The Difference Between a Bastide and a Mas

Villa Bastide de Parc

Villa Bastide de Parc

Choosing the perfect summer holiday can be difficult. With so many beautiful properties in so many stunning locations you may sometimes feel like you don’t know where to start. At St Tropez House alone we have more than 130 luxury villas in St Tropez to choose from. Your search for the holiday villa of your dreams can be made yet more challenging when there is a language barrier to hurdle.

From our selection of different styles of house to rent in Saint Tropez, some follow a more contemporary design, while others have retained the traditional Provençal structure of the region, and therefore the traditional Provençal names. Join us as we investigate deeper into the origins, meanings and differences between a bastide and a mas.

A bastide is generally agreed to describe a manor house in Provence. Originally, thirteenth century historical documents evoke a fortification, but by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a bastide came to infer a primarily residential estate which often became the luxury ‘summer house’ for the fortunate aristocratic or middle class minority who populated southern cities such as Marseille. As these cities expanded, the bastides began to form a protective ring around the medieval centre and each one came to be named after a saint. Today, bastides have been transformed into luxury villas on the French Riviera.

Throughout the ages however, bastides have always been characterised by their square or rectangular structure, their tile roof and stonewalls. More often than not the bastide resides atop a hill with commanding views over the countryside which can typically be enjoyed from a large second floor balcony. The entrance to the bastide is commonly preceded by a long esplanade which leads to the central reception lit by large symmetrical windows.

The other traditional kind of house in Provence is a mas. Although there is some similarity between a mas and a bastide, there are nonetheless some quite clear distinctions that clearly define the two. A mas is best described as a traditional stone-built Provençal farmhouse which often covered a large territory. Mas were originally built near a spring on a plateau in order to support the estate’s resident animals, and surrounding orchards and vineyards.

Despite being generally more humble residences, mas homeowners have also been known to lead quite prosperous lives and develop these lavish properties in Provence territory. Mas are distinguished by their rough-hewn stone exteriors as opposed to the cement and lime wash walls of the bastides. A mas also often has a broad trellis covered in vines or wisteria to provide shade in the summer.

Yet for all their differences, bastides and mas both contribute a beauty and charm to the southern French countryside. Architectural historian Victor Papernak attributes this to their innate ability to blend into Provence’s stunning landscape before summarising bastides and mas as vernacular buildings that embody a “sensuous frugality that results in true elegance”.

Whatever you are looking for this summer, whether it be a beautiful bastide like our Villa Bastide de Parc, or a charming mas such as Villa Mas des Oliviers, you can be sure to find the perfect luxury holiday villa in St Tropez with St Tropez House. Contact Emilia on +33 428 31 18 46 or via email on emilia@sttropezhouse.com to begin planning your dream vacation on the French Riviera.