Mas du Murier Blanc is a Provençal farmstead, or mas, consisting of three buildings surrounding a courtyard. The owners recently renovated part of the farmhouse to create a rental property for guests. With five bedrooms over two floors to take up to 10 guests, the rental home is fully self-contained. It overlooks the courtyard above the caves or wine stores on ground level. The shaded terrace provides a cool spot for al fresco meals.
In front of the house is a 6x12 metre swimming pool. Mas du Murier Blanc is surrounded by fields and looks out onto the rolling scrubland surrounding the small hamlet of Vendras. Sitting on a ridge below Mont Bouquet, the home has spectacular views of the Cevennes Mountains to the west, the Massif Central to the north and Mont Ventoux to the east.
The kitchen is equipped with a Siemens oven, a gas stovetop, dishwasher, microwave oven and fridge freezer.
The living/dining room can be pleasantly cool in summer. A dining table seats ten. With sofas, a television, a DVD player and a stereo, it’s an easy place to spend a relaxing evening.
The first bedroom on this level has a double bed and an antique wardrobe. Its ensuite shower room includes a toilet. Opening off the living room, the second bedroom has a double bed and a wardrobe.
Upstairs is the sky-blue Azur Bedroom, which was converted from a hayloft and is brightly lit by skylights and small windows. Ceiling fans keep it comfortable in summer. It has a pair of twin beds and two wardrobes.
The Yellow Bedroom is popular with children, and has a pair of twin beds with ceiling fans and a wardrobe. The very large Orange Bedroom overlooks the terrace and is ideal for parents who need extra room for a cot. It has a double bed and a large wardrobe, and a cot if required. There is a spacious second bathroom on the upper level with both shower and bath, decorated in moroccan style cool mint and dark green tiles.
The property is named after the mulberry tree which today provides a shady spot beside the swimming pool, but was originally cultivated to feed to silkworms in a nursery, or magnanerie. Children can play on a swing set in the garden, and everyone will enjoy table tennis and boules.
Uzès, a restored market town, lies 20 minutes’ drive to the south of the house. Wednesdays and Saturdays are busy during the summer months as people come to enjoy the old-fashioned market. With the arrival of the TGV high-speed rail link to Avignon, Uzès has become accessible to Parisians, who have transformed the town into a highly sophisticated center for arts and crafts.
Antique shops, fine wine stores, and designer fashions are there, along with with artisans selling wild boar sausage and goat cheese. Uzès hosts a dance festival in June and a wine and jazz festival in August. The liquorice-maker Haribo is based in Uzès and has a visitor’s centre which is a great visit for the kids.
Tennis is on offer in nearby Lussan, and kayaking is available on the nearby Gardon, culmulating in a spectacular view of the Pont du Gard. Two bikes at the house are available for adventuring out on the marked bike paths. Keen cyclists will welcome the challenges provided by the numerous hills nearby, including Mont Bouquet a 20 minute cycle away and Mont Ventoux is a little over an hour away by car for Tour de France aficionados.
The closest major transport links – airports and high speed railways - are Nîmes or Avignon, both of which are an hour’s drive away. Nîmes is worth a day trip to see the Roman amphitheatre, which is still used for staging concerts, bullfights and international tennis tournaments.
The Pont du Gard aqueduct, built by the Romans to provide Nîmes with water, is an astonishing structure and was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Nîmes is also the gateway to the Carmargue, the salt marsh region in the delta of the Rhône, which is known for its flamingos and wild horses. To the west of Nîmes, Aigues Mortes is an interesting spot to visit, and has some good restaurants and bars. It was where Saint Louis, the French king, built a port from which to launch his Crusade.
West of Alès is the steam train that climbs up into the Cevennes mountains amid some breathtaking scenery. The train leaves from Anduze and heads to St-Jean-du-Gard. Just outside Anduze is a huge bamboo plantation set out in the 19th century by a wealthy spice merchant. Its spectacular gardens feature redwood trees.
The nearby Cévennes national park is an extensive area of natural beauty with hiking trails and activities available.