that vice.

Steve and his sushi.

We finished lunch and set off to see two villas in Grimaud called Cork Tree House and Vue du Chateau.  Both lost in the woods-- you would never know you were even 20 minutes from St. Tropez. Both villas were very well done.

Our dinner that night was a light one spent at a little place called Le Dit Vin.  More of a tapas type of place which worked out well for us.

The next day we saw a great villa. Knows as La Salamandre, or CEN SAL, this home was delightful. Is had great views, a nice pool and huge yard. 

Lunch at Le Pescadou was very special. It’s perched up in Gassin with great views and great food. Tres French.

Val de Rian, or ACV VAL, is a fabulous villa with stunning gardens. The walls of roses really stood out, and the gardener, Jackie, appears to take care of everything. The villa is surrounded by vineyards and all has extremely generous breezes. This can be rented all year round.


One absolutely best villa in the world was Just Fabulous, or ACV FAB.  The owner Oliver was there when we visited. His collection of artifacts was amazing. 

This trip with Steve really opened my eyes to what the South of France has to offer. Our problem is that our clients don't have the same amount of vacation time as European clients; because of this, most villa owners will only take monthly rentals or at the least 2 weeks.

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