As you step inside this 400 year-old 'maison de maitre' onto the flagstone floors, 'La Maison du Faiencier' exudes a sense of history. From the vaulted hall you enter a stylish living/dining room, separated by an archway from the exceptionally well-equipped kitchen. Both, look on to and have access to a charming courtyard (ideal outdoor eating area) which leads into the 350 m2 walled garden. There you can sit under the shade of the vines and fruit trees or take a dip in the pool (7mx3.5m). Throughout the house the emphases is on quality and luxury with all the original features having been carefully restored. Each bedroom is light and airy, tastefully decorated with original materials, and with its own private bathroom. Rooms can be made up with large single or super-king-sized double beds.
The house is situated on the main square, right in the heart of a small but active village. Across the square, you'll find the local, (very ‘French’) boulangerie, boucherie, cafe and restaurant.
Local Activities: This is an excellent place for walking, given its proximity to the Gorge du Verdon and its lesser known lower gorges and lakes. Panoramic views in abundance. Lavender plains also near-by, which are so worth seeing when in full flower June/July. Local markets can be experienced most days of the week and there are plenty of delightful medieval, hill-top villages to explore.
Local beaches and swimming at the near-by lakes. Mediterranean coast is 1 hour's drive away.
Local Food & Wine: A restaurant serving traditional French cuisine is right on the 'doorstep' in Varages and several good, inexpensive restaurants can be found in Barjols, just 10-minutes drive way. For the more exclusive menu, a drive to some of the exquisite local hill-top villages is to be recommended with views and sunsets to accompany the meal. Local domaines abound, where you can sample the Provence wines.
All Year Round Holiday Place: With the locals boasting '300 days of sun a year', La Maison du Faiencier is a special place to come any time of the year. Home, in the past, to Masters of earthenware and porcelain (faience), you'll be experiencing a piece of history in comfortable luxury surroundings, with all the amenities on your doorstep. And there is the added bonus that this little bit of Provence, though exceptionally beautiful, is largely 'undiscovered'.
Please note that in the mid season, individual rooms at La Maison du Faiencier can sometimes be booked on a bed & breakfast basis. A two-people occupancy double room is 185 € per two-night stay with shared use of the kitchen, garden and pool.
I am a typical ‘Brit’ living the dream … or rather escaping the hustle and bustle of big city life. Before coming to France I lived in the centre of London and worked as a reporter for BBC Radio.
The house is unique and hugely characterful. The Maison de Maître (or Master’s House) was build just about the time when William Shakespeare was writing his poems and plays, and 30 years before Harvard University in the USA was established. I am sure of the date as when renovating the property in 2003 we discovered a plaque in the wall which was initialled by the two chief ‘Compagnons’ (master builders). ‘MA’ and ‘FP’ finished their work, as it is clearly inscribed, on ‘The last day of March, 1609’.
A lot of the original features remain. The most impressive perhaps is the stone floor of the vaulted entrance hall - the same stone as can be found in the Catholic Cathedral in near by St Maximin St Baume. Who can imagine who has trodden these massive flagstones in the last 400 years! The walls are built from rocks and ‘tuff’ found in the fields around the original village. Most of the walls are 70 centimetres thick with large tall windows fitted with outer ‘volets’. The thickness of the walls make the house a wonderful refuge of coolness in the summer, and preserve all the warmth of the property in the winter.
In the main salon the wild cherry tree beams are six meters long and support in their turn 160 smaller beams which hold up the floors of the bedrooms above. Most of the floors in the house are covered with ‘tommette’ – the local hexagonal deep-red terracotta tiles for which this area is famous throughout France.
The house is in the very centre of the little village. Step out of the front door and you’re in the central ‘Place’ with the main village fountain just a few meters away. In the summer, with the windows open, my day is accompanied by the trickle of water dribbling from it’s four spouts.
The village has it’s own water source just a short walk from the house. All that can be seen is a little still clear-as-clear-can-be pond. If you weren’t aware of it’s abiding importance to the village and all who live here you would walk by it without a second thought. But the water that fills this pond comes from an unknown source deep beneath the ground. It has never been known to dry up and apparently springs to the surface within one degree in temperature be it 35 degrees in the summer or -12 in the winter.