We've done about 18 house swaps since we started in 1995, but visiting Fayence last year was probably one of my most memorable. David and I both adore France and were really eager to delve into the Provencal countryside. We found the most lovely apartment in the small hilltop village of Fayence. The owners were more than happy to swap for our Constantia cottage, and we planned our trip for May 2015.
The scenery along the route leading to Fayence is fascinating. You'll see medieval villages dotted along the hills that flank the small, winding roads you travel on.
Entering the hamlet is like stepping back in time, with many of the buildings seemingly untouched since the Middle Ages.
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The apartment itself had terracotta floors and roof tiles, and was decorated with rich, colourful Provencal fabrics. It had the most immaculate view over the rooftops of other homes perched on the hill. We could see a gliding club in the distance, and would watch gliders taking off and coming in for a landing. It was enchanting. Climbing up just a few steps from our front door, we were in the bustling market street, where colourful hanging plants frame shop-front windows. We relished small pleasures, like indulging in the incredible ice-cream from one of the local parlours, enjoying it while we strolled through buzzing streets.
We'd choose to stay in a home over a hotel any day. It's more relaxing, and a totally different experience'
As much as we enjoy eating out, and trying different flavours, we also appreciate being able to cater for ourselves, and Fayence is ideal for that. It's known for its olives and cheeses, and the village has a food market three times a week, with the most delicious breads, salamis, and fresh fruit and veg. It was a gorgeous time to be there, because it was asparagus- and strawberry season, new ways to holiday which we didn't hesitate to take advantage of! For a brief period, you exchange lives with someone else: you have their neighbourhood, their house, their car – and they have yours. It's easy to imagine what it would be like to live life in this amazing place.