Elegance and taste abound in the South of France, the ideal base to relax and unwind - Scotland on Sunday Travel

Oliver’s Travels can connect you with a home away from home in hundreds of locations across Europe.

Le Mas de Vinci villa in Provence is a true example of indoor-outdoor living. Pic: Rachael Davies
Le Mas de Vinci villa in Provence is a true example of indoor-outdoor living. Pic: Rachael Davies

From the moment I stepped through the doors of Le Mas De Vinci, I felt at home. The immaculate villa is tucked behind leafy green bushes down a country road outside of Lambesc, a quaint village near Marseilles in the South of France.

In a region known for its delicious wine and food, what you truly need on a trip to the South of France is a comfortable and relaxing place to dive into the culinary local delights. Where better to choose than a luxurious house full of character and charm?

Stepping away from the white-washed holiday homes devoid of personality, Oliver’s Travels offer a varied collection of rental homes that each offer something unique, and all stamped with owner Oliver’s personal stamp of approval.

The swimming pool was carefully designed to blend seamlessly with the rest of the garden. Pic: Rachael Davies

A base to explore Provence

My own accommodation for a few days was Le Mas De Vinci, a property that’s remote enough to feel secluded and calm, but still less than an hour’s drive from Marseilles airport. Enormous windows make you feel as though you're always out in the lush garden, whether you’re napping in one of the squishy living room sofas, watching a film in the cinema room, or preparing food in the spacious kitchen.

The fully-stocked fridge on arrival was an excellent touch to create a sense of calm from the beginning of the trip, meaning I could kick back and relax after a long day of travelling, instead of rushing down to the local supermarket for cheese and wine.

You’d likely find yourself spending the majority of your time actually outside, however. The long trestle table means that everyone can eat al fresco together, even if the villa is at full capacity of 14 guests. The pool has been thoughtfully tiled with light green ceramic, making it blend in with the tiered lawn that flows down to the hedges that offer privacy from neighbours.

No two rooms at Le Mas De Vinci are the same. Pic: Contributed

The various trees and bushes create pockets of the garden to enjoy, whether you want to read a book in the hammock by the pond, take a dip in the hot tub, or relax and recline by the pool. Flowers and vines thrive in the warm climate, climbing the walls of the house and the awning that offers the outdoor dining table a patch of shade.

Wine and dine in the sun

While it might be tempting to stay in the house throughout your trip, there’s plenty to see and do in the area. A particular highlight was the truly incomparable Chateau La Coste.

There’s more to the sprawling grounds and villa that meets the eye – and there’s plenty to take in even at a first glance. The gently rolling hills offer a scenic walk through the art installations throughout the grounds, with a guided tour available throughout the day.

The gorgeous scenery of Chateau La Coste is a must-see. Pic: Rachael Davies

Once you’ve had your fill of the exhibitions, you can dine at a number of different restaurants on the premises, ranging from bistro-style food to fine dining. Of course, as a vineyard, it’s a must to sample some of Chateau La Coste’s own wine, as well as a number of other vintages from the region.

If one day is not enough to taste all that the vineyard has to offer, there’s even a hotel located on top of the hill, offering stunning views across the grounds. For hotel guests, breakfast, wine tastings and chateau art tours are complimentary. There's also a fine-dining restaurant serving Argentinian cuisine, a spa, an outdoor pool, and landscaped gardens with secluded seating areas.

For more opportunities to explore, Le Mas De Vinci is just a stone’s throw away from popular towns like Aix en Provence, Cassis, and Marseilles, with Nice a few hours away by car. As well as offering plentiful shopping opportunities in the Cassis markets or the bustling avenues in Provence, you’ll be tripping over delightful eateries offering locally-sourced food and drink.

Hotel service without the hotel

Cassis is just one of many coastal towns on your doorstep in Provence. Pic: Rachael Davies

Of course, sometimes you might not feel like heading out to a restaurant. As luck would have it, you can still avoid cooking and enjoy delicious food without leaving the comfort of the villa. For between €55 and €60 per person in the high season, a personal chef can come to the Villa and cook you and a minimum of five others a sumptuous three-course meal, all in line with any dietary requirements you may have.

What’s more, Oliver’s Travels are ready to assist with the concierge services that a hotel would usually provide. Many properties can be booked with the Vill’otel service, offering all the luxuries of a hotel including daily breakfast, maid service, welcome drinks, and concierge as standard. Staying in a quirky rental property doesn’t mean you need to miss out on the local knowledge and assistance from a concierge

Getting to Aix en Provence

Although there’s only one direct flight from Edinburgh to the closest airport of Marseilles on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, taking around two and a half hours, there are plenty of flights with one stop that only add two hours to your journey. Alternatively, there are train options available to Aix en Provence from London’s Kings Cross that take around six hours.

2022 rates for Le Mas De Vinci start from £4,163 for a seven-night stay for up to 14 people. The average price per night per person for Oliver’s Travels properties is £49. To book, visit www.oliverstravels.com or call 033 3888 0205.

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