Cottage | 1 bedrooms | sleeps 4
The property lies on a south-facing hillside, surrounded on three sides by chestnut, oak and pine forests, overlooking the Gulf of St Tropez.
The view is stunning – at least, we've never had a visitor here whose mouth hasn't fallen open in wonder! Across seven lines of hills (count them!), lie the villages of Gassin and La Croix Valmer and, beyond, the deep blue of the Mediterranean stretching all the way to North Africa. On a fine day you can see as far as Corsica, a hundred miles away (but don't be too disappointed if you don't – in summer the haze over the sea often obscures it).
The village of La Garde Freinet, with two butchers, three bakers, a twice weekly market, a newspaper shop which has UK papers, and most of the other essentials of life, is three miles away.
This is a place for people who love the countryside and enjoy being surrounded by nature - you can walk out of the cottage door and ramble for 15 miles through the forest to Collobrieres without seeing a soul, even in summer. But it's also within easy reach of the beaches, boutiques and nightlife of the coast. The best beach, at Pampelonne, is half-an-hour's drive from the house. St Tropez is 40 minutes away (but take the back road to avoid the traffic jams in summer). Further afield, Antibes, Cannes and Nice are an hour down the motorway, and if you head inland there is a wealth of small stone villages (and some excellent restaurants) all less than an hour's drive from the house.
When not let, the cottage is used as stand-alone guest accommodation for the owner's friends.
It is an ideal (and idyllic) rural retreat for a couple or a family with small children. There are two large rooms (each 16 x 20 feet). The ground floor has a fully equipped open-plan kitchen with dishwasher, fridge, eye-level oven and vitro-ceramic cooking range, adjacent to a living-cum-dining area (in which the sofa can open up into a bed for children). There is also a small downstairs loo, installed for the benefit of elderly relatives when visiting, but which can also come in handy for small children!
Outside is a private courtyard with a stone table, seating six, for meals and a view across to the sea. The first floor, which is open access, consists of a bedroom with double bed -- twin beds are available on request -- generous built-in cupboard space, and ensuite bathroom. The bedroom opens onto a large roof terrace. A baby-cot/ playpen can be provided if required.
Heating is by wood fire and electric radiators (only needed between November to March). Firewood is supplied!
The cottage is independent of the main house and not overlooked from it - so you have complete privacy and can wear and (within reason, broadly construed!) do whatever pleases you. The main house is occupied by the owners for nine months a year - it's our home - but there is a separate entrance on the other side of the house so to all intents and purposes you are on your own. The nearest neighbour is 250 yards away, completely hidden by the forest, and the only visitors you are likely to get are wild boars (which root around in the forest at night) and the occasional fox or deer. It is one of the few homes in La Garde Freinet to be completely protected from the mistral, the north-west wind – so even when a gale is blowing in the village, you can sunbathe on the terrace.
When the main house is empty, you are kings of the mountain and have free range over the entire 10-acre property. In the summer months (June to August) the main house is also available for rent, either on its own or together with the cottage -- see the entry under 'Maraval main house'.
Note: because the beach is so close, there is no swimming pool. We plan to install a heated outdoor jacuzzi, but that won't be done for another year... so this year you'll just have to imagine it!
|Size||Sleeps up to 4, 1 bedrooms|
|Nearest beach||St Tropez 20 km|
|Will consider||Long term lets (over 1 month)|
|Nearest Amenities||4 km|
|Nearest travel links||Nearest airport: Nice 110 km, Nearest railway: Les Arcs-Draguignan 25 km|
|Family friendly||Great for children of all ages|
|Notes||Pets welcome, Yes, smoking allowed|
Features and Facilities
|Luxuries||Log fire, Internet access, Sea view|
|General||Telephone, Table tennis, Wi-Fi available|
|Standard||Kettle, Toaster, Iron|
|Utilities||Dishwasher, Cooker, Microwave, Fridge|
|Rooms||1 bedroom, 2 bathrooms of which 1 Family bathrooms and 1 En suites, Solarium or roof terrace|
|Furniture||1 Sofa beds, Double beds (1), Cots (1), Dining seats for 4, Lounge seats for 4|
|Other||Linen provided, Towels provided, High chair|
|Outdoors||Balcony or terrace, Private garden, BBQ|
The Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur region
If you know Provence already, there's no need to tell you that it is one of the most beautiful regions not only in France but in Europe. The département, or county, of the Var is largely unspoiled – far less built-up than the areas around Cannes and Nice, further East, where the coast is a concrete strip and the hills are blanketed with suburban villas. The Var is still covered in vineyards and forests. Development along the coast has been strictly controlled, so there are sand dunes and miles of beaches where it is possible, even in summer, to find a congenial spot without being overwhelmed by the rest of humanity.
La Garde Freinet
A century ago, when St Tropez was still a fishing village, artists like Bonnard and Soutine made it their home. It combined simplicity, beauty and intellectual daring. In the 1960s, that began to change. Gradually St Tropez was commercialised. The painters, the writers, the filmmakers, moved inland. Many settled in and around La Garde Freinet, which for more than a thousand years has held the pass over the mountains between the hinterland and the coastal plain. Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson, Jeanne Moreau, J.R.R. Tolkien, Laura Ashley and many others had summer homes here. The French writer, Serge Rezvani, lived across the valley; Jack Nicholson was a frequent visitor. Some have left; others have moved in. Johnny Depp has a house just down the road at Le Plan de la Tour. Today la Garde Freinet continues to be a magnet for interesting characters. Yet it is still a simple place where anyone who wants to can fit in. In the butcher's shop where Jean-Jacques presides, the wall is covered in mementoes from rock stars and Hollywood actors. St Tropez is next door – sadly less eccentric, more polluted by money and more sanitized than in the past – but still a lovely village. You can have the best of both worlds – the craziness of the coast and the serenity of the forests – and all you have to do is open the front door.