Perfectly placed between Cannes and Grasse, Mougins Luxury Retreats is a homestay-style haven in the South of France. Designed with minimal fuss and maximum quality (peak-thread count towels, the comfiest beds), this isn't a hotel, rather a series of rooms and apartments in various original-stone buildings. There are winding mediaeval alleys, no cars and views to write home about: to the Côte d’Azur in the south and the heady, hilly perfume capital of Grasse to the north. Be sure to bring a hearty appetite: for a tiny pedestrianised village, there sure is a disproportionate number of Michelin stars.
Nine, including five one-room suites and four apartments.
11am. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £177.24 (€212), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.30 per person per night on check-out.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast (€17.50 for adults; €10 for children).
Check out the mural to Mougins’ famous former resident, Picasso, at the village church (which has some pretty notable old stonework and belfry, too). There’s also an ancient bread oven to gawp at, where the villagers of yore would gather to cook a communal loaf.
In May 2020, the hotel is opening a private heated pool and lounge bar – for guests only – in the village.
At the hotel
Free WiFi, carpark. In rooms: minibar, TV, kitchenettes with a kettle, microwave and Nespresso coffee machine (apartments have kitchens), air-conditioning.
Our favourite rooms
All rooms and apartments are furnished with top-drawer linens and fabrics, with original features such as oak beams and local tiles well preserved. Of the four one-room suites, we love the Grand Deluxe Room – mainly due to the fact it has its own small private terrace; for space, choose a Prestige Room. Families or groups should go for the Marion Three-Bedroom Suite, which sleeps six and has a bedroom with bunk beds for kids. (It’s also in a particularly charming spot, next to the church square, with a courtyard-facing terrace.)
There’s no pool, but Mougins can arrange driver drop-offs and pick-ups to and from the beach.
Mediaeval alleyway-friendly footwear; an impressive knowledge of Cubism and modern art; and an appetite for some Michelin stars.
None of the rooms or apartments have wheelchair access.
All ages are welcome, but there are no special facilities for children. Cots can be added to all rooms, or book a two-bedroom apartment. The Marion Three-Bedroom Suite has a room for kids with bunk beds.
Out on the terrace, knocking back absinthe, Picasso-style.
Cubist and colourful.
Franco Belge café, a short stroll from whichever of the rooms or apartments you call home, serves classic French snacks and light bites (croques monsieur et mesdames, quiches, salads). You can eat breakfast – a selection of pastries, eggs, freshly squeezed orange juice – here or have it brought to your room. There’s outdoor seating on a cobbled-stone terrace, or a banquette with four tables inside.
Staff are on hand in the café between 9am and 8pm.
Some items from the café are available to take away and breakfast can be served in-room.
The rooms and apartments are dotted around in the ancient village of Mougins, in between Cannes and Grasse in the South of France.
Nice’s airport is closest; transfers can be arranged for the 30-kilometre journey (€100 each way).
Nice has a TGV train station – the high-speed service connects the southern city with the capital in under six hours.
Mougins is a 10-minute drive from the Cannes coast, and a 20-minute drive from Grasse. The village is pedestrianised but Mougins can arrange parking nearby – you can drive up to drop off your luggage first.
Worth getting out of bed for
Mougins is perfectly placed to explore all of the Côte d’Azur, whether you fancy a quick hop north to the perfume capital of Grasse, a drive south to Cannes or something further afield (Saint Tropez is an hour and a half away). Also within easy reach are Eze, Monaco and Saint Paul de Vence. There are markets to visit in Antibes and Valbonne, assorted golf courses and Ile Sainte-Marguerite, which has its own fortress and lively beach club, La Guérite, which will helpfully collect guests from the port in Cannes via its private boat. In Mougins, don’t miss the impressive collection (Picassos, Chagalls, Hirsts) of the Musée d’Art Classique. Fancy a dip? The natural river pools at Pont des Tuves, 20 minutes away, are perfectly placed for refreshing swims and leisurely picnics. And if you're a golfer, tee off at the well-regarded Cannes-Mougins Golf Country Club, which welcomes visitors and was described by Seve Ballesteros as one of the best in Europe.
For a tiny village, there are a hell of a lot of Michelin stars, including two at Paloma and Archange, and one at Le Candille. Fine dining is given its own festival here: the annual Les Etoiles de Mougins is held every June. At La Place de Mougins, the chef creates an affordable daily set lunch menu based around one central seasonal ingredient, such as truffle or asparagus; be sure to book a window table.
Le Petit Fouet on Place du Commandant Lamy is where to head if you fancy a change of scene from the Michelin-blessed hotspots.
This is a story of a small, lesser-known luxury resort in a historical village in the French Riviera, just 20 minutes from the bustle of Cannes. It’s a retreat so special that if you didn’t want to keep it to yourself so much you’d be shouting about it from the terracotta-tiled rooftops. The peaceful hills and brilliant sunsets are pretty much just yours to enjoy here – and you’ll want to keep it that way. However, I’ve never been any good at keeping secrets, so I’ll let me tell you all about Mougins Luxury Retreats, a petite boutique stay set in ravishingly beautiful hilltop village Mougins in the South of France. It’s a special place. So special, I’d even say it saved me. Dramatic? Non. Before arriving here, I’d been working non-stop for 10 days, producing and entertaining, on set and on location in the South of France. (I realize this sounds glamorous but the reality of content production is more exhausting than glitzy). Suddenly, I realised I had a weekend off – a whole weekend – before heading to Paris for more meetings, more production work, more 14-plus-hour days. So, with three days to breathe and experience the charms of the Côte d'Azur, I looked for the best place to unwind, eat delicious food, see some art, and drink lots of wine.
Mougins is that place; and the Mougins Luxury Retreats experience is the perfect way to discover this magical village. I had no plan and knew little about the place, except that it was close to Monte Carlo, somewhat remote and yet it was home to a few Michelin-starred restaurants, which was enough for me. Luckily, owner Claire and the hotel team are skilled in making dreams happen, and you needn't know anything about the place, because they’ll look after you and keep you informed, from sending you an introductory email to ensuring you catch your train/flight/Uber home. I laid out my main targets: food, wine, and unique experiences, and Claire laid out and made all the bookings for a perfectly paced weekend for me starting, starting from Friday evening.
I arrived at the gated village to discover Mougins is for pedestrians only (as petite French heritage villages should be) and you can walk around the entire commune in 15 minutes. Well, if you don’t stop every two feet to gaze along the winding pathways, and into unexpected nooks. Claire met me and guided me to the hotel, then showed me to my room – actually an apartment-style hideaway called Suite Alexander, which was perfect. My (oversized) bag was carried upstairs, leaving me free to explore. The bed was plump and soft, the bathroom luxurious and bathed in light, with high-end bath products. The best part? A private outdoor terrace where I later sat to watch the sunset, with a bottle of red, naturellement, which quickly became a nightly ritual. (Top tip: bring a bottle-opener or buy one at local wine bar La Cave de Mougins).
The hotel’s more-home-than-hotel attitude made me feel like a local when heading out for an evening stroll. I advise first-timers to get lost in Mougins: walk down every path you find, even the ones that look like they go nowhere. This is how I found lavender-bedecked villas, churches, galleries, viewpoints overlooking rolling hills, and wine cellars. I finally felt free from the the stresses of work, so I decided to turn my phone off for dinner at La Cave de Mougins (thoughtfully booked by Claire), to make the most of moreish wines, perfectly paired small bites and dreamy views, while sat on a vine-laced terrace. It was my favorite experience of the weekend, and exploring the restaurant’s wine cellar is an education in itself (they have more than 10,000 bottles, many important vintages). La Cave is also a local hang, so go at the start of your stay and mingle with the neighbouring tables (the locals are very friendly and proud of their village), to glean the best insider tips.
If you stay at Mougins Luxury Retreats, or anywhere in Mougins, you must have a meal at Franco Belgecafé – and that meal should be breakfast. The restaurant’s associated with Mougins Luxury Retreats, but they’re also a concept and coffee shop with a gorgeous range of local products, pastries and more. I started my Saturday with a simple breakfast out on their lavender-scented terrace taking in the Mediterranean views. Now, the art. Picasso not only lived in Mougins, and spent his last years here, but he introduced many more artists to the commune. Now, the Musée d’Art Classique et Moderne in Mougins has a brilliant collection of work that transcends expectations, and numerous local galleries have engaging exhibition programmes. You could spend days admiring Mougins art, alone, but, with my limited time, Claire insisted I make a day trip out to La Guérite for lunch on Saturday.
To get there, you drive to Cannes’ Port Canto where you’ll board a speedboat with 10 strangers and careen towards Sainte-Marguerite island. La Guérite is worth the trip, with light, fresh food (get the langoustines), chilled rosé and seaside scenery. Then music starts, and you realise you’re at a lunchtime dance party. A DJ plays, live musicians surround tables, people cheer… Reserve a beach chair for post-party chilling before you arrive. After boating back and a little rest it was time to eat, yet again. This time at L’amandier de Mougins, which is famous for its modernised Niçoise gastronomy inspired by legendary chef Roger Vergé. L’amandier’s chef, two-Michelin-star-holding Denis Fétisson, uses local, seasonal ingredients, and changes the menu nightly. There’s a suntrap terrace, and of the two prix-fixe menus, I loved the remarkably reasonably priced ‘Plaisir’, which was a wild culinary trip of king prawns with hummus, olive-crusted hake, praline-stuffed pastries with marsala sorbet and more. As my last course was cleared at L’amandier, I had started to miss the village already, so I got lost on my way home, had one final glass of red on the terrace gazing up at a clear starry sky, and said goodbye.
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