Le Mas des Oules

near Uzès, Provence, France Book from

Super-chic self-catering houses and apartments for 2-6, nestled amongst fragrant gardens in a converted Provençal mas
Our journey to this grand country hideaway, located in the Gard Provençal, has taken us along roads lined with plane trees, past vineyards and olive groves, through historic towns and over winding rivers. As we sweep past the blue gates of the terracotta-hued mas, through lavender- and jasmine-scented gardens, to our stylish home for the night, we feel a sense of utter contentment descend. It’s not long before we’re lounging on the grapevine-shaded terrace, a glass of locally produced wine in hand, entranced by the early summer sun as it dips behind the rolling Cévennes hills.

Expat owners Emma and Michael Crane spotted potential in this former farm and winery after falling in love with the village of Saint-Victor-des-Oules. With some time and TLC, they transformed it into 7 elegant self-catering houses and apartments (each sleeping 2-6), effortlessly weaving contemporary décor in with the rejuvenated farmhouse fixtures. Now it's a place for everyone: we spotted a couple lazing by the communal pool, toddlers exploring the gardens, and friends engrossed in a game of boules. Spend your days sourcing supper at Uzès’ famous market, admiring the Roman Pont du Gard or taking day trips to the coast before cosying up on your private terrace. A real Provençal paradise.

Highs

  • Great-value 2- to 3-bedroom houses and apartments ideal for families in search of a home from home or couples wanting a romantic retreat
  • The owners are incredibly friendly and helpful. We felt completely at ease and would have been quite happy if our flights home had been cancelled indefinitely
  • Well-equipped kitchens and industrial-inspired décor including bold prints, vintage maps and original artefacts from the farm
  • An authentic French setting - we loved driving between towns and visiting farm shops selling distinctive local produce: cherries, peaches, apricots, olives and truffles
  • We could have stayed amongst the lavender-filled gardens for hours, watching dragonflies, splashing about the pool and perhaps occasionally playing boules

Lows

  • You’ll need a car to make the most of this spectacular area; Saint-Victor-des-Oules has oodles of character but no restaurants (or even a bakery)
  • Technology is limited: WiFi can be patchy due to thick walls, there are no in-room TVs, and we would have appreciated a CD player or iPod dock for evenings spent relaxing on the terrace
  • Due to the layout, Jasmin is only suitable for children aged 8+
  • There’s a 7-night minimum stay during July and August (with a Saturday changeover day)
  • Check the payment and cancellation policy carefully, a security deposit is required

Best time to go

Le Mas des Oules is a great year-round destination, but we think it would be at its best in late spring, when the gardens are full of flowers, or in early autumn when the leaves are golden - crowds would also be thinner. During the summer there are numerous festivals in the area, while winter sees Christmas markets, fireworks and illuminations.

Our top tips

  • Get up early on a Saturday morning, pack a picnic basket and your swimming gear, and head to Uzès. Buy lots of delicious fresh produce from the market - perhaps have a coffee and a pastry - then head to the Pont du Gard. Swim in the river, laze on the stony beach (there are wooden cabanas to use on a first-come, first-served basis), eat your picnic, and marvel at the grand structure before you
  • If you suffer from hay fever, bring plenty of medication! The grounds are full of pollen, but they’re so beautiful you’ll want to spend all your time there anyway

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Apartments
  • 7 houses / apartments (sleeping 2-6)
  • Self-catering (drive to shops/restaurants)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 8 Dec 2016 - 24 Mar 2017
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Boules
  • Board games
Room: Clematite

Rooms

The houses and apartments are located within one huge converted outbuilding and are named after plants found in the garden. Ranging from 2 to 3 bedrooms, they have white-washed walls, exposed stonework and soft grey Farrow and Ball floors. Open-plan living-dining-kitchen areas are bright and airy, and bathrooms come with either a powerful shower or an enticing bathtub, plus all have their own terrace for alfresco dining.

Interiors are industrial-inspired and feature mismatched items from international designers. You may find metallic tables by Madam Stoltz, wire storage by House Doctor DK, dark sofas by Bloomingville, or crate-style shelves by Chehoma. These are paired with splashes of colour in the form of vintage French Rossignol school maps, vibrant 1950s Jung-Koch-Quentell botanical charts, printed cushions and fresh flowers. It’s clear that care has been poured into every space: Emma constantly has her eye out for unique pieces, and while we were there she earmarked some enchanting new butterfly prints for one of the apartments.

Jasmin overlooks the gardens, with 2 mezzanine sleeping areas and a shower bathroom; due to the layout it's only suitable for children over 8 years old. We slept in Clematite, a split-level house with a double and a single bedroom that looks out over the communal courtyard; we adored finishing each day on the wisteria-covered terrace.

Agave, a first-floor courtyard-facing apartment, sleeps 4 in 2 bedrooms (1 double and 1 twin) and has stunning views across the plains to the Cévennes hills. The Genet and Dahlia houses have a similar bedroom arrangement - choose the former for its secluded outside space and airy mezzanine lounge, or the latter for its suntrap terrace. Best for larger families are the Belle de Nuit house and the Amaryllis apartment, both of which have 3 bedrooms (1 double and 2 twins). Amaryllis is set entirely on the ground floor, overlooking the hills, while palatial Belle de Nuit feels like a genuine home from home, complete with a courtyard-facing wisteria-covered terrace.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Barbecue (on request)
  • Books and board games
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Fridge
  • Hob stove
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • WiFi

Eating

Sleek kitchens flow into bright living rooms and come stocked with all you need to cook: designer crockery, plenty of pans and utensils, a hob, a microwave, a coffee maker, a toaster, and a fridge/freezer. You get smart dining tables inside and out, so you can eat on your shaded terrace overlooking the courtyard or garden, or inside the cool mas if the temperature is too high.

All the essentials such as tea, coffee, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper are provided, and the local baker comes by daily around 10am, sometimes with croissants, so you can buy freshly baked goodies that morning (excluding Sundays). Other than that, the nearest supermarket is just a 5-minute drive away in the neighbouring village of Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie. All the nearby villages have market days where stalls groan under the weight of local produce; Saint-Quentin’s is on Tuesdays and Fridays, while Uzès has a small market on Wednesdays and a huge Saturday market that is widely considered the best in all of Provence. Stock up on olives, pâtés, succulent fruit and veg, cheese and fresh fish - including some juicy-looking oysters - as well as crusty bread and meat calling out for the barbecue (available to borrow at the mas).

There are numerous local restaurants: just let Emma know what you feel like and she’ll book you a table (and even a taxi if you’d prefer not to drive). Otherwise head into Uzès and explore its many restaurants and bars - we ate at Terroirs A Uzès in La Place aux Herbes (the main square) and found the atmosphere to be really relaxed. Our meal was bursting with fresh, local produce: an open sandwich topped with olive tapenade, pélardon cheese and ham, along with a trio of homemade dips and a fresh salad, followed by a huge slice of tiramisu (so impressive it prompted the lady on the next table to order "Whatever they’re having!").

Features include:

  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Hob stove
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Toaster
Eating: Belle de Nuit
Activity:

Activities

  • Pop into Uzès on Wednesday or Saturday for market day - we'd recommend the latter, but go early! We arrived at 9am and within the hour the streets were fit to burst. Emma tells us people travel for up to 2 hours to get here, and the stalls sell everything from linens and pottery to food and flowers. While in town, stop by the impressive home of the first duchy of France
  • The extraordinary Unesco-listed Pont du Gard is just a 15-minute drive away. Built in the 1st century, this 360m-long, 50m-high aqueduct helped provide Nîmes' citizens with fresh water for 5 centuries. Walk over it, kayak under it, or sit on the riverbank and marvel at it
  • Visit the nearby town of Tavel to sample the famous Tavel rosé, a former favourite of the royalty in court at Avignon. It's strewn with wineries, each selling the sweet pink tipple straight from the source. The wine fields of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are close by, too
  • Browse the dozens of pottery workshops and ateliers that line the quaint, hilly streets of Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie (a 5-minute drive away). The village has had an international reputation for ceramics since the 14th century, and you'll find everything from decorative sculptures to functional garden pots
  • Day-trip to the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, one of the best-preserved Roman temples in the world. Or head to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence to see the asylum where Van Gogh painted his famous 'Saint-Paul Asylum, Saint-Rémy' series. Avignon, Montpellier and Arles are also within 1 hours' drive
  • There are numerous Mediterranean beaches within an hour and a half’s drive - just head south!
  • Back at Le Mas des Oules you can read on your terrace, sprawl on a lounger by the pool, play boules and table tennis on the lawn, or catch the sunset from the communal terrace (i-escape customers receive a bottle wine perfect for the occasion)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Emma and Michael have 2 young boys of their own, who love having new kids to play with and will happily share their toys. Houses and apartments are well equipped, the pool is fenced, and there are plenty of things in the region for kids of all ages.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

All of the apartments and houses are well suited to families. Clematite sleep 2-3 in a double bedroom and a second single bedroom; Agave, Genet and Dahlia each sleep 4 in 1 double and 1 twin room; Jasmin also sleeps 4, but its mezzanine rooms mean it is only suitable for children aged 8+. Amaryllis and Belle de Nuit each sleep 6 (1 double and 2 twin rooms). Bear in mind that Genet, Dahlia and Jasmin have bathrooms with showers only.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available on request

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chairs
  • Baby bathtub

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The apartments and houses have full kitchens suitable for preparing anything from baby food to full family meals - plastic plates and cups are also provided.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool (fenced)
  • Table tennis
  • Large gardens

Families Should Know:

Note that most of the houses and apartments feature steep stone staircases (and there are no stair gates), so may not be ideal for pre-schoolers. The owners do not recommend Amaryllis for younger children due to its ground-floor location at the front of the mas

Distances:

  • Airport: 45 minutes (Nîmes)
  • Hospital / pharmacy: 10 minutes (Uzès)
  • Village shop: 5 minutes (Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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