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My husband and I just watched a PBS travel segment on agritourism in Italy. Although we are experienced travelers, except for cruising (even this, we know how to do fast and furious!) the show opened our eyes to a new, SLOW adventure. We plan to be in Paris for Christmas, which we'd like to follow with a week in an agritourism site in France -- south of France only because of the time of year. Please, we need tips from an experienced agritourist! I am open to generalized overviews as well as a specific place and person to contact. 1) We cannot participate in farm chores as we are older, city types. 2) We relish great farm food and wine. 3) We need train directions to/from Paris to make pre-arranged plane reservations.
 
Posts: 3 | Location: West Hollywood, CA | Registered: 22 May 2007Report This Post

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Hello Lotus and Welcome to Slow Travel!

I've made a link for your message to the France message board of Slow Talk. This will bring it to our members who have traveled in France.
Gites are somewhat the equivalent to agritourism in France. I'd also take a look at the rental reviews on the France section of Slow Travel - our main website. You'll find reviews from members of rentals in France. A rental may also be what you are interested in.

I'd also keep in mind that winter in Southern France can still be cold and lonely. I would be open to potentially other options/rentals in larger villages or cities.
 
Posts: 12559 | Location: Edmonds, WA | Registered: 25 October 2001Report This Post

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Welcome from a Slow Traveler in West Hollywood. Smile

Paris is my favorite city and I'm sure it will be magical at Christmas. More to come...
 
Posts: 2961 | Location: Los Angeles | Registered: 04 May 2004Report This Post

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Welcome Lotus!

One thing you might do is buy a Rivages guide to "Chambres de Hotes de Charme" and/or less likely "Gites de Charme." (At least some of Rivages guide series has been translated into English; I'm not sure about these two.

Many gites and chambres d'hotes are on working farms. The large majority of chambres d'hotes do not offer meals besides breakfast. Those that do are also "tables d'hotes," with the meal optional, and will be flagged in the guidebook or other guidebooks. In that case, you should arrange/reserve meals when you make the reservation, as we have experienced more than once a table d'hotes unable to provide a main meal due to passing circumstances in the owners' lives. (Of course this could happen even if you reserve meals well in advance.)

Gites have cooking facilities, but it does not sound like you are mainly interested in doing your own cooking.

Another option would be to search out a locality with one or more farm restaurants, and find lodging nearby. Actually, I think you could have better quality both in farm meals and lodging that way, but the downside if you enjoy wine is that one of you would not be able to drink more than one glass before driving home.

We don't visit southern France so I can't offer recommendations from experience but I'll bet that Kevin and Elizabeth's place
http://www.masperreal.com/ would be excellent for lodging and brunch, and they could tell you whether there are farm restaurants nearby.

Dave
 
Posts: 1641 | Location: Paris | Registered: 04 January 2005Report This Post

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Hi Lotus and welcome to Slow Travel--

I think this website (Bienvenue a la ferme in France) is a great resource for what you are looking for. I picked up one of their hard-copy guides earlier this year.

Our family spent a winter in Provence a few years ago and loved it. The days were usually beautiful and clear-- but could also be quite cold. You may find that many (most?) of these places are not open during the winter months, but hopefully you will find what you are looking for. BE SURE to ask about heat!

Our family stayed at this small farm in the French Alps in February 2005 and really enjoyed the experience. (See my review here.) I notice that they are listed on the Bienvenue a la Ferme site. We took advantage of the table d'hotes meal (dinner) twice during our stay. This is a real opportunity to connect with your hosts and the French culture (and to practice your French), if you stay somewhere that offers an evening meal.

Keep us posted on what you decide to do--

Kathy
 
Posts: 5718 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee & Bonnieux, Provence | Registered: 20 October 2003Report This Post
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Thank you, Marta. I read just every entry in the gites.com site -- thanks to you -- and feel better armed to venture forth to a S-L-O-W good time. Still huge areas of ignorance! More responses follow to the great people who replied.
 
Posts: 3 | Location: West Hollywood, CA | Registered: 22 May 2007Report This Post
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Thank you Kaydee. I am looking closer to the coast with Aix-en-Provence as the "farthest" north point. 2 reasons: 1) we are ignorant of the south of France, this is our first venture; 2) we will be carless, although we may rent one to take short excursions to the coastal villages - ah! those beguiling names we have only heard of/read about. Here are 3 leads so far (any one with information, + or -, please feel free to chime in:
1. Chambre d'hotes 1608 right in the Aix-center. Contacted maison.carlotta@wanadoo.fr
2. I got the loveliest note of invitation from Bernard Vidal of La Villa des Remparts in the Minervois region; see "Les Oliviers" under gite.com.
3. Then there's the Les Olivettes in the Luberon region; see olivettes.com.
All appear safe bets.
Most importantly, after reading Slow Talk entries, I am ready to launch into Provence!
 
Posts: 3 | Location: West Hollywood, CA | Registered: 22 May 2007Report This Post

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I just spent a week at Les Olivettes. It's outside your target area, north of Aix, and a good 90 minutes by car from the coast. While I loved it, I doubt that it would work for you without a car. And I definitely wouldn't describe it as an agritourism site. The big house may have been a farm house in the past, but it certainly isn't now.
 
Posts: 8229 | Location: Sacramento, CA | Registered: 18 June 2001Report This Post

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Hi Lotus -

I can very highly recommend the Maison Carlotta in Aix. Perfect location right near the Cours Mirabeau (on the quieter side of town. A gorgeous old Hotel Particulier - and the two floors which house the B&B have been beautifully renovated. The hostess, Madame D'Aquilante couldn't be more warm and charming. Although haven't stayed there ourselves, we did visit and spent some time chatting with the owner and it's the kind of place we would stay ourselves without hesitation if we didn't live so close by !

-Kevin


Kevin Widrow
www.masperreal.com
 
Posts: 2094 | Location: Provence | Registered: 13 February 2004Report This Post

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I'm spending two nights at the Maison Carlotta in Aix in mid-June, largely based on Kevin's recommendation. I'm going to Aix for three+ weeks to study French and will then be housesitting for friends near Bonnieux in the Luberon. I'll be posting a review and can also post some quick feedback here after my stay.

Are you still looking to stay on a farm? (since this is definitely not a farm...)

I think it will be difficult to stay on any farm in the south of France without a car. Staying in the center of Aix is quite the opposite of staying on a farm. Have you considered the possibility of an accommodation in a smaller town/larger village that has some public transportation... where the countryside might be reached on foot or by bike?

Kathy
 
Posts: 5718 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee & Bonnieux, Provence | Registered: 20 October 2003Report This Post
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