Maraval main house
Farmhouse | 2 bedrooms | sleeps 6
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.
You have complete privacy and can wear and (within reason, broadly construed!) do whatever pleases you. 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. The house is one of the few properties in the area 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.
For most of the year, the house is our family home – and as such is equipped with everything you might need. It is available for rent in June, July and August.
The rooms are spacious – the kitchen alone is 30 sq meters – there are high ceilings with exposed beams, 18th century doors, 17th century stained glass and huge picture windows in the 60 sq meter salon.
The kitchen has granite work surfaces, double sink with electric waste disposal; an extra-wide oven, four gas burners and a grill; microwave; rice-cooker; US refrigerator and freezer with ice-maker and wine compartment; and oodles of built in cupboards. There is a breakfast table for six, which comes in handy should it dare to rain. A large laundry/utilities room (18 sq meters) adjoins the kitchen, with separate access to the garage. As well as a US washing machine and drier and laundry basin there is a two-person shower... so that when you come back from the beach you can put the children (or yourselves) straight in to wash off the sand and sea-salt without having to go upstairs!
The salon has two sitting areas, bookshelves along one wall containing an extensive library of books relating to the Far East, and an 18th C dining table capable of seating 8 or 10. The fireplace – which draws well -- was originally in an old manor house in Burgundy.
Upstairs are two bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. Both have double beds and can easily accommodate an extra bed if required. The master bedroom is 35 sq meters (including bathroom and dressing room), the second bedroom 25 sq meters. A baby-cot/ playpen is available on request.
In front of the house there is an 800-year old olive tree and a stone terrace, with a granite table, seating twelve, shaded by wisteria.
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!
A guest cottage – ideal for a couple, or a family with two small children – is also available (see the notice under 'Maraval cottage'). It is independent from the main house, separated by a private courtyard. It can be rented together with the main house in June, July and August – for the rates to rent both see the notice headed 'Maraval main house plus cottage'. The two properties together are ideal for a large family or two or three couples and their children.
|Size||Sleeps up to 6, 2 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, No smoking at this property|
Features and Facilities
|Luxuries||Log fire, Internet access, DVD player, Sea view|
|General||TV, CD player, Telephone, Table tennis, Satellite TV, Wi-Fi available|
|Standard||Kettle, Toaster, Iron|
|Utilities||Clothes dryer, Dishwasher, Cooker, Microwave, Fridge, Freezer, Washing machine|
|Rooms||2 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms of which 1 Family bathrooms, 2 En suites and 1 Shower rooms|
|Furniture||Single beds (2), Double beds (2), Cots (1), Dining seats for 10, Lounge seats for 10|
|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.
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