Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Gorgeous New Hotel in Provence

The impossibly stylish Jocelyne Sibuet has done it again. Yesterday she opened Domaine de la Baume, a 15-room hotel in Tourtour, a hilltop village in Provence ranked as one of “The 100 Prettiest in France.’’ The 100-acre estate—with formal French gardens, ponds, a waterfall and chapel-- is about halfway between the Gorges du Verdon and the Riviera. The 18th-century bastide was the home of the painter Bernard Buffet until he died in 1999. The property’s olive groves, bee hives, fruit trees and vegetable gardens supply the restaurant, where exec chef François Martin is cooking serious, seasonal, ingredient-driven Provencale cuisine. Martin hails from Montpellier and worked previously with Michel Lentz, Marc Veyrat, Michel Del Burgo and the Pourcel brothers. His pastry chef is Elodie Martin, his wife. 

Restaurant manager Emmanuel Bellanger was most recently at Les Jardins du Palais Royal (Paris) while the GM, David Gouy, was in Lyon running Restaurant Christian Tetedoie.

Each of the hotel’s 15 rooms looks completely different but all are stylish and colorful reinterpretations of 18th-century design. Rooms range in size from 300 to 800 square feet and have all the luxe amenities you’d expect. Each is named for a painting by Bernard Buffet.

The property also has red-clay tennis courts, an open-air spa and horses you can ride.

When I say Jocelyne Sibuet has done it again, I mean that Madame already has a rather remarkable portfolio of exquisite hotels in some of France’s most desirable destinations. For example? Maisons & Hotels Sibuet owns the Bastide de Marie and Domaine de Marie Winery (in Menerbes, in the Luberon region of Provence) and the Villa Marie (in Ramatuelle overlooking St. Tropez). Then there’s  the Cour des Loges (Lyon), four hotels and a group of luxury chalets in Megeves (in the French Alps) and the five-star Altapura in Val Thorens (also in the Alps). 

Rooms at Domaine de la Baume begin at €236 (breakfast included) and €440 for  half-board (breakfast and dinner included). It’s 1h15 from the Toulon Hyeres Airport, 1h40 from the Marseille Marignane Airport and 1h25 from the Nice Cote d’Azur Airport. The Les Arcs/Draguignan Train Station is roughly 40 minutes away.

And what would one do around Tourtour? You’ll want to explore the town itself, which I hear is quite pretty, with eight fountains, two chateaux, a maze of narrow streets, flower filled squares and lots of pretty galleries and shops. Then I’d  head straight for the Gorges du Verdon; I’m crazy about it and so is everyone else. It’s often called the Grand Canyon of France and Trip Advisor ranks it the #1 most-popular site in Provence. This is Europe’s deepest canyon, with oddly bright green waters flowing through its narrow walls. The water spills into the lovely Lac Saint Croix, where you can swim, canoe, pedalo, kayak, hike, fish…or just drive around and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.  The pretty nearby town of Moustiers is famous for its colorful pottery and of course La Bastide de Moustiers, chef Alain Ducasse’s elegant country inn with its highly regarded restaurant.

All of Provence is known for its summer music festivals and three that might interest you during a stay at Domaine de la Baume are the Verdon Jazz Festival (July 14 to 22,  2013),  the Aix-en-Provence International Lyrical Art Festival (through July 27, 2013, featuring opera concerts and recitals) and the Thoronet Medieval Music Festival  (July 16 to 21, 2013), which celebrates Medieval music in a famous Cistercian Abbey. And while we’re at it, check out the Soirees Estivales, a free summer-long festival now ongoing  in scores of villages up and down the Cote d’Azur. More than 400 performances (voice, music, dance, etc.) are scheduled this year, in Nice, Biot, Grasse, Breil-sur-Roya, Beulieu, Eze, St Jennet, Saint-Paul-de-Vence and many more.  

A list of other things to do in the region is here.

Want to stay at the Domaine de la Baume? Who wouldn’t!  To contact the hotel directly: Domaine de la Baume, +33 (0)4 57 74 74 74,  

Or,  let me do it for you.  I’ll be happy to check room categories, rates and availability…and handle the booking as well. How easy for you is that? (For that matter I can book any hotel in Provence you like…and help you pick one.) Just drop me a note :


  1. Tourtour is beautiful - well worth a visit! The Hotel sounds super. As always, thanks for the info. Bill

  2. What a lovely idea - and yet another "coup" for you, Julie. Just a short drive for us from the Cote d'Azur so we will definitely go for lunch during this summer - and maybe stay the weekend in your beautiful area of Provence. We never tire of being up there. Jackie & Burton x

  3. Well, you've got me sold, Ms. Mautner. I'll be asking Herve (who's from Tours and knows as much about Provence as I know about Missouri)to use (so to speak) you for our next trip.

    The last one, which was otherwise predictably pleasant, involved a disastrously weird and disorienting (if markedly expensive) hotel on the outskirts of Menerbes. I still have to give you the details on that one. Suffice it to say that I kept recalling my gradstoodint/waiter days, when I once worked at a Restaurant that was broke & closing & SUPPOSED to have closed the previous week. For some reason, the owner kept letting unwary customers in, and we had to act as though nothing were awry or going the least bit wrong. In retrospect, I find the memory amusing....but it's no fun when it's happening TO you in a Provence hotel.

    As for "And what would one do around Tourtour"?..

    I can't help but recall Peter Mayles's comment (repeated in several of his books) that the most difficult aspect of hosting visitors (including ones who've invited themselves) is convincing them that they don't HAVE to "DO" anything....they could simply stop the bustling-about, relax and enjoy themselves. Apparently, this is impossible for some folks.

    Still?....your suggestions sound wonderful. I've never seen the Gorges du Verdon; it's on my enterprisingly self-edited "to do" list.

    Thanks as ever for the informative and helpful posting,

    David Terry

  4. P.S. And a Happy Birthday to you, Miss Julie! Just after reading the previous message, Facebook informed me that your birthday falls sometime during this coming week. I should also say that, just last week, a friend and I (who've both vainly prided ourselves on our ability to remember friends' birthdays) were grousing about how Facebook has ruined all that.....everyone automatically receives notices, so that no one can really get appropriate compliments and gratitude for being so thoughtful & loyal.

    ----david Terry

    1. Thanks David, as always, for your great comments. Facebook or no, birthday wishes are always appreciated! And you definitely need to see the Gorges du Verdon...

  5. That looks very much like the estate in "A Good Year" (the film). Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for the tip.

  6. Be still my heart! I will most definitely be putting this on my agenda for our next visit to the area. Everything about Domaine de la Baume sounds and looks magnificent. Thank you very much too for all of the excellent information about concerts for the season.



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