Category Archives: Places to stay

B&Bs, guest houses, villas to rent, etc.

The Silk Farm Retreat in Le Thoronet

A charming stone villa nestled into a hamlet just near the famous Abbaye de Thoronet is the pleasant surprise that awaits those seaking a relaxing, healthy getaway. The Silk Farm Retreat is run by Shona Arthur who is an experienced and talented chef particularly where plant-based cuisine is concerned. She is also a yoga teacher, the perfect combination to host week long retreats in this most beautiful part of the world, La Provence.

I was immediately smitten by Shona’s charm. She was beautiful, welcoming, and chatty but not at all overwhelming. She spoke about her parents who had bought the house that she spent many happy childood memories in during Summer vacations. Her love of nature, yoga, and healthy cooking were obviously passions that dictate her daily life. I felt like I was breathing better just standing next to her.

But I wasn’t prepared for the seriously tasty aperos that were immediately served with luscious Mirabeau La Follie sparking rosé. Falafels made with chickpeas and sautéed sweet potato, polenta with guacamole, and an absolutely amazing vegan pizza made with “nozzarella” – to mimick mozzarella but made from cashew nuts, with fresh organic garden basil and roquette. Actually, it tasted better than the real cheese. This would have been enough as the entire meal but we went on to dine in a romantically lit covered pool house (next to the very pretty swimming pool) with Mirabeau’s Pure Rosé wine that accompanied a Thai salad (hints of spicy ginger with mint, basil, red peppers, slices of bamboo shoots and red cabbage) then a main of olive oil-infused chickpea cake with sautéed vegetables and fresh herbs. I have had a few vegan meals in my life but by golly, this was the best I have ever dined on, hands down!!

Shona talked about the many celebrities she has cooked for in the South of France. From extremely fussy vegans to meat eaters, she can cater for anyone’s needs but prefers the plant based diet 80 per cent of the time. She didn’t need to convince me. If every bite of a vegan meal tasted like this, I’d convert myself.

But back to what’s on offer: Shona hosts one week retreats for people looking to relax, retune, rewind, and rejuvenate over the clean air, walks through grape vines, swims in the local river Argens, yoga at the villa and be fully pampered with locally sourced plant based meals that are truly delicious, I can guarantee this and would recommend The Silk Farm Retreat as the perfect place to getaway from work related stress that too often creeps into our daily lives. A warm and attentive host, fantastic wine, fabulous food, and dreamy Provençal landscapes…you can’t get a better combination than that.

I raise a glass to Shona and her team and wish them the very best of success in this new adventure, they deserve it!

As a footnote: Le Thoronet is just a 20 mins’ drive from Cotignac!

For more information and availability, click on https://www.thesilkfarmretreat.com/

Ultimate Provence in La Garde-Freinet

The new wine domaine-slash-stylish guest house is situated in La Garde-Freinet about 45 mins north of St Tropez and 40 mins’ drive from our village of Cotignac. It opened in June of this year and I went to check it out 2 weeks into their opening.

At first glance Ultimate Provence looks really out of place. The Urban-chic look attracts a younger clientele, perhaps the rich St Tropez vacationers who couldn’t find a place nearer the coast or preferred to have a more spacious and relaxed feel without all the glitz and blitz. The tasting room sparkles to the contrasting heavy dark iron details; a mélange of New York loft à la plage. But it’s all new so it’s clean and impressive and certainly commands a “wow” reaction. Their wine bottles look like elongated perfume bottles with ridges that can’t be cheap to produce. They’d make great gifts.

The main hall leads one straight through to the tasting room on one side and the outdoor terrace where fluffy big white couches and wooden plank tables under thin bamboo rods for shade are inviting in an understated and carefree “Club 55” kinda way. It’s a pleasant feel of natural and modern comfort with the big sky above.

The service was a little awkward; the staff are still trying to get a feel for how things should be managed (nothing was very smooth and check-in took a good 20 minutes). But the bedrooms are nicely spread out, two-in-one town house buildings with outdoor entries, views of the vineyards from every building. There are no elevators anywhere, but some disabled-friendly-access-rooms on the ground floor. The gardens are impressive with modern fountains, a massive dark grey pool with dark stone plage and black showers and stunning mediterranean plants, lavender, and tall standing grapevines that adorned a long pergola to walk through. It was very romantic. The establishment is still going through some teething problems, not unexpected, since it is big and will eventually be popular but I get the feeling they never want to get crowded.

I opted for a glass of champagne for an aperitif, some of their rosé (very nice) with our meal, and although a bit disappointed with the sushi (being half Japanese I’m a huge sushi snob as I make it myself) the steak was great and the desserts very good. The beds were very comfortable, the huge breakfast spread was A-class, they had fantastic coffee, and filtered and home-gassed water in pretty bottles was offered without ever suggesting brand names, this was a huge plus. Overall I give this establishment an 8 out of 10. When they get used to how to manage the place I’m sure they’ll be overwhelmed with bookings in the future. Ultimate Provence does have that uber-cool feel but it’s not for those looking for an authentic Provence village experience. Come to Cotignac for that!

Domaine Ultimate Provence Hotel-Restaurant and Bar: 7270 route du Luc 83630 La Garde-Freinet 0494 85 29 10 www.ultimate-provence.com or click here https://www.ultimateprovence.com/en/

Cotignac Village House for longterm or holiday let

AVAILABLE FOR LONG TERM RENTAL or holiday rental from 3 nights’ minimum stay from October 2nd, 2019!

Please email Susana at provencelivingconsulting@gmail.com to confirm availability and best price! Or if you prefer, you can go to the Airbnb listing (a little more expensive as it will require service fees): https://www.airbnb.fr/rooms/3771828

The house is fully furnished and located in the heart of the gorgeous village of Cotignac, close to all shops and restaurants:

Details of accommodation:
The village house, suitable for one, two couples or a four to five-member- family is just steps away from the centre of the village, but in a quiet neighbourhood (near the outdoor Théâtre du Rocher and the Place de la Mairie), has a new kitchen fully equipped with dining area on the ground floor, a master bedroom (one King size bed) with ensuite shower and toilet as well as a TV on the first floor, an additional bedroom (with 2 single beds that can be used separately or together to make one super king size) with separate bathroom on the second floor, and a large living room (convertible 4-poster futon bed) with bar and kitchenette on the top floor with 3 velux windows for lots of light as well as a TV and DVD player. A mezzanine is just above this floor where there is an additional single sized bed suitable for an older child or adult guest. In total, the house has 124 square metres of living space. Parking can usually be found about 30 metres away, but anyone can perch in front of the house to load/unload. Further parking is located about 150 metres down the road behind the newly restored primary school.

If you are interested in booking this house for your next holiday, please contact Susana directly at provencelivingconsulting@gmail.com or call +33 624 23 26 55. You can also book through AirBnB (site service charges apply): https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3771828?guests=4&s=pdK7

NB: interior furnishings may change slightly without notice, Maximum capacity 5 adults or 5 adults and one child

Book a villa through Terravana with code TVPL19!

Looking for the perfect holiday in our neck of the woods? Look no further. Terravana in Cotignac has a great selection of the best and their attention is on quality service and customer satisfaction. The company is run by two local Frech women who are experts on what Provence has to offer visitors. Combine that with Provence Living’s knowledge of our village and how it all works here for expats and anglophone tourists and you get the complete happy picture of a satisfied holidaymaker or future resident!

Take a look here at Terravana’s villa selection. If you have any questions feel free to ask them directly or here on Provence Living where I (Susana) will do my best to get back to you. When you are ready to book direct (this way you avoid Airbnb and Tripadvisor fees), be sure to mention the code “TVPL19” on the booking site for best service!

Luxury apartment for rent in Cotignac

This stunning and well appointed 2 level apartment is for rent from end of July 2019 until July 31st 2020. La Cotignanda has 3 bedrooms and an extra bed that can be closed off with curtains on the 2nd level. There is also a covered terrace with spectacular views of the rocher so when the village puts on its fireworks show (end of August and during the Christmas market), this is the VIP place to view it from! It would suit one or two couples for long term and for short term up to 6 persons (maximum capacity).

The apartment is fully furnished with good taste and is very clean (for non smokers only). There are two separate living areas, two bathrooms (with showers) and the best café and bakery are just forty steps away.

Views from the South facing windows are of the Place de la Mairie. All restaurants and shops are within short walking distance. The town hall is located next door. Bed and bath linens 100 per cent cotton, the kitchen is fully equipped with dishwasher, toaster, oven, etc, and there is a small room upstairs for the washing machine. Private rental with no agencies involved. Unfortunately due to stair access and uneven stairs in the apartment this rental is not suitable for young children nor the disabled.

Rental Price Guide (N.B. long term rental is also available from July 24th 2019, please contact the owner if the dates do not suit you, for a discounted rate at 3 months’ minimum stay):
Dates available in 2019 and 2020:

July 22nd – 29th 2019 (one week minimum) at 950 euros (includes bills*)

July 29th – September 2nd (one week minimum) at 950 euros (includes bills)

September 2nd – October 1st (one month minimum) at 2,000 euros (plus bills)

October 1st 2019 – June 29th 2020 (3 months’ minimum) at 1,600 euros (plus bills)

June 29th 2020 – July 27th 2020 (one week minimum) at 950 euros (plus bills)

*bills: electricity and water – cost depends on use

All bookings are subject to a cleaning charge of 65 euros at the end of the stay as well as a laundry charge of 10 euros per person. A security deposit of 500 euros for short term and 1,000 euros for long term rentals is requested, in cash, upon arrival and pending a property check, refunded at the end of the stay. All arrivals and departures must be made during the week with preference on Mondays. Weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) arrivals accepted only in exceptional cases where there are no other options, and at 50 euro additional charge. Thank you for your understanding.

To book, please contact the owner, Annee Bennison at: ann.bennison@icloud.com

La Bastide de Tourtour

The 23 room hotel-restaurant, located just past the church perched at the top of the hill in Tourtour, is perfect for a romantic getaway in the Winter.

It was a bit chilly at the beginning of February and Tourtour is known to be windy but the charm is still very much alluring and the views from the village were breathless. At first I was disappointed we didn’t have more sun but then I realised I was getting some really good photos of cloud formations and the lighting was decent. A walk into the village from the bastide is an easy 10 minutes. Tourtour is about a 25 minutes’ drive from Cotignac so you could easily go there just for lunch or dinner.

Continue reading La Bastide de Tourtour

Mas de Brulat and restaurant L’Olivier in Le Castellet

Having lived in London and Yorkshire for a few years (after moving there from Los Angeles) I was always impressed with the way Brits did interiors. Maybe the weather has something to do with the fact that they generally concentrate more on the inside of a house than the French. Overall, in my opinion, the Brits are pretty good at it and the new owners at Mas de Brulat are no exception.

Continue reading Mas de Brulat and restaurant L’Olivier in Le Castellet

Le Mas de Cotignac – accommodation and table d’hôtes

Recently written up in our local newspaper the Var Matin, Le Mas de Cotignac offers Michelin standard “voluptuous” accommodation for even the fussiest of guests. If you are looking for a romantic break, a tranquil vacation, or a weekend getaway without the kids, this is the place to unwind and be luxuriously pampered.  They are located just outside the village. Le Mas de Cotignac is an exceptional bed and breakfast with table d’hôtes (possibility to book lunches and dinners) with swimming pool and jacuzzi.  And their service is also top notch and attentive to guests’ every need. Continue reading Le Mas de Cotignac – accommodation and table d’hôtes

Chateau de Berne – hotel, restaurant, and spa

Chateau de Berne used to be a small upscale auberge tucked into the middle of their vast property but nowadays boasts five stars for its hotel and spa facilities. They have invested heavily in making the resort top-notch with super equipment and amenities to excite and attract even the fussiest of upscale visitors. Continue reading Chateau de Berne – hotel, restaurant, and spa