Inspiration

South of France: Our pick of the best villas with pools

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Carmen McCormack

Guest Expert

5 min read

Blissfully bucolic landscapes, glamorous beachside towns, enviable gastronomy, delectable wines and a sun-splashed climate. No wonder Provence is such a hotspot for holidaymakers and artists. Monet lived and painted in Antibes, Picasso and Matisse both spent time in the Cote d'Azur and its dazzling light has drawn countless visitors. Here are our dream villas with private pools for a holiday that'll be indulgently laid back, unless inspiration strikes!

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La Daby

Tucked up a bumpy track and fringed by a sun-dappled wooded valley, this laidback collection of family-friendly cottages feels a world away from the bustling coast, although you can be there in ten minutes. Designed and built 40 years ago by British architects, it is now run by their four children, who still love holidaying in the Bandol region, famed for its rosé wine. Each cottage has its own shaded terrace for al fresco meals, and the interiors are clean as a whistle and compact. Kids will love charging about the five acres of olives and vines, and it’s a 20-minute stroll or five-minute drive to a charming village, Le Beausset. Here you can pick up a wood-fired pizza to takeaway or bread and pastries from the boulangerie. The pool is shared, so bring your whole tribe and take all four cottages for a fuss-free, rustic escape.

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Beaurecueil

A much-loved and welcoming house, perfectly set up for four. The views from the south-facing terrace are splendid; surrounded by olive and pomegranate trees, vineyards and woods, the only noises you hear are birds and cicadas. Inside, top quality mod cons are skilfully blended with authentic old materials and there are special touches at every turn. A huge château-esque sofa on a white marble floor in the living room, Roman mosaic tiles in the bathroom and beautiful homemade ceramics. The kitchen is well designed for long, lazy meals gathered around the wooden table. Outside there’s stacks of space to eat, roam and relax, with a splash pool to dip your toes in. Browse nearby Provençal village markets, head into Cotignac for supper, go walking or mountain biking, return to unwind under starry skies. 

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Manoir de la Jonquière

In the lush hills of the Var, this is a spacious haven with serene gardens, a gleaming pool and mesmerising views. Relax in the wooden swing seat and gaze across the valley, with the lights of Bargemon twinkling in the distance as darkness falls. Reached via a steep, well-hidden drive, this 250-year-old manor house is pleasing to the eye and soothing on the soul. The drawing room is vast, the kitchen is set up for the most ambitious cooks, and the bedrooms are upstairs and down. Set between the villages of Bargemon and Seillans, each a short drive, you are spoiled for things to do. Explore tempting shops and cafés, fountains, markets, and shady squares, or head for the hills and the perfume flower farms, before basking on the beaches at Fréjus. Return to rural peace, and supper under the stars. 

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Basetxe

A traditional stone bergerie high on a hill and surrounded by woods with east-facing views over the valley for stunning sunrises. Four terraces give you plenty of places to sit quietly with a book under a tree, or to eat outdoors in the sun or shade. Spend lazy evenings watching the stars decorate the sky. The pool with a view is a good size and sits below the house on a further terrace with comfy loungers. Inside, interiors are restful, with neutral colours, stone tiles and from every room, beautiful views. Downstairs is an L-shaped open-plan living room with games and books, a dining room and kitchen with everything a cook might want. Basics are left in the cupboards and also eggs, a bottle of wine, fresh fruit (usually figs from the garden) and flowers. A quick drive, or half- hour walk will take you to Seillans which has cafés, restaurants and shops, museums and several galleries. 

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Le Mas de Graveson

An exquisite and luxurious 18th-century Provençal home, hidden behind grand gates in a small village, surrounded by the pine-scented Alpilles. Live like a local here, popping next door to the boulangerie every morning for your breakfast croissants, strolling to the village’s three restaurants and its shady squares for an evening aperitif. Interiors are straight out of a photoshoot, there’s ample space for your entire tribe, and each room feels private and spacious thanks to gracious proportions. The garden, a walled oasis, is a mix of lawn, shrubs and trees, and big enough to include parking. Choose a book from the library and recline in the shade of the chestnut tree, dip in the pool, listen to the birds and cicadas. Hop in the car for Avignon to discover its little-known collections of art, or the hilltop Frigolet Abbey, one of the most authentic in Provence.

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Le Loft du Vigneron at Le Domaine aux Quat’Saisons

This smart, spacious first floor ‘loft’ is part of a former barn alongside the large, handsome main house in the village of Rieux-Minervois. It’s seriously comfortable, with big tan leather furniture on parquet flooring in the sitting room and plenty of books and DVDs for idling over as you sink into them. The open-plan kitchen comes with the best equipment, elegant china, sparkling glasses and a long wooden dining table. Pale, pretty, carpeted bedrooms – doubles opening onto the terrace – have great beds and top notch bathrooms. Best of all, there’s a super pool in a walled courtyard area and a partially shaded terrace looking onto the two-acre garden with its fine collection of Mediterranean plants and trees – yours to wander and retreat to from the heat of the day. You’re in the enchanting Minervois wine-producing area, half an hour from Carcassonne, 40 minutes to good beaches, close to Cathar hilltop villages and the Canal du Midi.

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Vive la France

This article is part of Vive la France, the home of inspiring itineraries and stories from travel writers and our team, to help you plan your next French adventure.

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Carmen McCormack

Guest Expert

Carmen is a freelance writer specialising in travel. She once lived in a bus in north Wales, skipped off to study in Barcelona, and now calls Bristol home. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop, she can be found reading (a lot), lake swimming (a little), and pottering on the allotment with husband and two kiddos. She’s currently dreaming about cold cerveza and torta in Mexico.

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