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LA MAUSSANAISE

La Maussanaise is that rare find for families with teenage children, Francophiles who enjoy being immersed in the rhythms of French Provençal life, and in general those who hate to get into a car every time they need a baguette or copy of the International Herald Tribune: A good-quality house with pool, large garden, air-conditioned living room and bedrooms, and plenty of peace and privacy, and all this within a five-minute walk of the shops in one of Provence's most charming villages. With four bedrooms, three baths, a modern and well-equipped kitchen and a great outdoor terrace, this villa offers an unusual opportunity for a relaxed séjour in Provence without the burdens of excessive motor traffic. And as a bonus, the nearby village with basic shops and several good restaurants, holds a market every Thursday morning, this riot of tastes, colors and aromas taking place in the village square in front of the village church and under the shade of centuries-old plane trees.

For a French house the rooms are especially spacious at La Maussanaise. The living-dining room area, combined with the foyer and a cozy den-like area with television and stereo system, comprises almost 90m2 (about 910 sq. ft.). The bedrooms average around 27m2 (about 300 sq. ft.), and the pretty outside terrace, covered with vines and crafted of local stone, is a generous 200m2 (about 2,200 sq. ft.). The overall terrain, which measures about 3,000m2 (about 3/4 of an acre), includes a large garden, lovingly landscaped and tended by the owner, with abundant flowers, shade trees, extensive lawn areas and lemon trees. The swimming pool, all tile, measures 6m X 12m (19.5' X 39') and has stairs at one end and a ladder at the other.

Furnishings in the living-dining room area include three good-quality sofas centered around a large stone fireplace, a marble dining table for six, and - for color - a beautiful oriental rug and throw pillows in colorful fabrics. The ceilings have heavy oak beams, and the floors are of terra cotta tile. This area is richly accented with objets d'art, tasteful pictures and the occasional well-placed mirror. As in the bedrooms, there are ample table lamps for reading.

The master bedroom is the only one upstairs and has a king-sized bed, new ensuite bath and private terrace opening onto the garden. A second bedroom has a king-sized bed that can be divided into twins and an ensuite bath with walk-in shower. Guests in this room use the guest WC in the foyer. The third and fourth bedrooms both have king-sized beds which can be divided into twins. These bedrooms share a large bath that is between them but is not connected to the rooms. They also share a separate WC.

The kitchen at La Maussanaise is all-electric, with a four-burner stove with ceramic surface, oven, microwave oven and good-sized refrigerator (plus an additional refrigerator). The kitchen includes an eat-in counter area with bistro chairs for five.

Since the villa is at the end of a cul-de-sac, there is no passing traffic to disturb residents either night or day. And while the nearby village can be quite bustling at times, especially on the morning of market day, none of this carries to the tranquil enclave of La Maussanaise.

Special amenities at the villa include an electronically controlled entrance gate, automatic sprinkling system and a lighting system that illuminates the garden beautifully at night. There are tennis courts virtually around the corner, and Domaine de Manville, an impressive eco-responsible 18-hole golf course which opened in late 2014, is a three-minute drive. Here you can also enjoy breakfast, lunch or a snack at the bistro, an apéro at the bar located in the winter garden sheltered in a glass atrium, or a seasonally inspired fine dining experience at their gastronomic restaurant.

Gourmet opportunities abound in the immediate area. In the village there are several good restaurants in different price categories including Aux Ateliers de Franck et Flo, popular with locals, and Au Bistro Marin for seafood lovers. For especially fine dining there is La Petite France in nearby Paradou, about a five-minute drive. One of Patricia Wells' favorite country restaurants, the bizarrely charming Bistrot au Paradou, is also in Paradou. Just beyond Paradou is Fontvieille with Le Patio and La Table du Meunier. The famed and fabulously expensive Oustau de Baumanière, tenaciously holding onto to its once-unchallenged standing as the finest restaurant in Provence, carries on its beautiful two-star establishment at Les Baux less than 10 minutes to the north. And of course a few minutes to the north of Les Baux are the many restaurants of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, if the locals and the worthies of British high society will kindly make room.

Not to be overlooked is the local olive oil cooperative, hailed universally in France as producer of the country's finest olive oil. This clear, golden-green elixir may be purchased in quantities ranging from a small bottle to several gallons. For a not outrageous fee the coop will gladly ship their precious oils wherever you desire. We suggest dispatching a five-liter container to your own pantry, which may keep you well supplied until your next visit to the golden triangle, and - for the doubly fortunate - to La Maussanaise.