This review is for the benefit of anyone who is thinking of booking Les Cigalles near Cabrières d'Avignon in the Luberon area of Provence, and has googled the details in the hope of finding some real-life photos to supplement the small and grainy ones provided on the various cottage-booking websites. I tried doing this when we booked Les Cigalles, got basically no hits, and decided to take a bunch of photos and post them online when we returned home for the benefit of future travellers. Good karma, eh.
If you've ever fancied becoming the temporary proprietor of a Provençal olive grove, then Les Cigalles is the place to be. It's an ancient stone cottage set within a large olive grove - and I don't just mean there's a few olive trees here and there; it's literally an olive grove that is farmed out of season by the property owners, who will also sell you their organically produced oil.
Here's the driveway leading up to the cottage:
And the maison itself:
One of the things that makes Les Cigalles so special is the complete and utter silence - well, apart from the cicadas, bien sûr! Because the house is 1.5km from the nearest village, Cabrières d'Avignon, and set in the middle of two acres of private land, it's completely secluded and tranquil, which makes for a highly relaxing holiday.
And of course, you also have the beautiful mosaic pool:
Which comes complete with A View over the valley, that can be admired from the comfort of your lounger:
The pool is set on its own gated terrace, so if you're heading out there with your dogs (or dog, I suppose - I keep forgetting that there must be peeps out there who think one dog is plenty, thanks very much) you needn't worry about them wandering off and accidentally falling in the pool. In fact, the property is walled in on three sides by the dry-stone olive terraces, so you can let your little rascals wander around among the trees without coming to any harm.
The property owners are charming - they provided a vase of fresh flowers from their own garden, plus a bottle of local wine (I find that most French landlords often want to basically get your deposit and get out of there, so the attention to detail in this respect is lovely). Cabrières d'Avignon is a 5 minute drive away, and you could probably walk it in about 20 minutes if you really wanted to, although personally the thought of walking all that distance in 36 degree heat filled me with horror - um, I'm on holiday! Yeah, I'm basically lazy. I read a comment in the guest book from some dudes who walked from Les Cigalles to Gordes and back in August (8km), and highly recommended it - nutters.
The Olive Princess:
Here are a couple of photos of the interior - white-washed walls and wooden beams, plus tile floors (excellent for cooling down fluffy Jack Russells):
I think my only caveat about Les Cigalles is that the interior is very small. Although there are two double bedrooms, there is no way that four adults could fit in the house comfortably. Two adults is perfect, and you could probably squeeze in a couple of young children as well - but definitely not four grown-up peeps.
The kitchen comes with all the basics, but you'll need to bring any specialist equipment ie sharp knives, bbq utensils (the roofed, shady outdoor dining area has a little outdoor oven/bbq with a chimney), kitchen foil, cling film, olive oils and spices - the usual.
We loved our stay at Les Cigalles, and would definitely recommend it. Olive trees, a gorgeous view, immaculate pool area, utter peace and quiet, and Jack-Russell friendly - nous aimons beaucoup!