Concierge.com's insider take:
To a certain extent you get what you pay for, and in Provence you're likely to pay handsomely. Dreamy four-bedroom hilltop stone farmhouses with valley-view swimming pools certainly exist, but don't be surprised at the Hamptons-like price tags that accompany them. Conversely, beware the too-good-to-be-true bargain, such as studio apartments in small villages, which are just as likely to be small, dank, and woefully unequipped. Villas International (www.villasintl.com) serves the high end of the market. For something less expensive, try an Internet search on Provence house rental, and give yourself plenty of lead time—the most desirable places are taken months, and sometimes years, in advance. After you've actually settled in, it's often best to head to the nearest town and get to know the local tradespeople—at least the grocer and butcher, since you're likely to count on them for daily staples. And as with any house rental, make sure all appliances are clearly explained in advance—you don't want to compound potential disaster with language problems.
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