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Special French Properties For The Festive Season

From discovering a charming festive tradition in Provence to a magical Christmas market in the Dordogne or simply to soak up a little Cote d'Azur sunshine, we've picked out three of our luxury French country houses and villas that are somewhere really special for Christmas.

• At Christmas time, the hilltop village of Bonnieux in Provence becomes a centre of the region's festive obsession with recreating the nativity in miniature, by hosting the Festival de Crèches (literally translated as the Festival of the Cribs). An extraordinary population of clay figurines, known as 'santons', meaning 'mini saints' are handmade and hand-painted by over 100 artisan 'santonniers' and passed from generation to generation to be set up in the windows of shops, restaurants and homes, depicting the classic nativity and traditional Provençal scenes. The most elaborate 'Crèche' of all is the extraordinary model village in the 12th century church, which a true devotee to the tradition has been meticulously building every year for almost 20 years and which takes him 9 days to complete.

Located just below Bonnieux, Le Vieux Manoir is a fabulous Provençal country house for a Christmas or New Year celebration for up to 14 family and friends. All 7 bedrooms are ensuite and underfloor heating keeps the house nice and cosy in the winter. The large, luxurious living rooms open onto a lovely furnished terrace and Le Vieux Manoir is set in 20 acres of landscaped garden and grounds, with far reaching views over the Luberon countryside. With Anglo French Properties, 7 nights at Le Vieux Manoir over Christmas or New Year costs £4,700 - from £336 per person.

• In the heart of the Dordogne, the medieval market town of Sarlat is a magical, 'movie-set' location at any time of year but especially with the added sparkle and twinkling lights of Christmas. The centre of the town is transformed with a Christmas Village comprising an ice rink and over 40 festive market chalets to tempt visitors with all the region's gastronomic goodies, mulled wine and charming gifts. There are circus acts, shows and concerts to entertain the children and a special appearance of Santa on Christmas Eve.

Just 3 miles from Sarlat, Le Bournaguet is a beautifully renovated and remodelled farmhouse where up to 15 family and friends can enjoy a superb Christmas break. Eight bedrooms are located in three wings for greater privacy and guests can curl up in front of big roaring fires in two living rooms. To keep the children entertained, Le Bournaguet has a new movie/games room with a TV projector, surround sound system and PSP4. Le Bournaguet enjoys a panoramic hill top setting, in 100 acres of garden and grounds, including an all weather tennis court. With Anglo French Properties, 7 nights at Le Bournaguet over Christmas or New Year costs £5,000 - from £333 per person.

• To swap dreary and freezing winter weather for Christmas lunch al fresco and mild sunny days, the Côte d'Azur fits the bill nicely. Temperatures hover around 10-13°c, with plenty of sunshine through the day to stroll around the famous jetsetter resorts like St Tropez, and enjoy the pick of pavement cafes, without the hassles of high summer crowds. For a really special celebration, the Côte d'Azur also boasts countless superb restaurants with Michelin star chefs and celebrity clientele.

Le Petit Faucon is a very sophisticated and contemporary villa for up to 10 people, enjoying a panoramic setting in the wooded hills of the Massif des Maures which forms the backdrop to the Côte d'Azur resorts. Several French windows flood the sitting room with light and open onto fabulous furnished terraces where guests can enjoy the sunshine and spectacular views, before snuggling down for the evening by a roaring log fire. With Anglo French Properties, 7 nights at Le Petit Faucon over Christmas or New Year costs £4,700 - from £336 per person.

For more information and bookings please email miles.maskell@anglofrenchproperties.com or telephone 0207 225 0359.