A little over two weeks ago, we flew off on an adventure through the South of France. This was a trip that we’d been planning since late last year, and one I was incredibly excited for! We’d visited this region a few years ago, but only briefly after we spent time in the Loire Valley and then back to Paris for a wedding. I’ve always felt that Provence held a special place in my heart, and coming back really reinforced that feeling! This time around, we rented a house for a full week, that way we could have a “home” base and really explore the surrounding areas without jumping around from hotel to hotel. We left Charleston on a late Thursday afternoon and arrived in France the following day at 8am. We were a little delirious and jet-lagged as neither of us slept on the plane, but once we arrived, our adrenaline rush of excitement kept us going! Since the house we rented wasn’t available until Saturday, we had booked a one night stay at Bastide de Marie after hearing wonderful things about it.
When traveling, Thomas and I have found that the best way to combat jet-lag is by trying to get acclimated to the new time zone you’re in right away. So, instead of sleeping when we arrived (which is what our bodies wanted to do since it was the middle of the night back home), we kept ourselves awake until that evening. It wasn’t hard *in the beginning* because we were so excited to be there! We flew into the Marseille airport (Charleston to NYC, NYC to Paris, Paris to Marseille- for those interested in the details!) and had an hour drive to the hotel, which was in Ménerbes in the Luberon region. Before we even got to the hotel, we probably pulled over five or six times to get out and snap photos of the landscape. I kept telling Thomas “I could cry I’m so happy!!!”. It is BEAUTIFUL! So beautiful, I can’t even describe it and pictures just don’t do it justice. It’s lush and green, with vineyards and roses, hilltop villages and quiet, windy roads. The homes are old and filled with character, some crumbling, some in pristine condition, but all uniquely stunning in their own right.
You know those hotels that look nice online but really blow you away in person? Well, Bastide de Marie is one of those places. I knew it was going to be pretty, but what we arrived to was a complete dream! After forcing ourselves to stop pulling over the car to take in the landscape, we had finally arrived at the hotel. Passed a big wrought iron gate and cypress lined driveway lies a magical 18th century restored farmhouse. It’s quintessential Provence, made from stone, with French blue shutters and roses climbing everywhere. It sits on 23 acres of vineyards, with everything from olive trees to lavender to rose gardens.
Our room wasn’t ready quite yet since it was still early in the morning, but the friendly hotel staff let us freshen up and change in the spa. We dug in our suitcases and pulled out some fresh clothes, eager to get the day started, but not wanting to feel sloppy and gross after traveling for 24 hours. It’s amazing what a quick rinse, some moisturizer, makeup and a pretty dress will do! I slipped into this denim Sea dress that I bought on sale right before we left and added my favorite Castaner espadrilles. It felt very Belle from Beauty & The Beast, so I couldn’t not get it!
After roaming the property and getting our bearings, we ate an al fresco lunch on the patio of the restaurant. I opted for the chicken, while Thomas got the grilled fish, and we both shared an heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad with delicious olive bread on the side. And of course, no lunch is complete in Provence without some rosé!
The wonderful thing about coming to Provence in June is that it isn’t unbearably hot just yet (a nice mix of 75-85 degree weather) and the days are long. The sun doesn’t set until well after 9, so we didn’t feel rushed on how much we could fit in before sunset. With the afternoon still ahead of us, we looked at our list of towns we wanted to visit and realized that Lacoste was quite near to where we were, so we headed off on our first expedition. We arrived just as the sun was starting to get glowy, lighting up the village, and making it look golden in the afternoon light.
If you walk up to the top of the town, where Château de Lacoste sits, you get an amazing view looking out at the nearby town of Bonnieux and the Luberon Mountains. I could have sat there for hours just staring out. I love seeing all of the different villas and farmhouses out in the distance, wondering who might live there and what their story is. There is also a SCAD school in Lacoste, which is how we heard of the town in the first place. A friend in Charleston that went to SCAD in Savannah studied abroad in Lacoste and said that we had to visit and the views couldn’t be beat. He was right!
After walking through the whole town, we were really starting to feel our jet-lag. By now, we had been awake for more than 30 hours. Every time I blinked, I swear that I would have fallen asleep if I eye closed my eyes for just a millisecond longer. Still, we refused to fall asleep before it got dark because we wanted to get our bodies adjusted to the time. I also wanted to stay up for our first sunset in Provence!
After getting back to the hotel and checking into our room, we got dressed and ready for dinner. The gastronomic restaurant at Bastide de Marie is wonderful! If you get a chance and are in the area (even if you’re not staying at the hotel), head there for dinner. They serve aperitifs and appetizers on the back patio, with candles and bistro lights all around. Once your table is ready, they bring you inside, where the all-glass dining room looks out at the vineyard with the sun setting right behind. It’s the most picturesque spot!
Just before we went to dinner, we headed back to the rose-lined walkway to the vineyard. This was my favorite spot on the property. Roses in all colors and sizes and types were intertwined on the trellis that sits between the winery and the hotel. Perfectly matching my Reformation dress for dinner, we snapped a few shots next to the garden roses, took a moment to smell the Yves Piaget (my favorite rose and THE most incredible smelling one- you could bottle it up and wear as a perfume) and headed to dinner. It was the perfect start to the trip!