Is it possible to find high standards and low price tags on the Cote d'Azur? It's a tall order, but a new villa development in pretty St Paul De Vence might just fit the bill...
Villa review: St Paul de Vence
Villa review: Affordable luxury on the Cote d'Azur
Our primary thought was that this two-bedroom, two-bathroom pad was even better than it looked in the pictures online. We were immediately impressed by the double-height living room windows and the clean, contemporary feel of the inside, with its white walls, creamy tiles and splashes of colour in the artwork and rugs.
There might be nothing better than waking up in the morning and looking out of the window to see the green rolling hills of the Cote d'Azur countryside sitting right in front of you. A morning dip in the pool followed by breakfast (eggs, bacon, croissants usually) on the terrace are the perfect follow-up to the wonderful wake-up.
We spent many nights sitting on the south-facing terrace enjoying a barbecue, a game of cards, and a bottle of Sancerre (or two, or four…).
When you do want to sample the local cuisine, you're in for a real treat (if you don't mind splashing a bit of cash). We dined at Alain Llorca in nearby Colle Sur Loup, which has a stunning terrace and magical views of St Paul de Vence. The food and service were both exquisite and, although it blew a giant-sized hole in the budget, we'd definitely go back.
Make the most of the pool! Being surrounded by so many beautiful places to visit, it's easy to go out on all sorts of day trips, and leave little time for relaxing. The pool is shared between all the villas, but there was never more than two other parties there at one time during our stay. And it's a stunning swimming pool, from its lavender-fringed path, to its size, the cleanliness, and the view. You'll find beach towels in the twin room downstairs, and deck chairs in the garage.
Although locals think it's 'overpriced' (according to one lovely if a little eccentric ex-pat in the complex), the world-famous Colombe d'Or restaurant is a must-visit, with its walls still adorned with paintings from artists like Picasso and Matisse.
St Paul de Vence is choc-a-block with pretty boutiques and galleries. Fondation Maeght is a wonderful modern art gallery outside the village, built by a Dutch couple in memory of their son, well worth a visit.
The villa is only 15 minutes from Nice airport and, therefore, is close to the coast. We enjoyed a trip up to Beausoleil, back through Villefranche and Monaco, eventually arriving at the beautiful Plage Mala beach in Cap d'Ail. It has stunning scenery, but be warned: it's a long walk back up, and the beach is pebbly. In the opposite direction you'll find Antibes, Juan-les-Pins and Cannes. If you get stuck, you'll find a thorough guide of local attractions and restaurants at the villa.
Although the beach is near, don't miss a trip inland. It's achingly picturesque and much less crowded. We drove through Tourettes sur Loup, Bar sur Loup, up to Gourdon and back down the Gorge du Loup, stopping off at the Waterfall. Then we took in Grasse, where, just in case you're interested, we found our wedding venue!
Price: The villa costs €1300 for a week in high summer (18 June to 9 September). So between two couples it's €750 each (approx £655).
HomeAway.co.uk is the UK’s number 1 holiday rentals website with over 200,000 properties available to rent worldwide. The site has a large selection of properties in France, from romantic city apartments to gorgeous villas with pool.
This beautiful and charming medieval village sits atop a Provencal hillside and overlooks mountains and sea. It's a bustling place: think winding streets, art galleries, elegant fountains, boutiques and pavement cafes. A pretty perfect spot for exploring Provence and the gorgeous coast.
Nestled in the Domaine de la Bergerie, our villa was part of the newly developed luxury accommodation which sees 18 properties sitting pretty in a lavender-lined, picturesque setting just outside St Paul de Vence.