Each family is unique and therefore each family holiday should also be unique. A trip to the mountains could involve hiking and horseback riding in one destination or thrillingly zooming down the slopes in another. A holiday in the countryside could include spotting one’s first herd of elephants, rafting through ravines or picking through Mayan ruins. Whatever your vacation cravings, our experts have the perfect private villas and lodges to make your family time, quality time.


Cottar’s Bush Villa, Kenya

A family trip to Africa will create lifelong memories for the whole family. As a fifth-generation run family safari service, the team at Cottar’s 1920s Camp and Villa value family tremendously. They accept children of all ages, plus those aged five and under stay for free. Rich with family history and the history of Kenya, Cottar’s return to the original spirit and essence of ‘safari’, the golden era of professional guiding and adventure.

“Our Cottars family is passionate about Kenya, its conservation and community,” explains Calvin Cottar, current director of Cottar’s and great-grandson of the its founder, Chas Cottar. “We know the wildlife and the people of our area intimately and you are welcomed in and treated as personal friends and we hope you leave feeling like part of our family.

“The key to our family friendly ethos is that we realise that time spent with your family is so precious and so we do exactly what you want to do, the only thing scheduled in your day is your game drives. We listen to you to find out what your individual interests are and then the adventure begins.

“Nothing beats watching a child’s face change from awe to delight as they come face to face with their first elephant or make their first bow and arrow with their guide. They will be immersed into the authentic safari experience and tribal interaction, looked after by our guides who truly engage with children and enjoy teaching them all about their surroundings, flora and fauna and the wildlife. With numerous activities they are sure to be kept busy and captivated throughout your stay: Maasai Warrior School, Day & Night Game Drives, Guided Bush Walks, Bush Meals & Sundowners, Cultural Visits, River Swimming and Fishing, Balloon Safaris and a private Swimming Pool.”

The Bush Villa has all guests need to keep families entertained in comfort and style surrounded by breathtaking views onto the savannah plains that carry the great annual wildebeest migration. The villa is over 10,000 square feet in size, and features a large living room, dining room, a magnificent viewing deck, and five en-suite bedrooms, all with stunning views. It has internet access throughout, satellite TV and DVD, and is powered with electric and solar energy. So for any family, big or small, it’s the perfect getaway, providing something for everyone.

You can work directly with the Cottar’s team to design your magical family African safari experience at this link.

Casa Chimera, PT Ski – Klosters, Switzerland

Skiing holidays have proved themselves time and again to be an ideal family getaway and you couldn’t be in no better hands than with our Klosters specialists at PT Ski. Located in the Swiss Alps, this charming ski resort is populated by chalets built in classic Alpine style, and has a low key chic feel to it.

“There are ski slopes for everyone with the sunny south facing slopes on the Madrisa being idyllic for beginners while the Gotschna on the other side of valley is well suited to the more experienced skiers,” details James Palmer-Tomkinson, founder of PT Ski and a father himself. “As well as the magical skiing there are other activities such as skating and sledging to keep the children entertained, and for the non skiers there are beautiful walks up pretty valleys and gorgeous restaurants with sun terraces.”

When it comes to looking after children, PT Ski come into their own. Their kids programmes over the main holiday periods cater for children of all ages, ranging from the under fives in their “Pandas” course to older teenagers experiencing off piste in the “PT Ski All Mountain” course. They use instructors from the local ski school while their delightful reps are on hand to oversee the pastoral side and ensure that all the courses run smoothly. Their philosophy is that children learn best when they are having fun and the smiles on the children’s faces are certainly testament to this.

After a wonderful day’s skiing there is nothing better than relaxing with drink in hand on a comfy sofa in front of a log fire. As such, any family would adore to stay at PT Ski’s Casa Chimera. Built in 2005 as a luxury family home, it’s within easy reach of the lifts and centre of Klosters village. The chalet has a wonderful spacious feel and exudes Alpine charm and is ideal for families.

The chalet can sleep up to 10 guests in five beautiful bedrooms, each with its own bathroom or shower room. It features a generous open-plan living space divided into three sections: a double-height living room with comfortable sofas, a cosy games area separated by a large double sided fireplace and a dining area with a large table that sits 14. Just off the hallway is a fully equipped TV/audio room with widescreen TV. The kitchen is also situated on the first floor near the dining area.

On the second floor are the chalet’s two master bedrooms, each with its own fireplace and en-suite bathroom. There is a further double bedroom with an en-suite shower room. The last two bedrooms are on the ground floor, both twins with en-suite bathrooms. There is a sauna on the ground floor and separate power shower. As would be expected of a chalet of this calibre, the ski boot racks in the ski room are heated.

The chalet has a dedicated staff of two who live in and take care of guests impeccably. They prepare breakfast and have tea waiting for you for when you get back from skiing at the end of the day. In the evening they serve a four course dinner, preceded by canapés.

PT Ski’s expert staff will also help you take care of every detail you need for an exceptional ski holiday in Klosters. Contact them at this link to start planning today.


Hacienda Itzincab – Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Removed from the chaos of modern life; historic and fully-staffed Hacienda Itzincab, available through Catherwood Travels, is ideal for a special escape and recharge with your family. The Hacienda Itzincab is close to many major natural and historic sites of the beautiful Yucatan. Here you can enjoy delicious dining, refresh at the cenotes, relax by the pools, explore the on-site Mayan ruins or simply enjoy life lounging in your hammock.

The hacienda features three swimming pools and lush gardens home to abundant bird life. Its 14 bedrooms – five in the main house and nine in the original hacienda outbuildings – are air-conditioned and most of them have private plunge pools and terraces. Room distribution makes this hacienda an ideal location for family reunions or celebrations. And when it’s time to explore and discover, Merida, cenotes, archaeological sites and Maya villages are just a short drive away.

Itzincab is a dream place where you’ll swim, relax, explore, and dine in complete privacy, far from life’s worries and stresses, and where fun with family is your only prerogative.

Contact Catherwood Travels here to design your special family trip to the Yucatan.


Sawtooth House, Majordomo – Queenstown, New Zealand

New Zealand is a phenomenal destination for active families seeking unparalleled outdoor adventures. Queenstown is a gateway to many of these adventures and our experts at MajorDomo have a fabulous family villa in the area: Sawtooth House.

The aptly named Sawtooth House is a unique architecturally designed villa sitting over the famous Shotover River with breathtaking views of the valley and the mountains behind. The contemporary flow of the house continues throughout with all five bedrooms leading off from the most exquisite hallway turned art gallery. Four large childrens’ bedrooms with king single bunks are perfectly designed and share two designated separate bathrooms. The owner’s passion for contemporary art can be seen throughout with pieces by artists from all over the world finding their way into every aspect of this villa.

“With the perfect blend of modern design and a warm welcoming feel, this villa would be perfect for a family holiday with a large garden outside with swimming pool and children’s play area,” says Lisa Hayden, co-founder of MajorDomo. “In the evening, while children entertain themselves in the media room, parents will find the perfect spot for pre-dinner cocktails looking out over the Shotover River, or they may wish to sit poolside with a Central Otago Pinot while they watch the sun set behind the mountains.”

Only a seven minute drive to downtown Queenstown, this villa is close to the action. For the more active, make use of the in-house gym or even better explore the Moonlight Trail which will take you hiking to Moke Lake and lies at your doorstep in Arthur’s Point.

With their comprehensive local knowledge, MajorDomo can help you design the ideal New Zealand family holiday. Reach out to them here.


St Remy Zen, Haven In – Provence, France

The French countryside is an enchanting destination for families and the magnificent, seven-bedroom St-Remy Zen villa by Haven In is a Provençal retreat the family won’t forget.

Hidden in an olive grove at the foot of the beautiful Alpilles Mountains, the villa is located a mere three kilometers from the center of St-Rémy-de-Provence, a quaint community offering bucolic French pleasures, like daily markets, cobblestone streets, restaurants using wonderful local ingredients, and much more.

The villa has been renovated to the highest standards to offer guests the perfect combination of authenticity and contemporary style. There are seven bedrooms and four bathrooms, accommodating up to 12 guests. The living room is spacious, bright, and sophisticated, and features a fireplace, beautiful artwork, and large windows.

There is plenty to do at the villa or in the area. Enjoy splashing around in Olympic-sized swimming pool set in beautiful grounds of well-manicured local trees and vegetation. Create culinary memories with the whole family in the fully-equipped chef’s kitchen. Or, discover the stunning, historic sites of the region on half or full day excursions.

Escape to Provence with the whole family at this refined villa by Haven In at this link.


Grizzly Creek Ranch, Mountain Homes – Montana, USA

The Grizzly Creek Ranch, situated just just seven miles from the Yellowstone River and available through Mountain Home, is a fabulous setting for families with children.

This luxury ranch can comfortable accommodate up to 30 guests. Guests have exclusive use of six homes, an expansive dining and event hall, a recreation barn, yoga and massage cabin, and the 2,000-acre ranch.

“Children can spend hours in the Recreation Barn, outfitted with pool table, foosball and ping pong,” describes Suzy Hall of Mountain Home. “There are mountain bikes yard games to use, and with the sleeping bags provided, the barn has been used for numerous kid sleep-outs.

“Just off the ranch are river rafting on the Yellowstone River, zipline adventures, and private tours of Yellowstone National Park. With accommodations in six different homes and cabins on the ranch, it’s a perfect gathering spot for one or multiple families seeking a Montana adventure.”

Enjoy this quintessential ranch experience through Mountain Home at this link.


Laragai House at Borana Lodge, Cazenove+Loyd – Mount Kenya, Kenya

With the snow-tipped peaks and glaciers of Mount Kenya to the south and a panorama of mountains and desert to the north, safari settings don’t get much more spectacular than at Borana Lodge, Kenya, available through cazenove+loyd. On this ranch land lies Laragai House, a stunning eight-bedroom private villa perched on the edge of a plateau, the perfect property for families.

Originally built as a country retreat by Lords Valentine and Michael Cecil, this house is unrivalled in its seclusion and style. Sympathetic to its surroundings, it has a thatched roof, panoramic views from the bedrooms and is filled with local-made furniture. Outside, there is large heated swimming pool and pool house, fully equipped with a bar and kitchen.

When not on game drives or other natural explorations of Mount Kenya National Park, your children will be thrilled by the lodge’s large games room stocked with table tennis, croquet and boules, not to mention the clay tennis court in the garden. The house is a master class in low-key luxury, of blending the traditional with the indulgence that you could want on holiday. Due to its size, you may be able to add to the fun by team up with another family. And if you want to arrive in style, why not take advantage of the house’s private helipad?

In addition to accommodation, cazenove+loyd can also assist with all the travel details and activities to make your trip to Mount Kenya a amazing family trip. Contact them here.


Chalet Rock n’ Love, Ultimate Luxury Chalets – Tignes, France

Bring all your children’s holiday dreams to life at the fantasyland Chalet Rock n’ Love by Ultimate Luxury Chalets. Situated in the family-friendly Alpine ski resort of Tignes, the magical 430m² chalet can sleep up to ten adults, plus three children, across five individually designed suites.

The one-of-a-kind chalet has an eccentric 1970s theme throughout offering an expansive living space with lots of grown up ‘toys’. The open plan living area boasts a unique mini car pool table, Wurlitzer style jukebox loaded with 100 albums, and an original Marshall Amp and speaker with guitar for those who can play a tune or two. With a comfortable lounge, dining area and bar, it’s the perfect place to unwind and have some fun after a hard day on the slopes.

Adult bedrooms are decorated in a sleek pop-art style whereas the bedrooms for children are decked out in car-shaped beds and other playful elements which will make them never want to leave – but the mountains call.

The chalet also boost a gym with cross trainer, rower and kettle weights, a massage room with a hydrojet bed system, a small outside Jacuzzi and an indoor swimming pool which will soon include a wave machine.

Make your children’s ski dreams a reality through Ultimate Luxury Chalets here.

Staying in wine country is the ultimate holiday for wine aficionados. Your days can be spent immersing yourself in this gastronomical art touring surrounding vineyards or merely relaxing poolside with a glass of wine produced right at your holiday villa. We’ve hand-picked the best villas and cruises in Italy, France and New Zealand to blend together your perfect wine lovers vacation.


Villa San GiustoTuscany, Italy


With its hundreds of acres of rolling vineyards, Tuscany is a prime destination for oenophiles. Our experts at Trust&Travel and excellence.villas take us south of Florence to the Villa San Guisto, a highend villa nestled on an award-winning biodynamic wine estate.

This is a precious oasis has more than a thousand years of history. It acts as a conduit for Tuscany’s traditions and craftsmanship, while at the same time offering state of the art wellness, cuisine and active pursuits like golf and horseback riding. The fully staffed property features two pools, one outdoor and one indoor, a gym, a Finnish sauna and it accommodates up to 19 people.

Guests can enjoy detailed wine tasting experiences as well as visit the beautiful cellars. This can also include a viewing of the owner’s private collection of prints and artworks dedicated to the pleasure of wine with works from Hogarth to Warhol.

Start uncorking the fine biodynamic wines of Tuscany by staying with Trust&Travel and excellence.villas here.


Villa Ventoux – Provence, France


The region of Provence in southern France is best known for its cascading fields of lavender, however, these are also lined with an abundance of grape vines. Surround yourself by these at the gorgeous Villa Ventoux, represented by Carpe Diem Luxury Travel.

Located in northern Provence, the villa offers stunning views of Mont Ventoux and endless hills covered in vines, olive groves, apricot orchards and lavender fields. It is set on 30 hectares of private vineyards and a state-of-the-art premium boutique wine estate found within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

At the heart of the estate lie a magnificent 9th-century priory and an 18th-century bastide, both of which have been lovingly restored in rustic luxury style. The main villa includes four luxurious bedrooms suites, a grand vaulted hall and other reception rooms. The bastide has three additional bedrooms. Each room is decorated to a different Provençal theme, blending contemporary furnishings, local antiques and family heirlooms. The house is fully staffed with a fabulous chef, heated pool, tennis-court and petanque court and a fabulous grand piano.

In addition to visiting the cellars, winemaking facilities and the vines of the villa, wine and cheese tastings can be organized with cheese coming from an award-winning local fromagerie. Wine fans can also tour the vineyards of nearby Vosne La Romaine, Orange and Carpentras.

Plan your perfect Provence wine-lovers vacation with Carpe Diem Travel at this link.


Mahana Villa – Nelson, New Zealand

New Zealand is an excellent destination for wine and nature lovers, but in the case of the fabulous Mahana Villa by Touch of Spice, you can also be enveloped in cutting edge art and architecture.

The villa sits at the apex of the 25-hectare Mahana vineyard, which produces dynamic Mahana wines in multiple varietals and styles. The Villa is a spectacular sight of glass, steel, and wood with views over the Mahana Vineyard, Tasman Bay and the Southern Alps.

Inside the Villa, guests will view one of New Zealand’s most extensive art collections in private hands and get the experience of sleeping overnight in an art gallery. A literary philanthropist, Schaeffer has filled the villa with books on the artworks, as well as economics, history, culture and architecture.

An all-inclusive concept, guests will be pampered with menus throughout the day designed to enhance the wines Mahana produces. With the arrival of new Executive Chef, Alistair Forster, guests will enjoy his approach to cuisine sourcing fresh, local and seasonal produce to deliver unique culinary experiences. Alistair trained at the highly disciplined AA rosette and Michelin-starred kitchens.

“Our Mahana Vineyard has become a destination, fusing the cultural themes of wine, cuisine, art, and architecture,” said owner Glenn Schaeffer. “We want to share the beauty of Mahana with culture lovers the world over. Staying overnight at Mahana Villa is an immersive vineyard experience.”

Combine wine and art to create your ideal New Zealand holiday with Touch of Spice here.


Capriolo Villa – Tuscany, Italy


Nestled in the heart of Tuscany’s wine country, the Capriolo villa, by Haven in Paris, grants wine aficionados easy access to some of the region’s best appellations. The renovated stone farmhouse, close to the village of Pievescola, brings together all the luxuries of modern living with the charm of old world Italy.

The spacious 17th-century five-bedroom villa exudes Tuscan character showcased in details like the carefully restored stone exterior, the traditional wooden-beam ceiling adorning the vast living room and the hand-carved fireplace with a chocolate travertine mantle. Light streams through large double-glazed Tuscan windows, offering panoramic views and vistas at every turn.

All of its tastefully decorated bedrooms feature en-suite bathrooms (3 with showers, 2 with tub and hand held shower) and are spread out over three floors. Guests can dine in the formal dining room or on the covered outdoor patio. The large pool (5 x 14.5 meters) is beautifully set against the backdrop of forest and distant hills among lavender, rosemary and rose bushes.

The charming and accommodating bilingual owners are American expats, who have been living full time in Italy for the past 20 years. They are wonderful hosts and will happily help you organize many luxury services available at an extra fee including catering, market shopping, cooking lessons, bike rentals, hot air ballooning, olive picking and of course wine tasting and tours of nearby wineries.

Capriolo is in the Chianti DOCG region, and also very close to the Chianti Classico DOCG appellation. The owners have a relationship with a local vineyard and are can provide tastings, tours and wines to interested groups.

Discover more about this charming Tuscan holiday villa by reaching out to Haven in Paris here.

Barge Lady Cruises

Prosperite Wine Cruise – Burgundy, France


Soak up all the delights of Burgundy, one of France most beautiful and coveted wine regions, by taking a private wine-focused cruise with Barge Lady Cruises. Their Barge Specialist Stephanie Sack tempts us onboard the Prosperite:

“When you think of barging in Burgundy cultural treasures, expansive vineyards, historic towns, divinely beautiful countryside will come to mind, but not before… wine, wine, wine. If you are drawn to history, culture and sophistication, this is your perfect canal cruising region. Everything seems perfect here – from the most gorgeous and typical rural scenery in all of France to the elegant cities with wonderfully preserved Medieval streets and buildings and to architectural attractions reflecting the power and prosperity of the Ducs of Burgundy.

“Found within the geographic heart of France, Southern Burgundy’s cruise routes offers unparalleled access to the wineries and vineyards of the iconic Cote d’Or. This is the unofficial home of France’s great tradition of cuisine and culture: the famed wine villages of Nuits St. Georges, Pommard, Puligny Montrachet, Volany – a roll call of world-famous wine towns, with local discoveries just waiting to be tasted.  Beaune, with its immaculately maintained Medieval hospice and charming cobblestoned streets. Shop for the finest produce and cheese in Dijon’s vast and colorful covered market.

“Plying the canals of this extraordinary region is the 8-passenger Prosperite, an Ultra-Deluxe vessel akin to a 6-star hotel. Luxurious accommodations, top service oriented crew, and culturally-rich activities are the hallmarks of the Prosperite’s concept. Modern lifestyles inform the public areas, which reflect gracious living through fine dining, indulgent drinking, and festive entertaining. Onboard amenities such as the open kitchen encourage interaction with the Chef for informal cooking demonstrations;  when not socializing on the large deck or lazing in the hot tub, guests can walk or cycle along the miles and miles of refurbished towpath!

“With an in-depth wine appreciation program that is vivid, relaxed, and memorable, the Prosperite offers its guests a guided immersion into Southern Burgundy’s many charms, among them vineyard visits, wine tastings, and curated pairings. An entire afternoon is devoted to the Cote d’Or wine region, with a drive among the vineyards and villages of the “Route des Grand Crus” on the way to Clos de Vougeot, a 12th-century chateau where Cistercian monks practiced the art of winemaking. Yet another guided excursion offers a tour and tasting deep within the cellars of Domaine Prieur-Brunet in Santenay, furthering the exploration into the wine making lifestyle, while the wines served aboard the Prosperite at lunch and dinner are chosen especially for their rich Burgundian flavors. An open bar and on board cellar completes the selection of wine-based pleasures perfect for both the casual sipper and the most sophisticated of oenophiles.”

The Prosperite is accepting bookings for cruises from April to October, 2017 and 2018. Don’t miss the boat – book before they fill up by contacting The Barge Lady at this link.


Isola Santa Cristina Private Island – Venetian Lagoon, Italy


The various islands of Venetian Lagoon were once thriving with horticulture, especially vineyards. This tradition lives on at Isola Santa Cristina, one of the best-preserved garden islands of the whole Venetian lagoon.

This private island, managed by Siglinde Fischer / Charming Places, is a haven of tranquility located only short 20-minute boat ride from busy Venice. With no other residence on the island, guests have the utmost privacy. The refined, historic Italian house was recently renovated to meet the standards of modern luxury all the while retaining its authenticity. Enjoy relaxed days lounging by the pool, wandering the orchid or discovering its small vineyard from which an exquisite, small batch Veneto wine is produced.

“We have been growing two varieties of grapes on the island for more than thirty years – Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot,” explains René Deutsch, owner of Isola Santa Cristina. “We produce our wine in the lagoon, which until recently was mainly for private use and guests of the island. Today, a very limited number of bottles are sold locally to a few leading restaurants within the lagoon. Our vineyard produces between 5,000 and 10,000 bottles annually.”

René also shared his favorite secret places in the Venetian Lagoon in this article.

You can learn more about Isola Santa Cristina and taste this fine wine by contacting Siglinde Fischer / Charming Places here.


Cairanne Villa – Provence, France 


Sample some of the best wines of the South of France while staying at Haven in’s charming Cairanne villa, a typical “Provencal Mas” located on a working vineyard in the heart of world renowned Côtes-du-Rhône on the famous “Route des Vins.”

The lovely five-bedroom villa (which can also be rented as separate 3-bedroom and 2-bedroom units) is found just outside of the village of Cairanne. This picturesque 125 acre (50 hectare) property has been family-owned for over 150 years. Converted stables dating back to the mid-19th century make up the main house, which is surrounded by the working winery and ancillary buildings, all lying in the midst of luscious vineyards, fruit orchards and olive-groves.

The owners have carefully and sustainably restored the historic property striving to keep a balance of authenticity, comfort and simplicity. Traditional touches meet contemporary architecture to provide a fresh take on chateau living. Large bay windows throughout the villa contribute to the luminous atmosphere and generous sense of perspective. The configuration of the bedrooms, three in the main house and two in another section (three of which have king-sized beds which can be split into twins) offers potential guests a great deal of flexibility depending on the size of your party.

This is the perfect base for serious wine connoisseurs as it’s just a short drive to the world-renowned regions of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Beaumes de Venise, Gigondas and Vacqueyras. Wine tasting tours can be arranged, though guests can do a tasting of the villa’s own wines at their leisure during their stay, annotated by the villa’s English speaking owners.

Enjoy the best of Provence by staying with Haven In at this link.


The Landing Residence, The Vineyard Villa – Bay of Islands, New Zealand


Wine fans traveling to New Zealand can have a fabulous oenological experience staying at the Vineyard Villa by Touch of Spice. Located in the beautiful Bay of Islands, this gorgeous contemporary villa is set amongst The Landing’s established vines, home to award-winning Chardonnay, Syrah and Rosé wines.

An entertainer’s haven or a romantic’s escape, the house features three bedrooms and three separate entertaining areas. Designed by award-winning architect, Nat Cheshire of Cheshire Architects, the Vineyard Villa is a sanctuary you can make your own. Designed with a flowing openness to the stunning surroundings, the Vineyard Villa offers magnificent views across The Landing Residences, the vineyard and out to sea.

Understated modern furnishings have been carefully selected to match the villa’s calm aesthetic and work alongside the dark wood and stone materials that run throughout the house.

The villa also offers personalized food and wine experiences, tailored to your preferences and mood by your personal chef. There are no set menus, fixed meal times or designated dining areas. A highlight of your stay will be taking a guided visit to their wine cellar during which you can taste wines from the The Landing’s vineyard, meet their winemaker and tour the winery where the wines are made. Tours to other wineries in the region can also be arranged.

Delve into the Bay of Island’s wine heritage by holidaying with Touch of Spice here


Podere Jessica – Tuscany, Italy

We can’t get enough of Tuscany and Podere Jessica, by Papavero Villa Rentals is what most people think of when dreaming of a country farmhouse in Chianti. Beautifully restored it has all the characteristics of a Tuscan farmhouse but with the modern conveniences we come to expect.

Podere Jessica consists of the main house on three floors and a cottage apartment in a converted barn. It sleeps 10 in five bedrooms with five full bathrooms. The main house has a country style kitchen that leads into the spacious living/dining room. Several of the bedrooms have lovely wooden-beamed ceilings and sweeping views of the beautiful countryside. The home is surrounded with lovely outdoor living spaces, including two covered loggias, one with wood burning oven and barbecue, is perfect for dining alfresco or just sitting with a good book and a glass of wine after a morning of shopping at the local markets. The fenced-in swimming pool is set in the garden and surrounded by flower-filled terracotta urns.

“It is situated on 30 acres which features a vineyard of Sangiovese grapes and the owners produce the wine right on the farm, from harvesting to bottling,” says Patrice Salezze, director of Papavero. “The wine is available for purchase while staying at Podere Jessica. Not only do you have your own vineyard to walk about, there is also an olive grove and paths through your own private woods. So peaceful and tranquil you are in the heart of Chianti and have access to main roads for day tours.

“Nearby, a 7-minute drive or 40-minute walk south and you arrive at a boutique winery that you can see from the farmhouse, another 6-minute drive north and can enjoy a tasting from a second small winery, then the famous Cantina Antiniori is just a 13-minute drive. Here you can experience a large producer of wine and have a five course wine flight lunch after your tour.”

Taste your way around Tuscany by staying with Papavero Villa Rentals, learn more about vacationing at the Podere Jessica at this link.

France is full of natural, cultural, artistic and gastronomic wonders, it’s not surprising that it consistently sits proudly at the top of the list of the world’s most visited countries. Given this, many of its popular cities and sites can become unbearingly crowded in peak season. Escape the masses with the help of our local experts as we venture to some lesser known corners of la Belle France.


Cathar Country – Carcassonne

One of the loveliest secret places in France can be found in the western nook of the Mediterranean above Spain and nestled on the fringe of the Pyrenee Mountains. This is the offbeat and beautiful Languedoc-Roussillon, a favorite French region of Marina Gratsos of Carpe Diem Luxury Travel.

“It’s next door to Provence but a world apart!” reveals Marina. “As you enter from the Provence side, there’s a massive sign saying ‘Bienvenue en Pays Cathare’ and you know right away that you are in an ancient world in a wild, rugged and monumental landscape heavy with the atmosphere of its violent Medieval past.”

A highlight of the area is the fabulous walled city of Carcassonne, which sets the tone of the era of the crusades. Scattered on the craggy hilltops of the area are the ruins of many other Cathar castles. Hiking up to these affords exceptional views, but be sure to wear a good pair of shoes. There are plentiful of other things to do and see in the area from wandering picturesque villages to wine tasting or biking along the Canal du Midi.

CDLT Languedoc

Where to Stay Near Carcassonne

Located a 15-minute drive from Carcassonne is this secluded villa, lovingly built from an old Corbières wine store and available through Carpe Diem Luxury Travel. Not only do you have 120 acres in a gorgeous valley all the yourself, the house is organized with open spaces and tucked away corners, perfect for enjoy time together or savour peace and quiet, all year round.

The living space in the main house runs the full length of the building, from the grandeur of the Salle des Fêtes and the intimacy of the bar, to the open plan, professional kitchen and the comfort of the fumoir cinema space. The kitchen has been designed for those who love to cook and should you wish, arrangements can easily be made for a chef.

There are six double bedrooms that comfortably accommodate up to 14 guests and a separate two-bedroom apartment. Outside, there are landscape gardens, a tennis court and pool.

The ground floor and garden wing have direct access to the gardens, pool area, courtyard and tennis court. The courtyard has an outside kitchen and an 18th-century fireplace. The garden wing is a less-formal sitting and acts as a games room or a luxurious, casual snug to get away from the crowd.

In summer take in the famous Carcassonne Festival or in autumn and winter you’ll be as warm as toast: the house has three roaring open fires and under-floor heating. There are many vibrant markets to visit nearby and abundant wine tasting opportunities. For outdoor pursuits, the area offers amazing hiking, biking and river boat activities or relax on beautiful beaches found a mere short drive away.

Experience the simple luxury of this breathtaking region with Carpe Diem Travel here.

Saignon village, Vaucluse region, Provence, France

Secret Provence – Saignon

Provence might be a highly visited part of France, nevertheless, it still has some hidden areas. Erica Berman of Haven in Paris takes us one of these: the splendid town of Saignon.

“Saignon a tiny hillside village perched above Apt in the heart of the Luberon/Vaucluse area of Provence. It’s the perfect spot for lunch and a hike. Make sure to check out Le Potager d’un Curieux for heirloom seeds and fresh vegetables (in season). For original artwork in a gorgeous setting, check out Chambre avec Vuea Provencal home turned gallery and bed and breakfast curated lovingly by its artist and gallerist owners.

“For a tasty lunch or dinner on a charming terrace try La Maison de Solveig. Down the road is Apt which holds an enormous bi-weekly market full of food and produce, local products, clothes, fabrics, bedspreads, table cloths flowers, herbs, toiletries, perfume, and more. It has existed for hundreds of years (read more about it in our markets article here).

Saignon Haven in Paris

Where to Stay Near Saignon

A short ride from Saignon and Apt is Haven in Paris‘s gorgeous St Saturnin villa, an elegant and spacious vacation home located in the Luberon National Park. It’s a 45-minute drive from the larger cities of Avignon and about an hour to Aix-en-Provence.

Encircled by fields of lavender and fruit trees, this beautiful 450 m2 / 4844 square foot Provence vacation rental villa is set in a lovely enclosed courtyard, where a traditional basin and old fountain form an unusual and exquisite swimming pool.

Originally a 13th-century Templar site, the property was turned into a 18th-century convent and then was more recently converted into a stunning six-bedroom and five-bathroom holiday home. Decorated by its architect/designer owners, the furniture is a refined collection of French and English antiques. The living areas are spread over three floors; on the ground floor you will find a classic reception parlour, a formal dining room, a large and professionally equipped kitchen, and a casual and comfortable lounging room with a large sofa and a flat screen television.

The bedrooms occupy the top two floors, with a back studio and its private kitchen available for extra visitors. Each bedroom and bathroom is decorated in its own unique style, with charming canopies, luxurious sleigh beds, claw foot bathtubs and sinks set in wrought iron powder tables.

Due to its charm and ideal, discreet location, this is a magical vacation rental to take in the authentic pleasures of Provence including wine tasting, antique shopping, hiking, biking and dining.

Plan your peaceful Provencal holiday with Haven in Paris at this link.


Photo Credit: Dan Atrill / Flickr

Jewel of the Alps – Sainte Foy

Our experts at Ultimate Luxury Chalets know the Alps like the back of their hands and they’ve revealed their favorite lesser known town of Savoie: Sainte Foy, the ‘Jewel of the Crown’ of the French Alps.

“Sainte Foy is surrounded by the world famous resorts of Val d’Isère, Tignes, Les Arcs and Rosière. However, unlike these other resorts it benefits from being one of the least busy you will ever visit,” explains Hannah of Ultimate Luxury Chalets.

“The beautiful and authentic village remains remarkably unspoilt, having preserved its authentic charm and local architecture, despite offering excellent traditional restaurants and bars. A perfect location for everyone and if you love the idea of skiing off-piste in complete wilderness and tranquillity then even better.”

ULC Sainte Foy

Where to Stay in Sainte Foy

Ultimate Luxury Chalets have just added the magnificent Chalet Pelerin to their portfolio. This spectacular chalet is set miles from the main road, located at the top of the historic farming village Le Miroir, high up in the Tarentaise Valley on the French/Italian border.

Guests benefit from being able to start the day from the private off-piste mountain refuge accompanied by your personal guide and have access to six world class ski resorts, which include Sainte Foy, Val d’Isère, La Thuile, La Rosière, Les Arcs and Tignes.

The chalet sleeps 8-14 guests making it ideal for a group of friends or for a family reunion. It offers fabulous amenities, which include a stunning indoor swimming pool, outdoor hot tub, Finnish sauna, steam room, spa (where an in-house massage can be arranged), media room and wine cellar.

Ultimate Luxury Chalets can create custom-designed unique alpine adventures from snowshoeing with the kids to a candlelight fondue dinner at the remote Chalet Alpage, and from heli-skiing 8,000 metre runs from the neighbouring Italian Alps to the front door of the Chalet or simply relax after a day of skiing at Sainte Foy by sipping a glass of wine in the outdoor hot tub and enjoy the spectacular sunset. To top it all off, the chalet is sold on a fully catered basis with an open bar and your own in-house professional chef to prepare you breakfast, dinner and snacks.

Have a spectacular holiday at this unique skiing destination by contacting Ultimate Luxury Chalets here.


Moret-sur-Loing – Outside Paris

You don’t have to go far from Paris to visit some of France’s cutest towns and villages, like Moret-sur-Loing. This walled medieval town is located at the edge of the vast Fontainebleau Forest, the woods of the French Kings, and sits on the banks of the Loing River, which empties into the Seine downstream.

The town has a rich and royal history. It was annexed to France by Philippe I in the 11th century and, due to its proximity to the Chateau de Fontainebleau, many other royals passed under the imposing medieval gate which protected the city. These fortifications and the stone bridge surrounding date back to the Middle Ages. Walking down its cobbled streets and past other historic buildings will help evoke these bygone eras.

The town is also famous for being the home of painter Alfred Sisley, one of the key figures in French Impressionism. It was at a time when artists sought to paint en plein air, in the countryside and from 1889 to 1899 Sisley lovingly painted the scenic landscape surrounding the town.

You can visit this and other picturesque villages on the banks of France’s waterways while cruising with Barge Lady Cruises.


Photo Credit: Ben Salter / Flickr

St.-Jean-de-Côle – Dordogne

The region of Dordogne, situated northeast of Bordeaux wine country, brings together many of the treasures of France, enjoyed at the leisurely pace of country living. The verdant landscape of rolling hills and forests is dotted with castles, abbeys and fortresses in addition to some of the country’s most precious prehistoric caves. It’s also well known for its gastronomic delights like foie gras and truffles which go down splendidly with the strong red wines produced from the area’s grapevines.

One place to experience these many wonders is the medieval village of St.-Jean-de-Côle, classified as one of the most beautiful villages of France. Located on the river Côle, visitors to the town can admire its half timbered houses, the stoic 11th-century Romanesque St. Jean Baptiste church with its impressive bell tower, a medieval stone bridge which has withstood the test of time and the 15th-century Chateau de la Marthonie with its austere towers and dungeon. Be sure to save time for a hearty lunch while you’re there or collect some tasty treats for a picnic lunch.

Take your time exploring this picturesque part of France by staying with Just France. Discover their range of charming luxury villas in the southwest of France here.

Our Paris experts at Haven in Paris are giving us an exclusive look at their latest apartment, a sophisticated and contemporary one bedroom located on a lively pedestrian street in the heart of Paris. An ideal base for discovering the city!

hotel de ville apartment - Haven in Paris

The atelier-style apartment, which sleeps up to five, is found on the inside of the courtyard of a historic building. The street is just steps from the Pompidou Center, the Hôtel de Ville and the trendy Marais district. It’s surrounded by a wide range of shops and restaurants, plus a number of museums and other sites of interest. Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle and the Louvre are all within a five to ten minute walk. There are also excellent public transit links a mere block or two from the doorstep.

Completely renovated in 2016, the apartment combines comfort, simplicity, and whimsical design. The bright, main living area has a home-like feel decorated with botanic and animal themed prints, designer furniture, and accents of natural wood. The small, yet efficient kitchen is open to the main room and has everything you would need to prepare your own meals. There is seating for six at the kitchen table.

Haven in Paris Hotel de Ville 1

The bedroom gives onto the other side of the living room, the queen bed is decorated in earth tones and trendy wallpaper. The aqua-green bathroom has a heated towel rack, a sink, a rainshower and built-in cabinetry; the toilet is set apart with its own sink. Upstairs is the loft area, which can serve as both a comfortable TV room or as a second bedroom. The large sofa is also a trundle bed that can convert into a queen bed or two single beds. A single pullout sofa in the living room downstairs offers another sleeping option, making this property an excellent option for families, friends, or business travelers.

This charming vacation rental allows you to live like a true Parisian during your stay in the City of Light. For more information about this or other classy Paris apartments, contact Haven in Paris here.

River Limousine Luxury boat parisThe Seine River, which snakes through the heart of Paris, is one of Europe’s most iconic rivers. Over the course of the centuries many of the city’s major historic sites, like Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, have been built along its graceful banks. Therefore, one of the best ways to admire these monuments and take in the magic of the City of Light is by boat, but not just any boat. From private Venetian water taxis to exclusive dinner cruises, here are the top omega replica companies for touring the Seine.

River Limousine Paris luxury boat interior

Couples and Small Group Luxury Private Tours

Since 2007 Joseph Anticevic and his friendly crew at River Limousine have been arranging private tours on the Seine for hollywood stars and Saudi princes abroad their custom-built luxury Venetian water taxis (first and second photos above). The sleek wooden boats can fit up to six passengers. Each craft has a covered salon fitted with an elegant white leather-covered banquette, tinted windows and a convertible roof which can be opened on warm sunny days. They are about to add another boat to their fleet and they will soon be opening a waterside private terrace lounge for their guests.

Their cruises generally last an hour and a half with the possibility of stopping along the way for photos or short breaks to enjoy certain monuments. Each tour comes with a complimentary bottle of swiss replica watches champagne or soft drinks and they can also arrange breakfast cruises, picnics and other associated services.

Yacht de Paris

Mid-sized Group Private Tours & Meal Cruises

For groups larger than six or for a sit-down meal, the Yachts de Paris have a fleet of eight luxury yachts which are excellent for diverse functions. The Cachemire, a 24-metre 1982 De Vries yacht inaugurated in June 2007 by its “Godfather” John Travolta, is the perfect boat for a small group of up to 12 who would like a more spacious boat for touring or lunch or a group cocktail along the Seine. It has an outside deck for sightseeing and a covered lounge which features elegant velvet upholstery by Pierre Frey, fine china by Raynaud and Baccarat crystal glassware. Their other boats increase in size up which could be suitable for professional cocktails, weddings, family reunions and other events for up to 800 people.

Yacht de Paris Don Juan II

Elegant Shared Dinner Cruises

The most elegant shared dinner cruise on the Seine is also aboard a Yachts de Paris craft: the Don Juan II. Built in 1931 and refurbished in 2007, the classy yacht has an upper deck ideal for enjoying a glass of pre-dinner champagne before descending into its art Art Deco dining room. You will join no more than a total of 39 other diners, much fewer compared to 100+ on the other dinner boat cruises. Their refined menu includes a pre-starter, starter, main course, cheese, dessert, miniature pastries and is designed by chef Guy Krenzer, a laureate of the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France award. Their 2.5 hour dinner cruises departs nightly at 8:30 pm.

vedettes de paris boat

Champagne Group Cruises

While this experience isn’t as luxurious as the others above, the Vedettes de Paris offer a different option to the standard “bateaux mouches” large cruising boats that tour the Seine. Join a small group of fellow cruisers for a sightseeing tour along the river accompanied by a champagne tasting led by Parisian wine tasting experts O-Chateau. You’ll sample three champagnes, a brut, a demi-sec and a rosé, as your drift past the city’s most emblematic monuments. An alternative and sparkling way to discover the city and learn about one of the country’s most famous beverages. These run Monday to Saturdays at 6pm from May through the end of August 31st and the rest of the year every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 6pm.


Gastronomy is certainly a highlight of any trip to France, that said, navigating the French Riviera’s often touristy dining scene can be as difficult as navigating the area’s winding, congested roads. If you would like to stay clear of the packed, celebrated restaurants of la Cote d’Azur, such as Le Moulin de Mougins and La Chevre d’Or, but still have an excellent, authentic meal, grab a table at one of these insider suggestions from our France villa experts. (more…)