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It’s the height.

The entrancing bed and breakfast Le Mas Perréal sits at about 1,000 feet on the southern flank of the Provencal village of Saint Saturnin-lès-Apts, offering sweeping vistas of the countryside and the Luberon mountains across the Calavon valley. (BTW: The same view is shared by one of the most expensive resorts in the Luberon. See below.)

Saint Saturnin-lès-Apts is tucked up against a cliff in the foothills of the Vaucluse mountains, 9Km north of Apt, and the same distance northeast from the busy town of Roussillon. The village is Provence depressurized: authentic and quiet, it serves its local inhabitants rather than the tourist set that flocks to Roussillon and Gordes.

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Vineyards and cherry orchards surround Le Mas Perréal, making for a quintessential Provencal country experience.

Graceful elegance comes to mind when describing the individually decorated four double rooms and one suite at Le Mas Perréal with their period antiques and Provençal fabrics.

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All the beds are queens, and the en suite bathrooms have hair dryers and large walk-in Italian showers. WiFI is provided.

Back to elevation: the rooms have terraces and private sitting areas from which to take in the sweeping views of the Luberon countryside while enjoying an “apéro.”

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You can also take in the valley views from lounge chairs at the swimming pool.

In the renovated farm house, there is a sitting room, and a pantry with a refrigerator, plates and glasses for self-service snacks and meals. Guests revel in the delicious and  generous breakfasts, served by your hosts Elizabeth and Kevin.

 

Looking to stock up on a local AOC Luberon wine for the week, the Domaine de Séoule is down the road at Les Bassaquets.

Don’t miss the local farmers market in the village every Tuesday morning. The market in nearby Apt is on Saturday morning.

Basics

view_arche-461x339Le Mas Perréal, Quartier La Fortune 84490, St. Saturnin-lès-Apt, Tel 04 90 75 46 31, Email: masperreal@gmail.com, Website

Directions: Le Mas is off of highway D2 about a mile southwest of the village.

For haute cuisine dining, the posh Domaine des Andéols, one of the most stunning properties in the Luberon, is virtually next door to the Mas. Dinner menu is 45 euros.

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Ménerbes: Le Mas du Magnolia (au lieu d’un Gite)

by BB Kuett on January 18, 2014

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From the gardens of Le Mas du Magnolia, the perched village of Ménerbes appears as a large ocean liner floating in a sea of forest green vines, its bow elevated as if in a salute to the far-flung valley below.

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Le Mas du Magnolia, an elegant bed and breakfast, has two acres of enclosed lawns and gardens where its guests indulge themselves at a large swimming pool, on shaded lounge chairs in the garden, and at a pool house with a private kitchen where they take meals at their leisure.

Although it is one of the iconic perched villages in the Luberon, Ménerbes surprises you by its tranquil nature. Unlike Gordes or Roussillon, Ménerbes is bereft of activity in the summer months except for a monthly art opening or events at the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin. The café frequented by Peter Mayle when he lived on the outskirts of the village has been closed for several years.

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The streets themselves in Ménerbes astonish: they have been repaved in a patchwork of square and rectangular stones of gray and gray-blue tones which are as smooth as the desk of, yes, an ocean liner. The meticulous repaving of the streets came by the boundless generosity of philanthropist Ms. Nancy Negley, of Houston and Ménerbes, who purchased in 1997 and completely renovated the Dora Maar House whose stately edifice addresses the Luberon countryside to the north.

Among the perched villages, Ménerbes distinguishes itself by an air of civility – a place to live rather than be visited. And this feeling of graceful comfort in the privacy of your own home is manifest at Le Mas du Magnolia.

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Of the four colorfully-decorated rooms at Le Mas, two can accommodate three people. Three rooms have their own private terraces. All have double beds, bathrobes, pool towels, and hair dryers.

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Amenities include a sauna and the only putting green that PVB has ever run across at a bed and breakfast. A top flight golf course is nearby in Saumane.

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Minutes from Le Mas in Ménerbes, there is the excellent restaurant Le Cafe Veranda and the leading art gallery in the Luberon, Galérie Pascal Lainé.  The Maison de la Truffe et du Vin has a superb wine cellar and a shop with olive oil and Provencal delicacies.

The nearby Domaine de la Citadelle, whose owner in the mayor of the Ménerbes, produces excellent wines.

Basics

Le Mas du Magnolia, route 103, Ménerbes, Tél. 04 90 72 48 00, Email: contact@masmagnolia.com, Website

Directions: Going east on D900, exit at Beaumettes to Ménerbes on D29, which becomes D103. Le Mas in on your left as you approach the village, look for signage.

Ménerbes profile: here

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Domaine de la Citadelle, AOC Luberon wines. Close to Le Mas du Magnolia. Visit their Corkscrew Museum, Tél. 04 90 72 41 58, Email: contact@domaine-citadelle.com Website

Restaurant: Café Veranda, Ménerbes (BCB), Lunch from noon and from 7:00 p.m. for dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Avenue Marcellin Poncet (center of the village). Tel: 04 90 72 33 33. Website

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Galérie Pascal Lainé : Art gallery for the beau monde in the Luberon. Center of village opposite Café Veranda. Open from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.Tel: 04-90-72-48-30, Website

 

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Venasque: La Maison de Charme (au lieu d’un Gite)

by BB Kuett on January 17, 2014

Winter, Fall, Summer or Spring, for those who hold the conviction that life is better lived passionately, there are small treasures throughout Provence where one can nourish an amorous appetite in a refined and intimate atmosphere.

One particular jewel that comes to mind is La Maison de Charme, a large stone “bâtisse” in the center of Venasque, a village perched on an abrupt rocky spur from which compact stone houses offer a clear line of sight to the 6,000-plus feet Mont Ventoux with its bare limestone summit; the village seems to be in intimate conversation with the mythical mountain which never leaves the gaze of the villagers who speak as if it were sentient.

You marry this mythical feeling with intimacy and elegance by taking the first steps into La Maison de Charme, a Chambres D’Hotes of four toothsome suites with a tea salon and a boutique on its street floor.

Open in December and January, closed in February and March, La Maison de Charme reopens in April until November, offering the sweet enchantment of a village hideaway, along with the refined pleasures of shopping and an afternoon tea.

Looking for a tasteful gift or souvenir for the home, then step into the “Boutique Deco” where you can browse among exquisite decorative objects, lamps, candles, pottery, perfumes, cotton fabrics and Provencal bed covers.

As a respite, you can take an afternoon tea in an adjoining tea salon, an elegant, cozy and warm room with Provencal décor.

The spacious four suites, which accommodate from 2 to 4 guests, are smartly decorated in a Provencal style, and many of the items in the rooms may be found in the boutique.

Each suite has a salon with a hearth and two divans, a bedroom with a king size bed, bathroom, television, WiFi, and natural light.

Small dogs are welcome with supplement of 10€ (Dogs are favored in most Venasque hotels and restaurants.) The suites begin at 135 € for two including a petit déjeuner.

No doubt that all the fine points mentioned herein will entitle you to a certain heightened holiday experience the moment that you arrive to La Maison de Charme and put yourself in the hands of your cheerful smart hosts where “l’hôtellerie, c’est une entreprise de charme.”

Friday Evening Market

Venasque takes on a festive air every Friday evening in the summer with an open air market launched two years ago by the Mayor.

Two pop-up street cafés, which serve wine, drinks and amuse bouches on the Place de la Fontaine, are run by the Café La Fontaine and the Maison de Charme, which serves wines of the nearby Chateau Unang.

Stalls along the upper part of the Grand Rue offer vegetables, cheese, charcuterie, wine, honey, jams, soaps, crafts and art.

Running every Friday from July to mid-Sept. from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., the Friday market has the feel of a gathering of friends. Smaller and more social than the other farmers markets, the Venasque market has been a huge success in drawing visitors in the region as well as animating the village with a festival-like cheer.

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Basics:

Maison de Charme La Fontaine, Place de la Fontaine, Venasque, Tél. 04 90 60 64 05, Four suites with petit déjeuner, small dogs accepted.

Open all year except November, February, and March, Tea Room and “Boutique déco” (photo r) on ground floor Website

Venasque: Website,

Friday Market July until September 16, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., Fêtes Votives Aug. 12 – 15

Access Venasque by Route D4 from Carpentras or route D28 from Saint-Didier. TGV Avignon 40 minutes by car.

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Lourmarin: Les Olivettes (au lieu d’un Gite)

by BB Kuett on January 16, 2014

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One might call it a B&B-extra special, more than a bed and more than a breakfast. The uniqueness of Les Olivettes, a luxuriously renovated Bastide on the fringe of Lourmarin, is that its six spacious apartments all have fully-equipped kitchens, freeing guests from the daily captivity of restaurants, although in Lourmarin, a culinary hotspot, the temptations for fine dining abound. A Provencal breakfast and other repasts are taken in your room or on your terrace on your leisurely schedule.

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At Les Olivettes, one revels in the decor: walls painted with Provencal ochre washes, floors of hand-made terracotta parefeuilles, and the melange of antique and bright contemporary furnishings.  Each apartment offers bucolic views from a shaded terrace. There is a high-ceiling 600 sq. ft. common room, private gardens and a pool.

 

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The roomy apartments, each with a queen-size bed, accommodate 2 adults, most with one child, and one holds 4 guests. Amenities include a stereo CD, internet access and satellite TV.

The website (below) provides great descriptions of each room; it is a mini-guide to local restaurants, wineries, sights and tours. Your hosts are longtime residents of Lourmarin, Joseph and Elizabeth DeLiso, a perfectly bilingual couple, an American and a Brit respectively.

 

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There is no village center in the Luberon more pedestrian friendly than the one in Lourmarin where three cafes – of which the Gaby was a favorite of Peter Mayle when he was living withing walking distance -  huddle around a small y-shaped square bordered by shops and galleries. Strolling though the narrow streets, one soaks up the atmospherics of pleasure and leisure.

As an entry point to the eastern Luberon, Lourmarin is accessed via a winding road through a ravine from Bonnieux, or a 35-minute trip from Aix-en-Provence. Its scenic countryside and many fine restaurants make Lourmarin a favorite getaway for the BOBO’s of Aix.

 

There is a dreamlike quality to Les Olivettes; it’s the kind of place that you would summon up in your imagination as the ideal tranquil Provencal holiday, and then the moment you arrive to its door, everything is in its place just as you imagined it.

Basics:

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Les Olivettes, avenue Henri Bosco, 84160 Lourmarin, Email: lourmarin@olivettes.com, Website

The property is south of the village; the road is also marked D27.

A neighbor is the Château Constantin-Chevalier, producer of fine Côtes du Luberon wines of which Peter Mayle (The Marseille Caper) is a huge fan.

Finding A Gite in the Vaucluse: Here

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If you are among those who share the conviction that, as far as country living is concerned, the passage of time is enriched by the beauty of horses, then the Mas Pichony is your Provencal bed and breakfast destination of choice.

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A vocation of Laetitia and Laurent Desbordes, the owners of the Mas Pichony in Pernes les Fontaines, is the raising and training of show jumpers.

The graceful and beautiful horses graze in pastures on the expansive property, which is bordered by vineyards. The intelligent and playful creatures endow the property with an aristocratic air.

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The Mas (farm house) is distinguished by a huge plane tree, which provides shade for an open courtyard and dining area.

There are five charming rooms decorated in colorful Provencal style with bathroom and shower. Three of the rooms have double beds, and the other two have two single beds.

 

 

A Provencal breakfast is served on a terrase under the shade of the 300 year old plane tree between 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. A Table d’hote is available for a minimum of six on Fri., Sat., Monday and Tuesday evenings.

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The architecture of the pool area is both aesthetically and functionally pleasing.

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Set back from the main house on the grounds, the large swimming pool is framed by an enclosed lounge with comfortable couches, and a pool house with a frig and cooler with an area for snacking and lunching at a large table.

There is a nearby shaded area for reading and relaxing. Bordered by vineyards, trees and a spacious lawn, this small complex is a calm oasis.

A culinary note: Silvain Freres in Saint Didier produces the best nougat in Provence, and its sealed packets make great gifts.

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Basics

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Mas Pichony, 1454, route de St Didier, 84210 Pernes-Les-Fontaines, Contact Laetitia and Laurent Desbordes, Tél: 04.90.61.56.11 email: mas-pichony@wanadoo.fr, Website

Directions: The Mas Pichony is on the road D28 between Pernes le Fontaines and Saint-Didier, near Carpentras. The location is convenient for visiting Avignon, the wine areas of the Vaucluse, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, and the Luberon and its perched villages.

 

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The backstory of L’Aube Safran (“dawn of saffron” alludes to the time of the day when saffron is harvested): A Parisian couple – Marie an interior designer and Francois an architect – check out of the claustrophobic mash of urban life in search of a tranquil locale for a bit of farming in the Pyrenees, then they ditch the farm for another rural palette upon which to display their heightened sensitivity for elegance by renovating, decorating and encircling with saffron a large mas in Le Barroux, a bed and breakfast spread out among trees and pines on a patch of land offering mystical views of the small jagged mountain chain, the Dentelles de Montmirail.

It’s the kind of place where if you were led to it blindfolded you would not know where you were at first sight, but you would find its isolated tranquil prettiness so downright reassuring that you would want to stay on.

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Wandering from room to room, you feel a covetous and almost prurient envy of L’Aube Safran, as you can not imagine your own interior to be more detailed, color-coordinated, spatially-arranged or more elegantly appointed.  Marie and Francois create small private open spots — a single couch here, a small table there — enveloped by open space, in a way superior to overdoing it with clutter — even with expensive clutter — on terraces, in courtyards and in the rooms.

The pool has an overflowing border; the soothing patter of falling water muffles poolside conversations.  Good taste need not be lavish. There is nothing aggressive about L’Aube Safran’s design, rather its essence lies in its a priori simplicity.

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There are five rooms / suites — bed and breakfasts in France are by law limited to five — that range in price from 120€ a night for a single to 185€ for the largest room for a double, with accommodations for three or four in other suites. Check the website for room descriptions.

The place is a lot more about breakfast, included in the room price. There are lunch servings along with a common kitchen, and twice a week there is a table d’hote in the evening for guests. Yet, it’s really about what Marie does in her kitchen in bonding ingredients with the magical spice saffron that transports you on an extraordinary culinary voyage.

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Francois cultivates saffron in parcels of land surrounding the mas. Realize that it takes 75,000 blossoms or 225,000 hand-picked stigmas (three per flower) to make a single pound of Saffron. He produces between a kilo and three kilos each year. In a small shop, you can grab a one gram pot of saffron for 27€, 5 grams for 98€, or select from numerous pots of saffron-scented concoctions of apricots, olives, onions, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, and fennel for 9€ each.

The general atmospherics of L’Aube Safran are zen master meets gentleman farmer meets saffron chef. The best advice is to get yourself ‘en place’ and let Marie and Francois kick your palate up a notch in a spot mercifully free of any mind-cluttering disturbances.

Basics

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 L’Aube Safran is located north of the village of Le Barroux in northwest part of the Vaucluse at 450 Chemin du patifiage, Le Barroux, Tél. 04 90 62 66 91, website

For a visit to the shop to purchase Saffron products, call in advance to confirm an appointment.

Finding A Gite in the Vaucluse: Here

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Goult: Mas de la Médecine (au lieu d’un Gite)

by BB Kuett on January 13, 2014

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In the heart of the Calavon Valley in the heart of the Luberon, the bed and breakfast Le Mas de la Médecine is on the southern flank of the quiet village of Goult, a short hop to the perched villages of Lacoste, Bonnieux (in the photo above from Goult), and Menerbes.

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Nestled within the peaceful countryside, Le Mas de la Médecine has one of most pleasing private gardens in the area.

Guests revel in the variety of plants and flowers which are landscaped in large high drainage plantings with small pools and stone.

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Potted flowers also adorn the large pool which extends from the main house towards the large lawn.

The inner courtyard of the Mas, a Provencal farm house, is festooned with ivy and flowers.

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Fig trees provide shade for guests having their morning breakfast. On cool mornings, guests may choose to take their breakfast in an interior dining room.

 

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There are five rooms decorated in vivid Provencal colors with traditional baked clay tiles. Natural light from the garden or the courtyard brightens the living space.

All of the rooms come with queen size beds, cable tv, and internet, and the bathrooms have a hair dryer, bath and shower.

 

Basics:

 

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Le Mas de la Médecine, La porte des Etoiles 84220 Goult, Tél 04 90 72 49 50. Email marcmunier@bbluberon.fr, Website

Directions: Heading east on D900 towards Apt, after passing Lumières, take D106 towards Lacoste across a small bridge over the Calavon. About 900M, take a left on chemin de la Bégude for 300M, take a right on chemin de la Marseillaise and the Mas is on your left.

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Murs: Mas de Roquejeanne (au lieu d’un Gite)

by BB Kuett on January 12, 2014

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A restored French farmhouse perched on a hillside amidst acres of unspoiled farmland with a stunning vista of lavender fields and cherry orchards, the Mas de Roquejeanne is a peaceful bucolic retreat in the Luberon.
PVB stumbled on this hermetically-sealed bed-and-breakfast when we were tasting cherries at the Malbec farm. Whereas there is not much going on in the nearby village of Murs except for one restaurant, the touristy Gordes is a few minutes down the road and the rest of the Luberon villages just beyond, and in the other direction down the Cols de Murs – Venasque, Carpentras and Avignon.
The Mas has four charming Provencal-decorated bedrooms of identical size with two single beds and bathroom. At 550 euros a week, with a generous petit déjeuner served on a covered patio looking out on the countryside, the Mas de Roquejeanne is a splendid perch from which to explore the Luberon and the Vaucluse.

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Basics

Domaine de Rocquejeanne: Contact Mme Taverne Chantal, les Vallons 84220 Murs-en-Provence, Tél 04 90 72 63 96, Daily and Weekly rates, Closed October to March

Email: info@rocquejeanne.com, Website

 

Finding A Gite in the Vaucluse: Here

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Gordes: L’Asphodèle (au lieu d’un Gite)

by BB Kuett on January 11, 2014

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The sweeping views are glorious from L’Asphodèle, a uniquely-designed bed and breakfast nestled in the verdant “grand calme” a mile up the hill from Gordes, the iconic village of stone edifices ‘perched’ on the side of large hill.

Upon your arrival at L’Asphodèle, your first glance of the vista is framed by a 45-foot pool ringed by large rocks where the far edge overflows, marrying aqua blue with the dense green of the evergreen oaks.

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Four of the five rooms, which are below the main house, have a loggia, a roofed, arcaded open porch, where you can meditate on your private views of the countryside and Luberon mountains on the horizon.

Each room has its own colorful Provencal personality, and a sitting area as well as chairs and tables in the loggia.  Beds are queens with an option of two singles, and the four rooms with a loggia have a dual heating and air conditioning unit.

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The continental breakfast – a copious buffet mind you – is served from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. either in a dining room or on a large terrace which faces the Calavon valley.

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Gordes is a movie set where everyone is hitting his or her marks (all in the proper places). Yes, it may be the quintessential Luberon version of mass market tourism, but the blast of adrenaline and excitement makes you feel vibrant and alive in an amusement park thrill ride sort of way.

And Gordes is one of the very few places in the Luberon where you take a table at a café, gaze at the beautifully laid out scenery, which looks just like a glossy brochure, and revel in the guilty pleasures of people watching – those upscale couples who are “être à l’abri du besoin” (free of money worries).

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At night, even in high seasons, the streets empty out, and the passive Château glistens against a cobalt blue sky.

The weekly market offering fresh produce and other locally-produced Provencal products takes place every Tuesday morning in the main square.

For casual dining and good wines, check out the Casa Rosario  a few yards north of the main square on the route de Murs, and the wine bar L’Estimanet on the main square.

Basics:

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L’Asphodèle, Lieu-dit Fontanille, Route de Murs, 84220 Gordes, Contact: Thierry Tarquis and Christophe Noguès, Tel : 04 90 72 01 30, Website

Directions: From the main square in Gordes where there is a roundabout, take the road up the hill opposite the Château – D15, the route de Murs. One mile up the slope take the second road on the left after the sign leaving Gordes. Follow the signs for about two-fifths of a mile to the L’Asphodèle. Note: Recommended to not use your GPS once you find yourself in Gordes.

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Mazan: Auberge du Vin (au lieu d’un Gite)

by BB Kuett on January 10, 2014

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From the large pool of the Auberge du Vin, you gaze out at an ocean of vineyards which seem to flow up to the slopes of the Mont Ventoux in the distance.

What guests treasure about the Auberge is its peaceful isolation: no neighbors, except the vines mind you, no traffic, and no obstructions to the mesmerizing views.

The Auberge is a French farmhouse converted into a bed and breakfast where wine courses ranging from half-day to three day sessions are conducted periodically throughout the year.

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Open all year, you can book accommodations at the Auberge without enrolling in any wine course, and the property, which also has two self-contained cottages, has hosted numerous weddings and their guests.

Located in Mazan, 16 miles northeast of Avignon, the Auberge du Vin is the home of Linda Field and Christopher Hunt. Linda is a WSET-qualified wine teacher who has taught wine courses and judged wine competitions in London before resettling in the Vaucluse.

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Bed and Breakfast guests staying at the Auberge tap into Linda’s wine knowledge of the region and her advice on visits to local wineries in the Ventoux, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Vacqueryas, and to the picturesque villages and charming restaurants in the region, including Avignon and the Luberon.

 

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In the farmhouse, there are four Master Bedrooms consisting of a hall, bedroom with options of king, queen and double single beds, and modern en-suite bathrooms with shower-room and toilet. One bathroom has a bath.

Guest can rent a self-contained cottage on a weekly basis which has two double bedrooms, shower-room and toilet upstairs, and downstairs a lounge, kitchen and bathroom.

 

Basics

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Auberge du Vin, 384 Chemin de la Peryrière, 84380, Mazan, Tel: 04-90-61-62-84, Email: info@aubergeduvin.com, Website

Provencal Breakfast served in courtyard or enclosed dining area

Wine Course Information on Website or here

 

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