The creative family behind Toile Blanche hotel could not have painted a prettier picture when converting their 200-year-old farmhouse into a chic bucolic cluster of suites spread across five fragrant acres of Mediterranean gardens. The Leroy Brothers will personally bid you bienvenue while talking you through their Post-Internet art pieces hanging on the sun-bleached walls of every suite, which have been carefully curated as an extension of the contemporary gallery space downstairs. You’ll be on a first-name basis with the collectors soon enough, who have (quite literally) put their art and soul into this Riviera retreat.
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A welcome drink or a bottle of wine for GoldSmiths
11.30am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from £199.51 (€230), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.60 per person per night on check-out.
Rates exclude breakfast, but a locally-sourced spread with garden-picked produce can be enjoyed on the main restaurant terrace every morning (for €26 each).
Some suites can be adapted for guests with mobility issues, but the hilly, terraced layout of the hotel might be challenging for wheelchair-users.
At the hotel
Art gallery, boutique, kitchen garden, bikes to borrow, and free WiFi. In rooms: Bluetooth speaker, smart TV, air-conditioning, gourmet minibar (exclusively stocked with local, organic products), board games and playing cards, bean-to-cup coffee machine, tea-making kit, bathrobe and slippers, and Les Choses Simples bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The Leroy Brothers tried out over 40 different bed brands before settling on the Parisian-crafted Tréca mattresses, so a great night’s sleep is guaranteed in whichever art-filled suite you opt for. The gardens in the split-level Suite Cabanat are particularly idyllic (and come with an outdoor shower and cabana), but it’s worth plumping for the Suite du Bon-Vivant or Villa du Pénéquet (the name rather pleasingly derives from the Provençal for ‘power-nap’) if you’d like a private pool.
Linen-clad guests saunter through lavender-filled gardens between the two outdoor pools (known as Pool Artiste and Pool Toile Blanche, both open for round-the-clock dips). Lemon trees dotted around the day-beds fill the air with a heady, citrus scent, giving you a taste of the garden-grown herb-infused cocktails which can be delivered straight to your sunlounger at the drop of a straw hat.
Your spacious suite doubles as a private wellness area, for soothing massages and alfresco yoga sessions on your sun-kissed terrace.
You can’t really be overdressed for the French Riviera (especially if you’re heading into glitzy Cannes or Saint-Tropez), but it’s more toned-down around the hotel’s rustic grounds so bring some flash and floaty options. The hilly surrounds and cobblestone towns demand some sensible flats.
Ask the Leroy Brothers about their insider art-route around Saint-Paul de Vence.
Welcome, but mostly designed with grown-ups in mind. Babysitting can be pre-booked (preferably ahead of your stay) for €20 an hour.
Rooted in its farmhouse origins, Toile Blanche keeps food miles to a minimum by hand-picking fruit, vegetables, and herbs from its aromatic gardens, and sourcing market-fresh produce from local suppliers for the kitchen and minibars. You’ll find eco-friendly amenities in the bathrooms, and every time you skip your suite-cleaning service, the hotel plants a tree in partnership with global reforestation charity, Hotels for Trees.
Any of the alfresco tables on Le Restaurant’s elevated terrace – you can spot Saint-Paul de Vence in the distance.
Espadrilles are encouraged, but dining barefoot also goes here.
Gather for light, languid lunches and perfectly-pale rosé à la piscine at La Guinguette (open daily between 1pm and 3pm). The generous sharing plates are best enjoyed on the rustic terrace, beneath boho woven lampshades gently swaying in the breeze. Le Restaurant is ever-so-slightly on the dressier side, although the atmosphere is still wonderfully relaxed, and the chefs take the same care on sourcing produce from local farmers and fishermen – to accompany their bountiful kitchen-garden supply of greens. Tables here are booked up weeks in advance during high season (we blame the garlic-butter-soaked giant gambas) so it’s worth making your meal reservations well ahead of time.
Zesty cocktails (infused with lavender leaves, rosemary, and citrus fruits gathered from the gardens) and chilled bottles of local rosé flow freely on the valley-facing terrace.
Breakfast is from 8am to 11am, lunch is from 1pm to 3pm, and dinner starts from 7pm.
There’s no in-suite dining menu, which only encourages you to savour the views all the more from the restaurant terraces.
Stand your easel in the garden and you can paint Saint-Paul de Vence from Toile Blanche, which is just a seven-minute drive from the French Riviera’s most artsy hilltop village.
Nice Côte d'Azur is the closest international airport, which is just 15 minutes by car. The hotel can help to arrange transfers for €60 one-way.
Gare de Cagnes-sur-Mer is also a 15-minute drive from the hotel, and connects you to Cannes, Antibes, and Nice if you’re doing the Riviera by rail. Transfers can be booked for €35 one-way.
The hotel can hook you up with a set of vintage wheels, and offers free on-site private parking.
Worth getting out of bed for
The nearby village perché of Saint-Paul de Vence has long drawn (and been drawn by) French artists – becoming a regular haunt for Chagall, Picasso, Matisse, and other world-famous names. The mediaeval village is brimming with old-world charm and hosts regular open-air exhibitions, in-between slow-paced games of pétanque with the art-loving locals. The Maeght Foundation is a modern art mecca, with monumental sculpture-scattered gardens by abstract heavyweights, Miró and Chillida. The pretty, perfumery town of Grasse (pick up some Provençal scents and soaps from Musée Fragonard), seaside resort Antibes (Musée Picasso is housed within the 17th-century Château Grimaldi), and glamorous Cannes are all easy day-trips from Toile Blanche. Ask the hotel about the local markets, as there’s usually one each day of the week – just be sure to arrive early in the morning if you want the best pick of the produce.
Heading into Saint-Paul de Vence for the evening gives you an array of artsy, alfresco dining options. Huddled into the hillside, the vine-tangled terrace at Les Remparts is a laidback locally-approved spot to watch the sunset over authentic Provençal plates, like pine-roasted Mediterranean vegetables tossed in honey vinaigrette, and homemade truffle-stuffed ravioli. Take a bistro-style seat on the sun-soaked, leafy patio at Le Tilleul, for simple, slow food and an impressively-stocked wine cellar specialising in regional labels. There’s also the legendary La Colombe d’Or, a Roux-family run restaurant where Matisse, César, and their artist friends once exchanged their paintings for dinner reservations.
Spend a slow morning at Café de la Place, a quaint little eatery which overlooks the boules square in Saint-Paul de Vence.
The Old Town and Port in nearby Nice have a buzzing nightlife, attracting more of a late-night crowd than quieter Saint-Paul de Vence. Cave Romagnan regularly hosts live jazz and open-mic poetry nights, and its bottle-jammed wine cellar is one of the oldest in the city. Try Les DistilleriesIdéales for draught beer and rustic charcuterie and cheese boards to share.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this artist-curated farmhouse in the hills surrounding Saint-Paul de Vence and unpacked their Provençal ceramics and freshly-painted canvases, a full account of their relaxing Riviera break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Toile Blanche on the Côte d'Azur…
One of the French meanings for Toile Blanche translates as ‘blank canvas’, which is certainly how this crumbling, cypress-lined farmhouse started out for Nicolas, Gilles, and Gregory – the Belgian siblings behind the contemporary art collective known as the Leroy Brothers. Already accustomed to putting their creative heads together, the family turned their brushes to transforming seven agricultural outbuildings into a set of artistically-styled suites – every single one of which comes with its own terrace, strongly scented with citrus, lavender, and Mediterranean herbs from the romantically rambling gardens. The spacious suites have been kept minimalistic in style, and linen-soft (weaving in the alternative ‘cloth’ meaning of ‘toile’) in tone, with a smattering of terracotta-browns, olive-greens, and rosé-pinks tying the earthy Provençal palette together. Sun-soaked days are mostly spent horizontal here, beside the various pools and on cacti-fringed terraces – all set to a soporific soundtrack of chirruping cicadas and the sloshing of Côte d'Azur wine.