Provence: Where to stay, shop, eat and relax

Provence shop stay eat relax

Hotels

Château de St-Martin

Adeline de Barry is the chatelaine of this big wine estate with Roman roots offering an old-fashioned B&B. Part of Lady Chatterley’s Lover was filmed in Room 2. chateaudesaintmartin.com

Hotel Cézanne

A boutique hotel in the centre of Aix which, although funky, doesn’t showcase style and jettison substance. Solid comfort, thoughtful extras and knockout breakfasts. hotelaix.com

Hôtel Notre Dame
Drive up from Le Lavandou through the woods of the Massif des Maures and you reach this pretty riverside inn, run by young couple Olivier and Nili Faivre. hotel-notre-dame.eu

Restaurants

Côté Cour

Talented young Breton chef Ronan Kernan serves up bold flavours with aplomb in this newish
restaurant on Aix’s famous Cours Mirabeau. Brash but fun. restaurantcotecour.fr

Hostellerie de L’Abbaye de la Celle

While Alain Ducasse’s involvement attracts visitors to the restaurant
enshrined in this 12th-century abbey hotel, its 10 bedrooms are perhaps an even greater lure. De Gaulle worked on his memoirs here. abbaye-celle.com

La Bastide St-Antoine

Every morsel is exquisite at this Michelin-starred restaurant run by well-known Grasse chef Jacques Chibois. The 18th-century bastide is a five-star Relais & Chateaux hotel. jacques-chibois.com

La Vigne à Table
A stroke of genius to incorporate a first-rate restaurant into the Maison des Vins. Delicious food from chef François Pillard is enhanced by an elegant dining room. francois-pillard.com

Shops

Léonard Parli

A landmark since 1874, this firm still makes some of the best calissons d’Aix. These iced oval sweets made from almonds and candied melons were created in the 15th century for King René to indulge his young wife. leonard-parli.com

Maison des Vins

In Les Arcs, the Côtes de Provence winegrowers’ HQ includes an excellent shop selling 800 wines, 15 of which are open for tasting. Good selection of magnums, food and glassware. caveaucp.fr

Moulin de Flayosquet

Near Draguignan, this 13th-century olive oil mill is one of the few still using original methods. Fifthgeneration boss Max Doleatto is a brilliantly informative tasting companion. Number: +33 4 94 70 41 45

Savonnerie de Bormes

Traditional soap-making methods, innovative ideas and gorgeous packaging underpin a huge range of quality bath and body products based on olive oil, almond, figs, lavender, jasmine and seaweed. www.savonnerie-bormes.com

Activities

Abbaye du Thoronet

One of Provence’s trio of exquisite Cistercian abbeys (with Sénanque and Silvacane), this one is as remarkable for the calm purity of its 12th-century cloisters as for its perfect acoustics. www.thoronet.monuments-nationaux.fr

Domaine du Rayol

Hugging the coast near Le Lavandou, this remarkable garden illustrates Mediterranean microclimates in different parts of the world. Magical, not over-manicured. domainedurayol.org

Villa Noailles
Anyone with an interest in 20thcentury design will be fascinated by the avant-garde 1920s home of arty aristocrats Marie-Laure and Charles de Noailles. Giacometti, Brecht, Bunuel, Man Ray all came to stay and left something behind. villanoailles-hyeres.com


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