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Twin peaks: Les Alpilles and the Lubéron


Buying a house in the twin Provençal beauties of the Lubéron and Les Alpilles, but not sure which to opt for? Arabella Youens tours some fabulous options


Les Alpilles


Driving around the market town of St-Rémy-de-Provence, you’d be for- given for thinking that Farrow & Ball had used the shutters of the 18th- century houses built ‘in the round’ for its latest colour-palette test. Many and varied hues of cornflower and duck- egg blue, the lightest mushroom browns and creams and deep, rusty reds lend an elegant, undeniably French and haphazard beauty to this jewel in the crown of Provençal towns. St-Rémy is the gateway to Les Alp-


illes, the craggy, limestone hills that rise just to the south—a skyline that takes the shape of a range of awk- wardly shaped molar teeth. In its foot- hills lie a collection of much-admired villages that boast many a prettily renovated bergerie ormas as well as a smattering of maisons de maîtres, all of which form much-desired bases for secondary homes. Immortalised in the paintings of


van Gogh, the crystalline light, wide skies and sunsets that set off the naked scrub and limestone rocks in a pale pink blush, Les Alpilles has attracted many artists and art-lovers in his wake. And, as is often the case, the money has followed. ‘Les Alpilles is really the French answer to the Cots- wolds,’ believes Nigel Hindle of Hindle & Baldock, buying agents based in Nice (00 33 9 62 19 08 14). ‘The villages are pretty and, thanks to the fast TGV trains to Avignon, it’s easy for Paris- ians to get to for the weekend.’ And, adds Hervé Honen of Provence


Dream Property (00 33 4 42 24 10 00): ‘There’s a large number of French film, TV and media stars who have chosen the area for their second home.’


Added to which, whereas the Lubé-


ron was, up until Mitterrand put it on the map in the 1980s (it was home to his ‘second family’), largely a poor, farming community, there has always been a certain amount of money revolving around St-Rémy. ‘That’s why you have a bigger selection of grown-up houses,’ believes Mr Hindle. To illustrate his point, we drive


down what could loosely be called the ‘Bishops Avenue’ of St-Rémy, Le Vieux Chemin d’Arles, for its large number of houses—many invisible from the road—which are bought and sold for multimillions of Euros. When it comes to values, there’s


not much breathing space between prices in the Lubéron and Les Alp- illes. ‘The latter might be marginally more expensive,’ says Stuart Baldock, the other half of Hindle & Baldock, but, throughout both regions, guide prices vary widely from the wildly off


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Village house Paradou is a small village that lies west of Maussane. This pretty house was created by knock- ing two bergeries together. There is a charming garden to the front as well as a small courtyard area to the back. Home Hunts (00 33 970 44 66 43)


48 Country Life International, Spring 2014 www.countrylife.co.uk/international


Jürgen Richter/LOOK/Robert Harding


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