Mixed feelings writing this review. Part of me wants to share what a wonderful place this is but the other half of me is worried that if I do then it will be full when I try to go back next year. However ...
If you haven't been to Vaison-la-Romaine before then you need to go - it is not without good reason that it is a favourite weekend getaway for Parisians. And if you have been there before and not stayed in the old mediaeval city then you have missed a real treat. And if you go to the old city then there is no better place to stay than Bellevue. There is a fascinating visitors book in the property and many people say it is the best place they have stayed at in France - and I can well believe it. Erica has created a wonderful house to stay in and you will not be disappointed.
The city itself has had three lives: the original Roman settlement (much of it excavated and open for visitors) near the river, the mediaeval castle and city on higher ground to protect against invaders and the new(ish) city down near the Roman areas. Three very contrasting areas, all of them with a sense of peace and charm.
I have to be honest - getting to Vaison-la-Romaine is not a stress-free experience. Road signs are a little random and it's good to take your SatNav with you. But, worry not, five minutes after arriving, all the travelling is forgotten and you will feel at peace with the world. The food is great (with a couple of excellent restaurants less than five minutes walk from Bellevue), the wine is ... well ... everything you would expect of that part of France, the scenery (buildings and countryside) is great and the people really welcoming and very appreciative of my very rusty attempts at speaking French. The Tuesday market is one of the best in this region and well worth a visit - but beware of the cheese prices!
The house itself is in the centre of the mediaeval village and is spectacular, The views from the top floor are to die for, the rooms are beautifully furnished with every conceivable facility, the bedrooms are luxurious and Erica is a welcoming and knowledgeable host. It is a few minutes (up a fairly steep path) to the garden which again hosts great views and all the facilities you would expect. There is free Wi-Fi and the TV carries Sky channels so not only can you can keep up to date with news in the UK but you can watch your own region on BBC1.
We have stayed there twice now and cannot wait to go back again.
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