Ville et Village - European Vacation Rentals

Newsletter Archive


 

In This Issue:

Loire Valley
Ile de Re
Stay in a Châteaux
Cancellation Insurance
Telephones... or I must keep in touch




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Why Rent?

Settle into the daily pattern of European country life. Stay in your own renovated 18th century farmhouse. Enjoy meals at home tasting local cheeses, salamis, fruit and wine. Relax on your own terrace with a view of the countryside. Meet your neighbors and shopkeepers and make new friends. Become less of a tourist and more of a welcome visitor.
 
 
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France Information
 
Loire Valley

We've noticed in recent years that clients request more properties in the Loire Valley that are well located to tour the big châteaux. So I went over in October and visited the area. I selected several locations near Tours and was delighted with what I found. This is a very central area as you can easily visit the largest and most famous châteaux within an hour's drive in any direction. In addition, there are wonderful vineyards, charming villages, and terrific restaurants all around. Here are a few highlights from my trip:

Azay-le-Rideau is an absolutely lovely little village on the river Indre. Its 14th chateau is remarkable for its ornamental Italian style. It feels intimate and liveable at the same time that it is stricking and beautiful. It's a nice change from some of the more massive châteaux. Our charming houses there, LV2&3 are just a walk into town. When I was there in the fall the streets were blocked for the annual apple fte with musicians, grilled andouillette, fresh-pressed "wine" and lots of apple-related crafts. Obviously, this is village that has lots of community spirit.

Loches is a beautiful market town with several impressive Renaissance gateways. The town is dominated by the chateau and dungeon which are above the town and are surrounded by 3 kilometers of ramparts! I was there during the lively Saturday market when streets were filled with merchants selling everything from flowers to sausages to wine to cheeses to clothing. A lively and pretty event! See LV14 for our pretty offering within walking distance of the center of town.

Saché is also located on the river Indre and the area all around is lush and green with rolling hills. Balzac was a frequent quest of M. Margonne who owned the chateau here. While staying with them he wrote Le Lys dans la Vallée which he set in this very valley. He also worked out the themes for Pėre Goriot while staying here. The village, tiny as it is, has a huge Calder mobile in the town square. The artist lived and worked nearby. And that's just the beginning of the charms this area holds. There is much more to discover: hiking, biking, rowing, touring the châteaux and just enjoying the charming villages and countryside. LV8 is a charming country farmhouse in the countryside outside the village.


 

Ile de Re

I also visited once again my favorite French resort, the Ile de Ré off of La Rochelle. This is a wonderful French secret. The island is often described as a paradis by French magazines. There are 9 little villages on a island that is just 30 kms by 5 kms. The north side of the island has charming ports filled with colorful small fishing vessels that daily bring in fresh catch. The south side of the island has broad sandy beaches borded by fragrant pine forests. The entire island is flat and is totally accessible by bike paths. Everyone rides a bicycle including grandparents, children and even dogs in baskets! The north side of the island has marshes where salt is still gathered by hand. The villages are white washed with winding narrow streets bordered by rose colored hollyhokes. That with the clear blue skies, perfect weather and calm blue seas, makes for beautiful scenery. We have 5 charming rentals with the codes "RE". Look for them under the page for the Ile de Ré. In the months of July and August, you need to reserve early.


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Stay in a Châteaux

I was struck by the number of beautiful châteaux in the Loire Valley and elsewhere which offer bed & breakfast accommodation. As most of our clients appreciate the history and architecture of their house rentals, I thought staying in an historic chateau would offer a similar, but more flexible accommodation as the minimum stay is only 2 days! Château Accueil is group of individually owned châteaux whose owners offer a small number of rooms on a B&B basis. None of the châteaux offer more than 10 rooms. The delight of this is that rather than a "hotel" environment, clients feel like guests in a private château. There are many offerings in the Loire Valley, but there are also others in Normandy, Brittany, Burgundy and a few other areas. See the Loire Valley section of our webpage for more information.

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Cancellation Insurance

As a service to our customers, we're now able to offer trip cancellation insurance. We've chosen CSA as our plan of choice because of its advantages. If you purchase the policy within 14 days of your initial deposit, pre-existing conditions are covered. This is a great advantage. Once you book, we automatically send you the brochure explaining the progra


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Telephones... or I must keep in touch

Each year we have more clients ask about the availabilities of telephones at the property they are renting. In general, we respond that telephones are not available at many properties.

Some owners have no phones available thinking that clients are on vacation and don't need a telephone. The cost of putting in a line and paying monthly access charges can be high. Some owners have a phone with a "systėme restrainte" -- a phone for only local or incoming calls. Unfortunately, sometimes with this system, you can't use a toll-free number to access Sprint/MCI, etc. In Italy, many owners have a telephone that is metered. You are charged for what you use, and the fees are settled when you leave the house. Lastly, some French owners offer a phone with unrestricted use. In this case, we hold a telephone deposit until the owner gets their bill which can take 60 days! Very cumbersome for us all.

Cell phones are the answer. The Europeans have little need for phones in the houses because they often bring their cell phones with them. US cell phones have typically not worked in Europe. In recent past years I used, and we recommended, contacting the Parker Company to rent a cell phone that works overseas. This is still a good option.

Things are now changing. However, the latest news is that there are now cell phones you can buy in the US which have a worldwide number. Three to consider are Nextel, Nokia and Motorolla. These are very new, so I haven't yet used them. However, they are another option to consider when you REALLY want a telephone at your French or Italian country rental. As I've just purchased one of these phones, the next newsletter will give you an evaluation of how well they work.

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