Aix-en-Provence is all urban mansions, culture, luxury and decadent delights. Its network of cool streets contrasts sharply with the blazing sunshine of the countryside around. For 2500 years the area has been attracting settlers from many parts. Today its mansions reveal a heritage worthy of its fame.
Three generations of the Marignane family have nurtured this hotel, and that gives it soul – as you can feel as soon as you arrive. Mayeul Enguerrand Robin, the new chef, produces delicious modern fare with local roots, served on the shady terraces.
Unexpected. The 3ha park boasts mature lime trees, fountains, water features and a hidden water garden with lotuses, fragrant flowers, papyrus reeds, giant waterlilies and hibiscus. Feed the colourful koi carp and watch a heron fishing.
13 chambres, 6 suites, 2 appartements et 1 piscine
315 route d’Avignon. Tél. 04 42 17 42 42
The town’s most recently-opened hotel is so beautifully and luxuriously renovated it will take your breath away. Special care has been taken with the 300m2 restaurant with 26-foot ceiling, delightful winter garden and light flooding in through huge windows.
Unexpected. You’re just 600 yards from the busy Cours Mirabeau but each guestroom in this romantic place ensures total escapism.
33 chambres, 1 suite, jacuzzi, piscine
7 Traverse Saint-Pierre. Tél. 04 42 95 10 10
HÔTEL SAINTE VICTOIRE
A few minutes from Aix, on the most verdant and untamed slope of Mont Sainte-Victoire, with Pablo Picasso’s château opposite, stands a unique luxury hotel. The interior is thoughtfully designed in wood, stone and metal, while the panoramic view of the surrounding countryside is simply stunning. Unexpected. You’ve come to Vauvenargues but you’re instantly wafted away to Brazil on the wings of Mateus Marangoni’s cuisine: scallop, green apple and leche de tigre or «Curado» roast cockerel with lemon.
13 chambres, 2 suites, piscine.
33 avenue des Maquisards, Vauvenargues. Tél. 04 42 54 01 01
CHÂTEAU DE LA GAUDE
This quintessential Provençal country house is set among vines that have been certified organic for over 20 years. The place has been renovated, down to the smallest detail, with a view to astonishing the visitor. Two restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Le Art with Matthieu Dupuis Baumal’s Provençal cuisine. Unexpected. Masterpieces by leading contemporary artists are on show everywhere, indoors and out.
6 chambres, 11 suites, spa, piscine.
3913 route des Pinchinats. Tél. 04 84 93 09 30
Dan Bessudo, owner and chef, provides as much pleasure for the eye as for the taste buds. A meal at Dan B’s is also an ode to the contrast between tradition and modernity.
1 rue Frédéric Mistral, Ventabren. Tél. 04 42 28 79 33
LA TABLE DE PIERRE REBOUL
Pierre Reboul must be a bit crazy, but what joyous creativity drives his epicurean imagination! Try the sublime Bouille à Pierre, with a potato disguised as a pebble and amazing changes taking place before your eyes when the bouillon is poured on.
260 rue Guillaume Du Vair Pole. Tél. 04 42 52 27 27
CHÂTEAU LA COSTE
Come to Château La Coste for its sophisticated wines, but also for the Art and Architecture tour of the vineyards, grounds and winery with their monumental sculptures. An astonishing art centre.
Le Destet, Mouriès Tél. 04 90 47 62 88
HÔTEL DE GALLIFET
Venturing through a modest gateway you’ll find a cool oasis in the heart of the smart Mazarin district. The splendid townhouse features a restaurant, a tea room and above all an art centre.
52 rue Cardinale. Tél. 09 53 84 37 61