Celebrate Easter Spanish-Style!

Easter is arguably one of the most popular times to visit Spain, or more accurately, Seville, where the average temperature at the end of March/beginning of April is around 22 degrees. The Semana Santa (Holy Week) is undoubtedly the most important celebration on the Spanish calendar and, although each Spanish region has its own particular traditions, the celebrations are arguably at their most elaborate and spectacular in Seville.  If you are planning a trip to Seville for Easter, you will be in for a real treat as, although serious in religious intent, the Spanish do fiestas very well, and you will find yourself drawn into what is an amazing historic and emotional feast for the eyes.

Dating back to the 16th Century, the festivities begin on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and last until Easter Monday (Lunes de Pascua), with the most dramatic processions being held on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  Associations known as ‘cofradías’ or ‘brotherhoods’ (whose members take part in what are known as ‘penance processions’) parade from their church to the city’s cathedral, their flamboyant parades and intricate religious displays depicting biblical scenes. There are some 58,000 people who parade in the organised processions by day, and the candlelit processions by night. The sumptuous floats with their sculptures of religious figures are followed by ‘penitent sinners’ in monastic robes and pointed conical hoods, which conceal their identity. On the streets of Seville, everyone gets involved in this traditional dramatization of Christ’s death and resurrection during Holy Week. Despite the serious theme, it is very much an uplifting celebratory occasion for participants, musicians, local families and visitors alike.

A modern, more cosmopolitan city, the Easter celebrations in Barcelona may not be as elaborate as Seville, but Semana Santa in Barcelona definitely has its fair share of celebrations too. There are traditional Easter processions in the centre of Barcelona on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, which take a route from the ‘penitents’ home parish church to the Barcelona cathedral, and back. The processions also involve beautifully decorated and adorned Easter floats, known as ‘pasos’. A good place to watch the processions is in the city’s famous Gothic Quarter, close to Las Ramblas. On Las Ramblas or by the Sagrada Familia church, you will also find palmónes and palmas (bleached palm leaves) for sale on the days leading up to Palm Sunday. All churches in Barcelona have Palm Sunday masses, which usually include a ‘Bendición de la Palma’ palm blessing ceremony. At some churches the parish priests will go outside the church to bless people outside carrying laurel branches – ‘ramos de laurel’  or palm stalks and leaves called ‘palmónes y palmas’.

As a capital city, Madrid hosts a huge variety of year-round cultural events, shows and attractions, and Easter is certainly no exception.  From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, Madrid fills up with thousands of people who come to the city to watch the parades and the religious costumes, and just to be part of the exciting atmosphere. The biggest draw here is the famous Cristo de Medinaceli (Christ of Medina) procession, which takes place on Good Friday.  It sets off from the parish of Jesús de Medinaceli and wends its way through all of the main streets of the city. The many other processions that also take place on Good Friday include the Jesús Nazareno ‘el pobre’ (Jesus of Nazareth ‘the poor’), Alabarderos (Yeomen of the Guard), and the procession of silence. For the latter the brotherhoods and worshippers walk in silence, which can be a very moving experience for spectators.

We still have apartments available for Easter (2018 dates are 25th March – 1st April) in Seville, Barcelona and Madrid.  Here are some examples:


Plaza de San Pedro, 2 bedrooms, sleeps 4

 Apartment Triana, 3 bedrooms, sleeps 4 – 5

Calle Diego de Riano, 4 bedrooms, sleeps 8


Edificio Princesa, 3 bedrooms, sleeps 5 – 6

 Calle de la Fuente del Berro, , 4 bedrooms, sleeps 5


Carrer de Balmes 2, 2 bedrooms, sleeps 4

Calle Commercial, 4 bedrooms, sleeps 8

Barcelona celebrates the opening of Gaudi’s Casa Vicens to the public … providing another reason to visit this great city!

 if a temperate climate, a seaside location, culture, medieval architecture and tapas bars were not enough, there is now another reason to visit Barcelona.  Just on 16th November the city celebrated the opening of Gaudi’s Casa Vicens, the opulently tiled building which was his first residence and a wonderful example of his Orientalist period.  Dating back to 1883, it was originally built as a summer residence for wealthy industrialist, Manel Vicens.

In 1925, the Jover family, who bought the house in 1899, commissioned a friend of Gaudí’s, to expand the property into three separate homes, one on each floor, and almost doubled the square-footage. Further changes were made between 1935 and 1964. In 2005, UNESCO declared Casa Vicens a World Heritage Site, bringing the count of Gaudí buildings bearing that designation to six.  The Sagrada Família, which is expected to be completed in 2026 to coincide with the centenary of the architect’s death, is among the other designated sites. The house was a family home until 2014, when it was bought by the Andorran financial institution MoraBanc, which decided to open it to the public.

Carrer de les Carolines 18-24, https://casavicens.org/,  Open daily 10am-8pm, €16, concessions €14, under-7s free

A fun way to see Gaudi’s buildings, rather than a conventional tour, is by Go Car, basically a GPS guided tour in a small 3-wheeled open-top yellow car. Once you get over the initial nervousness of negotiating the Barcelona traffic, including buses, it is actually great fun. The custom GPS system shows you the route and the GoCar will talk, telling you about the sights around you. There are three main tours, but we took the Gaudi one, which takes you past the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. Then on to the Torre Bellesguard and the Guell Pavilions including the exceptional ironwork of the Dragon’s Gate. Then back to the city centre for La Pedrera, Casa Battlo and the Palau Guell – and hopefully Casa Vicens will now be added to the route too!

Apartments to rent near Gaudi buildings:

Passeig de Gracia

This luxurious four bedroom apartment has a unique location in the famous Passeig de Gràcia, with a direct view of Gaudi’s Casa Battló. This apartment is historically important because the architect was Buenaventura Conill Montobbio, a Catalan architect who was a good friend of Antoni Gaudi. Buenaventura Conill Montobbio also collaborated with Puig i Cadafalch (the elaborate building right next to the Casa Battló is one of his works) and was a part of the modernist movement during his time. Until now, the apartment has been owned by the Conill Montobbio family but is now available to rent.

Apartment la Pedrera

This spacious and modern three bedroom apartment is on the third floor of a 19th century building in Carrer d’Aragô, ideally located for exploring the elegant shops in Passeig de Gràcia, just a minute’s walk away. Famous Gaudi landmarks, such as the La Pedrera, Sagrada Familia and the Casa Batiló are within a 15 minute walk.

 Carrer de Valencia 3

A contemporary three bedroom apartment in the residential area of the Eixample district in Barcelona, just a stone´s throw from Passieg de Gràcia, the most emblematic street of Barcelona. The apartment benefits from white walls. Wooden floors and large windows, filling the rooms with natural light and giving the apartment a feeling of space. The large open living room has bay windows at one end, with access to a delightful private terrace.

 Carrer de Valencia 4

This beautiful very contemporary apartment is on Carrer de Valencia, just off Paseo de Gràcia just across the street from Gaudi’s La Casa Batlló. With four bedrooms and three bathrooms, the spacious and sunny living room with balcony, has views to the Casa Batlló.

Recommended walking tour ideas for visitors to Venice, Florence and Rome

While researching city tours in Venice to suggest to our clients, we came across Walks Inside Italy, which offers a tantalizing selection of city tours, and well worth investigating further!  As well as more general introductory tours for new visitors to the city, we were particularly interested in their small group art and history themed tours in Venice, Florence and Rome.

Venice, in particular, offers an amazing selection of walking tours focusing on history, art and photography, ranging from visits with art experts to the Accademia, or the Ca’Rezzonico, or the Ca’Pesaro and Fortuny Museum, to the fascinating sounding ‘Titian and Tintoretto: A Tale of Passion and Power’.  This latter tour involves learning about the lives of these two great painters, colleagues and rivals in Renaissance Venice, while walking the streets of San Marco, Cannaregio and San Polo.  You will end up at Tintoretto’s home, and also enter the Madonna dell’ Orto Church, where he is buried.

There is also a tour to the Guggenheim Museum and the Schulhof Collection, a twilight photography trip on the Venice lagoon, and another which will take in the Palazzo Grassi and the Contemporary Art Museum, the Pinault, which was opened in 2009 at the Punta della Dogana. The collection here is currently dedicated to English artist Damien Hirst.  It is possible to do a half day or full day tour to The 57th International Art Exhibition organized by La Biennale di Venezia. Prices tend to be around €270 (in total for up to 6 people) for a 3 hour morning or afternoon tour and €360 for the Biennale (720 for the full day).

 In Florence and Rome, there are also plenty of tempting options for both first time visitors, and for those who want to explore an aspect of the city in more depth. In Florence, as well as art and history focused tours, there is also a full day trip to explore the vineyards of Chianti, including wine tasting.  For food enthusiasts, there is also one called Wine and Food Delights which visits the  San Lorenzo Market and local speciality stores – perfect for those wanting to cater in an apartment in Florence! In Rome, there is also a gourmet tour called ‘What do Romans Eat?’ which takes visitors on a discovery to discover the food and wine culture of the Romans in the 21st Century. 

If you are planning a visit to any of these three wonderful cities, look no further than this inspirational website, just full of ideas to help you enjoy your stay!

Recent additions to our apartment programme – where you might like to stay:


Palazzo Morosini

A selection of 9 luxurious apartments in a Palazzo, with garden, in the San Polo district. 1 – 3 bedrooms/ 2 – 6 people.


Apartment Oltrarno

Stunning apartment on the top floor of a Palazzo with views over the Arno, and a roof terrace. 3 bedrooms/ 6 – 8 people


Colosseum View

A spacious apartment on the third floor of a beautiful 19th century building,  on the corner of a street with ten large windows providing stunning views out over the Colosseum and Fori Imperiali’. 5 bedrooms/ 10 people


We love visiting Paris in August, and still have some great apartment availability!

Paris is wonderful at most times of year, but August can be a particularly good time to visit, with the weather is at its best and the streets less crowded. If is perfect for getting out and about on foot, enjoying the sights, and stopping now and then at one of the many inviting outdoor cafés and restaurants.  In addition, this August, there is an exceptional choice of great exhibitions to visit – we particularly recommend the following:

Christian Dior, Couturier du Rêve at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs  

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the creation of the House of Dior with a sumptuous exhibition, spread over a huge 3000m2 of space, covering not only Christian Dior, but also his successors:  Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and, most recently, Maria Grazia Chiuri.  Alongside the dresses is a comprehensive display of atelier toiles and fashion photographs, as well as hundreds of documents, including illustrations, sketches, documentary photographs, letters and fashion accessories, paintings, furniture and objets d’art.  Various rooms capture different settings – a boudoir, a garden, a gallery and a street – culminating in a vast recreation of the Hall of Mirrors at the Palais de Versailles.   Until 7th January 2018.

Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 107 rue de Rivoli, 1e.  Metro: Tuileries or Palais Royal/Musée du Louvre. 

 Montmartre, Décor de Cinema at the Musée Montmartre

The Musée de Montmartre, and the Cinémathèque Française, have come together to create an exhibition dedicated to Paris’s involvement in world cinema, and is a must to visit for film enthusiasts.  In the world of art, cinema and entertainment, Montmartre is undoubtedly one of the most famous areas of Paris, and this exhibition immerses us in many of cinema’s favourite Parisian locations …the Moulin Rouge, Place Pigalle, Sacré-Cœur and the steps of Montmartre.  Including films from the early 1900’s to 2010, and with use of video installations, film posters and scripts, visitors will move through time via film – from English language films such as An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) to  Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2010); to French masterpieces Baisers volés (Truffaut, 1968) to Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001) – all of which pay homage to this fascinating area of Paris.   Until 14th January 2018.

Musée de Montmartre, 14 rue  Cortot, 18e, Metro:  Montmartre

Olga Picasso at the Museé Picasso

This exhibition looks at the relationship between the artist and his first wife, Russian dancer Olga Khokhlova, who met the painter in 1917 while on tour with the Russian Ballet, before marrying him a year later. During the early years of their relationship, Olga was the perfect model, with her pensive, almost melancholy poses representing a return to clean, figurative portraiture for Picasso.  Then after the birth of their son in 1921, she depicted motherly softness in his family portraits. Another change to Picasso’s style occurred when the painter met the 17-year-old Marie-Thérèse Walter, the woman who would soon become his mistress. The couple separated for good in 1935 but remained legally married until Olga’s death in 1955. The exhibition takes us through these happy and sad years, offering a selection of paintings, drawings, written and photographic archives that detail this complex relationship. Until 3rd September.

Musée Picasso, 5 rue Thorigny, Paris, 3e.  Metro: Saint-Paul, Saint-Sébastien-Froissart or Chemin Vert.

Kiefer Rodin at the Musée National Rodin

To mark the centenary of the death of Auguste Rodin, the Musée National Rodin has given the contemporary German artist Anselm Kiefer free reign to pay homage to the great sculptor.  Having studied Rodin’s work, Keifer presents his pieces as a modern interpretation of Rodin’s achievements, and the similarity between the two artists’ work is made wonderfully clear throughout the exhibition.  Both artists exude an instinctive originality, and drawn by Rodin’s sculpture style, notably the stone monuments following Rodin’s discovery of ‘Les Cathédrales de France’, Kiefer has created a stunning series of entirely unprecedented displays. His portrayal of the cathedrals, highlights the grandeur and fragility of the materials. Until 2nd September 2017.

Musée National Rodin, Hotel Biron, 79 rue de Varenne, 7th.  Metro:  Varenne

Imagine Van Gogh at the Grande Halle de La Villette

This unique and imaginative exhibition depicts the most famous works of Van Gogh projected on screen on a massive scale.  Each is accompanied by music, including Mozart, Bach and Eric Satie, creating a spectacular audio-visual experience.  The most minute details of ‘Sunflowers’, for example, can be enjoyed along with many more  projections of the artist’s paintings and letters.  This feat of technology by the creators, Annabelle Mauger et Julien Baron, along with the music, enables the viewer able to  feel the creative emotions of the artist. This show has appeal for every age group because “the viewer is encouraged to make his own way around the installations – and imagine his Van Gogh.” Until 10th September 2017.

Grande Hall de la Villette, 211 avenue Jean Jaures, 19th. Metro: Porte de Pantin 

Night at Les Invalides

During the summer, the history of Les Invalides is being shown in a magnificent sound and light show. From the creation of the Roman city of Lutetia, to modern Paris, the history of 2,000 years of the city’s history is portrayed in a monumental multimedia show, projected onto the walls of the building. The great figures of the colourful history of Paris including Napoléon, Charles de Gaulle and Louis XIV, are revealed in an informative  narrative in French (on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) or in English (on Monday and Thursday). This is the fifth year of this summer event and promises to provide an even more immersive experience and, utilising the full extent of Invalides’s majesty, the 180-degree projection covers over 250 metres of the building’s façade.  Until 2nd September 2017.

Les Invalides, 15 Rue du Gros Caillou, Paris 75007.   Metro: Varenne, La Tour Maubourg or Ecole Militaire.

We still have good availability for August dates at some of our most beautiful apartments in central Paris, including …

 Palais Royal Gardens

This truly stunning, newly renovated, 3 bedroom  apartment is in an elegant Parisian building that is part of the original Palais Royal, dating back to the 17th Century.  It is located directly on the gardens of the historic Palais Royal and a short walk from the Louvre Museum.

Rue Lord Byron

This newly refurbished 2 bedroom apartment is situated just behind the Avenue Champs Elysées. It is tucked away in a quiet little street away from the crowds, yet just a couple minutes’ walk from the metro Georges V. The apartment is on the 6th floor (with lift access) and overlooks Paris from a 20 square foot terrace.

Odéon Apartment

A luxurious and traditional 2-bedroom apartment in a wonderful location, in the heart of St. Germain. You will be surrounded by charming Parisian cafés, restaurants, bars and boutiques. The Seine river is also close by and, across it, the Louvre museum and Tuileries Gardens.

 Rue de Sevigne

This lovely 1 bedroom apartment is ideally located for enjoying the fashionable Marais neighbourhood, characterized by its charming original shop frontages, delightful old buildings and winding streets. The apartment directly overlooks a courtyard with trees on one side. The interiors are filled with natural light, with very high ceilings and tall windows, with the warm grey and white colours lending both a sophisticated and calm ambience.

The magnificent Villa Machiavelli in Tuscany has some tempting summer offers!

Dating from the 15th century and once the home of the Machiavelli family, this exceptional villa sits amidst glorious Tuscan countryside close to Greve in Chianti, just 12 kms south of Florence. There are wonderful uninterrupted views over the Tuscan landscape, as far as Florence in the distance.  The villa is surrounded by 600 acres of its own olive groves, vineyards and a winery, which proudly celebrates four award winning wines.

The accommodation is in seven sumptuous suites, adorned with 17th and 18th century frescoes, and three double rooms, all with luxurious marble bathrooms and many other amenities. There is also a private garden with swimming pool. Guests at Machiavelli can also enjoy the facilities at the neighbouring hotel, Villa Mazzei, including an indoor wellness spa and heated swimming pool, steam room, sauna, relaxation area, treatment rooms and a small gym.

Our special summer offers here range from a 7 night stay for the price of 6 nights, to a chance to attend an open-air concert at the Teatro del Silenzio in Lajatico, performed by renowned tenor, Andrea Bocelli, and a day trip to the famous Palio in Siena.

1.      Stay 7 nights, pay for 6 nights, for bookings made before 17th July

Valid for rental from 24th of July until 23rd of August, weekly price reduced from €66,500 to €57,000.

The villa rental package includes:

  • 7 night Exclusive Villa Rental of Villa Machiavelli with its 10 rooms and suites
  • Welcome drink upon arrival with the estate’s wine and snacks
  • Continental breakfast buffet every morning in private dining room
  • Fresh fruit in all rooms on arrival
  • Wi Fi Connection and SKY TV with International Channels
  • Private Outdoor pool
  • Exclusive access to wellness area with massage rooms, Indoor pool, sauna & steam bath
  • Private gated gardens set amongst Chianti vineyards and olive groves
  • Private parking and Helicopter landing area
  • VAT and service

2.      Andrea Bocelli in Concert 3rd of August, 2017 

Every year Famous tenor Andrea Bocelli performs his annual magnificent open sky concert at Teatro del Silenzio, in Lajatico, his home town. 

The villa rental package of €15,020 per night for four nights includes:

  • 4 night Exclusive Villa Rental of Villa Machiavelli with its 10 rooms and suites
  • Welcome drink upon arrival with the estate’s wine and snacks
  • Continental breakfast buffet every morning in private dining room
  • Fresh fruit in all rooms on arrival
  • Concert tickets at the Teatro del Silenzio
  • Return luxury transfer to / from the concert
  • After-concert meal in our Wine Cellar
  • Wi Fi Connection and SKY TV with International Channels
  • Private Outdoor pool
  • Exclusive access to wellness area with massage rooms, Indoor pool, sauna and steam bath
  • Private gated gardens set amongst Chianti vineyards and olive groves
  • Private parking and Helicopter landing area
  • VAT and service

Additional options:

Helicopter transfer to the concert.
Backstage Experience that includes: Tickets to the general concert rehearsal (August 2) in a VIP area in the Executive sector, Welcome cocktail in the open sky lounge at Teatro del Silenzio Guided tour in the backstage and Open bar access in our VIP area throughout the rehearsal.











3. Palio di Siena, 16th of August, 2017

The Palio di Siena is a horse race has been held twice a year, in July and August, since 1656.  Ten horses and riders representing ten of the city wards compete in the 90-second race around the Piazzo del Campo. 

The villa rental package of €16,520 per night for four nights includes:

  • 4 night Exclusive Villa Rental of Villa Machiavelli with its 10 rooms and suites
  • Welcome drink upon arrival with the estate’s wine and snacks
  • Continental breakfast buffet every morning in private dining room
  • Fresh fruit in all rooms on arrival
  • Dinner in one of the historical Contrada (wards) before the Palio
  • Palio tickets
  • Return luxury transfer to / from Siena
  • Senese Dinner at Mangiacane
  • Wi Fi Connection and SKY TV with International Channels
  • Private Outdoor pool
  • Exclusive access to wellness area with massage rooms, Indoor pool, sauna and steam bath
  • Private gated gardens set amongst Chianti vineyards and olive groves
  • Private parking and Helicopter landing area
  • VAT and service



Travelling to London this Summer? Our 10 top suggestions for things to see and do in July and August!

1. V&A Museum

Always worth a visit anyway, but there are two highly recommended exhibitions taking place this summer:

The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains

13th May – 1st October

The first retrospective of one of the world’s most pioneering and influential bands, the exhibition offers a spectacular audio-visual journey, chronicling the music, design and staging of the band from their debut in the 1960′s through to the present day. It has been produced with active involvement and collaboration from the three surviving band members, and includes artefacts such as instruments, music technology, original designs, architectural drawings, hand-written lyrics and artwork.

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion

27th May – 18th February 2018

Also showing at the V& A, this exhibition examines the work and legacy of influential Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga, one of the most revered and influential fashion designers of the 20th century. His unique and forward-thinking vision of female beauty, innovative use of textiles and ingenious pattern-cutting, shaped the modernity of 1960s fashion and continues to shape fashion today. The exhibition will take an in depth look at the craftsmanship behind Balenciaga’s designs and will explore his impact through designers who worked with him and those who show his influence today. The exhibition also marks the 100th anniversary of his first fashion house in San Sebastian.

2. Courtauld Institute: Bloomsbury Art and Design

Until 24th September

This exhibition features a large selection of works held by the Courtauld Institute, many of which were bequeathed by the artist and art critic Roger Fry (1866 – 1934) in 1935. Through exhibitions in 1910 and 1912, Fry introduced the British public to modern European painting, including works by Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso. Fry also helped bind together a group of like-minded British artists, including Duncan Grant (1885 – 1978) and Vanessa Bell (1879-1971). They were inspired not only by these continental artistic developments, but by their appreciation for art from further afield, including Africa and China. They became known as the Bloomsbury Group, after the central London district where they initially lived and worked.

3. The Serpentine Gallery, Hyde Park: Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!

8th June – 10th September

This summer Grayson Perry, one of the most astute commentators on contemporary society and culture, will present a major exhibition of new work. The works will touch on many themes including popularity and art, and the current cultural landscape.

Perry said: The new works I am making all have ideas about popularity hovering around them. What kind of art do people like? What subjects? Why do people like going to art galleries these days? What is the relationship of traditional art to social media?”

4.  Regents Park Open Air Theatre

19th May – 16th September

Always a treat, in such beautiful and atmospheric surroundings. Set within landscaped grounds, the theatre boasts its own picnic lawn, barbecue and the West End’s longest bar, stocked with all your favourite summer drinks – including plenty of Pimm’s!

Treats this year include A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and Jesus Christ Superstar.

5. The Royal Academy of Arts:  Matisse in the Studio

5th August – 12th November

Matisse drew his collection from the far corners of the world: Buddhist statuary from Thailand, Bamana figures from Mali, textiles from Polynesia. This sumptuous exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the artist’s personal collection, as well as the paintings, sculptures and drawings it inspired. Seen together, they reveal how Matisse’s masterful vision of richness, balance and vital, fluid energy first stemmed from the collage of patterns and rhythms which he found in the world of objects.

6. Natural History Museum: Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Until 10th September

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London, is an international showcase of the very best in nature photography, and regarded as being the ‘Oscars’ of the wildlife photographic calendar.  With spectacular shots of landscapes, and images which capture all aspects of the natural world, this exhibition is well worth a visit.

7. Somerset House: Summer Series

This year’s Summer Series at Somerset House presents a world-class line-up in the stunning surroundings of one of London’s most iconic landmarks. Performers include Nora Jones, Damian Marley, Cinematic Orchestra and Goldfrapp.

8. South Bank: Tate Modern

Don’t miss a trip to the South Bank, where there is just so much to choose from – home to the National Theatre, the BFI,  the Royal Festival Hall and the Hayward Gallery and the Tate Modern.

The latter is hosting the UK’s first major retrospective of Alberto Giacometti for 20 years, from 10th May – 10th September. Celebrated as a sculptor, painter and draughtsman, Giacometti’s distinctive elongated figures are some of the most instantly recognisable works of modern art. Through unparalleled access to the extraordinary collection and archive of the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris, the exhibition brings together over 250 works. It includes rarely seen plasters and drawings which have never been exhibited before.

9. On the South Bank this summer, there is also a Nordic Festival, Nordic Matters, a year-long exploration of arts and culture from Aland Islands, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Encompassing music, dance, theatre, literature, spoken word, visual art, design, fashion and food from the Nordic countries, this includes a floating textile installation that artist Outi Pieski describes as a ‘drawing in air’ and, for children, Adventures in Moominland, an exploration of the internationally renowned Moomin stories through the life of its author, Tove Jansson.

10. British Summer Time Hyde Park outdoor concerts and much more!

Experience the award-winning festival in beautiful Hyde Park.  Headlining the two weekends of live music are Green Day, Phil Collins, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Killers, Kings of Leon and Justin Bieber.

In between the two weekends of music, there will be outdoor movie nights, tennis screenings live from Wimbledon, street food stalls from all over the world, pop up bars serving draft & craft beer, wine & cocktails, live music and entertainment, the Moretti Gran Tour Soho Radio live broadcasting, Chickenshed Theatre and more.

Where to Stay:

Drayton Gardens, SW10

A lovely two bedroom apartment,  convenient for many of the famous city sights, including the Natural History museum, the Albert Hall, Hyde Park and the Saatchi Gallery. 

Green Park Apartments, W1

Beautifully maintained serviced apartments located in a quiet cul-de-sac between Green Park and St. James’ Street, just off Piccadilly, close to the famous Ritz Hotel. The shops, bars and restaurants of the West End are within a short walk, and other areas of London are easily accessible by tube. There are a range of apartments from studios to 3-bedroom apartments. 

Kensington Court Apartment Six

This apartment is one of six luxuriously private apartments located in one of London’s most prestigious addresses, directly across the road from Kensington Gardens and Palace. The individually designed apartments combine the space and authenticity of renting a private home with the service, facilities and security of a five star hotel. In the building there is also a gym and resistance swimming pool, and sauna, which is available for use by guests. This apartment can accommodate up to 5 people.

Introducing the beautiful Villa Arcachon!

Whenever we get asked to suggest a villa suitable for a wedding or another special event, Villa Arcachon is one of the properties which springs immediately to mind!  It sits in an exceptional location in the heart of the Bassin d’Arcachon, with its own direct beach access.  The property dates back to 1903 when it was built, in the style of an Italian lodge, for M. Germain Cumenge, Prosecutor of the Republic of Bordeaux. More recently the current owners have renovated both the house and its 4500m2 parks to all its former glory.  Sleeping up to 15 people, the property is also perfect for a holiday with extended family or friends, and outside high season shorter stays of less than week are accepted.

There are an extraordinary variety of advantages to be enjoyed during a stay at this property. Not only are you within easy reach of the many vineyards in the Bordeaux region, and the city itself, but apparently there are also health benefits. The particular blend of pine forest and ocean air here is very beneficial for the heart and lungs, and the thyroid glands benefit from the release of iodine which takes place here when the sea is at low tide. There are also numerous sporting activities to be enjoyed in the area, including sailing, windsurfing, paddle boarding, golf, tennis, cycling, horse riding, fishing … and for those who are more interested in relaxing, you can enjoy a massage in the privacy of your own room at the villa, or a full luxury spa session at Les Sources de Caudalie, in Bordeaux, based on grapes and vines.

If you prefer the idea of tasting the grapes on vines, the staff at the property can facilitate VIP access for guests to exclusive wine and food matching tastings, wine workshops and visits to famous vineyards.  Due to the owner’s extensive contacts in the wine industry, they can also organize private access and wine purchase to chateaux which generally do not sell direct to individuals.

Culinary delights on site include enjoying mouthwatering dishes using the best of local French produce prepared by a private chef.  Everything from a small intimate dinner, right through to a special celebration can be catered for, depending on guests’ requirements. Wedding and other event planners are available to help plan the event to make it ultra-special.

Don’t forget too that the Bassin d’Arcachon is the birthplace of over 80% of the oysters produced and consumed in France. Special visits can be arranged to oyster farms where you can enjoy fresh oysters and other seafood straight from the Atlantic. Aquitaine is also the centre of sturgeon farming in France, with the resulting caviar competing with the world’s finest.  You can visit a farm to discover ethical breeding techniques and production of caviar, and taste test the exquisite harvest with matching wine. More foodie enticements include food shopping at speciality shops and local markets with a chef, and also a fun-filled Culinary Master Class at the villa with an experienced chef.

Finally, let’s not forget Bordeaux itself, just a 45 minute drive away, and a famous centre of culture, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. As well as being known for its art, music, theatre and opera, visitors will enjoy exploring on foot the beautiful architecture in the quartier of St Michel, dating back two centuries, and the more recent development of the quays along the Garonne River. Bordeaux has more than 350 classified buildings and buildings listed as Historic Monuments.  A private city/monument heritage tour can also be arranged by the villa staff. 

Spending a few days in Barcelona? Our recommended not to be missed sights!

La Sagrada Familia

The fabulous unfinished church of La Sagrada Familia designed by Antoni Gaudi is undoubtedly Barcelona’s most famous tourist attraction. It is free to see church from the outside, if you want to see the inside and avoid the long queues, it is a good idea to book tickets in advance.

Picasso Museum

The Picasso Museum is in several magnificent gothic mansions in the medieval part of Barcelona, known as El Born and, although it does not have the most famous Picasso paintings, it has a unique collection of 4000 works of art, including early sketches and lesser known works. Barcelona was where Picasso first exhibited his work and he considered himself as coming from Barcelona. Queues can be long, so you might want to consider buying tickets in advance.

Parc Guell

Parc Guelli , is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered to one of Gaudi’s most artistic works. The park is on Carmel hill so, f you prefer not to walk, then take a taxi to the Park Guell front gate. The original idea of Park Guell was to build a private and exclusive residential garden village with 60 houses. This business idea of Guell’s didn’t work and after his death in 1923 the park was donated by his family to Barcelona city as a public park.  Park Guell s open daily all year and tickets are €7, and tickets can be purchased in advance.

Barcelona’s Modernist buildings

Modernisme was a Catalan cultural movement centred in Barcelona and Catalonia from 1888 to 1911, and is most famous for the architectural works of the time. Three in particular are in the one Barcelona city block called the “Illa de la Discòrdia” –(the “Block of Discord”) on the street Passeig de Gracia. They are “Casa Amatller” designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, the magical “Casa Batlló” by Antoni Gaudi and the “Casa Lleó-Morera.” A little further up the Passeig de Gracia on the opposite side is one of Gaudi’s most famous buildings in Barcelona, La Pedrera, where there are rooftop terrace jazz concerts during the summer months. At Casa Batllo you can tour the building and also enjoy summer concerts in the courtyard. Another modernist treasure is the beautiful Palau Guell town house near Las Ramblas, also by Antoni Gaudi. For modernist art and furniture visit to the Barcelona Modernist museum.

The Magic Fountain of Montjuic

In particular, this is a ‘not to be missed experience’ for its Music and Light show,a beautiful show of water, light and music. There are evening water and light shows in the winter on Friday and Saturdays only. In the summer the evening light and music show is open from Thursday to Sunday. Admission is free all year.



The Barrio Gotico

The Barrio Gotico is the very centre of the old city of Barcelona, stretching from La Rambla to Via Laietana, and from the Mediterranean seafront to Ronda de Sant Pere. Despite several changes undergone in the 19th and early 20th century, many of the buildings date from Medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. It is fascinating to wander around the labyrinth of streets here with its beautiful churches, plazas, markets and museums and you can see parts of the old Roman walls. If you visit the Barcelona history museum, the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat,  you can see remains of Roman houses and streets of Barcino, as it was known in Roman times. The gothic quarter is best seen on foot because tour buses cannot get through the narrow streets. Don’t forget to also visit the neighbouring medieval area of Barcelona’s old city, El Born.

Calle d’Enric Granados

For a more modern look at Barcelona, it is also worth a wander down the charming street of Calle d’Enric Granados, in the L’Eixample area, which remains relatively unknown to many visitors.  With only one lane of traffic, there is plenty of room for pedestrians to walk at leisure, and for the many restaurants here to make the most of their terraces. The street offers an amazing selection of restaurants, cafés and bars, serving a variety of different foods.  This street feels like a real gem of a ‘find’ at the very heart of the city!

 Recommended Barcelona Rental Apartments include:

Carrer Pau Claris

This vacation apartment is centrally located in Barcelona, in the Carrer Pau Claris, between Carrer de Mallorca and Carrer de Valencia. It is less than two minutes walk to the Passeig de Gracia, with a variety of shops and architecture in the immediate vicinity, and only a few minutes away from the beach.

Carrer Consell de Cent

Just three blocks from Paseo de Gracia, this elegant apartment to rent is the perfect urban base for exploring Barcelona. After a day eating paella on the beach, browsing in downtown Gracia and witnessing the famous Barcelona architecture, this designer space offers the ideal retreat to simply relax.

Calle Commercial

This fabulous rental apartment in the popular El Born area of Barcelona, is wonderfully spacious with high ceilings and large glass windows. There are three small balconies with views over the city. The living area alone is 75m2, with original brick wall and beamed ceilings, as well as being decorated and furnished very stylishly. 

There’s plenty to do in Paris this August!

A stay in Paris in August has many advantages, not least a reasonable certainty of good weather.  Paris is also noticeably less crowded, shops and restaurants are open on the whole, and there is certainly plenty happening on the cultural front.  From finding outdoor restaurants, to exhibitions, to sunning yourself on the beach, here are a few ideas:

1. Enjoy Paris and its culinary delights by dining outdoors. One of our favourite foodie websites, Paris by Mouth, has produced a guide to ‘outdoor dining’.  The choice ranges from Casual Favourites to Posh and Beautiful, to Extraordinary Settings for enjoying Exceptional Views (such as Monsieur Bleu below).

2.  Visit the Musée d’art Moderne de la ville de Paris, conveniently located near the Champs Elysées, which is currently hosting a stunning exhibition of the works of French painter, Albert Marquet (1875 – 1947). With over one hundred paintings and drawings, visitors can witness the artist’s evolvement throughout his long career.  Marquet was influenced by the current art movements of his time, from Post Impressionism to Fauvism, but also retained his individualistic approach to his work.  A longtime friend of Matisse, he spent his life travelling between the shores of the Mediterranean and the banks of the Seine, his works demonstrating his favourite and recurring themes of light, landscape and changing reflections of sky and water.

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 11 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116

Métro: Alma/Marceau or Iéna

Open Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm. Late opening Thursday until 10 pm.  Until 21 August.

3. A little further afield, the Fondation Louis Vuitton is worth a visit to see the fascinating selection of works by eleven Chinese artists, which have been held back from the very successful  “BENTU, Chinese artists in a time of turbulence and transformation”  exhibition which finished in May.  The current exhibition starts with ‘Tree’ by Ai Weiwei, and includes the ‘Head of Buddha’ by Zhang Huan, as well as monumental works combining Eastern and Western references, and a Pop Art sculpture of a goddess from the Buddhist pantheon by Xu Zhen.  There are also animated videos by Cao Fei, among other striking pieces.

Fondation Louis Vuitton, 8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Bois de Boulogne, Paris 16

Métro: Les Sablons.

Open daily 12pm to 7pm, Fridays until 11pm, weekends 11am to 8pm, closed Tuesdays. Until 5 September.

4. For a total contrast, the Grand Halle of La Villette is hosting a James Bond 007 exhibition until 4th September.  Even if you are not a total Bond aficionado, you cannot fail to be impressed by this collection of 50 years of Bond Style, with more than 500 original objects, and examples of the Bond influence on art, music, lifestyle, automotive design, travel, technology and fashion. The items include an Aston Martin, suits, gadgets, photos and costumes… and even the gold Spectre ring!

Grande Halle de La Villette, Parc de la Villette – 211 avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019
Métro:  Porte de Pantin

Until 4 September

5. A wander through the Tuilieries Gardens, dropping by the current exhibition at the Jeu de Paume, Joana Hadjithomas et Khalil Joreige : Se souvenir de la lumière.  A thought-provoking exhibition this is about  ‘remembering the light’, a reminder of the resolve we have as human beings to just keep going despite external events.  Lebanese film-makers and artists Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige interweave thematic, conceptual and formal links through photographs, video installations, fictional films and documentaries.  Self-taught, in the wake of the Lebanese civil wars, their very personal work is entirely based on their various encounters with people, and the exploration of the realm of the visible and absent, leading to a fascinating back-and-forth between life and fiction.

1 place de la Concorde, Paris 8e

Midday – 9 pm Tues, Midday – 7pm Wed – Fri, 10 am – 7 pm Saturday and Sunday.

Until 13th September.

Métro:  Concorde

6The Centre Pompidou is hosting a vast exhibition devoted to the culture of the Beat Generation, with principals Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg providing material for an understanding of this literary and artistic movement of the 1950’s. Before the cultural and sexual liberation of the 1960’s, the Beats were seen as subversive rebels in a McCarthyite America. This exhibition traces their nomadic crusade with stories from New York to Paris, and places in between, through music, films, photographs and literature.

Place Georges-Pompidou, Paris 4e

Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m, except Tuesday (closed). Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Until 3rd October.

Métro:  Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville or Châtelet

7. Go to the Beach!  Open every summer since 2002, the ‘Paris Plages’ is a free summer event that transforms several locations along the Seine into full-fledged beaches, each with a distinct theme. Furnished with deckchairs for sunbathing, and offering a variety of activities including kayaking, or swimming in pools suspended over the Seine, or relaxing in the evening at a free concert, Paris Plages offers activities for everyone, and especially ideal if you are visiting Paris with children.

The 2016 beaches will be open daily between July 18th to August 21st, from 9:00 a.m. to midnight. This summer, Paris Plages have three main locations:

Plage 1 is on the right bank of the Seine right in central Paris, and stretches from the Pont Neuf to the Pont de Sully near the Hotel de Ville.

Plage 2 is a sandy beach along the stretch of the right bank known as the Voie Georges Pompidou.

Plage 3 stetches along the picturesque canal, the “Bassin de la Villette” (near metro Jaures/Stalingrad), in northeastern Paris).

Where to Stay?

We still have good availability for many August dates … for example, if you are just a couple,you might like to look at our charming new Rue de Grenelle Studio apartment in St Germain

 or our stunning two bedroom apartment, Palais Royal 2,  overlooking the Palais Royal gardens.

Or for a larger family, our beautiful three bedroom apartment near La Madeleine.

Looking for the perfect wedding venue in Europe? We may have the answer!

Many of our villas have both the location and facilities for the ultimate wedding experience. Here are 10 examples, all in stunningly romantic settings on the Greek islands of Santorini, Mykonos and Corfu, the Balearic Islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca and in the Italian regions of Tuscany, Sicily, the Amalfi Coast and Lake Como.  Take your pick, or check with us for a wider range of suitable properties in other destinations as well.

Kassiopi Estate (Cassiopeia House and Atolikos House), Corfu

Sitting on a privately owned five acre headland, Kassiopi Estate offers both spectacular views and beautiful landscaped grounds.  There are two villas here, sleeping up to 20 people in total, although wedding celebrations would take place at the larger villa, Cassiopeia House.  Fully staffed, this property is one of our most popular for weddings and other special events.

Villa Machiavelli, Tuscany

This fabulous property also has the advantage of an adjacent luxury hotel, so can cater for up to 42 people in total, or up to 20 – 24 people if the villa is just rented on its own.  Just 12 kms south of Florence, and close to Greve in Chianti, the villa benefits from uninterrupted views over the Tuscan landscape.  Both  the Duomo and Giotto’s bell tower in Florence can be seen in the distance, framed by archways on the villa’s stunning furnished loggia. The sumptuous suites, adorned with 17th and 18th century frescoes, include the Royal Suite, approximately 180 m2 with high ceilings and large windows overlooking the sculpture gardens, vineyards and countryside. This suite has its own private dining area and marble bathroom with walk-in steam room – ideal for the wedding couple!

Villa Camilla, Lake Como

We have several villas on Lake Como to choose from, but this splendid villa dating from the 19th century has it all, situated right on the shores of the lake and exuding romance, style and tranquillity.  The large terraces and grounds, are perfect for entertaining.  The villa sleeps up to 20 people.

Villa Eros, Santorini

Situated in beautiful Imerovigli, with breathtaking views over the caldera and the sea, as well as the famous sunsets, the spacious terrace at Villa Eros offers the perfect setting for a small wedding or honeymoon.   The property has five bedrooms or, for smaller groups or a honeymoon couple the top floor with  two bedrooms and the terrace can be rented on its own.   Our Santorini collection of villas is not short of stunning properties in equally amazing locations, so do check with us for more suggestions.

Positano Bay, Amalfi Coast

This exceptional villa is a gorgeous historic residence built in 1741, and overlooks Positano, which is undeniably one of Italy’s most romantic destinations. The villa has been completely restored throughout to its former grandeur, and furnished with antique furniture and paintings. It comprises four floors, sleeping up to 16 guests in eight vast and beautifully decorated double bedrooms. The property also offers guests 300 metres of terraces and a Mediterranean garden full of bougainvillea, lemon and orange trees, making it perfect for weddings and other special events and celebrations.

Villa Trabia,  Sicily

Located outside the lovely village of Trabia on the north coast of Sicily, 34 kms east of Palermo, and just 50m from the sea, this wonderful property is an oasis of natural beauty. It consists of a main house, and three cottages, set within a large and beautifully maintained garden filled with Mediterranean and tropical plants.  With staff and many other services on request, it is a very popular venue for a beautiful and memorable wedding. The property can accommodate up to 22 people in total.

San Climent, Menorca

This lovely 7 bedroom villa is situated on a 250-acre estate in the countryside just outside Sant Climent, with breath-taking 180° sea views as far as Mallorca on the horizon. The estate also has a beautiful event space, which is just under 3,000 square metres in size, catering for up to 300 guests. Marquees of all sizes can be supplied as required for each event, and a bespoke planning service is available, from the arranging the flowers and decorations to booking the photographer and entertainment.

Villa Es Cubells, Ibiza

Another exceptional villa, over 300 years old, Villa Es Cubells is located in arguably the best area of Ibiza, in the countryside of Cala Jondal. It is just 5 minutes drive from both the famous Blue Marlin Beach and the village of San Josep. Outdoors there is a summer kitchen with a large covered dining area, and plenty of space to cater for a wedding or other special event. Within the beautiful grounds, there is a swimming pool (with heating and lighting) surrounded by a large furnished terrace, with sea views of Formentera island.  We work with a very experienced wedding planning service in Ibiza who can cater for most needs!

Santa Margalida, Mallorca

This impressive villa is situated on 130 acres of peaceful countryside, just four kilometres from unspoilt beaches in the north-east of the island. From its terraces and gardens there are breathtaking panoramic views of the Tramuntana mountain range and Cap Formentor.  With gardens of 15,000m2, there is an Arabic style fountain with cascading water, paved pathways and arbours of jasmine and bougainvillea and a large swimming pool. An original barn in the garden, and wide paved esplanade, covered with olive trees, creates the ideal setting for celebrations of the highest level.

Paradise Beach View, Mykonos

Overlooking the clear waters of the Aegean, this stunning property consists of two houses and two swimming pools, situated between the beaches of Paranga and Paradise. The waterfront location provides extensive views over the sea, all the way to the islands of Paros and Naxos. A beautifully maintained garden lines the pool terraces of the two properties. A large dining area can be found adjacent to each swimming pool, as well as individual dining areas located on the upper terrace of each villa. As one of the largest private properties available on the island, with ample outdoor spaces and the presence of a church, also make it perfect for wedding celebrations, or other events.