Le Vieux Castillon

I feel as if I could spend years exploring just the South of France alone, each ancient hilltop town with their own special flavor and way of life. On the journey to experience Pont du Gard we stayed at the Le Vieux Castillon, a newly renovated hotel in a historic Renaissance setting in the heart of the medieval village Castillon-du-Gard. An interesting property, the very clean and modern rooms are divided out into a maze of connected buildings, former homes from the 15th century, leaving you to discover many quiet gardens and shaded seating areas under ancient olive trees. The most spectacular aspect to this boutique hotel is the pool. From the highest hilltop plateau you are surrounded by endless views of the countryside dotted by vineyards below. It’s incredible. A perfect place to watch the sunrise, to cool off in the heat of the day, or have an evening cocktail as the sky turns blue reflecting off the water. While a great pool is a major perk in Provence, what you don’t expect is the very friendly hotel birds there at the front desk to greet you upon arrival. I had such a good time letting them walk all over me even at the expense of having my hair chewed on. 

Additional Information – It’s a great place to stay if you are looking to explore Pont du Gard, Uzès, or Nîmes. Behind the cafe next to the church in town, you’ll know what I mean when you arrive, there is a great distant view of Pont du Gard. There is also a wonderful ancient stone walking path down the hill into the valley that spills out into beautiful, quiet, vineyards. Wonderful to explore, especially early in the morning. 

The hotel also has a chic Bistronomic restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating all tucked around Renaissance charm. 

Below, moments from my stay at Le Vieux Castillon in a white dress by Mes Demoiselle Paris, black swimsuit inspired by French linen undergarments by Lonely, black Bardot neck jumpsuit by Paloma Wool, and red silk scarf by Les Belles Heures

Le Mas de Peint

There is more to the South of France than vineyards and lavender fields, I have come to find out. Recently I experienced an entirely new landscape of the Camargue region which is a flat wetland between the Mediterranean and the Rhône river, not unlike the Everglades in Florida. It’s a totally different landscape known for it’s flamingos, rice fields, salts, bulls and most famously, white horses. This led me to doorstep of Le Mas de Peint, a family run hotel in a 17th-century farmhouse renovated into 13 guest rooms decorated in Provençal style in the heart of the Camargue.

It honestly does not get more authentic than this. Durning our first night there over dinner of a seasonal Provençal cuisine set in the old kitchen, this French cowboy comes up to our table to introduce himself. His name is Frederic Bon, the son of born cattleman Jacques Bon, who has taken over the expansive property he was born and raised on which includes managing rice fields and ranching. He is proud and humble, as I find people who work so closely with nature to be. After a long discussion over the history of the family and farmhouse we arranged for a morning ride to see his bulls herds he raises, the famous white horses and peaceful rice fields. Horseback riding is one of my favorite ways to explore a country’s terroir as I discovered in Argentina and Patagonia

Practical information- The hotel only has 13 rooms so it’s important to plan your visit. You can arrange excursions such as horse back riding or a 4 wheel drive tour. The property has a large pool, wifi, and an amazing restaurant with a menu that changes daily based on what is in season and from the garden. The most important thing to remember is bug spray though! 

Chateau des Alpilles

Chateau des Alpilles is a historic chateau in the heart of Provence in the south of France. A family run property by three generations of women fills your soul with warmth as you drive up the tree lined entrance. It’s insanely beautiful. It’s perfectly French. It’s the kind of spot where you sit with a glass of rosé and listen to the sound of the birds, touch your fingers into the soft stream of water gliding into the beautiful stone pond, and watch the light dance through the ancient trees. It feels as if time stopped here. As if nothing bad could ever happen or has happened. The world is still a magical place, the roses are in bloom… this is the Provence I dreamed of. 

Practical information: It’s a boutique hotel with only a handful of rooms which I love because it keeps the place intimate, however, best to book in advance. You can choose from the main Chateau or there are multiple other historic buildings around the property they have converted into rooms. You can stay in the old Chapel or the building once used to bake the bread and do the laundry.  Even if you are not staying at the hotel consider coming for a meal. You can dine in one of their formal dining rooms under chandeliers or my favorite, outside with the beautiful light and view of the Chateau. You must make a reservation as they only seat around 75 persons for service but I highly recommend it. The food is incredible, especially their signature shrimp salad! Below wearing a chambray dress by Sea New York.

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