In the Provence you find accommodation to suit every taste and pocket. From luxury lodgings, where a room with double occupancy will cost you €500 and more a day to simple Bed & Breakfast rooms for €60. We focus on the middle segment: small hotels/country inns, B&Bs and self-catering vacation rentals - all of them with hideaway character.
Our lodging recommendations are listed by region. It is our opinion that you need to familiarize yourself thoroughly with the region first and then choose the appropriate lodging, not the other way around. To go straight ahead to our lodging recommendations click on the region (right hand column) which interests you. Or you can read about the pros and cons of the various accommodation choices first:
Please keep in mind that you need to book very early especially if you plan to visit the Provence from June to September. But even during the shoulder seasons (April-May) and (October-November) it is advisable to make a reservation well in advance.
Small Hotels/Country Inns
Searching for hotels in the Provence under a "Hideaway" concept will lead you to the smaller hotels and country inns in the villages and countryside, albeit there are some nice and romantic ones in quiet locations in the larger towns. Unfortunately most websites and hotel guides do not provide enough information as they lack the intimate knowledge about the area. We have selected a number of small hotels and country inns, which meet our hideaway criteria.
Bed & Breakfast (B&B)
In Europe B&Bs are an appealing choice for many travelers, especially when traveling in the UK, Ireland and France. It's the best way to meet people, be it the hosts or fellow travelers.
We admit, many years ago, it took us us some time to get used to the idea. Would we feel comfortable to "invade" someone's home? The reality is that most B&Bs - especially those in the medium to upper price range - are run pretty professionally. Owner's living quarters are normally separate from guests' quarters. Many of these B&Bs are in reality run like small hotels ..... but with that extra touch of personal service.
There is a wide range of B&Bs in France, from very simple to luxurious, equalling standards of a 3 - 4 star hotel. We highly recommend that you try this option, it's fun, entertaining, convenient and does not have to be expensive. With proper reservations in advance you can book a room at a B&B with swimming pool and including continental breakfast for as low as Euro 85 per night (double room with en suite bathroom for 2 persons). More simple ones start at around Euro 60. These are prices in the Provence during summer time. Staying at luxurious B&Bs in choice areas can cost you Euro 150 or more per night. During the summer season the minimum stay is usually 2 nights.
If you choose a B&B not listed here, do not hesitate to inquire about the location (quiet?), the room (queen size or French type beds, ensuite bathroom?), breakfast hours should you need to depart early and if pets are accepted. Is the room non-smoking? Question if the B&B has its own swimming pool (a good idea in July and August).
You might be asked if you would like to have a table d'hotes, i.e. dinner prepared for you by your hosts. We have had outstanding dining experiences at B&Bs, some of our hosts were professional cooks. Here is what is especially nice: Very often you will sit at the table with the owners and have a great conversation.
Here is a little tip for you not to get upset: Many B&Bs do not change linens and towels during your stay daily. In fact your bed might not be made and towels might not be changed unless you ask for it. At the lower to medium price spectrum: don't ask for it, it is simply not done. Unless you stay for a week or more, of course.
Children: A real issue as many B&Bs do not accept children. So make sure you inquire if they are welcome. Your best option if you travel with children and want to stay in a hideaway lodging are self-catering vacation rentals.
Language issues: Most likely your hosts speak some English. Your efforts to speak some French will be rewarded, even if it is just a couple of words. If you are not shy, they won't be. The owners of the more expensive B&Bs almost always speak fluent English.
Cash: The smaller the B&B, the more likely that they will accpet cash only. It is in your interest too: you save the 4-5% credit card companies charge small vendors.
Vacation Rentals (Self Catering Holiday Rentals)
There is an immense selection of vacation rental properties in the Provence. During summer vacations many property owners ask for a minimum of two weeks. Make your reservation as early as possible if you need to rent during July and August. You can contact a vacation rental agent or search for a property on the internet. There are excellent web portals, which normally lead you to the owner's website. In 2008 we have for the first time included a few outstanding vacation rental properties in our listings and plan to expand this segment.
The French government has established a classification system for seasonal rentals (decree dd. Jan.8, 1993). Theoretically these ratings should assure a quality product. We recommend not to rely on these ratings; they take a rather mechanistic approach. So most vacation rental owners don't bother to obtain a rating.
Iron rule: The more expensive the rental, the better the website must be. If an owner is unwilling to give you a clear picture, don't rent the property. It's your vacation and you want it to be quality time. Testimonials can be useful unless they are fudged, but nothing beats word of mouth by friends or a competent vacation rental agency.
For additional tips on renting a vacation home click here.
Lodging Terminology in France
Bastide: In medieval times a fortified building or group of buildings in the countryside. In the Provence it was used primarily for large farmhouses. Today the term "Bastide" is used for houses of a certain size and standing - both old and new.
Chambre d'Hôtes: pretty much the equivalent of the US or British Bed & Breakfast (B&B).
Gite: a "self-catering vacation rental" - either an apartment, a house, a villa or mansion, fully furnished with one or more bedrooms, bathroom(s) and kitchen. This self-catering accommodation can be rented for a few days, a weekend, but in most cases for at least one week, during the summer holidays quite often a minimum of two weeks.
Table d'Hôtes: originally "a common table for guests at a hotel or eating-house", where a public meal is served at a stated hour and at a fixed price. Nowadays this term is mostly used by "chambre d'hôtes" which offer a "table d'hôte"s for their guests.