We recently decided to pack up our brood and introduce them to the finer things in life, the French things. Also I was looking for a good excuse to make a stop over in Paris, so we settled on the South of France.
A family of six is HUGE by european standards, really by anyone’s standards. Needing more space than a hotel room could offer, we rented a home from Hosted Villas. Not only do they offer stunning luxury accommodations, but, as the name implies, a host. Per night we paid about what a hotel suite would cost (just over $1,000) but got so much more than just an oversized hotel room.
Having not been to the South of France since I was backpacking with nothing more than a bikini and some American Express cheques, I needed advice on where to stay. The tiny town of Beaumes de Venise was chosen blindly on the advice Hosted Villas. If you Google “quintessencial French village” I’m sure you’d find it’s picture. Each morning we bought warm pain au chocolat from the tiny bakery in town and each night we fell asleep to the sound of the ancient church bell ringing in the distance.
It would be fair to call this villa what it really is, a mansion. Six bedrooms, several beautifully decorated sitting rooms,a private infinity pool, separate hot tub in it’s own little house scented with lavender, even a full gym set in it’s own glass building. The kids were less impressed with the sublime digs and more excited that each room had an intercom. They spent hours playing the “phone game” and calling each other from room to room and using ridiculous French accents.
Our host Michelle made a fabulous dinner the night we arrived and stocked our kitchen with groceries. Each morning she came to help us plan our day, as a local she was able to direct us on outings that were perfect for our family. She knew which days they were open, how to get there, what to bring, etc. The house staff cleaned after we left, did our laundry (I know, how awesome is that?) and generally made us feel completely taken care of.
After meeting the three wild boys Michelle arranged a perfect first outing. She sent us to Le Beaux, a historic castle complete with sword fighting and catapult demonstrations.
The next day Michelle took us to the market in her hometown of Vaison la Romaine and played tour guide, in her heels. I LOVE French women. This historic town straddles a river with Roman ruins on one side and a medieval fortress on the other. The bridge that spans it was built by the Romans. The “modern” bridge washed away in a flood, the Roman bridge is still in use. It is quite simply, one of the most amazing towns I’ve ever been to. We toured centuries old ruins just blocks away from quaint shops and charming restaurants.
We did several day trips from our French mansion. We toured Avignon, the 14th Century seat of the Pope. Great for the grown ups, the kids really only liked the carousel in the middle of town.
We shopped and ate our way through Aix en Provence. Again, every town in all of France seems to have a carousel and sell chocolate ice cream so how can a kid not love it? We went out for a fabulous lunch at a sidewalk cafe and JJ even tried escargot.
On one of our last days in town, Hosted Villas treated us to a family wine tour courtesy of Olivier from Wine Uncovered. He taught the kids all about how the grapes are harvested, let them touch and feel, even let them try the wine. I love France. No they didn’t consume it, they had to spit. Yes it made them feel very cool.
Hilariously my YouTube video of the kids tasting wine was removed for “inappropriate content”. They tasted, they spit, don’t arrest me.
If you’re looking for the ultimate family getaway in a villa of your own, I can’t recommend Hosted Villas highly enough. No they didn’t pay me to say that, or even let me stay for free. This trip remains one of my family’s favorite of all time, and they’ve been on a few vacations.