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Hotel Highlights

  • Peaceful outdoor pool and gorgeous gardens
  • Charming hosts who prepare delicious dinners on request
  • Fortified farmhouse set on a historic site

Overview

La Maison d’Ulysse is a historic homestay in the Gard region of southern France. Owners Guy and Gauthier have laboured over this fortified farmhouse with love (once home to Ulysse Dumas) – one look at the blooming grounds, a taste of the garden-grown fruit and a glance at the elegant jumble of art and you'll be in love, too.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking La Maison d'Ulysse with us:

A welcome glass of wine and a pot of Gauthier's home-made jam

Facilities

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La Maison D'Ulysse hotel – Provence – France

Need To Know

Rooms

Nine, including four suites.

Check–out

11am, but flexible on request. Earliest check-in, 4pm; latest, 8pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $218.73 (€173), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.15 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rates usually include breakfast.

Also

Ramble the garden and seek out the tombstone of the farmhouse's famous former resident, poet Ulysse Dumas. Other members of his family are also buried here, from a time when Protestants were buried in their homes, rather than among Catholics in regular cemeterys. The gardens are also home to salvaged benches from the train station in Marseille.

At the hotel

Steam room, free WiFi throughout, air-conditioning. In rooms: Damana bath products.

Our favourite rooms

We loved the Belle de Seigneur Suite simply for the sheer size of its lounge, but we weren’t complaining about its Philippe Starck loo, lime-green stools or fireplace, either. For privacy, opt for the secluded, colourful Chant du Mûrier Suite, up a flight of stairs in an outer building. Its private terrace has a prime view of the house and gardens. For more flexibility, the 50s-feel Petit Prince apartment offers a kitchenette and Smeg fridge-freezer.

Poolside

The tranquil narrow heated pool is set amid the hotel’s fragrant wild gardens, with sleek sunloungers and bright yellow chairs.

Packing tips

Books, bikinis and bottle openers. Gardening gloves and a pruner to muck in and give Gauthier a hand on his half-hectare of land.

Also

Book your spot on one of the massage tables for a treatment courtesy of the local masseurs; pair this with a session in the eucalyptus-scented hammam-style steam room.

Children

This is more of an adults' retreat, but there is one room that would suit a couple with a baby.

Eco‐friendly

The owners collect rainwater and re-use it to water their flowers and in the toilets. There are solar panels and the pool is heated by a vacuum and solar-powered system.

Food & Drink

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La Maison D'Ulysse hotel – Provence – France

Hotel Restaurant

A spread is put on in the kitchen each morning of local cheeses and charcuterie, French bread, croissants and smoked salmon. The kitchen garden provides vegetables, fruit and herbs for co-owner and chef Gauthier; the orchard’s produce makes an appearance in the home-made jams at breakfast. Delicious table d'hôtes lunches and three-course dinners are served on request (every day except Tuesday evenings from July to September; otherwise on Saturdays) – be sure to book ahead, as they're wonderful, and packed full of the flavours of the Garrigue and Gard countryside.

Hotel Bar

 There's no bar, but local wines are served with dinner, and you're not exactly short of market towns and vineyards in this neck of the woods.

Last orders

Breakfast is on offer between 9am and 10.30am. The table d’hôtes is available every day except Tuesday evenings from July to September. The rest of the year, it’s only available on Saturday nights.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Fresh florals to match the exotic gardens.

Top table

Out on the patio to be perfectly positioned for catching rays.

Local Guide

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La Maison D'Ulysse hotel – Provence – France
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

The Languedoc offers travellers rolling expanses of lush green hills, golden-hued ancient towns and, to the south, the wild landscape of the Camargue. La Maison d’Ulysse is close to Uzès, a small, attractive Roman town with a 15th-century Capuchin chapel and a fantastic weekly food market, and the verdant Cévennes mountains. Pont du Gard (www.pontdugard.fr), the famed triple-decker aqueduct built by the Romans to deliver drinking water from Uzès through the hills of the Uzège to Nîmes is a feat of engineering to be marvelled at. There’s an excellent visitor centre, and plenty of hiking trails nearby.

You're also within easy reach of some of the region's most fascinating towns, including the former papal seat Avignon (with the remnants of its famous-from-the-song Pont); unique Arles; and original denim producer Nîmes.

Foodies could head to olive-oil producer J & B Soulas in Collorgues (+33 (0)4 66 81 21 13) to see how the tasty golden liquid is made, then stock up on a load to take home; oenophiles will do well at almost any local vineyard, but Domaine Lous Grezes in Ribaute les Tavernes (+33 (0)4 68 46 93 775) offers a tasting tour with information on how the fruit of its vines are cultivated into some of the region's finest wines.

Saddle up like a Camargais cowboy at the Ranch Lou Seden (+33 (0)4 66 51 74 75) then spot flamingos, white horses and bulls on a horse ride through the rugged wetlands of the south.

Local restaurants

Get a table on the terrace at Uzès restaurant La Parenthèse at 1–3 rue de la Grande Bourdade (+33 (0)4 66 22 11 06), where your meal is sure to reflect the classic flavours of the region. 

Be surprised by the inventive cooking at local institution La Table 2 de Julien at 12 routes d’Uzès in Montaren-et-Saint-Médiers (+33 (0)4 66 03 75 38) and, if you’re there during the Uzès Truffle Festival, don’t miss the restaurant’s tasty truffle menu.

The open kitchen at Le Tracteur on Avenue du Stade in Sanilhac-Sagries (+33 (0)4 66 37 19 31) serves a simple three-course menu that changes daily depending on what the chef finds in the local markets. The two choices for each course include seasonal comfort food such as velouté of squash with cep mushrooms and duck’s liver. Look out for the vintage tractor that acts as roadmarker for this set-in-a-barn eaterie.

Two-Michelin-starred Le Castellas restaurant at 30 Grand Rue in Collias (+33 (0)4 66 22 92 12) serves up sublime haute cuisine, with rich flavour combinations such as foie gras with wasabi macarons.

Local cafés

For low-key lunch, snacks and drinks (or a relaxed supper), head to Uzès and take your pick from the brasseries, bars and bistros surrounding the main square and side streets leading off it.

+ Enlarge
Provençal poet’s corner

La Maison d'Ulysse

Place Ulysse Dumas, 30700, Baron, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

La Maison d’Ulysse is set north-east of Nîmes in the Gard region, where the Lavnguedoc meets Provence, close to the Cévennes mountains and just a few kilometres west of Uzès.

Planes

The nearest airport is Nîmes, 40 kilometres away and served by flights from European destinations such as London Luton, Liverpool, Rome, Palma and Belgium. The airport in Montpellier is an hour away by car; to Marseille International, it’s a 90-minute drive.

Trains

The closest train stations are Nîmes (30 minutes) and Avignon (45 minutes), both of which are served by the high-speed TGV trains (www.sncf.com). In late spring and summer, direct Eurostar trains go from London to Avignon (www.eurostar.com).

Automobiles

You'll want a car to make the most of your stay, for foraging missions and for popping in and out of neighbouring towns. La Maison d’Ulysse is 30 kilometres from the centre of Nimes and 50 kilometres from Avignon. Other nearby towns include Uzès and Alès. From Uzès, take the D981 and head in the direction of Alès for 12 kilometres, then take a left after you pass Foissac to reach Baron. You’ll find the hotel opposite the village’s town hall. There’s free parking.

Reviews

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La Maison D'Ulysse hotel – Provence – France

Anonymous review

by Annalisa Hammond , Design diva at World Interiors News

‘Prendre la première sortie à droite’ – an innocuous request, reasonable even, to an average French driver. However, as we hurtled towards the roundabout in our spanking new hire car with flashbacks of an errant youth and all those skipped French lessons, to us it might as well have been an instruction from Houston to fire the retro-boosters on Apollo 11. Somehow we…
Read more

La Maison d'Ulysse

Anonymous review by Annalisa Hammond, Design diva

‘Prendre la première sortie à droite’ – an innocuous request, reasonable even, to an average French driver. However, as we hurtled towards the roundabout in our spanking new hire car with flashbacks of an errant youth and all those skipped French lessons, to us it might as well have been an instruction from Houston to fire the retro-boosters on Apollo 11. Somehow we reached our destination, La Maison d’Ulysse, in the tiny hamlet of Baron, with the aid of a good old-fashioned map (who needs Sat Nav?) and the dramas of the last hour soon dissolved as the effervescent (English-speaking!) hotel manager Claire furnished us with two glasses of a fine local wine.

The arrival at a hotel for the first time is always filled with anticipation. In this case it was relief at first sight. The building’s rustic stone structure surrounded by a wild garden with old benches from the Gare Saint Charles railway station in Marseille was perfect under the blue Languedoc skies. Even Mr Smith looked impressed.

A few glasses later, balance had been restored. Claire showed us our room, which was accessed via a narrow external stone staircase and a little terrace overlooking the gardens. I surveyed our home for the next three nights, a large light-flooded room with cream-felt curtains embroidered letters (we later discovered that they were from the French Navy) designer furniture (including a neon-green wardrobe) twin Vitra basins and what came to be know as the ‘disco shower’, a black-and-bronze-mosaic shower with backlit water and nice local shampoos and body wash.

Soon we got down to the serious business of food. Claire reeled off a list of options and a reservation at a local restaurant was secured. Claire then left us to relax. Owners, Guy and Gauthier arrived in time to see us off for supper, but not before showing us around the house. La Maison d’Ulysse is a beautifully converted 17th-century former silkworm factory (how exotic) and it bears the name of a former resident, the archaeologist and poet Ulysse Damus. We saw the small hammam (they can arrange for a masseur), a library on first floor with a real fire, and a breakfast room with a terrace, which is used on sunny days. They also showed us a few of the other accommodation options, all of which were lovely, especially the apartment Petit Prince complete with a small kitchen and terrace overlooking the gardens with its bushes of scented lavender, oak, olive, fig and mulberry trees (the leaves from which were once used for feeding the silk worms) and breath-taking views of the surrounding vineyards.

Our first foray out to experience the local cuisine, was to Table d’ Julian, a splendid, much sought-after bistro tucked away in a nearby village of Saint-Maximin. Dining alfresco was a first for this year, and the pan con tomate and jamon Serrano followed by fish in lemon sauce was fantastic. A guest appearance by a small furry animal running along a perimeter wall sparked an excited international debate between the diners and waiters as to whether our unexpected visitor was a grand souris (mouse), or a petit rat (rat). The debate never reached a conclusion but the evening was repeatedly interrupted by further bouts of laughter and cheers as the waiters valiantly fought their corner.

I love a good hotel breakfast and La Maison d’Ulysse doesn’t disappoint. Local yogurts, cheese, salmon and hams, jugs of steaming coffee, fresh orange juice, croissants and Gauthier’s homemade jams – delicious. On the first morning I asked if they had honey, the rest of our stay a little dish of honey was on our table. It's the little touches...

A gentle routine evolved during our all-too-brief stay, Gauthier bustling in armed with local maps and guides to arrange our day over breakfast. Another, expedition was to St Quentin La Poterie to see the artisan pottery shops; Gautier suggested a lunch at 30 Sud, a cavernous restaurant known for its delicious salads in the centre of town. The following day, we joined our hosts for an aperitif as they briefed Mr Smith on the best route to our dinner reservation. This time we were to try a local restaurant perched on a hillside in the nearby village of Montaren. On a warm evening the views must be magnificent; as it was, the interiors can only be described as Cath Kidson meets Barbara Cartland. The following day Gauthier’s plan for us was to visit the market at the nearby mediaeval town of Uzès, which holds a market on Wednesday and Saturdays in the pretty Place au Herbes. Cafés and bars surround the square, and we nestled down with a carafe of wine and plates of cheese and charcuterie to watch the world go by.

On Saturday evening we enjoyed the highlight of our stay, the table d’hôte meal lovingly prepared by Gauthier using home-grown vegetables and local produce. Suppers are served outside on the patio when it’s warmer, as it was Claire lit candles and welcomed us inside. We started with soup made with sorrel from the kitchen garden, followed by chicken with asparagus and a delicious tiramisu. There was a small list of local wines, and as we only had to stumble back to our room we tried several.

We had become accustomed to being treated like royalty by our charming hosts but nothing had prepared us for the last evening as we savoured our drinks on the terrace; two military jets in formation roared over our heads, prompting Mr Smith to wryly exclaim. ‘God, they’ve even arranged a fly past, now that’s really impressive. ’ If a restful break with only the sound of birds and frogs to disturb your sleep appeals, and you enjoy fine wine, delicious food, exploring pretty French villages and their markets, then this is the perfect Smith stay for you. And if you need someone to carry your bags, Mrs Smith has strong arms.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in La Maison d'Ulysse 's Guestbook below.

 

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the relaxed atmosphere, excellent food, great breakfast, stylish rooms and personal service. Guy and Gauthier have worked hard to provide such a beautiful property. Unlike bigger hotels you are greeted by the owner and personally shown around with everything explained to you. The evening meals were exceptional, cooked to perfection. Guy makes a mean cocktail and all the staff are very knowledgeable about what to recommend if you want to eat out. The pool was superb, with attentive staff if needed. Drinks were available throughout the day with an honesty list for you to complete. The whole set up is relaxed and aimed at providing a haven from the rest of the world.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Everything was perfect! The food was truly excellent - both for dinner and lunch. The rooms were very chic, the gardens and pool were beautiful and all the staff were very friendly and helpful. I can't recommend La Maison d'Ulysse enough to the sophisticated traveller.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

We enjoyed a lovely week at d'Ulysse. The owners, Gautier and Guy, are so welcoming and create a relaxed and friendly environment for all guests. I'd like to give a special mention to Claire, who is just fanastic and gave us lots of great local tips such as swimming at Pont du Gard. Breakfast is also wonderful.

Rating: 10/10 stars