The walled towns continued their building stages into the 12 Th and 14 Th Centuries while many rulers came and went including the Popes who resided at Avignon from 1309 to 1376 and built impressive castles. In recent years, these towns have been home and motif to Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Picasso.
Renting a House In Provence

The people of Provence work the land and cherish their traditions; the coliseum at Arles still features bullfighting two times a year along with its other Camargue bull spectacles. A movement is underway to teach the ancient language of Provencale in the schools and many of the villages hold festivals throughout the year that include ancient music, dance, horsemanship, and bull fighting.
Provence offers vacation lodging in fabled towns like Roman-built Arles, the one-time capital, Aix-en-Provence, Solon de Provence, home of Nostradamus,   St. Remy, haunt of the Impressionist painters, and many little heard of villages in between.  The South of France is a region rich in Roman ruins, Medieval walled cities, and Renaissance art that extends from the southern region of France at Montelimar to the Mediterranean, from Nice to the Saintes Maries de la Mere on the Rhone River Delta .  
The walled cities of Provence offer many vacation rental houses, gites and apartments, some in the country and others in the villages and cities.
Although rich in history, this area had been largely overlooked by international tourist except those that toured coastal Provence while visiting Cannes, Nice, and St Tropez: the Cote d' Azur to French speakers, the French Riviera in English.     
Celebrity chefs like Julia Child then put Provence on the American cooking vacation circuit with her cookbooks and her praise for the bouillabaisse of Marseilles  (30 to 60 Euros a plate in Marseille's Old Port restaurants), and the simple fare of the region based on fresh produce and olive oil.
Renting In Provence Vacation South of France, Hiking, Biking, and the Culinary Vacation
The hills and valleys of Provence were inhabited as far back as Neolithic times and still have rock tombs of early settlers. Later, nomadic shepherds built corbel vaulted beehive-like structures of stone called bories with an estimated 3000 still standing  around Gordes and Saignon.
Germanic Celtic tribes and Italian Ligurians inhabited Provence before the Greek (600 BC) and later Roman settlers (100 BC) built permanent dwellings of stone.
From the first century BC to the third century AD the Romans built an extensive road system throughout Provence, the best example perhaps, the first century Julian Bridge on the road between Gordes and Lacoste that, until recently, carried automobile  traffic over the Coulon River, a feeder of the Durance River.  
Cooking Vacation
Continuing interest in the cuisine, a love affair with the Impressionist painters, and the discovery of Provence's hiking, climbing, kayaking, and biking opportunities had generated a wave of American tourist keeping the rentals full nearly year round until the Euro became so much stronger than the dollar.
Hiking Biking
Many visitors rent a place in Provence to settle in for a brief period of living the village life, shopping for the daily provisions, and cooking with the locally grown produce. Others home base in a convenient village and make day trips by rental car to surrounding hill towns of stonewalls and Medieval castles and for reaching the hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, and cliff the hills and river valleys.
Renting a house, even if it just for a week or two, is a good and economical way to enjoy all that Provence has to offer.
Renting a House
Rentals can accommodate  several families or just two people. When your search begins on the web, start first with the number of people that you will accommodate.
How Many People
The regions of Provence are called departments and include Hautes Alpes, Alpes de Haute Provence, Alpes Maritimes, Bouches du Rhone, Var, Vaucluse, and the Drome Provencale.

Start a search with either the region you desire or the price range you seek. Some villages are more expensive than others but the area is well served by good roads so that you can base in one place and reach many villages and walled cities in an hours drive.  
Transportation will be of crucial importance. Will you have a rental car? (30-60 USD per day and plentiful in the major cities and TGV stations) If not, lodging in one of the larger towns or cities would be a better option unless you want the solitude and isolation of a country villa or retreat.
What Region
Medieval Villages
English writer Peter Mayle's  book, "A Year In Provence,"  prompted Europeans to fan out in the countryside of the Luberon and Vaucluse looking for distressed cottages and old farms to buy as fix-up vacation homes and rentals. These properties are now rental vacation lodging.
Otherwise the countryside of Provence has changed little in five hundred years. No massive development, no malls, and just a few high-speed roads. The one major innovation, the high-speed TGV train; with top speeds of 180 MPH it puts Avignon two and a half hours from Paris.
A Year In Provence
A Villa or Vacation rental at the foot of a walled city could accommodate up to 15  or more and give good access to recreation, culture, shopping
Saignon  on the hilltop overlooking Apt is postcard perfect and near enough to the larger city to offer transportation
Arles was a roman city in the first century
A limited menu family run  mom and pop style restaurant in the Village of Apt, La Manade on Rue Rene Cassin should not be missed
Plain Trees
Non-lethal bull fighting
Road to St. Remy
Season: High, Mid, Low
High: July August
Mid:  April, May  June, September, October,and School Vacations
Low: November,December, January, February, March
The Roman Arena in Arles still hosts bull fights
The Roman Theatre in Arles
Renting a house in Provence for a cooking vacation or for a hiking and biking vacation combined with low fat cooking of Provence cuisine is the best way to see France and save money.
Cooking Vacation in Provence,
Low Fat Cooking  Healthy Eating
Even with the dollar discounted around 30 percent, Provence still draws Americans, usually in May and June, and in September and October, the months when the European travelers are back to work and not on their six-week July/August vacations.

Many of the villages in Provence are storybook quaint, full of ancient stone buildings with tile roofs and narrow cobble streets open only to pedestrians. Lavender fields of rich purple color the hillsides in June and July and 12Th Century chapels crown the hilltops in the Medieval walled villages. Farming of rice in the south and wheat and lavender in the north along with raising of sheep and the practice of viticulture and olive production are the primary industries in largely rural Provence.  
Restaurants to write home about:
In Mouries    the Valon de Gayet,          in
Apt,  La  Manade,          in Avignon,  La Fourchette.
Renting In Provence Vacation South of France for Hiking, Biking, and the Culinary Vacation will combine low fat cooking of Provence cuisine with the hiking and biking while seeing France and saving money on lodging.
Reach Provence
  • Air
International flights serve Paris, Marseilles,  Locals Nimes and Avignon.
  • Train
TGV Fast trains serve Avignon and Nimes from Paris.  Local trains serve Arles
  • Auto
Rental cars are available at the TGV Stations in Paris, Avignon, and Nimes.  Available also in Arles.
Autourope is available in Avignon at the TGV  train station.
Shop for your rental car online well  ahead of your trip and choose diesel (more economical) or gas, luggage space,(important)  standard or automatic,(important)  two door, four door and other options.    
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