Warm-hearted, romantic and centrally placed in one of Europe's most stunning regions Villa Cambaras is a perfect holiday destination - a unique oasis for two or more families/group of friends who want to have the best of all worlds in Provence/French Riviera in a relaxed setting. “Elegant, understated and vivacious” is one frequent comment from guests.
It simply combines location, history, charm and what you want to get out of your Provence holiday with friends and family - still in a homely setting where you do things your way.
Cambaras is surrounded by high walls that gives privacy, still with church bells ringing from a distance. The property is perched on a small hill in a valley with a view onto the lively medevial hilltop villages of Fayence and Tourrettes. The villa, laid out on four floors, has a romantic vibe with ancient Italian style frescoes on the ceilings and an imposing spiral staircase from top to bottom - furnished with a combination of fine antiques and modern furniture.
The property, originally a hunting lodge for Italian aristocracy and the rich and famous of its time, is very much a party and entertainment house with a huge terrace, a gazebo for al fresco dining and with a unusually large pool as well as a park-size garden.
Villa Cambaras is close to everything Provence and the Riviera has to offer: beaches / mountains/ fishing and water sport /vineyards / great restaurants / shops / supermarkets / walking distance to exiting provencal villages brimming with festivals and parties / the various festivals in Cannes / etc etc.
The main building has two sitting rooms - one sunny conservatory and another on the lower ground floor as an entertainment/games room which leads to large terraced garden with a 14 metres swimming pool - and 5 bedrooms including the independent garden studio. The studio is a converted stone barn, also with a uninterrupted view of the village.
The secluded park-size 1.5 acre garden is large enough for everyone to be able to claim their own spot. The garden is rich with a variety of mature and ancient trees - the long driveway with Lebanese cedars, a line of cypresses along the side towards the adjacent sheep farm, oak, walnut, fig and olive trees.
Village life is just a 10 minutes walk away, therefore close enough still far enough to not be intrusive. A few minutes walk across the park we have our neighbour hood vineyard, Domaine Grande Bastide, with its own wine shop. And the best ‘boulangerie’ in the area is a few minutes up the road.
Cambaras also has the enchanting villages of Sellians, Callian and Mons on its doorstep. In the summer all these villages, all historic and similar in style, have their own public 'fetes', markets and carnivals, all in friendly competition. They alternate with vegetable markets, artisans markets, even pop and classical music concerts. Seillans is one of only three 'Plus Beaux Villages de la France' in Provence.
The grounds are large, surrounded by a high walls yet it has an open feel to it with the view over the next door farm, the Fayence hilltop and the Château le Puy, built by a Napoleonic general known for helping the tzar to modernise Russia's infrastructure, on another hilltop.
One of Europe's most luxurious golf resorts/estates, Terre Blanche - with some of the worlds richest living there and with a view in the same direction onto the valley and the hilltop villages - is 10 min away from us.
Cambaras, with easy access to rural Provence, the mountains and the Riviera beaches, is perfect for active families, groups and for small events. You can get to Cote-d'Azur beaches in half an hour and, during the winter, even get to a ski resort in less than 1 hour. The next door wine estates, the Fayence-Tourrettes gliding academy and a large amount of golfing opportunities are other attractive outings.
Nice, Cannes and St Tropez are nearby - as soon as you've had your fair share of Riviera city life you can easily withdraw back to Cambaras and relax.
Cambaras is attractive for a variety of groups: we’ve had groups celebrating significant birthdays and bookings for weddings. For those who want to take sabbatical and take a long break we can also do long term rentals from mid-end September until May. The house is suitable for year-around living. Wintertime the added advantage is the Southern Alps ski resorts, the nearest less than an hour away.
(Please also check out owners website www.cambaras.com for news, more photo's, owners blog and more reviews.)
Now you want to know who we are and why we own this beautiful old lady. Well, its a long story, but to cut it short we searched long and hard before we settled for a property in the south of France for pragmatic reasons. Myself and my wife have been foreign correspondents in mostly sunny climates for most of our careers so after many years of searching we found that Provence was the best place for us. Being Swedish and Irish this was our compromise, if you can call it that.
We wanted a property filled with history, a house with a soul - we have always loved charming old mansions and in fact we have only owned properties with historical significance - and Cambaras fits that bill too, it is not 'just' a holiday home. We wanted to have the option to move here one day, if our job commitments allowed. In my case I am a writer and journalist I am living at Cambaras for longer stretches every now and then.
The fact is that we were completely enchanted, obsessed even, so we fell for this romantic little chateau style house - this Italian styled beauty was in fact a holiday retreat of its time as it was built by most probably a Italian chateau to cater for hunting and pleasure - with sensual frescoes on the ceilings, lavender blue Provençal shutters, trompe l'oeil facade and entertainment terrace. We could envisage how Italian aristocrats and after them Napoleon's General Fabre, who built Chateau du Puy in the Tourrettes hilltop (our bedroom view), used Cambaras as a hideout, and how men and mistresses entertained themselves royally here less than 200 years ago. Nothing we had seen until then in Provence came anywhere near Cambaras. Most of the homes were nice holiday homes but most of the time without the soul and purpose we were searching for.
The third criteria was that our children, 17 and 22 at the time, would warm to it - and they did! They would never go for an isolated house in the middle of 'nowhere'. They want to be able to walk to the action, restaurants, bars and village 'fetes' that is. Then the property is large enough for as and for our children to invite lots of friends and be able to entertain.
It almost did not happen. We spent a whole holiday searching for our dream house. We were booked to fly home the next day when the agent said he wanted to test one other property that he originally thought was too big. So he did and the rest is history.
Cambaras is an unusual historic gem with easy access to all the pleasures in Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur.