This is part of an ancient manor house in Provence style with ground and upper floor, constructed on a gentle slope overlooking the village of Bras. It has been beautifully restored and developed for guest accommodation on the first floor in the form of these two spacious self-catering studio flats and five bed&breakfast rooms (see separate description). The accommodation described here relates to studio flats. At the same time guests can make use of the terrace, the lovely Mediterranean garden and surrounding woodland, and of course the swimming pool. Further, from April to October, the splendid baronial hall on the ground floor is available as a communal room.
Young children should preferably stay away, but rather send their parents and grandparents here to recover from the shock of Brexit and Trumpism: the theme is clearly tranquility and meditation in the midst of boundless nature. Better also to leave your pets behind too, and replace them temporarily with the two small energetic, if peaceable, four-legged present incumbents.
Your hosts live in a flat on the ground floor, and will attend to your every need. Talk to them in fluent English about additional services ranging from cooking to well-being.
Access the property via a long, rough drive (let's be honest!), so leave the Lamborghini in the Bologna workshop on the way over please, and hire a local 2 CV duckling.
If there are fewer occupants than the capacity, then there will be a cost reduction. And lastly, if you are part of a larger group of up to 20 guests, then do not hesitate to contact us to fit you all in together, in order to check for availablity on the chosen dates, logistic details and for special rates. This manor house would be a magnificent venue for your extended family on your next round birthday!
Living accommodation: These open-plan 29-m2 studios are designed for 2 guests each but may sleep up to 4 if required. They have private bathrooms and feature handcrafted hardwood furniture including a double bed (160 cm wide) with high-quality Provençal cotton bedding, a folding sofa bed, a dresser and a separate sitting area with table and chairs. They are also equipped with a fully-fitted kitchenette providing double hotplate, micro-wave, refrigerator, coffee machine, sink and all necessary dishes. The studios, decorated in gentle colours with textiles to match, are located on the upper floor. The windows look out onto the extensive gardens, with some showing the pool area whilst offering a lovely panorama of the roofs of the village and the Sainte-Baume massif on the horizon.
Other rooms: April to October only: A long baronial hall is available downstairs, with table and seating for 18 people, with a large open fireplace. The furniture, as in the accommodation upstairs, is beautifully hand-made. All the guests at the manor house are invited to make use of this communal facility, and to meet here other visitors as well as the charming owners. (Outside this season the hall is used to overwinter the plants).
Outside: The property includes 1 ha of Mediterranean gardens with indigenous Provençal flowers and plants (lavender, rosemary, oleander...), as well as exotic flora imported from elsewhere. This really deserves to be studied and enjoyed in depth by every visitor, whether young or old, botanist or just a computer geek. A terrace runs along the southeast and northeast sides, shaded by the dense tree canopy and accessed from the main hall: it can be used for breakfasts and dinners, as you please. A shaded car parking space is provided.
Swimming pool: This is 4m x 8m with a gently curved shape, and shared with the other guests of the manor. It is available for use throughout the year (weather permitting!).
Internet/Telephone: Internet (wifi extends thoughout the house), and landline telephone (calls to fixed lines in Europe and North America) are available at no cost.
Baby facilities: None - the manor house is not suitable for very young guests.
Supplementary services: Wellness services can be provided in the "Oasis" located in a rustic wooden cabin in the garden, comprising massage with organic aromatherapy, jacuzzi, and spa treatment; Shopping service for local produce; Laundry; Transport and pickup service.
Environmental features: Large area of photovoltaic panels for power generation.
Damage deposit: 200 Euros on arrival, refunded at the end of the stay (less the replacement cost of any breakages).
Bed & bathroom linen: Weekly change included in rental cost.
Gas, electricity & water: Included in rental cost, except 5€/day heating charge in winter.
Cleaning: The cost of normal cleaning at the end of the stay is 30€. Intermediate cleaning during the stay can be negotiated with the owners.
Tourist tax: Covered under the rental price.
Change-over day: Saturday to Saturday is preferred, but other days are possible. Arrival between 17:00h and 21:00h, depart between 08:00 and 11:00h.
Pets: Not permitted (to avoid clash with owners' Jack Russel dogs Foxy and Cannelle).
Smoking: Strictly not permitted inside the manor. Please remove cigarette ends from the outside areas!
HOW TO GET THERE
By Car: The roads and autoroutes in France are a pleasure, so driving can sometimes make a good alternative to flying – at least you’ll already have your car with you! From the UK you have the choice of using the ferries or the Eurotunnel for your crossing. Once in the South of France, this property can be easily accessed via the A7 and A8 autoroutes.
By Air: Toulon/Hyères is the closest international airport (65km, 1h5min), but Marseille Provence (74km, 1 hour) has more flights; connections though Nice (138km, 1h30min) offer additional alternatives.
By Train: Eurostar runs from London to Paris city centres and then the high speed TGV service runs from Paris to Nice. The nearest TGV station to this property is Aix to the West (63km 47 mins), but Draguignan - Les Arcs,to the East is also within reach (77km, 55 mins).
• Full directions will be sent to you once you have made a booking.
About the local area
This is the green heart of France's Provence - lavender fields and olive groves, the mixed scents of pine trees, herbs and earth, with azure blue bays and majestic limestone massifs. This location, adjacent to the village of Bras, is halfway between Riviera and Alps, and offers a haven of peace amid natural splendour. Welcome to the paradise of artists and bon vivants, and those who are contemplating a turning point in their busy lives.
The village lies between Aix-en-Provence and St.Tropez, just North of Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, amidst a splendid scenery of forests, vineyards and olive fields. Halfway between the breathtaking Verdon Canyon and the Mediterranean Sea, you can easily reach Provence's famous sights such as the Canyon itself, the majestic limestone massifs of Luberon, Sainte-Victoire and Sainte-Baume, the glittering beaches of the French Riviera, the magnificent rocky bays of Marseille and Cassis or the vibrant markets, festivals, concerts and exhibitions of Aix-en-Provence.
Local shops, restaurants, bars and bakers can all be found in the nearby vllage. Our energetic guests hike with their well-gotten gains directly through the woodland and lanes (a stiff ten-minute walk); the more casual ones prefer a more circuitous and slightly bumpy seven-minute car ride.
Local markets: There is a small village market in Bras on Sunday mornings; larger markets open at Brignoles on Saturdays, at St. Maximin on Wednesdays, at Aix-en-Provence every day. There are also numerous other weekly markets in the villages nearby.
Sporting activities: Apart from the manor house's own pool, there are countless other sporting activities in the region, all within easy motoring distance. Try the village first, with its horse riding, football field and boules pitch; then progress further afield to golf at Brignoles, tennis at St. Maximin, canoeing and endless adventure hiking on and above the Verdon, climbing at Château Vert village.
Beaches: The manor house will not boast the prime location for taking a dip in the Med, but inveterate sun-worshippers can still enjoy the modest choice of a hundred or so beaches between Marseille and St. Tropez, starting with Hyères 60 km away (1h10mins).
Getting around: Pay good money to come here and get away from it all. If you still have some coins left over to visit the rest of the world, then take the Varlib bus (one per day!). Hardly necessary to suggest hiring a car instead, either from the point of arrival (by plane or train) or hitch a 10km-lift lift to St. Maximin. Die-hards who insist on driving on the left may prefer instead to close their eyes and hire an occasional taxi from the village.
Sightseeing: So much to do and desperately little time to see it through! Of course you will start with the obvious - the Verdon Canyon. This is Europe's answer to the Grand Canyon of the States. Take the Valium with you, and ingest rapidly when the occasional coach meets you on the hairpin bend, from the other direction, while your driver is gazing in rhapsody 700m down the vertical cliff face. If you survive, then visit the villages along the hilll route and alongside the cascade of artificial lakes; perhaps the best-known, if slightly further away, is Moustiers-Ste.-Marie set against the cliffs. Then move on to the town of Castellane with its astounding rock structures. Other inland sights are the mountains of Sainte-Victoire and Sainte-Baume. Now you have deserved a visit to the madding crowds of the French Riviera, 300 km of dense humanity between Marseille and the Italian border and, if that is not enough, venture over to Ventimiglia and Bordighera, with a stop on the way at the casino of Monte Carlo....
Other entertainment: Stroll into the village; practice your school French on the older locals in the bar and realise that your memory is fading and that the pronunciation is rather different here. Save your discussion on politics for the last evening, and leave very early the next morning!