Sunday, April 8, 2012

Out on a Limb: Tree Houses in Provence

Above: Le Clos Saint Saourde
Above: Bastide du Bois Breant
Above: Orion
Above: Le Pavillon Vert
Above: Maison Valvert     
Above: Chateau Valmer

Above: Figues & Fugues

Over the years I've seen a lot of fabulous places to stay in Provence: hotels of all types, chateaux, country inns, gites, guesthouses, hotel barges, riverboats, cottages, platform tents,  campgrounds, gypsy caravans and even yurts. Yep--thought I had seen it all. And then I started coming across tree houses, which seem to have become a trend. How fun! If you’re itching to get in touch with your inner Tarzan, you’ll want to check these out…

Le Clos Saint Saourde is a gorgeous ‘designer B&B’ in the heart of Beaumes de Venise wine country, 30 km from Avignon. There the tree house is actually perched on stilts. The large bay window and deck offer fabulous views of  poplar, oak, the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range and vineyards as far as the eye can see. There’s a Jacuzzi on the terrace (a first in France) and all the best modern amenities (flat screen TV, mini bar, WiFi, heat and A/C) inside. Take your breakfast at the pool or owner Jérôme Thuillier (a former interior designer in Paris) will bring you a tray to enjoy in the privacy of…your tree. Le Clos Saint,  04-90-37-35-20  or 06-99-41-44-19.

At Le Pavillon Vert, five km from Avignon in Vedene, you can sleep five meters off the ground in “La Cabane Perchée,” which the owners call "25 square meter s of love nest.” It’s a rustic but lovely light-spilled space, with a double bed, bathroom, kitchen and table for dining on the deck. Le Pavillon Vert,,  06-11-49-49-19.

In the Luberon, La Bastide du Bois Breant in Maubec is a lovely three-star hotel  in a beautiful  five-acre setting. The main building dates to 1825. For nearly a century, the property was a truffle farm; hence its thick forest of white and green oak. Deep within that forest are two hidden tree houses, where nothing but the soft swoosh of leaves will disturb you. When you’re ready for civilization again, you’ll find a shimmering pool,  breakfast on a sun-splashed terrace and other small-hotel services. Hôtel La Bastide du Bois Bré, 04-90-05-06-78.

At Mas du Figuier in Bevons, 5 km west of Sisteron, this tiny (6 meter square) pine hideout was built by the previous owner to fulfill a childhood dream. But new owner Marion Stutz says she—and her clients--are enchanted by it. It sits 10 meters off the ground in a 100-year-old oak, overlooking a lavender field and the Lure Mountain beyond.  Probably the most rustic of the bunch,  it’s insulated with sheep wool and lit with solar power.  The treehouse has no running water or bathroom so you’ll have to go in the woods. Just kidding—you have your own private facilities in the main building, 50 meters away. Also on the property are three gites (separate cottages) and five guestrooms, all reasonably priced.  Mas du,  06-82-60-14-39. 

Snuggled in the woods near St. Paul de Vence with views of that famous hilltop village, Orion has five—count ‘em--five tree houses. All have bathrooms and WiFi and breakfast is included. Plus, there’s access to a kitchen if you want it, a sauna, massage, yoga…and a pool that’s kept healthy with gravel and plants instead of than chlorine. Orion B&

At Maison Valvert in Bonnieux, Cathy Herssens offers guestrooms, suites and a rustic-and-romantic tree house called La Cabane. The treehouse was built by Alain Laurens (of La CabanePerchee), whose philosophy dicates that not a single branch may be cut off, not a single nail driven into the tree. With views of the Petit Luberon Mountains and “the interior design of a five-star hotel,” this elegant treehouse sleeps two and rents for 275€ per night in high season. The price includes daily cleaning, breakfast, WiFi and use of the heated swimming pool. The 15-hectare property is planted with truffle oak trees, lavender, cherry and olive trees, and sits just 800 meters from the historic hilltop village of Bonnieux. Picnic baskets and table d’hôte style meals available upon on request. Maison Valvert,,  04-90-75-61-71.

Chateau de Creissauds is a 16th-century castle on a sprawling estate in Aubagne, nine miles east of Marseille. There the tree house sleeps four and has a small kitchen, TV, air-conditioning and of course, a terrace. The resort itself has tennis and squash courts….and a golf course over the hill. Another treehouse called Dans les Arbres houses the hotel bar. Château de Creissauds,, 04-91-24-84-45.

Chateau de Valmer, near St. Tropez, is a four-star hotel with 42 rooms and  two intoxicating treehouses, the newest of which was created especially for families. There’s a winery on the property and beach access. The hotel itself is nestled in the heart of a five-hectare park, with a 100-year-old palm grove, a vineyard and a spa. Chateau de Valmer,,  04-94-55 15-15.

Don’t see what you’re looking for above ? They also have tree houses at:

Figues and Fugues, between Lourmarin and Aix. 
Reve en Luberon in Apt. 
Les Ecuries in Brittany. 
Bois de Vins in the Dordogne.
La Cour de Remi in Pas de Calais. 
Domaine du Chalet in Chigny les Roses, between Reims and   Epernay. 
Mamouna et Cabanotte, 30 km west of Lyon. 
A Pignata in Corsica. 

**Note: More than 50 treehouses from around the world are featured in the book Tree Houses: Fairy Tale Castles in the Air by Philip Jodidio. Tree Houses is a tour of the beautifully designed tree houses featuring a variety of architectural styles from romantic to modern, published by Taschen and available from Amazon...


  1. Wow, those are some fancy treehouses. But, I think my husband and I will stay on the ground. My friends in Provence say Spring has finally arrived. Love your blog and all the pictures. Thanks.

  2. Julie -- what a great inspiration for those of us who are "repeat offenders" to Provence and always on the lookout for a new spin on the Provence experience. Great write-up.
    Take care,

  3. Thank you for posting this, it's beautiful! I really like the composition of some of the photos.

  4. We returned to Eden Rock. Excellent for one or 2 couples.