Cypress and olive trees mingle aromatically at Le Mas de la Rose hotel, a gathering of 17th-century farm buildings perched along a hillside in lavender-strewn Provence. An ideal base from which to explore the area, this rustic stay with earthy elegance has everything you need for a luxury stay: driving range, tennis court, foliage-trimmed pool and acres of groomed gardens.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of Domaine de Valdition wine and Provencal gourmandises
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm. Guests wishing to arrive after 10pm must arrange this with the hotel in advance.
Double rooms from $175.82 (€160), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.53 per person per night on check-out.
Rates exclude buffet breakfast (€28 a person; €14 for under-10s).
The hotel has a stash of bicycles for guests to wheel around on.
The hotel will be closed from 3 November 2019 to 1 April 2020.
Annually from mid-November to spring.
At the hotel
Gardens, tennis court, library with DVDs, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, bottled water, minibar, Nespresso machine, kettle, herbal care de ADDA products.
Our favourite rooms
Classic Room 6 is light and spacious, overlooking the front garden. Luxury Room 9 has a private patio, with a little bistro table positioned by a jasmine hedge. Families or pairs of couples should book the apartment, which is separate from the main building and has two bedrooms decorated in milk-white and dove-grey hues. Lovebirds may lust after Room 4, the honeymoon suite, which has an ornately carved headboard in the boudoir and a vintage roll-top tub in the bathroom.
There is an outdoor pool with a Jacuzzi, set amid the verdant scenery.
A French cookery book to guide your foodie requests at the restaurant; an art pad and pencils to capture the landscape; a painter’s smock and straw sunhat to look the part.
Smokers, it will come as little surprise that you are expected to wait till you’re outside to light up.
Little Smiths are welcome, with extra beds at €40 a night for 7–12 year olds (only one bed can be added to Superior and Luxury rooms) and baby cots on request. The hotel can arrange babysitting with a local nanny (price on request).
Sit at a wrought-iron table in the courtyard, enjoying candlelight by night and countryside views by day.
Cool and casual: a linen shirt or dress teamed with tousled hair and a dash of citrussy scent.
Dinner is a traditional affair at Le Potager du Mas, with Provençal meals prepared to perfection. Expect regional, seasonal specialities, such as roasted lamb with tapenade and tagliatelle of local vegetables.Open to the public, the restaurant can get very busy so it's advised to book in advance. The restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
There’s no bar in this family-farmhouse hotel, but if you ask nicely you’ll get whatever you’re thirsting for.
Breakfast can be ordered between 8.30am–11am; dinner from 7.30pm–9.30pm.
None as such, but you can request to have breakfast in your room.
Marseille is the nearest airport, 55km away. Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) and (easyJet) run regular flights.
Cavaillon station is 6km away, with TER trains connecting Cavaillon to Avignon and Marseilles (www.sncf.com).
Cavaillon is a 10-minute drive. The hotel has free parking, and it's remote, so bringing a car is a good call.
Worth getting out of bed for
Having perfected your putt and your back-hand on the tennis court, borrow a bicycle and explore the gardens and the surrounding area, keeping an eye out for restaurants and bakeries as you pedal. After all this physical activity, you’ll more than deserve a massage in your room – ask reception and they will organise one for you. Sample like a sommelier, with a wine and olive oil tasting at the beautiful Valdition estate, situated next door to the hotel. Bargain-hunters and foodies will be drawn irresistibly to the local markets: there’s Eygalières on Fridays, Cavaillon on Mondays and Saint-Remy de Provence on Wednesdays. If you want to take home some French antiques, scour L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue or Saint-Rémy de Provence for vintage wooden furniture, wrought-iron candle sticks, brocades and a host of other trinkets and treasures.
Sous Les Micocouliers, at the end of Traverse Montfort (+33 (0)4 90 95 94 53; closed December–January), is owned and run by a smart young chef, whose innovative seasonal cuisine is served beneath the eponymous elms. Enjoy moreish Mediterranean fare at Bistro L’Aubergine, 18 avenue Jean Jaurès (+33 (0)4 90 95 98 89). Dine at another Provençal hotel, Baumanière les Baux de Provence (+33 (0)4 90 54 33 07), where delicacies include caviar, foie gras and a dazzling cellar of Premiers Grands Crus.
In a parallel universe, my grandmother is French, she has a house just like Le Mas de la Rose, in the
countryside near Saint-Re?my-de-Provence. There’s always a bed made up for me, a pot of herbal tea is ever-brewing and lunch is laid out at half past 12, in the garden, beneath the shade of a huge mulberry tree.
In the real world, the owner of Le Mas de la Rose is not my grandme?re but Mme Luron-Huppert, who arrived from the north-east in 2004 to turn this traditional 17th-century smallholding into a luxury maison d’ho?te. Driving from Avignon in our little rented car, after an hour or so, we find the right tiny woodland road and reach a charming gate that opens automatically. We are already being looked after.
The house looks very old and very solid, with its vast square stone walls and tiled roofs. The lit-up windows blaze welcomingly in the dark, and the night-sky stars seem magically bright to these fugitives from the big city. Paris is instantly forgotten when we see the shapes of and cypresses in the garden, vines on the terrace, and the glowing blue swimming pool.
Our quarters occupy the same building as Mme Luron-Huppert’s kitchen and dining room, but with their own entrance. As it is late, I suggest to Mr Smith that we skip the full exploration until morning, and we head straight to the bedroom. We are led first into our own salon with a little open kitchen for tea-making, noting the antiques, woven-coir flooring and profound quiet. The bedroom walls are limewashed, the colours soft and neutral. It’s Provenc?al for sure, but minus any rustic patterns or too-cheerful hues. The cushion-covered, linen-clad bed looks especially enticing. We press pause on reviewing until daybreak.
Waking up is a delight. A sweet morning light washes over the room’s natural tones, and sunshine tells me it is breakfast time. Mr Smith, however, is impervious to nature’s alarm call, wantonly asleep under the white sheets and duvet. I exchange bedded bliss for hot-bath heaven, exploiting the ensuite’s huge-windowed view of countryside and woodland. I don’t recall savouring such quiet. Finally Monsieur opens his eyes and declares he’s famished. Outside, all is fresh; the Mistral that welcomed us yesterday is still blowing, erasing any wisps of cloud in the sky. I’m glad of the shawl that travelled with me from Paris: even in summer, that wind can be bracing.
Astonishing: the only word to describe this estate. Bordered by rocky hills, grounds bursting with fragrant lavender, pine and cypress trees, this is unmistakeably Mediterranean terrain. We dip our toes into the swimming pool, which has a sandy-looking edge. Wow, we have our own beach – well, beachette – right here in the garden. And there’s a Jacuzzi set into one of its curves. Two cats come twining along a wall and chaperone us into the house. We find Mme Luron-Huppert in her kitchen. ‘Vous avez bien dormi?’ she asks. Mais, bien su?r.
Tables set for two, a big couch, lots of books and a wide fireplace greet us in the dining room. Breakfast is on the terrace, ample and fragrant: great coffee, croissants, baguette, fromage frais, fruits... There’s even jam from the Moulin du Calanquet – strawberry with black olives, how Provenc?al is that? Armed with advice from our hostess about local beauty spots and activities, we decide on a morning outing, with plans to flop by the pool when it hots up. Although we have a car and Saint-Re?my-de-Provence is not so far away, we decide to walk. One thing, Madame warns: wild boar wander hereabouts. We’re unsure about whether to feel worried, or hopeful that we see one.
We step bravely (OK, gingerly) over the electrified barriers, Mr Smith propelling me with a gentlemanly hand. A scrubby path takes us swiftly among the vineyards and olive trees of Domaine de Valdition,
a well-known Alpilles wine producer. The land was given by Franc?ois I to his daughter as a wedding gift in the 1500s, its stony clay soil cultivated for wine and olive oil since Roman times. We consider calling ahead to make an appointment for a wine tasting, but sense Le Mas de la Rose pulling us back to its terrace for a lunch of tomato salad, fresh bread, onion tart, ham and cheese. Reading in the shade and basking in the sun, our afternoon tails off into balmy evening. The air is sweet, time is slow, and there’s nothing to worry about. We pull ourselves together sufficiently to consider a visit to St-Re?my in the morning, but that’s it for organising.
If lunch is homely, dinner is a more refined affair of Provenc?al cuisine: we are served iced gazpacho, and a ‘duo’ of local lamb with vegetable tian and olive-oil mash. For our second night, a table has been booked at Sous Les Micocouliers. Three miles away in the village of Eygalie?res, the restaurant’s name translates, long-windedly, as ‘Beneath The Mediterranean Hackberry Trees’. The food is refined and contemporary, but the chef is clearly proud of local tradition, since our risotto is made with spelt, and the roast pork sourced from Mont Ventoux slopes. Our bottle of red wine, Vallon des Anges, is from the Domaine de Valdition, our rambling rendezvous yesterday. I look at Mr Smith. His face looks different. It has more colour, and there’s something about his jaw... Ah, it’s a huge smile. A bit like mine. They go nicely with our tans and our flapping white linen shirts.
After two days at Le Mas de la Rose, I no longer even dream of having a Provenc?al grandmother. So long as Mme Luron-Huppert is in charge, brewing herbal teas, ensuring the chic furnishings are just-so, and providing a kind and discreet welcome, I know there’s a patch of the South of France we can call our own.
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