French Property Insider Volume XI, Issue 47 Thursday, December 5, 2013 • Paris, France
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The village of MenerbesThe Lourmarin MarketThe Lord Mayor of AnsouisProperty Prices for Houses in ProvenceHouse for sale in Ansouis House For Sale in Lauris
The last three Thanksgivings in France have been spent partly in the Luberon, Provence and partly in Nice on the Côte d'Azur. The TGV to Aix-en-Provence is a mere three hours in total comfort. It's "du gateau" to pick up a rental car at the station and head into the countryside of Provence where magic seems to happen.
My destination is a friend's three-story village house in the 1000 year-old town of Ansouis in which she has poured her heart and soul and where she pleasures in entertaining her friends, plus renting it when she isn't there (vrbo.com/30388). The villages of the Luberon are stunning hilltop towns; one more beautiful than the next -- villages like Lourmarin, Bonnieux, Gordes, Roussillon, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Lacoste, Menerbes, and a host of others (see theluberon.com/ for more villages and details). She visits the neighboring villages like we visit arrondissements in Paris -- finding special merchants or markets, restaurants and shops in each of them to satisfy her needs.
The merchants of the open-air markets (theluberon.com/activities) rotate among the towns during the week. On Monday, visit Cavaillon, Tuesday head for Cucuron or Gordes, Thursday Menerbes is where you'll want to be, Friday is best in Lourmarin, Saturday don't miss the market in Apt (it's the largest) and Sunday you'll find it all at Coustellet. Our habit has always been to visit the Lourmarin market on Friday morning before heading to Nice by car and as is the habit, we did just that. There is always wonderful produce to purchase and beautiful things to take home from any of the Provençal markets.
This year I met the Mayor of Ansouis, Géraud de Sabran-Ponteves, in his office in the "Mairie" (city hall) steps from Barb's home. He showed me a project he's working on to renovate the old city hall into luxury apartments -- one part of his plan to increase the population of Ansouis and keep the village growing.
M. de Sabran-Ponteves comes by the title of Lord Mayor naturally as his family member, the Duchess de Sabran-Pontevès, saved the Château d'Ansouis from ruin in the early 19th-century -- and as a result it became a "leading example of the lifestyle of the aristocracy during the Enlightenment." (provenceguide.co.uk/)
Provence is one of those heavenly spots on the planet where life can be idyllic. At this time of year, it is less populated than during the spring and summer months, which for many is more pleasurable. We found the roads clear sailing, the restaurants virtually empty and the markets easy to maneuver. It was crispy cool, but the skies were blue and the landscape beautiful.
Owning property in Provence can be more expensive than other regions of France, but a bargain, nonetheless. Large homes can easily be under 300,000€. A 150m2 newly renovated village house in Ansouis with five rooms is listed for just 256,000€. Another in Lauris, of 120m² with four rooms is only 250,000€.
Don't kid yourself, though. You will also pour your heart, soul and your money into the renovation and decor of your Provençal home. But my guess, like for my friend in Ansouis, it will well be worth it. Soon, you too will be hosting your American friends for Thanksgiving Dinner in Provence!
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