In the fall-out from William and Kate's brief sojourn in Provence, a couple of things have been bothering me (not, not those...behave!). The royal couple probably wish they'd stayed in a real hideaway inside the medieval village of Viens, with its twisty enclosed streets and secret courtyards, or safe behind the strong iron bars of one of the beautiful strongholds like this one...
...rather than William's cousin Lord Linley's château up the road where the swimming pool terrace turned out to be rather more exposed.
It may be grandly named the "Château d'Autet" but the property, though a large house with attendant buildings, is a centuries-old hunting lodge with few features to distinguish it from the characteristic bastides all around, solid and imposing as they are. Still, I'm sure the name adds distinction for the wealthy holidaymakers who rent the place.
The other puzzlement on its website is the statement that David and Serena Linley were introduced to the area by Peter Mayle, author of A Year in Provence. Again, is that just another marketing angle, to link it to a publishing phenomenon?
Because a little local knowledge tells me that David Linley was much more likely to have known the area through his own family. His mother Princess Margaret and father the Earl of Snowdon were great friends with the British entrepreneur and inventor Jeremy Fry, who had a summer home close to Oppedette, only a few kilometres away.
Fry's retreat was a formerly deserted hamlet called Le Grand Banc, hidden away on a hillside overlooking the gorge at Oppedette. In the sixties and seventies it was an artistic, intellectual and bohemian haven place for his many friends, including the Queen's sister and her husband and children. Nowadays, it is a small, very exclusive hotel - and the Gorge d'Oppedette cuts through the landscape in a natural barrier to even the most daring of photographers.
And Viens still has a bohemian vibe and a thriving artistic community, as I wrote during the summer here: Viens: a sunny bohemia.