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How about a hotel with an average of 3.3 acres for each of its rooms – sounds good? That’s kind of the case at Domaine de Manville, a stunning new country estate which just opened in Provence, one of the most textbook ‘French’ places in France (apart from all the British expats growing their own wine). It’s set in a sweeping, 100-acre estate – and there are just 30 rooms to enjoy the space.
And you know it’s good, because it’s been snapped up by the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group.
The estate – a former farm – rolls out in the valley below a medieval hilltop village, Les Baux, with olive trees and lavender fields around it. Rooms look quietly luxurious, with neutral colors, linen (linen!) sheets and omg-rolltop-tubs-in-the-bathrooms.
There’s also a spa and gym, restaurant with wine cellar, tea salon, a gorgeous outdoor pool and a “scenic 18-hole golf course” in the grounds. Activities will include wine tasting and truffle hunting. Heaven!
Hotel Openings / Renaissance Hotels / Marriott Hotels / France Hotels / Provence Hotels / → All Tags
It’s only fitting that an American hotel brand carrying a French name would branch out further into la douce France, and so it is: Renaissance Hotels has opened its fifth hotel in the country, going beyond Paris and setting up shop in the deep south, in Aix-en-Provence.
With a history dating as far back as 123 BC, when it was founded by a Roman consul, Aix is not only a beautiful city, but a perfect base for exploring the lavender fields and villages of the Provence. A high-speed TGV train takes you from Paris to Aix in around 3 hours, or you can fly into the southern port city of Marseille. Heading east from Aix will take you towards St. Tropez, the Esterel Massif, and of course, the Côte d’Azur.
When you stay in a spa hotel owned by your favorite brand of toiletries – their only hotel in the world, no less – you kind of hope they are going to lavish you with bathroom supplies, as Soho House properties do with their unlimited inroom Cowshed products.
However, as we said on Tuesday, at Le Couvent des Minimes, which is owned by French brand L’Occitane, this is the paltry selection we got – plus an even tinier squirt of handcream as part of the turndown service.
However, all wasn’t lost on the toiletry front as it turns out the hotel has its own brand of beauty stuff – an entire line, from shower gel to shampoo to body scrub to lip balm.
The products are nowhere to be seen in the rooms themselves, but they’re for sale in the spa. Prices ranged from comparable to L’Occitane to a little more expensive. They all had a very L’Occitane feel – in fact some of the ingredients combinations were almost the same – but are done up to look a little more exclusive.
There are many toiletry brands we lust after when we stay in hotels, but if we had to pick the one we get most excited to see, it’d be L’Occitane. So when we found out that L’Occitane has its own hotel – with a spa! – in beautiful Provence! – we booked a night straightaway. Le Couvent des Minimes is In a 16th-century convent, nestling in the hillside below medieval village Mane. It sounded perfect. We booked a superior room (the lowest category) on the spot.
Check in was easy and the welcome was nice – we were given a tour of the hotel ground floor (restaurant, breakfast area, bar) before being accompanied to our room. The only black mark – when we asked to arrange a tour of the L’Occitane Factory, half an hour down the road in Manosque, the lady was clueless. She didn’t know what time the tours were, what language they were in, or whether they’d have any space the next day (as it was closed Sunday, when we arrived). Slightly odd, considering this is the official L’Occitane hotel. Surely we couldn’t be the only ones inquiring about factory tours?
Family-Friendly Hotels / Kids Programs / Kids Clubs / Four Seasons Hotels / Provence Hotels / → All Tags
Your little one may not be excited to be dragged along to Provence's medieval villages, but he will be pumped to play on a pirate boat at the Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche. The poolside pirate boat is only part of the French hotel's new free kiddie offerings this summer.
That pool also has a water slide, water-shooting dinosaurs, a wading splash pool and a kids-only snack bar. Aside from the water options, the hotel partnered with Lego to build a new Kids for All Seasons Centre with two playrooms, one for tykes between 2 and 5 and the other for children 6 to 12, which of course come with Wiis and PlayStations.
We’re not quite daring to believe the volcano shizzle is over at the moment (or that it won’t start again), so we’re on the look out for train-able breaks right now. And Crillon Le Brave in Provence has popped up with one just in time: 25 percent off rooms for the month of May – and, if you can make it out there right now, half price for the rest of April.
The South of France is gorgy in May – the pretty colors and the sun out, but the hordes of tourists not – so it’s pretty good timing. All rooms are 25 percent off for the entire month, although don’t expect any bargains – even with the discount, they start at €180 (£159/$242).
We’ve heard good things about Crillon le Brave – half an hour from Avignon (which is also gorgy), although TripAdvisor seems to be split between the superlative and the critical. But we reckon the location alone merits giving it a go. Especially as you can take the TGV from Paris to Avignon in a couple of hours. We’ve been scared off flying at the mo.
A grateful shout out to Chris Gold who dropped this fantastic pool picture into the HotelChatter Flickr pool. It was taken at Le Vieux Castillon in the small village of Castillon-du-Gard in scenic Provence.
Apart from the pool with the gorgeous old historic wall touch, Le Vieux Castillon also has an impressive restaurant, although some might think it's a little pricey.
This place is (appropriately) into a bit of culture: they have a Traditional Musical Evening Package going which includes breakfast and dinner (plus wine), and cocktails followed by a concert--they don't give too much away about what kind of concert but politely say the "program is available on simple request". That'll set you back €501 ($650) for a double, proving that traditional French culture obviously isn't that cheap, but at least the setting looks great.
In case you haven't been motorcycling through the backroads of Provence lately, we thought you'd like to know about superchef Alain Ducasse's pretty little hotel properties that dot the south of France like so many truffle shavings atop an entree. The collection of inns called Maisons d'Alain Ducasse, combine traditional French country living and dining with semi-affordable rates and inspiring views. With three quaint properties in Provence for his beloved concept of terroir, or a fusing of territory and tradition, and one showcasing his Mediterranean cuisine in Tuscany, Alain has risen well above doing hotel restaurants to doing the hotels themselves.
Provence Hotels / Luxury Hotels / Religious Hotels / Snapshot / HotelChatter Flickr Pool / → All Tags
This hotel is Arles, France is now part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group but in its past life, it was a Carmelite Convent. And yes, your guestroom is the old nuns' bedrooms.
In the heart of the old town, the Hôtel Jules César is the perfect location to appreciate history, a 17th-century convent offering 21st-century luxuries and facilities. The nun's cells have been redesigned as large, indulgent bedrooms and the cloistered galleries house the Restaurant Lou Marques, which serves classic Provençal cooking. A heated swimming pool can be found in the lavender garden, where a monastic peace prevails ensuring total relaxation.
And despite its once-humble origins where nuns took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, the hotel now charges 158 € for a single room and between 158 € to 240 € for twins/double rooms. See the full rate list here.