In the distance, seen from the road that winds from the village of Arpaillargues eastward to Uzes, across brilliant sunflower fields and emerald-green vineyards, Mas des Patres looms as an authentic emblem of old Provence. Its thick stone walls are a pale beige in the sunshine, its terra cotta tile roof a coppery red, and its hillside terrain, terraced into flat lawns and gardens edged by stone walls, a reminder of the patres (shepherds) who once tended flocks here. Approaching closer, one sees above the windows decorative carvings, now worn smooth by time, that were part of the original house erected some five hundred years ago.
Now thoroughly restored and equipped with modern comforts, the mas' appeal is further enhanced by not having any close overlooking neighbors despite being in Uzes, a prosperous and eminently photogenic Provençal town whose genuine antiquity and year-'round vibrant cultural life draw visitors (and movie directors in a search of a ready-made medieval set) from all over the world. Mas des Patres was used as a main setting in a French TV film in 2000. The town is also famed for its colorful open-air market on Saturday mornings, which is supplemented by a produce market every Wednesday.
Mas des Patres is entered through an electrically controlled wrought-iron gate that opens to a long driveway flanked by stands of cypress and bamboo. The driveway terminates in a parking area, bordered on one side by the swimming pool and on the other by flowerbeds planted with roses. Beyond a small stone house (retained for storage by the owners), and across the courtyard of crushed gravel with its plantings of olive and fruit trees, lies the three-story mas with its five bedrooms, five baths and impressive common rooms.
The living room has two seating areas, one with a sofa and armchairs arranged in front of a large white stone fireplace, and at the opposite end a cozy library with a collection of books, videos & games in English and French. In addition, there is a stereo system with a good variety of CDs. An especially pleasing touch to this comfortable room is a small bar, constructed of white stone with a dark wood counter, behind which there is a little tile alcove with running water.
Beyond the living room is a formal dining room, perfect for convivial family meals, with a heavy wood table & tapestry chairs. French doors open onto the courtyard and sweeping views toward the scenic Cévennes mountains in the distance to the west.
On the east side of the entrance hall is the modern kitchen. A large window overlooking the courtyard brings in abundant light, and next to the window is a large breakfast table.
From the living room a broad staircase with wrought-iron railing rises to the first floor, where there are four comfortable bedrooms, all with antique doors, marble or terra cotta tile floors and windows overlooking the courtyard. Each of the bedrooms is warmly furnished with simple but tastefully chosen country antiques. While each bedroom has its own decorative style, all have either an armoire or a spacious in-wall closets, bedside tables with good reading lamps, alarm clock with radio and full-length draperies that frame the south-facing windows.
The master bedroom is especially comfortable, with an extra-large king-sized bed (200 cm., 80 inches across) as well as a discreetly placed single bed. The ensuite bath, tiled in a subdued red and yellow pattern, has a stall shower but no bathtub.
The other three bedrooms on this floor have queen-sized beds that can be separated to form twin beds. Two of these bedrooms share a newly renovated full bath with jet tub just across the hall, while the third has an ensuite bath with stall shower. Guests may also take advantage of an additional bathroom with overhead shower that opens from the foyer on the ground level.
The crowning touch, so to speak, of this practically designed mas is the final bedroom, situated on the uppermost level. Here guests who desire special privacy can climb the wide, curving staircase from the middle level, close the antique wood door and enjoy their own little suite of rooms. The cozy bedroom is furnished with a queen-sized bed ( which can be separated into twins), an armoire and bedside tables with lamps. The ceiling has its original beams, and the terra cotta tile floor has been restored. The ensuite bath includes an excellent stall shower with lateral jets and glass door, marble-top vanity and - as with all of the five bathrooms at Mas des Patres - a Water Closet. From the bathroom there is a lovely view west toward the Cévennes.
No less impressive than its interior features are the outdoor amenities at Mas des Pâtres. The fenced and alarmed 10m X 5m (32' X 16') pool is well equipped with chaises longues, chairs & pool games, and is some 30 meters from the main house, and thus safe for children under supervision. The spacious grounds include numerous fruit and olive trees. On the lowest of the three terraced levels are 2 hammocks and a swing set. In warm months meals can be enjoyed in the courtyard, where a wrought iron table and chairs, parasols and a built-in stone barbecue comprise a pleasant area for outside dining. A second table can also be moved over to accommodate larger parties.
Mas des Pâtres has a alarm system for security and is a wonderful house for occupancy at any time of year. Numerous historic sites like the amazing Pont du Gard are within an easy drive. The Uzes cathedral, originally constructed in 1090, destroyed by religious wars and rebuilt in 1652, has one of the finest organs in Provence, and is frequently used for oratorical and chamber music concerts.
NOTE: The English & French-speaking owners of Mas des Patres have been renting out this property since 2000 and offer guests the choice of having the property entirely to themselves, or in having the owners remain on the property in the stone cottage, in which case they would be available for sightseeing and perhaps even meal preparation.
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