Destination Guide

Provence

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When most travelers hear Provence, they think of the Lubéron of Peter Mayle fame, with rolling lavender fields and quirky locals. And while this bucolic reverie of blue skies and intimate hilltop villages does exist, the vast region offers much more to discover: Michelin-starred restaurants and lovely vineyards (and rosés!)—not to mention antique markets and renowned artists—from Cézanne and Picasso to the Carrières de Lumières.

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hotel living room with four poster bed

Villa La Coste

A modern art wonderland in a blissfuly remote corner of Provence, Villa La Coste has sophisticated rooms, an on-property vineyard and an open-air museum.

Aerial View -  La Bastide de Marie, Provence, France

La Bastide de Marie

Peter Mayle readers might think twice about living like locals in Ménerbes, with all the daunting responsibilities that entails, especially when they can stay in a stylish hotel that feels like a private home minus the hassles of ownership. La Bastide de Marie is an 18th-century stone farmhouse, located on a quiet country road and surrounded by vineyards. Its views extend past a century-old cypress grove and towards the lush Lubéron National Park.

Embodying a laid­back country lifestyle, this chic Provençal farmhouse is exquisitely decorated with objects sourced from the nearby antique markets of L’Isle­ Sur ­La­ Sorgue (think exposed cobblestone bathrooms, wrought iron beds and clawfoot bath tubs). Stylishly restored by the celebrated hotelier Jocelyne Sibuet — who also owns Les Fermes de Marie, in the resort town of Megève, and Villa Marie in St.-Tropez — the farmhouse has 14 rooms and suites, each of which is unique. (Contact your Indagare Trip Designer for assistance picking the best layout for you.)

Another attraction is the ultra-fresh, simple and flavorful regional cuisine, prepared in an open kitchen in a tiny stone house that doubles as a cozy dining room. Guests may also take their meals on the vast linden-shaded terrace, which offers a sweeping view of the countryside. The chef excels in country fare. Try the chilled tomato soup sprinkled with pistachios and drizzled with local olive oil, the delicious rack of lamb with garden vegetables and, for dessert, a lavender crème brûlée. Sample one of the bastide's own wines, or choose from the wide selection of top vintages from the Lubéron. Before dinner, aperitifs are served in the main house, where guests mingle as if they were attending a cocktail reception at a stylish friend's home.

When you’ve had your fill of lazing by one of two small heated stone pools (there’s also an indoor pool), you can enjoy a range of activities, from mountain biking, horseback riding, golf and hot-air ballooning to shopping for antiques or the perfect goat cheese and vine-ripened peaches. You’ll also want to take advantage of the bastide’s small spa, which has two treatment rooms and is stocked with the Sibuet hotels’ trademark Pure Altitude beauty line, made with edelweiss that grows wild in the French Alps. Treatments include a range of massages with pungent essential mountain oils, honey and brown sugar scrubs, pink clay and mineral wraps, plus anti-aging facials with an Alpine mix of arctic raspberries, cloudberries, bilberries, musk rose and fern extracts.

For the ultimate gentleman-farmer experience, rent one of the neighboring villas: the five-bedroom, five-bath Grenache or the two-bedroom Syrah. Both boast private heated outdoor lap pools and country-style kitchens and dining rooms and are furnished in a sober but easy elegant style with antiques from the local markets, organdy-curtained wrought-iron beds with hand stitched quilts and embroidered linens in a harmonious mix of dove-gray, sunflower-yellow, olive-green, plum and pale lavender. The hotel will arrange private meals, gourmet picnics or massages. If too much serenity makes you restless, visit the neighboring village of Gordes, only a short drive away (pretty St. Rémy de Provence is about a 45-minute drive away).

Aerial View - Hôtel de Crillon le Brave, Provence, France

Hôtel de Crillon le Brave

Up the fragrant winding roads of lavender country, perched atop a hill 25 miles northeast of Avignon, stands Crillon le Brave. Once home to a long line of dukes and to Brave Crillon, the favorite general of Henri IV, it is a sleepy hamlet today. Next to the tiny village’s church sits the hotel that bears its name, a rambling property of nine, small 16th- and 17th-century country houses connected by a maze of “secret” paths.

The 34 rooms and suites, each a different shape and size, are all done in pretty florals and soft beiges—the floors paved with terra-cotta tiles—and furnished with comfy armchairs and sofas. A favorite accommodation is a vast, split-level suite located in a 12th-century tower, which boasts a pair of claw-foot tubs facing a bay window and superb views from the private terrace.

Have breakfast on the restaurant terrace, then lounge by the stunning heated pool, both with incredible views of Mont Ventoux and the countryside below. If you wish to indulge in a massage or facial, there’s a small Tata Harper spa located in the former stables of the village. Come sunset, after a game of pétanque, head for the leafy terrace to sip a glass of Côtes-du-Rhône while looking over the vine-covered plains and white-gray limestone peaks of Mont Ventoux.

You can enjoy the same view, under a starry sky, at the outdoor restaurant, which serves refined regional cuisine by Chef Adrien Brunet. The impressive wine list features a wide choice of excellent affordable bottles from the Rhône valley that guests select before dinner. The more casual bistro, La Table du Ventoux, serves an ever-changing menu, featuring the freshest ingredients sourced from towns within a 25-mile radius—everything from asparagus and pork to olive oil and farmer's goat cheese.

The atmosphere is friendly, laid-back and unpretentious, and the hotel draws an international clientele of young couples with children (who are most welcome), cyclists, hikers and the inevitable honeymooners. It’s the kind of place that will make you want to return off-season.


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