If you enjoy stunning sun-kissed beaches, beautiful villages, historic charm and delicious food and wine, then the South of France is without question the region to visit. The area that makes up what the French refer to as “le Midi”, is generally speaking the most popular tourist region in France, and is made up of two French regions; Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (or PACA) to the east of the Rhone, and Languedoc Roussillon to the west of the Rhone. This sunny and laid-back region of the country is peppered with tiny hamlets and small villages that just call to be explored. Immerse yourself in the scenery that inspired such artists as Renoir, Van Gogh, and Cé-zanne or sample some of the world famous Mediterranean cuisine fused with French tradition. With so many marvellous sights to see, great places to visit and gastronomic experiences to be had, you really are spoilt for choice in the South of France.
1. Domaine la Pierre Blanche, Eygalières
The Domaine de la Pierre Blanche is an absolute haven nestled into the national park Les Alpilles, a few minutes away from the lovely and picturesque town of Eygalières in the heart of Provence. Surrounded by olive trees and Syrah vineyards overlooking mountain slopes, this beautiful hotel offers an amazing swimming pool with relaxing poolside beds, outdoor jacuzzi, a tennis court and sophisticated restaurant offering open-air seating and delicious French and International cuisine. You will find everything you need in order to relax and enjoy the art of living in Provence here, including nine peaceful and luxuriously spacious rooms which boast dramatic views of the Alpilles mountain range. The staff are attentive, friendly and charming offering a personal welcome, and the L’Opale restaurant offers delicious and creative seasonal dishes which the chef serves with a twist. The Domaine de la Pierre Blanche is the epitome of Provencal, located in such a picturesque region of France where you will without question experience peace, nature, wonderful weather and of course super tasty French cuisine. This boutique hotel is an absolute must for anyone who wants to discover this beautiful region in the most luxurious way.
2. Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle, La Celle
Situated between Cannes and Aix-en-Provence, and set in a refined Mediterranean villa surrounded by the Coteaux Varois vineyards, this boutique hotel is adjacent to the 12th-century Abbaye de la Celle and 2.6 km from the town of Brignoles. The terrace in the shade of chestnut trees, the beautiful grounds with the tall cypress trees, and the kitchen garden watered by the stream flowing down the mountain creates the most relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. The 10 recently refurbished rooms offer sophisticated comfort and the gourmet restaurant offers 3 distinct dining rooms and a terrace. The gardens feature a tranquil heated outdoor pool which overlooks the abbey and offers a magnificent bell tower, mountain and vineyard views.
3. Hôtel Crillon le Brave, Crillon le Brave
Set amongst vineyards and peaceful villages you will find this stylish boutique hotel. Located about 25 miles northeast of Avignon, the Hôtel Crillon le Brave is perched on top of a tiny hill village and is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Set in eight restored stone houses connected by bridges, alleys and courtyards, Crillon le Brave is an informal refuge where you can enjoy all of the simple pleasures of Provence. The rooms create an air of relaxation and tranquility with deluxe rooms offering a rustic retreat complete with exposed beams and fireplaces. There is an outdoor heated pool offering panoramic country views, and after a day of relaxation dinner in one of the hotel’s high-end restaurant finishes off the day perfectly.
4. Les Roches Rouges, Saint-Raphaël
This beachfront hotel is located 7.2 km from the Gare Saint-Raphaël Valescure railway station. It is an easy-going stylishly revamped Fifties waterfront retreat located right on the water, boasting an outdoor seasonal pool with an oceanfront sunbathing area plus a private beach. The hotel has two great restaurants serving everything Provençal, and there is also a little snack hut. The informal and relaxed fifty near-identical rooms are facing the sea or the garden, and feature flat-screen TVs, minibars and desks whilst amenities include free Wi-Fi in the lounge and spa treatments which are available for a fee. It’s worth mentioning that in each room there are also walking-sticks for hikes along the pebble beach!
5. Village Castigno, Assignan
Situated right in the middle of Saint-Chinian wine country, the Village Castigno is off the beaten track and a well-kept secret. It is a traditional French village which has been reinvented as a hotel offering beautifully designed luxurious rooms set among vineyards. The time here can be spent venturing out to explore the picturesque countryside, cooling off in one of the three pools or relaxing on sun loungers while surrounded by clematis flowers. At the end of the day, dine in one of the three restaurants available – bistro-style, Thai and fine dining. All excellent.
6. Le Hameau des Baux, Paradou
Nestled in a park of 5 hectares in the heart of olive groves and an hour away from the beaches of Marseille, is Le Hameau des Baux. It is a peaceful haven consisting of an entire hamlet of stone farmhouses and offers its guests nature, culture, gastronomy and adventure. The rooms are eclectic and the suites combine vintage furnishings with old world antiques yet offering flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi and minibars. Some have 4-poster beds, claw-foot tubs, and/or terraces. As well as 2 refined restaurants with terraces, other amenities include a vintage furniture store and an art gallery, as well as an outdoor pool and a fitness centre.
7. La Divine Comédie, Avignon
Housed in a stately, storied mansion, this refined all-suite hotel is 8 minutes’ walk from the 14th-century Palais des Papes, and 1 km from Avignon Centre train station. Each of the five rooms has its own character and all the individually decorated suites provide Wi-Fi access, satellite TV and mini-fridges; most featuring paintings and/or antiques. A bar offers light meals and most fascinating are the lounges and a library featuring artwork and eclectic artefacts. For the art historians out there, the hotel has more than 200 paintings from the 17th to 19th centuries!
8. La Maison Sur la Sorgue, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is located in a fantastic strategic location in Provence, ideal for discovering the very best of the region as well as its major events. Set in a 17th-century mansion, this hotel is a side-street sanctuary off a busy square in this charming southern French town. The 4 refined rooms offer a stylish mix of modern and antique decor and facilities include free Wi-Fi, minibars and grand en suite bathrooms. Suites add living rooms, lofts and/or terraces. The hotel boasts a wood-decked outdoor pool in the tiny, leafy courtyard and has a lovely little art gallery and shop called Retour de Voyage, where you’ll be able to buy tables and trinkets picked up around the world by the owners. Artist talks are held in-house too.
9. Masion D’Ulysse, near Uzes
The Maison d’Ulysse is a real haven of peace and a perfect spot to relax and unwind. This prestige boutique hotel can be found between Avignon and Nimes (at the crossroads between Provence, Languedoc and the Cevennes) and from the moment of arrival you are immersed in a natural, restful setting. The gardens surrounding the sleek pool and pétanque court are filled with herbs and wildflowers and some of the rustic-chic rooms offer direct garden access. Rooms provide complimentary Wi-Fi, vaulted ceilings, stand-alone tubs and/or terraces whilst suites add separate lounges with pull-out sofas. Dinner is served in the candlelit courtyard and the fruit picked from the hotel’s apricot and fig trees is turned into scrumptious homemade jams for breakfast!
10. Domaine de Fontenille
Set in a stately 18th-century mansion shaded by tall cedars, this boutique hotel is surrounded by vineyards and lies 7 km from the market town of Lourmarin and 14 km from Silvacane Abbey, a Romanesque monastery. Every room is adorned with modern art pieces, and interestingly the château’s former wine cellar has been transformed into a chic exhibition space, which hosts private viewings of art in partnership with international galleries four times a year. This hotel also boasts a winery and a refined tasting room, a flower-scented terrace, a lounge and an outdoor pool surrounded by sun-loungers and shaded spots to sit in on those long, lazy summer days.
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