Get swept away by the most heartbreakingly beautiful places to stay in Provence.
Place de l’Eglise Crillon le Brave 84410 France, +33 4 90 65 61 61
Located about 25 miles northeast of Avignon in the Vaucluse, Hotel Crillon Le Brave is the perfect stone built hilltop hideaway where you can enjoy all of the simple pleasures of Provence. The stylish design of this 36-room boutique hotel creates an air of relaxation, tranquility and casual luxury.
The origins of the village of Crillon date back to roman times, while its modern history dates to the 14th century. A long line of dukes ruled Crillon throughout its history, however the town drew its name from Le Brave Crillon (1541-1615) - the most legendary of its dukes and Henri IV's fiercest general.
The village was lively and prosperous until the late 19th century, but by the beginning of the 20th century, this once powerful fortified village of over 500 inhabitants was in the throes of decline. A lack of direct water supply caused many inhabitants to abandon the village and by the end of WWII, it was in ruins and almost completely deserted.
In the summer of 1998, Peter Chittick and his wife Carolyn Fairbairn set about finding a Provençal property to convert into a hotel. They stumbled upon Crillon Le Brave and about a year later with the help of their good friends and business partner Craig Miller and his wife Susan Meech, they opened the Hostellerie de Crillon le Brave with 11 bedrooms.
Over the past 25 years, the hotel has expanded to encompass eight more village buildings and in 1995 the hotel became a member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux hotel group.
I was completely and utterly charmed by this lovely hotel, the location is beautiful, the staff were wonderful and the food was simply marvelous. The hotel's stunning setting allows for many activities and local day trips. You can borrow bikes and cruise through the nearby vineyards, olive groves and peaceful villages. Spend a day by the outdoor heated pool with wonderful views of "the Giant of Provence", Mont Ventoux. Relax with a massage in the charming stone walled spa - they use all natural Provençal products. Explore the markets, local artisans and wine regions. Packing tip - allow plenty of suitcase space for wine - Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Châteauneuf-du-Pape and other Rhône varieties abound! Or simply find a quiet corner on the hotel's beautiful terrace and watch the sun cast its fading light onto the Provençal countryside and enjoy a nice glass of Ventoux rosé. Welcome to Provence!
No visit to the hotel would be complete without an evening meal on the main terrace of the hotel or in its vaulted dining room. There is a four course Menu de Saison and a seven course Menu du Chef. The wine list focuses on selections from the Rhône Valley and Provence and includes excellent local Ventoux vintages. All of the above are sourced from an outstanding cast of local farmers, artisans and winemakers from the region. Although the restaurant is impressive, I did not find it as interesting as the more casual Bistrot 40K.
Is so called because all the ingredients are sourced from within a 40km radius of the hotel. The blackboard menu at €40 per person changes every night and includes a starter, main course and dessert. The menu puts local produce in the spotlight with delicious meat and fish options and wines supplied by noted nearby vineyards. One of my favourite parts about dining at this charming restaurant was the opportunity to go down into the Reboul Wine Cellar and pick out my own bottle of wine for the evening!
Chemin de Quinson, 04360 Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, France, +33 4 92 70 47 47
Set at the foothills of the Alps, La Bastide de Moustiers was chef Alain Ducasse's country home before he converted it into the romantic hillside hideaway that it is today. Ducasse has done his utmost to enable each guest to feel right at home. Along with its obligatory wow-factor restaurant, this upscale country inn showcases local craftsmanship from the sheets to the teacups. The 11 bedrooms and pair of suites, each named after something quintessentially Provençal, are graceful, cool and decorated in pared-back country style. We stayed in La Suite Olive and simply loved the homey, tranquil atmosphere - a perfectly dreamy vision of low-key Provençal life.
The surrounding area is equally spectacular - lavender fields, a dramatic gorge (Gorges du Verdon), limestone cliffs and the beautiful medieval village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie are sure to impress. And you could easily lose a day in the Bastide's gardens, pool and terrace.
If you are lucky enough to get to La Bastide de Moustiers on a bright sunny day as we did, I can assure you that few experiences in life will be as pleasant as this. Set in a stunning location in the Provençal countryside, the restaurant delivered all that could be expected from a Michelin starred establishment.
The food is simply perfect - Alain Ducasse's name should suffice, as he is a celebrated chef with restaurants in select locations around the world. The menu changes daily, following the rhythm of the seasons and depending on what is ready to be gathered from the Bastide's garden. The atmosphere is relaxed with warm friendly staff and polished professional service. La Bastide de Moustiers is truly a gourmand's dream come true and is the perfect place to indulge in the kind of fantasy long lunches we all need in our lives.
2071 Route d'Aups, 83690 Tourtour, France, +33+33 4 83 13 27 27
Set away from the famously pretty village of Tourtour, Domaine de la Baume is a divinely restored 18th-century guesthouse located between the Gorges du Verdon and the French Riviera. Once home to famed French Expressionist painter Bernard Buffet, this magnificent property boasts 99 acres of formal gardens, olive groves, woodlands and heartbreakingly beautiful views over the sun drenched Var region. A waterfall, pool and garden paths lead on past fig trees, a horse paddock and a chapel.
Expressionist painter Buffet was, in the 1950s, as celebrated as Picasso, highly collectable even before he was 30 years old, lived well and extravagantly in Paris, shared a lover with Yves Saint Laurent, and was much talked-about, not just in France but worldwide.
The 15-room Domaine de la Baume is truly a work of art in Provence. Behind the apricot coloured facade, each room is decorated with a theatrical eye and clever antique finds. Walls are covered with Toile de Jouy fabrics from Braquenie, floors are trompe-l'oeil and hexagon-tiled; and warm Provençal colours are painted inside and out: soft ochre, dusky pink, sky blue and pale orange.
Guests are provided peace and quiet but the staff were always available and extremely accommodating to meet any request or need we had during our stay.
The kitchen sources its ingredients from local farmers and produces its own honey, herbs and olive oil, all of which were exquisitely good and of great quality. The food is top end yet unfiddly and the regularly changing menu offered significant variety each night despite having dinned there for three consecutive evenings. While the restaurant only had their house wines on offer with dinner, they were very enjoyable and paired equally well with the evening menu.