THERE is no shortage of villa rental services in France. But few provide access to the country’s most beautiful properties in the way that Pure France, a company founded by two Brits tired of the Anglo slog, does.
With 400 properties, from the rustic to the grand to the minimalist and modern spread over the Languedoc, Burgundy and the Loire Valley, the Dordogne and Provence and the Cote d’Azur, there is literally no slice of the French idyll you can’t have, and at a reasonable price, too.
The founders, Dan Jones and Hugh Atkins (formerly Britain’s youngest yachtmaster and a professional skipper, and an advertising exec, respectively), began the business in France by helping to rent neighbours’ houses out. Their portfolio now makes staying in a hotel seem foolish – the choice, grandeur and rental price of the properties is staggering.
One of our favourites is Domaine de Nerige, whose British owner had to beat a path through the undergrowth to get to the derelict property. It’s now a beautiful five-bedroom with blue shutters and an enormous pool looking out over the Languedoc, set in 18 acres of lush forest. From €2,195 per week.
At the very top of the scale, especially for wine lovers, is Domaine de Cyrano (pictured above) near Toulon in Provence. A once-ruined manor house set amid 1,000 acres of vineyards, Cyrano has had a multi-million pound renovation by one of France’s top architects and now has two swimming pools, a cinema room, a dining room for 24 people and lots of elevated terraces with views of the vineyards. A nice touch are the six bottles of Domaine de Cyrano that await guests on arrival. It sleeps 14, from €7,780 per week.
The nine-bedroom Manoir des Sines (pictured below) is another jaw-dropper, set in the Dordogne countryside. A pool and jacuzzi, outdoor table tennis, cinema room and copious terraces make it the ultimate party pad. The main house has an arresting stone staircase, oak floorboards and beamed ceilings. Sleeps 18, €2,880 per week.
You don’t have to rent a chateau – there’s a gorgeous windmill for two in the Languedoc, for example, from €1,025 per week and numerous other options to fit a variety of budgets and group sizes. Party in France this summer, folks. www.purefrance.com.