My friends from London and I landed up in Mougins last summer somewhat by accident. We had planned a reunion in the South of France a full one year before it actually happened and the outcome is a perfect example of the old saying ‘humans plan, but God decides’. By January 2017, we booked a villa in Roquefort-les-Pins via Airbnb for a holiday in July. It looked absolutely gorgeous, the set-up was exactly what we were looking for (a huge garden and pool for young children, more than 3 bedrooms, large kitchen), the reviews were fantastic, the price was right, the location was perfect and we were all in agreement (well the ladies basically decided, the husbands pretty much followed suit). Obviously to find something that ticked so many boxes was no walk in the park and am pretty sure we had months of back and forth before we could all unanimously vote on one. So deposit was paid and we were thrilled.
You can probably guess at this point that the reason why there is so much build up about the whole selection process is because yes, the owner cancelled on us in…… JUNE 2017. Owing to some water damage etc (she was very apologetic and helpful but naturally we were gutted) we couldn’t come on that appointed date so we were back to square one a month before the intended holiday. Airbnb refunded our deposit and gave us an additional 134 Euro to help address the increased prices of rents in the South of France at the 11th hour (it is better than nothing I guess). We frantically scoured through the site again and eventually nailed whatever was available by then. The set-up was still pretty much what we hoped for, it was within the budget we were aiming for (and cushioned a tiny little bit with the Airbnb ‘compensation’), it was set to be closer to Cannes than Nice and the photos looked pristine. In fact, it seemed there were no reviews yet and it had just been put up for rent.
Our overall verdict was still positive but with a few teething issues (we left a detailed review on the site) but from my Airbnb experience in the past year I would probably prioritise a less (just a tiny bit little) beautiful looking property with hundreds of positive reviews than a beautiful looking property with no reviews. I do regret taking this approach as if everyone took this approach, then how will any new property owners get reviews for their accommodation? Well my advice for new property owners would be to offer attractive discounts, and gather a (small) body of fantastic reviews before charging full price. In the online commerce that we live in today, genuine reviews scream out credibility and staying at a place with no reviews is a gamble. My review of the villa will come at the end of the post.
Where is it?
OK so back to Mougins, let’s start with its location. The villa we stayed in was about 7 kilometres north from Cannes central station and took a 20 minute drive. We grabbed a taxi as none of us were locals and didn’t want the headache of driving and parking. For the most part we also Uber-ed our way around the area (though it’s fairly pricey so be strategic with your daily schedule) or took walks (some longer than we intended – I may do a short post on our adventures to Grasse) to town (about half an hour walk or two kilometres from the villa) and the local area. The nearest other town to Mougin that we visited (apart from Cannes) was Grasse (to its north) which is about 12 kilometres from the centre. Mougin’s village is famous for good food (Michelin star mania, summer gastronomy festival, gastronomy school) art museums and for some of its famous residents (Picasso’s last home base, Churchill’s retreat, other glamorous folks who moved up here to ‘escape’ Cannes).
What did we eat?
We aspired to try a Michelin star restaurant but eventually decided against it (after checking the menu prices, practicality overcame self indulgence and for me and the husband, there was still another week to go in Paris which we knew was also going to be draining on the pocket). We did however try the delightful La Mediterranee which was located in the town square. It is classic French with Mediterranean accents and we ordered the squid for starters, the lobster with truffle oil and prawn risotto for mains and a vanilla tarte for desert and it was truly scrumptious in that wonderfully subtle but outrageously perfect style that the people of this country are so talented at. The terrace ambiance was story-book ideal during the summer, and really a very cozy and warm place to sit with old friends, enjoy good food and catch up the years as you bathe in the sunlight and absorb all of life’s loveliness. 2017 didn’t start of very well for me and my family and I think by the time that summer came, I was relieved to just snuggle in the comforts of this sophisticated first world’s arms and let all my worries slip away. Another restaurant nearby which had even better reviews is called Place de Mougins but unfortunately we didn’t get to sample it so if you are in the region do try and drop by there too. I think both these places are respected for offering quality culinary experiences but not at Michelin prices and a meal sans alcohol will probably set you back at about 40 Euros per person, which is far away from the 100 Euros you may need to dish out (minimum?) for a Michelin star experience. I do wish I had photos of our day out in the town but I didn’t anticipate that I would start blogging this year (or let’s say trying to blog still) so for better or for worse we pretty much enjoyed ourselves without taking much photos.
There was also a delightful bakery a few steps away from our villa where we stocked up on our baguettes, water and delicious treats. The photos still make me salivate today…
Villa Avec Piscine et Spa A Mougins
When we do villa holidays, the idea behind it is usually that of rustication. We try to pick a beautiful local residence in a sleepy suburb so we can have less hustle and bustle and non-stop sight seeing and more reclining, chatting and just enjoying each other. This villa largely fit the bill. It’s a four bedroom property set over one level, with a large garden, a terrace, an outdoor jacuzzi and a pool. When you enter the gate you first see the front porch and the driveway, and when you open the front door you see the living area and a dining area. Across from the front door are two bedrooms and one bathroom. When you go deeper inside into the dining area, you then come across the open kitchen with an island table for cooking, and beyond that are another two bedrooms with a bathroom. Outside into the garden, the property is surrounded by a high hedge so privacy from neighbours is guaranteed. There is also a gazebo where we spent most of the time, chatting and eating. You can click on this link to get an idea and below are also our photos of the place.
The front porch
The living area
The gazebo, where we basically spent more than half the time (or maybe even all?)
The poolside and the jacuzzi
As I mentioned in the beginning, we were perfectly happy with the ‘hardware’ but we were not super thrilled by some of the ‘software’ issues such as some ceiling lights not working, leftover food in the fridge that had started to rot, some broken glass we found in the garden etc. I think if the owners are serious about monetising this place though, they would really upgrade the software issues and this could be a top star villa of Mougins as the space, facilities, design and location is great. We did point out these issues to the manager and hopefully they have improved by now. I do sometimes feel a little conflicted about complaining on issues like this – it just seems so spoilt and entitled (ooo my Riviera moment is totally ruined by your non-functioning ceiling lights) and I feel guilty to even blog about it. However, I know, the issue here is one of a contractual agreement. We exchanged a few rights and responsibilities and part of theirs is to ensure a satisfying living condition in return for the money paid, so it wouldn’t be fair on other holiday-makers too to not be informed on issues which they have a right to know before making a decision.
Mougins is a lovely provincial town less than half hour away from Cannes. If you come with a car, especially, then I would thoroughly recommend setting up your base here to explore Grasse, Cannes, Biot, Valbonnes. It is a bit further off from Nice though (more than an hour) and its surrounding towns such as Villefranche sur Mer etc. It is north to Cannes so you won’t be looking at a villa with a sea view. But if amazing food, art museums, perfumeries and a chic and laid back summer is what you are after, then give it a try, you won’t regret it.