We opted for foie gras instead of turkey this year and spent Thanksgiving in the heart of Provence in the French countryside. Our home-away-from-home was a swank villa in the pinch-me perfect village of Ménerbes, made famous by Peter Mayle in his wonderful book A Year in Provence.
Our friends at Haven in Paris did all the legwork for us to find this gem; it’s part of their Provence Vacation Rentals portfolio. The off-season is a perfect time to experience life as a local in a village, as tourists are scarce. We shared the villa with another family and our intimate, protected village setting let us do things like send the boys for croissant and baked goodies to the boulangerie every morning while we lounged in bed … sound divine? Oui!
Review of Menerbes Designer Villa
Our villa, called the Menerbes Designer Villa by Haven in Paris, was the town post office until it was cleverly converted into a five-bedroom, light-filled villa. The building sits right under the town castle and the entire wall of the villa opens up into a lovely courtyard enclosed by the rock wall.
The interior décor of this villa is as interesting as the architecture. The owner has filled the villa with artifacts from travels around the world. It creates an eclectic and fun atmosphere. The artifacts are either too hefty to move or not so precious that you are worried about kids ruining them, a plus for families.
The main living room is open and airy and includes a large dining room table. There’s a wood burning fireplace (key for our fall visit) and comfortable seating. The adjacent kitchen is well-equipped and spacious, with all the gourmet necessities in place.
Three of the five bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms, so families sharing the villa don’t need to worry about unequal rooms for parents (see my article with tips on sharing a villa with friends). There’s a seating area on each of the bedroom floors, and the one near the kids’ room (can be two twin beds) makes a perfect kid space with a TV and games. It’s really ideal as parents and kids can spread out and relax in their own way.
Finally, there’s a rooftop terrace which which didn’t use given our cold weather, but it has seating and gorgeous views of the Luberon valley.
Families Should Know
> The low season rate for the Menerbes Designer Villa is $5,100 a week, or about 3,700€ at today’s rate of 1.35.
> There’s no grass or garden for kids around this villa, nor is there a pool, although the owner has organized guest use of a swimming pool at a local B&B. To that end, I like this villa for the spring, winter, and fall, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for a summer rental with kids if your vision is hours of garden/pool time between sightseeing trips.
> The villa comes with two hours of housekeeping twice of week by the villa’s caretaker, Marie. She is lovely and will do anything and everything to ensure guests are comfortable! We asked the owner (via Haven in Paris) to organize a special Thanksgiving meal for us to have in the villa. Marie prepared this meal using produce and products from the local markets. Our meal was delicious and prepared with care, although we found it to be very expensive at 350€ for 4 adults and 2 children aged 10.
The location of the Menerbes Designer Villa is absolutely fantastic with access to an array of wonderful villages with 30-minutes to an hour. You can also get to Aix-En-Provence and Avignon for day trips from this location. I’ll follow up with a complete post on the activities with kids in Provence in the next few weeks.
Ménerbes has a few good restaurants and a small grocery store. It’s so nice to not have to get in your car all the time and we adored going to dinner and walking home at night.
Haven in Paris
We love Haven in Paris at Ciao Bambino! They have a superb inventory of apartments in Paris with excellent service. We are thrilled to see that they are expanding their inventory beyond Paris. For me, the value a qualified agency provides in offering reliable inventory and essential add-on services is worth the incremental expense. Once we find villa agencies we like, we use them again and again and I definitely recommend Haven in Paris as a trusted resource.
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Editorial Note: We were offered a media rate at the Menerbes Designer Villa. The owner, whom we did not meet nor interact with directly, runs a luxury travel company called Brown and Hudson.