3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to France Magazines today click here

Why Linda Barker loves living in Provence

PUBLISHED: 08:50 20 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:01 24 October 2017

Linda Barker with her family & friends at her property, Villa de la Verne in the south of France

Linda Barker with her family & friends at her property, Villa de la Verne in the south of France

Archant

TV presenter and interior designer Linda Barker tells us how she bought a house in Provence with her husband and two friends and why she loves life in the south of France

Ten years ago, TV presenter Linda Barker and her husband, Chris Short, jointly bought a Roman-style villa in the tiny village of La Môle, in the heart of the Var region just west of Saint-Tropez, with close friends, Vanessa and Mike Wilderink. She tells us about her longstanding love affair with the south of France and how she lovingly renovated their €1.4m bolthole and transformed it from a basic B&B into a luxury holiday haven...

Linda Barker's villa in ProvenceLinda Barker's villa in Provence

What do you love so much about Provence that you decided to purchase a property here?

We used to rent a friend’s house near Grimaud, between Le Plan-de-la-Tour and La Garde-Freinet, and it was always really nice going back to the same house. When our friend decided to sell up, we thought, ‘Maybe the four of us should invest in our own property!’

What attracted you to this area of Provence in particular?

Its proximity to where we were holidaying before – knowing where to eat, where to shop, the great food markets etc. It was lovely to keep coming back to all those places. We looked at a map and drew a circle with a 15-mile radius around the area that we knew, took a drive around and looked at properties in estate agents. We searched quite intensively and viewed 10-15 properties before we flew home. Mike and Vanessa stayed on and Mike then found Villa de la Verne. They sent photos and we thought, “Yes, that’s great!”.

You love scouring the vide-greniers and brocantes to furnish your home. What have been a few of your other favourite finds?

Candelabras, tables and chairs, plus a few other bits and pieces. I love going to the MAISON&OBJET trade show in Paris and I’m a great one for looking around all the attic sales in France and the antiques markets are great. Often, I leave these pieces just as I find them as I love the combination of old and new, and a genuine bit of rust or chipped enamel is hard to resist. Other times, I might paint and wax a plain piece of brown furniture to bring it up to date.

The stylish kitchen at Linda Barker's villa in ProvenceThe stylish kitchen at Linda Barker's villa in Provence

You use the villa as a holiday home and you also rent it out. How often are you here?

We come out of season and early in the season to open it up, clear away the cobwebs and steam clean from top to bottom to make sure it’s beautiful and looking at its best, ready for guests.

With fabulous views over the French countryside, the villa is fairly remote and very private, and you are surrounded by vineyards and rivers. What are your favourite things to do here?

We take long, long walks… there are some great ones around the hills above the house and a four-hour walk away up into the hills, there’s a beautiful Carthusian monastery, called La Chartreuse de la Verne. There are bikes here at the house, so I cycle quite a lot. We also have lovely decks for yoga –it’s a very healthy place. Another of the many wonderful things here are the clear night skies, which are perfect for stargazing and satellite spotting.

____________________________________________________________________

Related articles

Chef James Martin on his love of France and French food

11 celebrities who own a property in France

____________________________________________________________

Practising yoga is the perfect way for Linda to wind down while in FrancePractising yoga is the perfect way for Linda to wind down while in France

Have you ever filmed in France?

We once filmed Changing Rooms in central France. It had the most beautiful vegetable market there, and I remember Andy going to a bricolage (DIY store) and finding it hilarious!

As a keen cook, what do you love most about the French gastronomy?

There are great food markets and the food is SO fresh. I love the Provençal way of life and have a big family and it’s very much about shopping at the market and bringing food back and all cooking at home. We’re all cooks and we like it that way. I’d love to grow my own fruit and veg, but we’re not here often enough to look after them. When we first bought the house, I remember arriving with packets of seeds, but there’s no one to look after them.

Any favourite dishes?

I love the soups... especially fish soup with rouille and Emmental cheese. We love doing simple cooking on the barbecue and the chicken is just wonderful here, too. We also have the most fabulous, award-winning boulangerie in La Môle. Their bread is extraordinary and people travel from miles around to buy it. We have a tiny market with farmers selling local home-grown produce, too. It’s usually just three stalls on a Thursday, with vegetables, salamis and saucisson.

Dining al fresco at Linda's house in ProvenceDining al fresco at Linda's house in Provence

Do you socialise with the locals and get involved in local fêtes?

The sense of community is very strong here. La Môle has a fête, Cogolin has vides-greniers and Grimaud has regular antiques markets, which are all really good fun. La Môle also has a newsletter, so if we’re around when there’s something going on, whether it’s music or art, we’ll go.

What have been the highlights for you here?

The parties including my husband’s 50th and my niece’s 18th – the house does parties very well. I’m from a big family they all love it here. It’s a very robust, very strong six double-bedroom house that can look after a lot of people; it’s not precious at all. We’ll be dancing at midnight, it’s so private, you can pretty much put the speakers outside and blast your music out.

_____________________________________________________________

Related articles

This is why Helen Skelton loves living in the south of France

Angela Rippon on why she bought a home on the French Riviera

____________________________________________________________

A great place to sunbathe at Linda Barker's house in ProvenceA great place to sunbathe at Linda Barker's house in Provence

It sounds totally idyllic... are there any downsides?

It’s wild boar territory, so we’re occasionally woken up by wild boar coming across the property with their piglets, which is lovely, but they dig up the lawn for roots and wreak havoc!

Any tips for people thinking about purchasing a property in Provence?

It’s wonderful! It doesn’t necessarily suit everyone, but buying with our mates has been a fantastic experience. It’s lovely to be able to share lots of things and travel together with friends. People did warn me against buying property with friends, but it has actually been the most wonderful, positive experience. It has meant that we’ve been able to get a bigger property than we would have been able to afford, in a very glamorous location.

Getting everyone cooking and eating together is one of Linda's favourite things about her French holiday homeGetting everyone cooking and eating together is one of Linda's favourite things about her French holiday home

What’s your perfect day in Provence?

It would have to involve going to St-Tropez market, wearing my sandals and something light over a bikini, buying local tapenade dip and some fresh veg, and then sitting on a beautiful, tiny, rugged beach like Le Rayol to eat it, followed by some swimming before going back to the house. We’d have lots of people round, so there’d be the sound of everyone getting ready for dinner, with everybody mucking in. Everyone would be cooking, while others would be preparing the apéritifs, setting the tables and putting candles everywhere, and someone would be picking flowers from the garden to display… all very simple. Then, we’d have a wonderful dinner, with music and dancing.

When it’s finally time to hang up the paintbrush, do you think might retire here?

I’d like to spend more time here, but I’ve definitely got my feet in the UK. To share time here and there is what really resonates with me. A couple of months here would be magical… That would be an amazing thing to do!

To rent Linda’s villa, visit Villa de la Verne

More from Living in France

15:07

Most people have a plan when it comes to finding their ideal property in France. Living France’s new columnist, Janine Marsh, did not.

Read more
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Does the reality live up to the dream? We catch up with expats Laura and Rowan Wickham to find out how they’re getting on running a gîte business in Charente

Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Do you know the French departments by their numbers? Test your knowledge with our quiz.

Read more
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Relocating to France? Make sure you prepare these 6 things before the big move to your French property

Read more
Expats in France
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Thinking of setting up a campsite in France? Here’s what you’ll need to consider when it comes to planning permission.

Read more
Friday, April 6, 2018

Understand the home-sharing website Airbnb, including the latest French rules, and follow our top tips for using it to rent out your property in France

Read more
Running a business
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

With its unbeatable wine and cheese and laissez-faire attitude, there’s nowhere better to retire than France. But which cities are best for growing old in? Here’s the top 10

Read more
Pays de la Loire
Thursday, January 25, 2018

If you are buying in or moving to France you will need a French bank account but before you open one make sure you read these 11 things you need to know to avoid making a costly mistake

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

France might be experiencing a shortage of general practitioners but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a GP willing to take on new patients. Here’s what you need to know about finding and registering with a doctor when you move to France

Read more
Expats in France
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The French pharmacy is so much more tham a place to pick up your prescriptions. Here are 11 things you might not know about pharmacies in France.

Read more
Healthcare in France
Subscribe today

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now