Our romantic house is well equipped, comfortable & roomy. Restoration retains rural village character: white walls, wide pine & red tile floors, oak beam ceilings. Roomy farm kitchen (serious 4 burner butane stove with electric grill, all utensils & rustic fireplace in season), Our self-catering holiday rental on village edge has a vine shaded breakfast balcony with partial view onto valley of vineyards & apricot orchards. Bath has 2 showers, 2 sinks & reading/waiting room outside. Separate WC. Master bedroom with fireplace (in season) & queen-sized bed. Smaller 2nd bedroom has double-sized bed. Additional 3rd bedroom (supplement) is available for large families travelling with children (double sized bed & bunk beds). Cheerful living room off the Master Bedroom is a comfortable place to read / relax. Bike storage in basement, parking just steps away on village square. If we're in town, your first French breakfast (coffee & village bakery croissants) is complimentary.
What is Venterol like?: Venterol is a protected hillside Cotes-du-Rhone wine village with its own bistro on the square, a fine restaurant, and a pastry baker offering morning-fresh baked croissants & baguettes. It has arcaded narrow streets, traditional laundry 'lavoirs' and a lovely church with one of the best wrought iron campanilis you'll ever see. A vast lavender harvest occurs in mid-July with countless tiny distilleries perfuming the air. There are sunflower fields and olive, apricot and cherry orchards. Elderly ladies still watch flocks near hamlets on the mountain slopes behind Venterol.
Village summer festivities feature fireworks, music, dining and dancing. One of Provence's liveliest Market Days occurs every Thursday in Nyons, right next door. And every Saturday in summer, a local Farmers Market holds forth in Venterol's centre square. There one can purchase olive oil, honey, goat cheese, veggies from adjacent fields, homespun embroidery & Sarah's unusual home kitchen-crafted jams/jellies.
What cultural and recreational activities exist?: Nyons (1.7K) has its own Cinema Arlequin, many cafes and restaurants, an outdoor theatre, tennis, supermarkets, banking & services... plus one of Provence's best Market Days. Nyons has a gigantic outdoor Municipal Swim Center with cafe ...a great place for cool family fun. Another unique public pool is found beneath the Marquise-de-Sevigny's huge Renaissance castle at Grignan. Or you can swim and hunt fossils in mountain streams right behind Venterol.
Wine tasting is everywhere! Bike amidst seas of Cotes-du-Rhone vineyards. Hike or horseback ride, following high altitude paths of the WW2 French Resistance.
Many excellent museums bejewel nearby villages: museums of the Silk Manufacturing Era, of Olive Oil, of Lavender Distillation, and even of Cardboard Box Manufacturing.
There are music, opera & dance spectaculars in Vaison-la-Romaine, Orange, Arles and (a day trip) Nimes.
In July, the Avignon Theater Festival offers a vast array of productions.
Where is Venterol situated?: Venterol is located near the Rhone, on the southern edge of the Drome Provencale and Vaucluse, in the Region of Rhone-Alpes. We are on an interesting climatic divide: To our south, a warm and dry 'Midi' climate extends past Mt. Ventoux, through the Plateau of Vaucluse and the Luberon, to the sea. To our north, reaching up to the high mountains of Vercors, the climate is cooler and vegetation greener. Flocks graze the slopes. Corn grows, sunflower and poppy fields border blazing yellow scotch broom.
Venterol is close to the Rhone River and the Gorges of Ardeche (kayaking and limestone cave exploring) to the west. Right next door (8 minutes away) are Valreas and the Knights Templer town of Richerenches, both in the ancient Enclave des Papes. Suze-la-Russe Castle, a must-visit for our rental guests, is home to the renowned International University of Wine. This Renaissance castle is owned by the Dept. of Drome, as is Grignan castle. Multilingual visits to both are possible.
As a semi-retired professional travel/corporate photographer who has lived at least 2 months in Provence since discovering the village in 1969, Venterol has always been my necessary annual dose of good food, beauty, peace and quiet....everything necessary in which to paint, photograph, discover, breath fresh air and make friends. After shooting annual reports for just about every major corporation, this was both refuge and solace.
My wife maintains it is also the reason for an excellent state of health. At any rate, after traveling the world, it is the place where I feel at home.
In 1969 my girlfriend and I were looking for something as a pied-a-terre in France. I had already loved life in Paris and
could imagine the possibilities of such an idea. An Italian friend of ours suggested Venterol, directing us to two Swiss women who wanted to sell their summer refuge. The village was nearly abandoned, many empty buildings with black, gaping windows... streets with open sewers, one habitually empty crumbling cafe.
The house I bought had dirt floors, primitive plumbing, no electricity, a bed with straw mattress, leaky roofs, no windows and resident scorpions. But it was very large, a complicated labyrinth layout: I was seduced by the expansive layout, the many rooms, the attached village farm, the seemingly endless possibilities.
I worked summers from dawn to after dark, cutting new windows into the walls, tiling floors, surfacing walls, re-doing roofs... all
that was necessary to just make the place barely habitable.
Over the years, each time returning with some of the winters
earnings to invest into improvements, the house began to become what can be enjoyed today. And, in the very large suitcases of the time, we brought over so many personal items,
art work, furnishings.... making the place seem home-like and welcoming. At the end of the days, after toiling in some dusty,
nearly ruined part of the complex, my only next door neighbor and I would compare the experiences of that day.
I always loved the nest-like shape of our village and its situation clinging to the slopes of the mountains behind. It also pleased me that the house was not situated in the middle of the nest
but, rather, on the outer edge with a view of the valley below.
Why this property? Because a little boy from New England
once dreamed of castles and knights and then, years later, found a region where they actually existed. And, besides, my
father was a farmer so I enjoy being around farms, farmers and
the growing cycles. I guess that is why.
Olives, apricots, lavender, wine grapes, the Mediterranean
diet mixed with dependable sunshine:
all the ingredients to make one healthy and happy.
Plus some of the most interesting, kind and generous
people I know.
Venterol is a protected hillside Drome wine village in the Cotes-du-Rhone region near Nyons, Valreas & Vaison-la-Romaine. Olive orchards climb surrounding hills & lavender fields colour the valley below. Our village lies on the southern side of small mountains bisected by streams filled with fossils & many popular hiking trails. Wild boar, chamois & fox are seen on back mountain lanes still used by sheep and goat herders. Venterol, as with so many neighbouring villages in Drome Provencal, is surrounded by vineyards and welcoming wine tasting 'caveaux'. Nyons right next door has a huge municipal state- of- the- art Swim centre for family fun and recreation. Close by streams and waterfalls provide additional picnic/swim opportunities. Prefer cultural activities to nature? Avignon, Arles are not far away, both beside the nearby Rhone.
Other Activities: Wine tasting, Provence market days, antique hunting at Isles-sur-la-Sorgue
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