Hotels of the week: Provence

We’re hopping on a train at lunchtime to spend the weekend in Lyon, so this week I thought it’d be appropriate to focus on the wonderful region of Provence. The area is gorgeous throughout the year, though in my eyes you can’t beat late spring or early autumn to really get the most out of it.

One of the best things about honeymooning in Provence? You can get there by train – from July to September, Eurostar runs a Saturday service right through to Avignon, though throughout the year you can connect to the south with an easy change to the TGV in Lille or Paris. Plus there’s the food, the wine, the weather….

Les Sardines aux Yeux Bleus


Situated in a lovely converted stone house, surrounded by the olive groves and vineyards that are so synonymous with Provence, Les Sardines aux Yeux Bleus (“the blue-eyed sardines”) is a charming homely little retreat. The rooms marry original features – wooden beams, tiled floors – with typical Provencal colours; I especially like the understated romance of the blue room (see above).

The position is a little isolated, but so many of Provence’s wonderful towns – Arles, Nimes, Orange – are within easy reach, and there’s a pool here that’s perfect for losing a hot afternoon by the side of. With just three bedrooms, plus two apartments, it’s a great choice for privacy and quiet.

Rates from £80 per night.

Le Clos Saint Saourde

I have to say, I love the look of this place. The old farmhouse, which was built into the rocks, has been brilliantly converted into a guesthouse that oozes rustic charm without being fussy or old-fashioned, but there’s a definite sense of being in Provence. The rooms are each unique – Beaulieu is unabashedly romantic and has a cute little seat carved into the rocks, while Zellige, decorated in deep reds, would make a cosy little hideaway. But the star of the show is undoubtedly the Treehouse (see below). Set away from the farmhouse, it’s completely private and boats a lounge area, sunny terrace and a hot tub – definitely the perfect honeymoon choice.

If you can bear to drag yourself away, then you’ll find yourself in the heart of wine country – if you like red wine, it’ll be particularly hard to resist a visit to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Also nearby is Orange, a wonderful small town full of the shuttered houses and cobbled streets so characteristic of the area, and with an incredibly well-preserved (and well worth a visit) Roman Theatre. Oh, and after a day exploring, what better way to unwind than with a massage in your room?

Rates from £134 per night; from £242 for the Treehouse.

La Maison du Paradou

The exterior alone of this place is enough to make me want to pack my bags and head to Provence – I love the combination of the purple flowers and bright blue shutters against the pale yellow-brown of the house. A short drive from Arles and the stunning Camargue, the interior of this self-proclaimed boutique hotel manages to perfectly combine modern with old, creating stylish and comfortable surroundings. The use of strong colour makes a refreshing change from most of the hotels in the region, and the little luxurious touches like bath robes, internet access and flat screen televisions with access to the hotel’s library of CDs and DVDs make it perfect for an extended honeymoon stay.

Rates from £188 per night.


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