Monday, September 24, 2012

Charming cabanon rental in the Luberon



When my wonderful companion, Remi, first came up with the idea to escape the noise of the Feria or Harvest Bullfights in Arles by going away, I responded with an immediate and emphatic "Yeessss". It was the best idea I had ever heard! While our friends had been dashing off to the beach or the mountains all summer long, Remi was working and working hard. We were city-bound, without the lazy glamour of being able to dive into air-conditioned multiplexes and echoing museums mid-afternoon. So when it was time to decide on a destination, we approached our search with the tenacity of France's rugby team preparing to head off against New Zealand.



We knew one thing and one thing only. We were both in serious need of Quiet. Yes, the capital Q kind. And as the beginning of September is still considered high season in many parts of Southern France, we had budget considerations to keep in mind as well. Of course I took my hunt very seriously.  Hello? I am a travel writer! It is my job to sniff out the overlooked, the undiscovered but fabulous. So I spent days and I do mean days trawling every website imaginable. Until one evening, without saying anything to me, Remi popped online. Ten minutes later, pas plus, he casually tossed me a line, "Hey, what about this?"


"This" was a cabanon in the Northern Luberon, the anti-bling non-Maylesy kind that ne'er a tour bus does see. The wee abode is on the edge of a lavender field and yes, they accept dogs, yes, there was availability for that week, no there wasn't plastic garden chairs used as the living room furniture and for...300€ per week (that is $388 USD, 239 British Pounds). Done. So beyond done.


The owners, Eric and Sabine, were away on a little vacation of their own and so we were met and welcomed by Sabine's parents both of whom are from the area since generations. It says a lot about the people of the region that Sabine and Eric were trusting enough for us to be les maitres du domaine in their absence. But it was still with trepidation that I entered the cabanon--would it be all that I hoped? 


I was not disappointed. 

The snug living area had all that we needed and then some. A futon sofa that was so comfortable that it soon became the most sought after spot for la sieste (yes, even more so than the deck chairs), not to mention an authentic Provençal dining set as well as a box of movies next to the television that was exactly to Remi's taste...


Up a short flight of stairs to the cozy bedroom. Sabine's Mom proudly showed me the magnetic blinds she had made to block out the ever-present sunlight for those that didn't want to rise with the dawn. Um yes, that would be us, merci


Back down to le salon and down a bit more to the fully stocked and I do mean fully stocked kitchen. I have to admit, this was one of the key factors that had sold me on the cabanon as how very, very rare  that is. There was even un panier of left behind items--a box of spaghetti, coffee filters and the like--for the just in case. A touch which is completely in line with the beautifully thought out details of the renovation of what was once the family farm's four à pain or bakery. When I later learned that Eric is an interior architect, I was hardly surprised. I loved how he recuperated and integrated materials from the existing structure, such as the beams and shelves just over Ben's head below, not to mention that the sand-based lime-wash on the walls was one of the best executed I have seen, which for Provence, is saying something. Truly, a really lovely renovation that makes the best of what is and what was.



Beyond the kitchen is a small but entirely serviceable bath (and positively enormous compared to the "pirouette in place" shower that we have at home). Need I mention that everything was spotlessly and I do mean spotlessly clean?


It was no wonder at all that soon we felt right at home.


There are several outdoor spaces to explore. Just behind the kitchen is a walled in garden with a table set towards the sun...




...one which joins a private loggia installed with a banquette, another dining table and the absolutely crucial BBQ (more about that to come). A ps. to my design friends, please take a look at the gorgeously set roof tiles...




It is such a lovely area that it is also a preferred choice of certain other visitors...I warned you that this is the country!


Yes, there are cats and dogs and chickens but that is all part of the experience. Here, you are not isolated on the edge of the world but a part of something authentic even if the design is authentic! When Eric and Sabine returned, along with their toddler twins, they were not only extremely charming hosts but discreet ones as well.


The cabanon is exactly what it claims to be, a wonderfully comfortable stone cabin, at only 30 square meters large. But we honestly felt like we didn't need anything more.


And most importantly, we felt entirely bienvenue.



Le cabanon de Bourinet
Simiane la Rotonde

Contact: Sabine Reynard (she speaks as she calls it "schoolgirl English" but it is enough to make a reservation, by email is probably best)
Tel.: +33 (0) 4 92 75 91 39


One final aspect worth noting, the cabanon goes up to 350€ in the peak of high season, which remains an extremely reasonable price and one in accordance with the farm setting. I only ask that you don't book the cabanon during the week of the lavender harvest because we plan on going back!

Happy trails...




41 comments:

  1. Ah it is Charming (with a capital C). I would love to pay a visit and savour the quiet and solitude.

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    1. Loree, the whole area would charm you--I am sure of it!

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  2. Hello Heather

    What a place.I can see how you loved it and plan on returning. I laughed when I saw Ben sitting there with that smirk like he owns the place. Such places are heavenly and obviously created and cared for with passion by the owners. Thanks for sharing and what a bargain too.
    Greetings from Ireland, where life is wonderful

    Helenxx

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    1. You are in Ireland! Oh, I am so thrilled for you, Helen. It must feel wonderful to be home.

      And as for Ben? Well, that became his "place". No, not outside but right in front of where I set up the music on my laptop--we certainly is a city dog!!
      Bisous,
      H

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  3. Hello Heather:
    We know that we too should have been absolutely captivated by this charming place. It must have been very difficult to leave, but then that is the mark of somewhere truly in tune with one's own sensibilities.

    The interior decoration looks to have been extremely skilfully and sensitively done. The colour palette is so restful and calming and the touches of quirkiness add to the overall charm. Perfect!

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    1. Yes, it is exactly what we love too. The cabanon was very cozy at night too with candles lit and leaving shadows across the walls.
      Hoping you both are well in Budapest. Where is our autumn?
      xo,
      H

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  4. Absolute perfection. And thank you for the ps on the roof tiles! But are they laid straight on top of the rafters, in the same direction and not perpendicular? How do they stay there, if so? It's a very charming effect. But then the whole place, from detail to ambience, is charming. And just what you needed. No wonder you couldn't settle when you got home! vb xx

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    1. Now, let's see if I can explain this correctly! The rafters are laid on top of the big beams but have been cut into a triangle shape so that the tiles are laid straight on top of them but "upside down" so they fit perfectly. Does that make sense? Add a layer of cement then another layer of tiles perpendicularly et voila!

      I also love the roof detail on the photo outside with the stone trough--a design that I only see on the oldest houses here.
      xo!

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  5. Be still my heart! Heavenly. So glad you found it and shared it.

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    1. You and Karina would be happy as can be here, Judith.

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  6. A brilliant find Heather.. so cosy and charming... just the most perfect getaway... Ben looks very happy too... :) xv

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    1. Ben spent a fair amount of time shivering in the bathroom with fear due to the opening of the hunting season but otherwise was a happy boy indeed!

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  7. A perfect place to rest and revitalise your senses. Bisous.

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    1. Elizabeth! You are back!!! I can't wait to get caught up with you.
      Gros bisous...

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  8. OK, that chicken in the day bed has me laughing out loud. My kind of critter, he feels welcome everywhere. Dylan is wonderful too. Yes, a charming place for certain, you should have kept it a secret!

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    1. No, no secrets here! :) And yes, the chickens were afraid of nothing--they kept trying to sneak into the kitchen! :O

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  9. What a wonderful escape! I would truly love being there! It really reminds me of La Bastide Rose that I am truly longing to go back to! What a fun experience! Thanks for sharing yours with us!

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    1. You're welcome Carolyn. I think that you might have mentioned the Bastide another time--more info please!

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  10. When whippoorwills call and evening is nigh
    I hurry to my Blue Heaven
    A turn to the right, a little white light
    Will lead me to my Blue Heaven.

    I'll see a smiling face, a fireplace, a cozy room
    A little nest that nestles where the roses bloom
    Just Jilly and me, and baby makes three
    We're happy in my Blue Heaven

    This song is not even from my time, mine is more like the Beatles and Elvis. It just pops into my head while perusing the lovely pictures from your vacation hideaway. What a gem of a place! Just what the doctor ordered for peace, quiet and tranquility. I love the picture of Ben sitting on top of the stairs.

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    1. What a gorgeous song from such another period in time when everything must have seemed so possible...But perhaps you felt the same while listening to the Beatles and Elvis too! We had lunch with friends this weekend and the talk turned to the challenges that the youth of today have in front of them. So very different than a little Blue Heaven...

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    2. The youth of today will face their challenges as bravely and judiciously as we have done and all generations before us did. We love 'em, teach 'em and raised 'em up right and strong. Then trust they will go forth with intelligence, tenacity and humanity, to make a better world for themselves and the next generation. The world can be a crazy place...they'll definitely need to find their own little blue heaven to retreat, revitalize and rejuvenate. This may seem like a pie in the sky way of looking at things, but without optimism and hope...nothing!

      I'm not a pro when it comes to this topic. All I do is navigate by the heart. Thank you for listening to my rambling.

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  11. A wonderful hide away...I wonder how did cat, dog, chicken get along?

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    1. Good question, Francine! Ben has always ignored cats (since he had a blow on the nose when he was a pup) but was intimidated by their dog, who, while sweet, liked to play a little too rough for his taste! As for the chickens, he didn't know what to think and looked to us for guidance! :)

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  12. It really was beautiful! I'm so sad that I didn't get to see it, and that I didn't get to see you again :( Next time! x

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    1. I know--so close but yet so far!! Not to mention that the echine de porc was crazy good!! But we really hope to go back so yes, next time!

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  13. Oh, Heather......this does look particularly wonderful....simple clean, quiet, etcetera.

    It seems particularly enviable to me just now-----the French in-laws are here for 3 weeks (not that I don't know them well and gnerally enjoy them, but most folks don't call a few days before their arrival to giddily announce that they've been able to change their plans and can stay for an extra week!!!!.....to "help"!!!!), and my own parents (whom, rather obviously, I know well and whom I also generally enjoy) just came for three days to "Help you and Herve settle in!". No one seems to recall that we've actually been in this house for 3 months as of yesterday and am fairly adept at reading the labels on moving boxes and putting things where they generally belong.

    At the same time, Herve's gone off on a three-day, unavoidable conference trip.......so, I'm stuck here with four hyperactive septuagenarians, all of whom want three set meals per day. The mothers, predictably enough, say that they'll do the cooking...but they don't know where anything is (not that I'm entirely sure, myself), so I'm interrupted every ten minutes with a request for a lemon zester or a colander or a "cheese knife" or a cuisinart attachment that I actually neither own nor want.... while I've reteated to my studio and am trying to respond to interview questions and client inquiries....just to hear all about why I really SHOULD get the pastry-maker attachment, it'll CHANGE MY LIFE (!) etcetera, ad infinitum.

    Predictably enough (and I should emphasize that our parents know each other quite well and like each otherloads), both of the fathers want to get their hands on power tools and go chopping or hacking down stuff on the property (where the flower beds have been utterly neglected for the last seven years....so you don't know what's actually IN that pile of grass and weeds). When their wives aren't interrupting me to ask for something, they come running to warn me that one or both of their husbands is trying to do something with the electric clippers, the weedeater, or the chainsaw.

    You know what I did? I hid all the adaptors and am claiming that silly little me can't find them now. As you might guess, neither of these old men takes up my suggestion "Well, you could just use the HAND clippers!" They hate not being able to whack away at my property (even I don't yet know 1/2 of what's here; it's a BIG place)with power tools.

    (rant to be continued)....

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  14. My happy parents leave for Tennessee today (they're going straight from there to my youngest brother's house, presumably to deliver school pictures of my other brother's children). Then, there'll be only the French in-laws for another two weeks. I'm assuming that Herve's return-flight won't crash, and I'll be able to smilingly inform him that I love his parents, but he's got to take over running their summer projects-camp and keeping them amused & occupied. I can handle their food and laundry, lend them my car....but I'm more than a bit over my current role as concierge/amusement-park manager for seniuor citizwens on their exciting, "SEE AMERICA!" getaway-vacations.

    Oh...both sets of parents have brought NEW, 8"x10" school-photographs of various grandchildren, which have been placed in frames (this involved an exciting trip to the local Walmart while I got their lunches ready on Saturday) and set out all over the kitchen/dining-room. If you walked in the door as a stranger, you would think I either was running a kindergarten here or, particularly as a gay man, had a very intense & serious kiddie-fixation. It's quite weird. A nice neighbor (whom I've known only for a week or so) came to the kitchen door yesterday afternoon with a bag of pears; as we stood in the kitchen, I saw her eyes go to the table and its rows of 15 or so (I'm not exaggerating) large photographs of children....and her brows furrowed a bit before I said "The GRANDPARENTS are all here, all four of them...they think we need to have many pictures of ALL the grandchildren..."

    Oh, well.....I'll survive this with at least a minimum of good grace. At least there are five full bathrooms (this old house was a B&B for about ten years); things could easily be more complicated.

    In any case, your cabanon looks wonderfully peaceful/restful. We don't have any chickens here right now (Herve's planning to get some), but we do have a very nice, new-ish chicken-house, built by the previous owners. I'm thinking of going out there for my afternoon nap today.

    Wish me luck,

    David Terry

    P.S (and I hope you'll find this amusing, lengthy as it is while I'm hiding out in my studio...). I can't sufficiently describe for you the intense weirdness of walking through this house with folded laundry and realizing that four old & somewhat deaf people all have the habit of turning on a CD player or radio everywhere they go, and then leaving it on when they go somewhere else, where they turn on some other sound-making machine. This is usually a very quiet house (I work at home, alone, while Herve goes out to work each day)....now?, there are shrill Palestrina arias playing in the kitchen while NPR blares bad-news in the library, Patsy Cline is playing in the piano room, and Edith Piaf (strangely enough, my quite-American father's current fixation, or maybe he's simply making a fond gesture towards the french inmates) is caterwauling down the stairway from a guest bedroom. I've started wearing shooting-earplugs at night and/or when I need a nap. I'm not kidding.

    I should add that the terriers are all delerious with delight over all these new&fun people, who love them right back and can't be convinced to stop throwing balls for them in the house, or to never feed them from the table while people are eating.

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    1. My dear David,

      It would be outright infantile for me to giggle over your frustration but I can't quite help myself and yes, most certainly as far as the GRANDKIDS PHOTOS (somehow that needs to be capitalized) is concerned. But also with the cacophony of sound. I imagine you as a quiet person or one who chooses a very specific sound (such as when you suggest songs here) and as much as I love them both, I can't imagine a Patsy Cline/Piaf showdown.

      Well, I hope that you are at least getting some good home-cooking of both nationalities despite the cost of your sanity. And good luck protecting the trees! Something tells me that now that your folks have left and the two men are no longer plotting together, it will go easier. I also believe that Herve owes you something--what that may be, I'll let you decide...

      Sending my Best of my Best from a cantankerously stubbborn hot Arles,
      Heather

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    2. Oh, my parents have left as of a few hours ago.

      Amusingly enough, I ran into a neighbor at the grocery store, who pleasantly/concernedly asked me (having learned that our parents were here) "Oh, how wonderful! Now.....are they able to get around, see the historic district?..."

      I told her that they were all, for better or worse, in perfect health, none of them over 72, and distressingly MORE than able to "get around"...they were positively running circles around middle-aged, tired-old me.

      I'm going out to weed in the back-forty. no one wants to join me in that unromantic, non-mechanized project....which suits me just fine for a few hours.

      My in-laws have just driven in from shopping. They've been out to buy stuff at the Home Depot and have just announced that they intend to paint the front porch. What????

      I'd ask what color they've chosen (the historical board allows you a choice of only three colors, which I somehow doubt the in-laws know), but I suppose that would be presumptuous of me.

      Beleaguredly yours,

      ----david

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  15. The best of Provence. What a great find! Thanks for sharing it. I'll certainly keep the address for friends wishing to visit the area.

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    1. Nathalie, that whole area around Simiane/Banon/Sault/Rustrel is just so very beautiful--very inspiring!!!

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  16. The whole place looks perfect to me what more could you need? Ben looks cute and happy as ever, he didn't chase the chicken? Dylan dog chased a coyote this morning but that's another story. I'm so ready for a rest and the husband was just telling me last week to find a place to go as our anniversary present....;)

    XXX
    Debra~

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    1. Dylan chased a COYOTE?! Bad dog! Very bad!!! No, Ben only chased the chicken when we told him too... ;)

      And oooh, is it a big anniversary? I say nothing soothes the soul like a trip to Europe...
      xo,
      H

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  17. Charming!LOVE THE CHICKEN On the bed!!!!!Thats my kinda place!
    BRAVO REMI!

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    1. Do you have any idea how frustrated I was that he found it and not me? ;)

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  18. Heather,

    Great photos .. this looks just perfect!! The exterior design is beautiful as is the interior.. love the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen.. and you even had chickens! So glad you found this beautiful spot for some peace and tranquility.

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    1. Thanks so much Leslie, we really needed it! And of course the great part about chickens...the eggs! Insanely good!!! It made me think that if I ever do live on a farm again, there will have to be hens as part of the equation...

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  19. This is definitely our kind of place and will go into our "French Futures File" -- glad you had a wonderful time at such a wonderful sounding place (and glad you shared it with all of us!)
    xoxo
    j.

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  20. What can I say? Tout simplement parfait! I'm sure you've had a wonderfully relaxing week - and quiet with a capital Q? Right up my alley in every possible way! :-)

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  21. Heather, If you aren't putting all these gorgeous impressions, words, and images into book - you should be.

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  22. What a find! This little cabanon looks like a hidden little paradise. Just perfect.


    ~ Clare x

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