Property Galleries

Iconic Architecture: The Provençal Style

Luxury Defined tours five homes inspired by the architecture of Provence

The architecture of Provence has its roots in the simple stone farm cottage, and its fulfillment in the elegant stone villas called bastides. These houses can verge on the palatial, with large, airy rooms, yet retain a rustic simplicity with native stone and terracotta tile, exposed brick, patinated wood floors and ceiling beams, even distressed finishes. Provençal style gets it both ways: Look for cool pastels and neutral color palettes for bedrooms, as refuge from the heat of the day, and honey-hued living spaces warmed by roaring hearths (and shuttered windows) against the chill winds of the Mistral. The exquisite homes in this Luxury Defined collection capture the spirit of Provence. From an 18th-century bastide in the historic heart of the region to actor Jim Belushi’s Mediterranean-style manor, farther afield in the exclusive L.A. enclave of Brentwood, Provençal style means elegant, easy living.

Villa Burlingame
Los Angeles, California

The estate of celebrated actor, comedian, and musician Jim Belushi, Villa Burlingame is set behind gates on a rare 1.3-acre double lot. The stunning Provençal-inspired estate was built in 2010, a collaboration by renowned architect Oscar Shamamian and designer Michael Smith. A cobblestone driveway and motor court form a grand introduction to the manor house, exquisitely adorned with finishes and materials sourced from around the world: reclaimed roof tile from Venezuela, fireplace mantles and terracotta tile floors from Italy, and glazed bathroom tiles from Morocco. There are ample accommodations for guests with 6 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, including a detached guest house and pool house. Serene gardens with a pool, Jacuzzi and cold plunge, walking paths, two outdoor fireplaces, and a dining terrace under a vine-draped pergola invite relaxation and elegant entertaining.

House Ventabren
Bouches du Rhone, France

This 18th-century bastide is the quintessential Provençal home in both its architecture and setting—minutes from Aix-en-Provence’s historic Old Town, home to leafy boulevards, grand Baroque squares, and the birthplace of Impressionist artist Paul Cezanne. The house and the grounds (which include a swimming pool, guest house, and several outbuildings) have been restored and renovated for the 21st century. The interiors exude southern French elegance with rich wood floors and vaulted ceilings. There are several reception rooms, a conservatory, country kitchen, and six bedroom suites. Shuttered French doors open to beautiful stone terraces with fountains and reflecting pools and fragrant landscaped gardens with century-old plane trees.

Ker Arvor
Newport, Rhode Island

Ker Arvor (French Breton for seaside) is a Newport landmark off famed Ocean Drive. Built in 1933 by the New York architectural firm of Russell & Clinton, this imposing nine-acre estate was inspired by Pavillon de la Lanterne, an 18th-century hunting lodge at the Palace of Versailles. The 2.5-story house has a unique U-shaped design with a white-stucco façade under a quintessentially French mansard roof. Cobblestone paving adorns the base of the house in the spirit of Louis XVI architecture. The property, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been impeccably restored: The wallcoverings were recreated from the originals, while many of the authentic 18th-century finishes, including the floors, were imported from France. Ker Arvor’s grounds heighten the splendor with a pool terrace, sweeping lawns, and award-winning formal gardens.

French Country Estate
Charlotte, North Carolina

Inspired by the French country style, this enchanting manor house is ensconced amid five manicured and wooded acres in the leafy Charlotte suburb of Greenwood. The house exhibits beautiful artisanal details, from the hand-laid cobblestone driveway to the ivy-clad, weathered stone façade and traditional shuttered French windows. The impeccable craftsmanship continues inside with hand-painted frescos, hand-carved masonry, beamed ceilings, and rustic stone and wood floors. The public spaces include a great room, formal dining room, gourmet kitchen, while private quarters feature an elevated owner’s retreat which opens to a private sun terrace overlooking verdant gardens and a beautiful free-form pool. Other luxurious appointments include a stone wine cellar, billiards room, and separate carriage house.

Villa Mareza
Attica, Greece

Inspired by the bastides of Provence, this grand hilltop villa has commanding views of the surrounding countryside, yet is only a half-hour from central Athens. The elaborate exposed stone structure stands an impressive 14,000 square feet with palatial reception and dining areas with antique fireplaces; large sash windows and French doors framed by weathered pastel-blue shutters infuse each room with sunlight. There are eight en suite bedrooms, a professionally equipped kitchen with fireplace, a gym, sauna, and six-car garage. A separate gardener’s cottage includes two bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. The 8.65-acre grounds are spectacular: a chapel, entertaining terraces, swimming pool, tennis court, stables, riding arena, and magnificent neoclassical gardens styled after the Jardins Remarquables of French châteaux.