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Quintessential French Vacation Homes: Normandy to the Riviera

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With their famously long vacations—a government mandated 30 days of vacation per year—the French are well-versed in the fine art of kicking back and relaxing in the summer. Well-heeled Parisians regularly flee the heat of the city, taking up summer residence in the pastoral hinterlands or the sunny Côte d'Azur. For those averse to the glitz and glam of the Riviera, the quiet countryside of Normandy beckons with this 300-acre estate. On the market for just under $9M, the grand 17th-century chateau features 11 bedrooms, eight bathrooms, well-proportioned public rooms, thatched-roof pool house, and spacious barn. It's in need of some renovation, but with a full month of vacation, there's plenty of time for elbow grease.

? With pale blue shutters, beige facade, and a tile roof, this country house in Aix-en-Provence strikes the perfect French country pose. The well-worn spread, currently on the market for $5.4M, looks to be in need of a touch up, but the rustic swimming pool fringed by wildflowers is country chic at its best. There aren't many interior photos—which is always a bit worrying—but the charming look and views of the oft-painted Mont Sainte Victoire are enough to trick anyone into buying a lemon.

? Deep-pocketed buyers looking for more space would be wise to head inland from the pricey properties on the Mediterranean to Lorgues. For $16.4M, this country compound offers the amenities of a resort in the guise of a private home. From the vaulted wine cellar to the heated swimming pool with faux beach, this estate has plenty to woo buyers away from sea views. Unlike many Provencal properties, this one has been fully updated with modern electronics and finishes.

? The storybook French look can be found in Cap d'Ail, just outside of Monaco, where traditional pomp-and-circumstance meets the Mediterranean. That rare combination doesn't come cheap, as this five-bedroom Belle Epoque mansion can attest. It is currently listed at $23.4M, which, like the frou-frou decor, seems a bit much.

? Located just outside the famed surf spot Biarritz, this modern villa boasts broad panes of glass that capture hilltop views of the surrounding countryside. Unfortunately, prospective buyers will have to ask to see the price, which is somewhere between $3.3M and $7.2M. Given the condition, we're going to guess the upper range, because, in this ritzy area of southwestern France, eight bedrooms, seven baths, and a swimming pool don't come cheap.
· Chateau Louis Xiii - Louis Xv [Sotheby's]
· Aixoise [Sotheby's]
· Lorgues [Sotheby's]
· Cap d'Ail [Sotheby's]
· Arbonne [Emile Garcin]