Le Couvent des Minimes Hôtel & Spa L’Occitane. This former convent, now turned into a luxurious 5 star hotel, mixes perfectly tradition and modernity to provide you with a fantastic opportunity to relax while enjoying the best of Provence. Don’t forget to let youself be pampered at the prestigious spa ! Chemin des Jeux de Maï, 04300 Mane-en-Provence, Tel.: +33 (0)4 92 74 77 77.Access to the hotel’s page.
Domaine Châteaubas . A strong reputation precedes the visit of this 72 hectare estate of organically grown AOC Coteaux d’Aix. Behind the XVIIth century château and its XIth century chapel that has been restore, one discovers the ruins of a Roman temple, once dedicated to the goddess Diane. Vines stretch all around the château. You’ll find their nectar in three blends, each of which in the three colours: The Avernègue, Pierres du Sud and Le Temple, a wine to put down matured in barrels. Open to visitors; Cazan, 13116 Vernègues; Tel.: +33 4 90 59 13 16. www.chateaubas.com.
Domaine Marie . Between Gordes and Bonnieux, Domaine Marie’s vineyards are located in the Natural Park of Luberon. With 60 acres of vines, the place’s climate is ideal for grape growing and produces high quality wines certified from Luberon since 2000. The 2011 vintage is an excellent summer wine. Quartier la Verrerie, 84560 Ménerbes. Tel.: 04 90 72 54 23 www.domainedemarie.com.
At the heart of Les Alpilles, this charming village runs along its main street. The amazing Four Seasons fountain, dated from 1869 and topped by caryatids, rises from the centre of the square under shaded by plane trees. The atmosphere is relaxed and evokes a mellow way of life.
Bistrot du Paradou, «Chez Jean-Louis». An obligatory stop in this unpretentious local VIP hangout. A country look, general good humour.. this gastropub is one of the trendiest in the region.
57 avenue de la Vallée des Baux, Le Paradou; Tel.: +33 4 90 54 32 70.
A superb village on an eagle nest perch above a rocky spur, Baux-de-Provence was the seat of the Lords of Baux for many years, alleged descendants of the Wiseman Balthazar whose motto was “a race of eaglets never dominated”.
The Medieval Castle. Overhanging the village, the castle offers a grandiose panoramic view, reaching as far as the Camargue and the sea. Its 7 hectares plunges visitors into medieval times, with defensive towers, fortifications and siege machines. Tel.: +33 04 90 54 55 00. www.chateau-baux-provence.com.
The Lumière quarries
A spectacular sound and light show has been developed inside these old quarries dedicated to the artists. The theme changes each year. After having been renovated, the site opens in 2012 with a show entitled “Gauguin, Van Gogh, painters of colour”. A unique and original moment, full of beauty. www.carrieres-lumieres.com
Domaine Le Mas de la Dame. One of the oldest estates in the region, which is now run by two sisters, Caroline Missoffe and Anne Poniatowski. Bought by their grandfather in 1903, the estate is located in a mountainous amphitheatre at the heart of the Alpilles mountain range and uncovers an old house, once painted by Van Gogh.. An artistic soul that is mirrored in the dramatic aspect of the landscape, made of craggy rocks, reminiscent of the Valley of Hell which inspired Dante’s Divine Comedy. A strong character that is found in the wines, with accents of the garrigue. Each blend reveals the complexity of the land, often accentuating a specific plot: for instance the Coin Caché or the Vallon des Amants, both created by the sisters. Route de Saint Rémy de Provence; 13 520 Les Baux-de-Provence; Tel.: +33 4 90 54 32 24. www.masdeladame.com
Domaine Mas Sainte-Berthe. Down from Les Baux-de-Provence, the estate enjoys an unobstructed view of the castle, whose vertiginous promontory is visible on the horizon. The old house was built on foundations that date from 1538, and also includes a chapel dedicated to Saint-Berthe. Geneviève Rolland took over the estate in 2000 but it is Christian Nief, oenologist, who takes care of the vinification. 40 hectares of vines surround the nice tasting cellar and the shop that sells local produce. A clearly marked open access itinerary teaches you about the different grape varieties and the culture of the wine. One of the oldest blends is the Louis David, created in 1986, using only the oldest plots on the estate. Départementale 27a, 13520 Les Baux-de-Provence; Tel.: +33 4 90 54 39 01. www.mas-sainte-berthe.com
La Cabro d’Or. Down from the village, this smart stop is mythical in the region. Run by Jean-André Charial, this gastronomic restaurant is indeed linked to the Maisons de Beaumanière, whose reputation dates back to the early days of tourism in Provence. They’ve lost count of the illustrious guests that have stayed here. Refined interiors, delightful gardens and haute cuisine all contribute to making this an exceptional address. Only here will you be able to taste the wines of the Domaine de l’Affectif, tended by Charial himself. Tel.:+ 33 4 90 54 33 21.
Baumanière Spa. Superb architecture, Zen and minimalist decoration, high quality treatments: the spa, at the heart of the Baumanière gardens, is simply delicious. Tel.: +33 4 90 54 24 67.www.spabaumaniere.com
A highly trendy micro village whose charm lies in the gentle lifestyle in the few alleys and the good humour its oh so chic bistro exudes.
The Alchimist’s garden
Both a landscaping and spiritual jewel.. this garden is like no other. In memory of a former alchemist who lived here, it is a vegetal maize retraces the fundamental steps of the discovery quest of alchemy. Following the Black work and the White work, comes the Red work.. magic is operating amongst the ravishing roses and the fragrance of flowers. Tel: +33 4 90 90 67 67. www.jardin-alchimiste.com.
Sous les Micocouliers. The young chef Pierre-Louis Poize directs his kitchen like an orchestra for food that is fresh and delicate. All you have to do is make yourself comfortable under the enormous hackberry to savour it all.. 13 Traverse Montfort; Tel.: +33 4 90 95 94 53.
La Maison Bru. A name to be reckoned with: amateurs of the Wout Bru travel from all over Europe to taste its high flying gastronomic cuisine. Route d’Orgon; Tel.: + 33 4 90 90 60 34. www.chezbru.com
Like a smaller version of Saint-Tropez in the Provence, whose paved alleys and small squares with fountains are bursting with trendy places.
Glanum. Dating from the Antiquity era, this site unveils archaeological remnants of the old city of Glanum, in turn Gallic, Greek and then Roman. The digs uncovered ruins from religious structure, forums and thermal baths. Avenue Vincent Van Gogh; Tel.: +33 4 90 92 35 07.www.glanum.monuments-nationaux.fr
The cloister at Saint-Paul de Mausole.This is where Van Gogh was hospitalised from 1889 to 1890, following the episode of the cut-off ear. A period that is considered of high significance for the painter’s work: he completed over 150 canvases, including The Starry Night. Today, the building is a medical centre. Route des Baux; Tel.: +33 4 90 92 77 00. www.cloitresaintpaul-valetudo.com
Domaine Dalmeran. Ultra chic, super design and arty: this magical place was taken over by a young couple with a passion for art and food in 2006. On the wall of the XVth century vaulted cellar, the words «Une vigne épouse un château» (“A vine embraces a château”) are displayed in watermark; words that are the driving theme of everything around. On the programme: monumental works of art in the garden, with sculpted trees by Marc Nucera, year round art exhibitions, summer jazz concerts, cookery classes and even a cookery competition that brings together the greatest chefs in the region. This competition is unique in that it takes wines as sources of inspiration for the dishes, and not the other way round! Another surprising feature: traditional harvesting, in full costume, are organised on one of the plots on the estates. Another curiosity that must be seen: a vegetable garden inspired by medieval models designed by the artist Blaise Cayol. Finally, at the top of the estate, the XIIth century Notre-Dame-du-Château chapel, that makes for a nice walk. 45 avenue Notre Dame du Château, 13 103 Saint-Etienne-du-Grès; Tel.: +33 4 90 49 04 04. www.dalmeran.fr
«En attendant Gounod». A gourmet stop at this cosy and hushed tea room at the Hotel Gounod (Charles Gounod allegedly composed the opera Mireille there). Place de la République; Tel.: +33 4 90 92 06 14.
Le Ballon Rouge. A good cellar, friendly and highly specialised. 50, avenue du Maréchal Juin; Tel.: +33 4 90 90 92 66.www.leballonrouge-stremy.fr
Chez Joël Durand. A chocolate shop with a thousand flavours! 3 Boulevard Victor Hugo; Tel.: +33 4 90 92 38 25.
La boutique de Jeanne. An interior design shop we love: Jeanne Bayol, made famous by her bohemian gipsy trailer interiors (her book, Vivre Bohème, is published by Aubanel), unveils treasure accessories for interiors in every style. She has also formed a partnership with Jade from L’âme des tissus who brings back materials from the all over the world. 24 C, avenue Albin Gilles – Z.A. de la Gare; Tel.: +33 6 03 01 57 26.www.jeanne-bayol.com