A few years back, my wife and I wanted to take a long stay vacation in France. We had retired, the kids had left home and gone on with their own lives and we wanted to do some senior travel. With plenty of time – for traveling on our hands, we thought we should go overseas to Europe for an extended stay vacation. France had always been a favorite destination. We had already been to Paris and wanted to experience something further outside of this cosmopolitan city. We looked into what was available, decided where to go (Provence) and for how long we would go – we ended up staying in France for almost a year. Our destination was a small town called Uzès, near Avignon in Provence, southern France.
We found an old medieval house to rent in France through a newspaper, but today there are many companies that rent out houses and villas for short or extended stay vacations in France. Home owners also advertise their houses to rent on TripAdvisor or through companies such as Homeaway Vacations so they are not difficult to find these days.
The house we rented for our long stay in France was a very old medieval townhouse in Uzès which had been renovated to modern standards with all the modern conveniences we have at home. There were four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small patio where we spent many mornings eating our breakfasts, lunches, some evening meals. It was here on this small patio we spent many hours together and with our new found friends drinking excellent coffee or the local wines of Provence, some of those excellent pink rosé and red wines, enjoying the wonderful Mediterranean climate which had little rain in the summer in this part of France.
Uzès is a very active, small town, a little more than a village some 25 km northeast of Nîmes. Uzès although so small, has everything in it, both new and old. It is not a tourist destination as such, but a very authentic medieval town, combining the old and the new. The surrounding area is very historical, consisting of medieval buildings, churches and stone houses and beautiful countryside.
Things we recommend for you to visit should you chose a long stay vacation in this part of France, should be a visit to the fortified city of Avignon, also known as the “City of Popes” one of the most picturesque parts of France. If you love wine, don’t miss the famous wine cellars of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Also visit nearby Arles, the capital of the Provence, once known as the “Little Rome of Gaul.” Since you have so much time on a long stay holiday, you can also visit the Roman Amphitheater and the Church of St. Torphime. Did you know that Vincent Van Gogh stayed for a long time – almost a year in Arles and painted some of his greatest works of art. There is a special light in Provence and Van Gogh took advantage of it and worked it into his paintings. If you are an artist yourself, it’s a perfect environment to do a few paintings while staying in Provence.
Also on a long stay vacation in Provence, you have the time to enjoy the beauty of the French countryside, the fields of purple lavender, the vineyards and the villages. Whenever we needed to do our groceries, we chose the market over the big supermarket in the town. We preferred to go to the local market where we could enjoy the visual colors, the sounds and the scent of fresh herbs. We could watch the vendors selling bunches of herbs and lavender, meats, cheeses, breads, jams, local fruits and vegetables from their stalls. It was a sight and experience to behold: the ordinary life of a quaint and very charming French village. These charming old villages and small towns can be seen throughout the whole of Provence.
Provence is known for its delicious cuisine and wines. For each day of our long stay vacation, the food we ate in Provence was a veritable feast of gastronomic delights. Wonderful meats, fresh vegetables, olive oil and fresh herbs grown in the region are the primary ingredients of many dishes. Delicious cheeses, truffles and breads accompany most of the meals we ate in the local restaurants. The wines were superb! Of course, they are made in Provence and the surrounding area and the prices were much lower than what we paid back home in North America.
When you take a long stay vacation, one of the benefits is the chance to live like the locals do. You even lose track of time as one day dissolves into the next. Staying for enough time gave us the chance to “live in” the French countryside. We took many walks as there was an abundance of places to hike. We rode bicycles on the country roads, had picnics when we arrived at a place that looked suitable for a picnic. This is the difference between a short vacation, a resort vacation or a packaged tour. Being a senior or a retired boomer gives one the opportunity to enjoy a long stay vacation anywhere in the world. A chance to live like the locals, soak up the atmosphere, savour the special moments and the small joys in life.