Staying at La Tartugo is like going back in time. The house is one of a kind. It is Provence as you will rarely see it any more. Plus a lot of space to have a relaxing or productive time on the property. And many outings : neighbouring towns, the sea, the hills and the vineyards...
La Tartugo airbnb ground floor self-contained flat (the entrance is shared with us, though) is large for its rate, around 65 square meters, 2 rooms + sitting-in kitchen and bathroom + patio/outdoor dining area, all your own during your stay. It occupies the ground-floor of a large old village house in a row of houses on the main street of Carnoules (built in 1840, owned by Bernard's family since 1890), a simple abode but almost like a small museum, as it has been in the family for more than 120 years and has not changed much over the years.
The house is situated on a busy street/road and the front does not reveal the haven and quiet that lies behind : so don't be surprised when you arrive after an often tiring journey : the real surprise only happens once the door opens.
Don't expect anything modern (except wifi, but no tv), rather the contrary : this is precisely the beauty of it and makes staying at La Tartugo a unique experience, almost like living in an earlier century. Nevertheless, we are constantly improving our airbnb flat for it to combine old charm and modern amenities if they do not clash with the atmosphere and our restoration work.
Both airbnb bedrooms are pretty large, with one cosy bedroom per se + attached sitting room, not to mention the patio on which both look on, which is yet another sitting area. Room One, the Blue and Yellow Room, is a twin. Room Two, the Piano Room, has a narrowish double bed ( with its 130cm width, it corresponds almost to what is called "double bed size") fit for two "small" people. (Small by today's standards. As much of the furniture in the house, it goes back a few years... in this case, to our great-grand parents. And people then were smaller than today.)
Our airbnb flat is an independent space, although we, your hosts, use the same entrance as you. We live on the 1st floor.
You have your own private toilet & bathroom with shower.
Independent old style kitchen, practically as was in the 1920's (tap with cold water only : the price to pay for being authentic - but there is plenty of hot water in the bathroom ! ). Huge fireplace in case you stay with us in the winter (plenty of wood in the orchard for you to feed it).
Guests-only fridge, cooker, oven and microwave (sorry, we do not serve breakfast). Kitchen utensils galore. Guests enjoy cooking at La Tartugo, as several generations have in the past (Didier is a great cook and used to make wonderful ice-creams for the music festival we organized for 15 years before we decided to concentrate on restoring the house.)
Access to large deep-freeze in our garage. The garage/galery can accommodate a small car if needs be, but we have a safe parking lot just opposite us. Carnoules is growing fast, but although the house is situated on a busy street - which makes access very easy, once you are in the house or the gardens, you forget about the cars.
Piano and full travel library in Room 2.
Wifi ; writing desk in both rooms.
Access to (and use of) the workshop/painter's studio/gallery, patio, enclosed garden and organic orchard.
A visit of the upper floor is included in your stay (dining room with 1840's wall paintings).
Pleasurable rides in the surrounding countryside and hills. We used to rent bikes but some airbnb guests broke one and we do not feel like investing in a new one, sorry...
La Tartugo is first and foremost a place for those travelers, loners and couples, who wish to visit en old Provençal house, and/or take a rest, go on a retreat, and artists who need a quiet environment to create.
Carnoules is WELL SITUATED FOR OUTINGS.
The closest BEACH in Hyères is some 30 MINUTES AWAY by car ; by public transport, the closest beach is Toulon, and it will take you a bit more than an hour to get to the beach itself (train+bus or train-boat, a very pleasant journey in itself).
Carnoules is close to Toulon (30 kms) ; both MARSEILLES and NICE are 100 kms away, which means great day outings (Antibes, Cannes, AIX-EN-PROVENCE, Gorges du Verdon) more than enough by train or bus, many more by car.
Abbaye du Thoronet and abbaye de la Verne (in the deep of the chestnut forest of les Maures) are not far at all.
Cycling around and walking in the hills are great - Carnoules is situated on a sentier de Grande Randonnée. It used to be on the Italian branch of the CHEMINS DE COMPOSTELLE : the walk to the chapel (2 hours there and back) is very pretty. You may even try a day walking trip to Notre-Dame-des-Anges, the highest point in the area, from which the view is gorgeous, down to the sea.
HORSE RIDING is available in Carnoules itself.
TURTOISE WATCHING : in the enclosed garden of La Tartuga, which contains three exotic 'follies' built by Bernard's grandfather, you may observe turtoises (from spring to autumn). Next year, Carnoules will also become a center for tortoise studies as the Village des Tortues in close-by Gonfaron will be moving here shortly.
A small door at the back of the enclosed garden leads to our orchard, a sunny, laid-back and meditative bit of land with several shaded kiosques and tonnelles, wonderful to sit in, read and relax, and, in season, see the many different fruit grow - organically. Here again, don't expect anything versaillish, some people find it wild, may be overgrown, but this is the genuine touch again : the "curate's garden" look, as it was called in the old days, of which too few examples remain. There you may meet Jean-Luc, our painter friend, who haunts the place and is frequently seen painting there.
For RAILWAY ENTHUSIASTS : Association du Train Touristique du Centre-Var runs trains from spring to autumn. Starts in Carnoules for a 3 hours ride up to Brignoles and back.
Although Carnoules is not a particularly lively village (not touristy, quite 'genuine', no prettyfication, no frills), we have three traditional French cooking restaurants in walking distance, one in the old part of the village (La Locomotive, recommended by our guests), two at the railway station ( + two in Pignans - Le Temps des mets, recommended by our guests -, and one in Besse). Two bakers in walking distance. Supermarket : 500 yards from La Tartugo. So is the railway station. Bus stop now bang opposite us for Toulon and Draguignan. Small market on friday. And quite a few villagey events all year round to help you feel the pulse of the place.
About La Tartugo, Costa Prize winner poet Christopher Reid has written the following poem :
From one back window, piano practice :
repeated attacks on a trap of chords
repeatedly sprung ;
and from another,
soprano arpeggios, intricate as hopscotch.
The dauntless human musical endeavour !
It's touch and go, too, in the animal kingdom,
where a tortoise tilts and bumps itself down
some concrete steps,
like removal men managing
a large, dusty but once-loved
piece of farmhouse bedroom furniture,
and where a bee gang carries out a spot raid
on the deep, deep-purple flowers
of a shaken sage-bush.
copyright 2005 La Tartuga chez A durée limitée
reproduced in Nonsense, Faber @ Faber, London, 2012
Many photographers have taken great photographs of the house and gardens, that lend themselves marvelously to the art of photography. One day, we hope to make a booklet.
La Tartugo is a GAYFRIENDLY HOUSE. Used to be family friendly too but unchecked kids have spoilt some 1920's wallpaper and generally don't fit in a house like ours, they need too much attention from the parents, so for their benefit as well as ours, we have decided to say no to them. (Lone parent/one child still works pretty well, though.) We concentrate instead on travelers who are interested in the historical and artistic aspects of the house.
If this is not enough information, see more in Rules of the house section below.
Airbnb guests have a self-contained flat (shared entrance with the hosts) on the ground floor and direct access to organic garden and orchard.
Interakcija s gostima
Depending on each person's or couple's wishes, it can vary. Loners have more time usually, so we tend to share more with them but we leave it to everyone to decide. It often comes as a matter of course.
Just contact us and do read our guests' commentaries, they are the best way of knowing us and deciding if La Tartugo is for you.
Let's all be friendly & communal. Shut the doors to avoid heat or cold or noise coming in. TURN OFF LIGHTS, heatings and appliances when not around : let's have no power wastage - electricity is expensive in France too OUR NORTH AMERICAN GUESTS, PARTICULARLY, SHOULD BE AWARE OF THAT. A bit of dusting/cleaning before leaving (we don't charge for cleaning, which implies some slight effort on the guests' part). LA TARTUGO IS A SENSITIVE MUSEUMLIKE ENVIRONMENT. PLEASE HANDLE FURNITURE CAREFULLY AND DO NOT HANDLE OBJECTS WHEN NOT NECESSARY.
We are into preserving and restoring a heritage home and your staying with us helps us doing so.
Bernard is a writer and an award winning translator (French into English). He organized an arts festival for 15 years in Carnoules, called WEM. He is now involved in Icha Foundation, an orphanage on the East Coast of india, where he spends time every year.
CHECK BERNARD'S LATEST BOOKS
ON THE CURRENT SITUATION IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE (IN FRENCH ONLY) :
ON THE TRANSLATOR'S LIFE (BILINGUAL) :
ON INDIA (IN FRENCH ONLY):
Didier is a student nurse, a great cook, and also loves India. He is into swimming and can tell you where to find out of the way beaches 30 minutes from home.
They are both into organic gardening and food.
They put a lot of energy and love preserving their house, Bernars's 1850 family home. A lot of Bernard's and Didier's time is spent on keeping the place afloat and the place reflects their personality.
Bernard and Didier love Provence, know the area very well and will help you on your day trips, of which thare are many in the vicinity. Walking is great around here.
For many years, artists, singers and musicians stayed repeatedly at la Tartuga. Time has come now for quieter visitors, although pianists are still welcome and can play the piano in the house !
But everyone is welcome at La Tartuga. Bernard and Didier have travelled extensively and know how important it is to find temporary havens on the road.
Hoping to share some time with you soon.