Hotel Highlights

  • Lavish interiors with a uniquely French feel
  • Right in the centre of Aix – fabulous restaurants and chic shopping on your doorstep
  • A refined retreat set in peaceful grounds

Overview

This honey-coloured villa close to the opulent old town of Aix-en-Provence is a decadently decorated Francophile’s dream. Lavish interiors, sumptuous fabrics and a poolside Cézanne would have been proud to paint, Villa Gallici is a Provençal masterpiece. Its grounds live up to this idyll, too – they’re lusciously dense with 100-year-old plane and cypress trees.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking La Villa Gallici with us:

A bottle of Provençal rose

Facilities

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Need To Know

Rooms

22, including five suites.

Check–out

12pm, but flexible. Check-in, 3pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $364.10 (€264), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.35 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rates exclude breakfast (€30 a person).

At the hotel

Free WiFi throughout, outdoor heated pool, flatscreen TV, valet parking.

Our favourite rooms

Superior Room 8 has a grand four-poster bed and hand-painted Chinoiserie-style wallpaper in eau-de-nil tones. Suite Room 1 has a terrace which overlooks the pool. We love the romantic bathroom with a central slipper bath and separate shower in Deluxe Room 24. Suite Room 20 is a cream-and-taupe split-level sanctuary, with the bedroom downstairs, and a flashy black and white bathroom.

Also

Pets are welcome for €50 a day.

Children

Cots are provided free and extra beds are €50 each. Babysitting with a local nanny is €10.

Weddings

This property is suitable for weddings

More details

Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

The opulent dining room is formal but cosy, with sofas and squashy chairs pulled up to linen-draped tables. The candlelit terrace has a more relaxed summer-dining look. Lunch is served between 12.30pm and 1.30pm; dinner is between 7.30pm and 9.30pm. The fine-dining menu features pan-fried foie gras with cherries, roasted John Dory and chicory-anise ice-cream.

Hotel Bar

The bar is next to the restaurant and just as lavish – trompe l'oeil effects on the walls, florals and stripes on the soft furnishings. Any cocktail you like will be whipped up as you unwind to lounge and jazz classics.

Last orders

The bar is open all day, closing when the restaurant does.

Room service

The simple menu includes cheese boards, smoked salmon, soup and omelettes – available any time. The hotel will also bring you afternoon tea wherever you choose to take it – on the terrace, in your room or in the grounds.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Don the French grandes marques (Chanel, Hermès and co), but opt for understated.

Top table

Out on the terrace for some romantic seclusion.

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

La Rotonde on Place du Général de Gaulle (+33 0)4 42 91 61 70; www.larotonde-aix.com) is flamboyantly decorated with chandeliers, velvet-covered chairs and silk lampshades, and opens from breakfast to after-dinner digestif. For a chance to spot a film or fashion mover and shaker, head to Antoine Côté Cour at 19 cours Mirabeau (+33 (0)4 42 93 12 51). Le Passage at 10 rue Villars (+33 (0)4 42 37 09 00; www.le-passage.fr) is an old sweet factory spread across three floors, with a different cuisine on each one. There’s also wine tasting, a cooking school and live music to look out for.

Local bars

Visit La Bastide de Cours on Cours Mirabeau (+33 (0)4 42 26 00 51) for a cocktail in one of the impeccably cool private rooms.

Local cafés

Try Le Grillon at 49 cours Mirabeau (+33 (0)4 42 27 58 81) for people-watching and afternoon tea. Brasserie des Deux Garçons on the same street (+33 (0)4 42 26 00 51) has a listed interior and specialises in seafood.

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Cultured vieille ville

La Villa Gallici

Avenue de la Violette, 13100, Aix-en-Provence, Provence, France

Planes

Marseille airport is 30km from Villa Gallici. Get there with British Airways (www.ba.com) from London Gatwick; Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) also flies from London Luton, Bristol and East Midlands.

Trains

Aix TGV station is 12km away. There are SNCF (www.sncf.com) services to Marseille, Paris and Lyon.

Automobiles

Driving from Marseille should take around half an hour, along the L’Autoroute du Val de Durance. Villa Gallici is in the northern hills of Aix. There’s free parking.

Reviews

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Anonymous review

by Frédérique Andreani , London insider

This review is taken from our guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France.

Beeswax, honey and lavender scent the air, and a haughty, dark-haired beauty watches as we take
in our surroundings. It’s one of several portraits we spy of an aristocratic lady who...

Read more

La Villa Gallici

Anonymous review by Frédérique Andreani, London insider

This review is taken from our guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France.

Beeswax, honey and lavender scent the air, and a haughty, dark-haired beauty watches as we take
in our surroundings. It’s one of several portraits we spy of an aristocratic lady who must be Madame Gallici, the wife of Villa Gallici’s original owner. Little is known about the wealthy bourgeois couple who built this fine-looking house in the hills above Aix-en-Provence, but they’d surely have approved of the classical opulence that greets their 21st-century guests. As a stylish bourgeois type myself, though my west London estate is a little more modest (and I haven’t yet been captured in oils), I’m qualified, hopefully, to check this place out.

We enter by way of an alleyway attended by Italianate statues and dripping with roses, glimpsing Florentine gardens and detecting the melodious sound of a fountain. It’s dark, but far from gloomy – rather, the 18th-century mansion is enveloped in velvety Mediterranean night.

The detailed elegance of Villa Gallici’s decor, combined with its mini-grand scale, make it intimate and welcoming; the hotel ‘reception’ looks nothing like one, and the restaurant is more reminiscent of an elegant period sitting room, with fireplaces, upholstered armchairs and little sofas in alcoves. We find antique furniture and perfectly polished, centuries-old wooden floors, set off by scenic toile de Jouy wallpaper in sunny yellow and pink. The salon area opens onto a terrace adorned with classical statues of goddesses, who seem to look kindly upon the villa’s guests; below, a swimming pool is surrounded by blooming pink bay trees in terracotta pots.

Details that make us smile include big jars of home-made calissons, the local sweetmeats made with almonds and fruit paste, and armfuls of roses decorating almost every surface. Only the kind and discreet staff, smartly uniformed, remind us we aren’t, in fact, in a luxurious family home, but guests at a superb small hotel.

Before we enter the bedroom, ascending an airy staircase illuminated with tea lights, Mr Smith notices that the wall above the door is painted with a rural scene, all saucy shepherdesses frolicking in haystacks. And, indeed, the villa was originally built during the century that saw the French flowering of libertine love, when spirited conversation was offered as essential foreplay to more earthy pastimes. The bedroom itself, with its creamy Louis XV furniture, sky-painted ceiling and rich fabrics, is definitely liaison-worthy, with ample charms for entertaining jaded aesthetes.

We’re enfolded in boudoir-appropriate toile de Jouy, with libidinous cherubs decorating the canopy bed, the sofa and the heavy drapes that separate the bedroom proper from the little sitting room. From here, great big windows and French doors open onto our private balcony. As I run a bath in the marble bathroom, I can easily imagine dropping my white-lace bodice on the floor, before I step into the bathtub filled with asses’ milk – a beauty ritual popular historically popular among Provenc?al belles (they copied it off the Romans), who swore by it to soften their skin. Today, you can substitute
La Villa Gallici Provence savon de Marseilles, the traditional local soap made of olive oil, almond oil and lavender essence.

After a lazy night and an ample breakfast in bed, Mr Smith and I extract ourselves from Villa Gallici in order to explore charming, prosperous Aix, cultural capital of Provence. The post-impressionist Ce?zanne and prolific 20th-century composer Milhaud were both born here, and the opera festival is up there with Glyndebourne and Bayreuth. This is also a city of churches: mediaeval, Renaissance, big ones, small ones. Food comes a close second to culture, as demonstrated on Thursdays, when the market is held on Place de Verdun. Wonderful local products include tapenade (the savoury paste made with olives), anchoi?ade (ditto, made with anchovies), speciality vinegars, flavour-packed tomatoes and super-sized ceps.

Appetites duly whetted, when evening comes we’re treated to refined Provenc?al dining in the restaurant, back at Villa Gallici, where the white linen tablecloths are decked with fresh flowers and gleaming wineglasses, topped up by the charming waiters with rose?, then red and, finally, Beaumes de Venise dessert wine. We start with pumpkin veloute? with morels and quail’s egg, then I opt for magret of duck cooked in white truffle honey, while Mr Smith goes for John Dory with ricotta ravioli. It isn’t too indulgent, provided you keep off the bread, and share one thyme cre?me bru?le?e between you. On our second night, we dine in Aix at Mitch, a stylish and extremely good restaurant off Cour Mirabeau, the city’s main drag. Even though they’re already fully booked when we ring, Mitch himself arranges us a table in the mediaeval cellar, cheered by candlelight and the piano where he sometimes plays for guests at the end of the evening.

We’re not inclined to linger long away from Madame Gallici and the shepherdesses. Aix is attractive but we’d rather make the most of our private, comfortable hotel. It’s near enough to the centre to let you walk down in 10 minutes, but its seclusion from the busy streets sustains a gentle, rustic atmosphere behind the heavy iron gates. The languid, timelessly romantic feel of the place both slows our thoughts and makes our hearts beat a little faster; the sense of privacy is incredibly restful, so whatever we do and see when we leave the hotel, we know we can relax completely when we return. We’re none the wiser about Monsieur and Madame Gallici by the time we check out, but we do believe they were a pair of generous souls, for building their sensual, classical villa and sharing it with us present-day libertines.

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 Villa Gallici's Guestbook below.

 

BlackSmith

Stayed on 10 Oct 2013

We loved

This is a fabulous personal hotel that makes you feel truly special. Every detail is exquisite. It's a great location for studying Cezanne's art.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 1 Aug 2012

We loved

Stunning hotel in quiet location close to the beautiful historic center of Aix.....like an oasis of calm with helpful and attentive staff...very relaxing pool area, perfect for lounging in the sun with a chilled glass of Rose....bedrooms a classic design that complement the whole sense of calmness and relaxation.

Don’t expect

Small gym located in a "gazebo" in the garden area but probably the only hotel gym in the world that doesn't have any water available!

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 1 Jul 2012

Oh, what a delight – from the moment we pulled into the drive we were in heaven. The welcome to Villa Gallici was warm and friendly and our room (24) had its own terrace for total privacy. We enjoyed three lovely evenings with a bottle of wine before enjoying dinner – once in the dining room due to poor weather, and then the real treat on the terrace. The room decor was beautiful and the layout quirky as the bathroom was upstairs – very spacious and beautiful. Our only criticism was the shower wasn't great but in the overall scheme of things it was fabulous. The location is great for a short walk into Aix-en-Provence which is lovely to amble through, although in our opinion not as nice as other towns in Provence. It is an expensive place to stay but well worth the 'investment' – a day simply relaxing by the pool there is marvellous and the smoked salmon salad perhaps the best ever. We will be returning if we can get in.

 

Rating: 8/10 stars