Happy first day of fall. I don’t know about you, and maybe it has something to do with the fact that it’s still 95 degrees outside, but I’m not ready for the new season. I’m still trying to process summer and the fun adventures we were so lucky to have, like our trip to Provence. Like our friend Ferris says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Maybe we can treat today like the first day back at school, where you get to write about what you did over summer break. Okay? Okay. I’d like to share the best place to stay in Provence.
The highlight of highlights, or rather the creme de la creme, was our trip to the castle-turned-luxury-design-hotel Chateau de Massillan in Provence, France. Check it out, if you’d like to see…
I get pretty obsessive during the planning phase of a trip. To a fault. Like super intense stress-monkey insane. It’s a problem, really. But after a lot of time spent traveling, I really know what I want and, more accurately, what I don’t want. For instance, Fred Baby and I know that we enjoy small, luxury boutique hotels the most. Something that feels off the beaten path and special, but not too intimate where you feel like you’re under a microscope. We want the best of the best, in an uncontrived way, something that feels authentic, and we want to be left alone. Except when we don’t. Somehow this comes to mind:
Harry Burns: There are two kinds of women: high-maintenance and low-maintenance.
Sally Albright: Which one am I?
Harry Burns: You’re the worst kind; you’re high-maintenance, but you think you’re low- maintenance.
Sally Albright: I don’t see that.
Harry Burns: You don’t see that? Waiter, I’ll begin with a house salad, but I don’t want the regular dressing. I’ll have the balsamic vinegar and oil, but on the side. And then the salmon with the mustard sauce, but I want the mustard sauce on the side. “On the side” is a very big thing for you.
Sally Albright: Well, I just want it the way I want it.
Harry Burns: I know: high-maintenance.
But let’s face it, time is precious. It’s the one thing you can’t buy more of. And, therefore, life’s ultimate luxury. So when you’re on vacation, you want it to be what you want.
On this particular trip, I knew that I wanted to be in the countryside, not in a main town, somewhere we could bike through vineyards from our hotel, and feel relaxed and free. And somewhere with amazing food. A vacation without great food is not a vacation. Even when I was seven, the highlight of traveling for me was being able to order French toast for breakfast at a restaurant. I gave my poor Dad some serious side eye when he would try to pawn off donuts from the gas station on me as breakfast. Some things never change…
I ended up stumbling across Chateau de Massillan on Booking.com, which is the go-to site for finding amazing places to stay all over the world.
It seemed to check all the boxes and then some. It was also the only place that didn’t cost $1000 a night. Not that it was cheap mind you, but relatively, it seemed like a bargain. But you never quite know when booking online halfway around the world. Would it be as great as it appeared online? Could it be? So I was kind of holding my breath…
And when we were driving into the region, Fred Baby scared me half to death when he asked, Are you sure this is in the countryside? Um, you mean my one requirement? I thought I was sure until he asked me that question. I think so, I replied hesitantly and with a pit in my stomach. We pressed on and as we drove, the roads became windier, the towns less populated, and my anxiety began to abate. And then we came to the spot that GPS had led us to: a pair of wrought iron gates. Nothing bad can exist behind wrought iron gates, right? We slowly drove past the gates down a long dirt road. When the road ended, we saw this:
That’ll do, we both said giddily in unison.
Andi it got even better when we stepped inside.
Awash in creamy neutrals and bathed in soft natural light, the palette was feminine and sophisticated and decidedly French, like being in an issue of Elle Decor.
I mean, check out that bar cart!
There’s a reason this place was in Architectural Digest.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when the closest town is called Hauteville.
Seriously, the light is so good.
This is the kind of light that makes you look 10 years younger.
I’m pretty sure the Chateau should add that to their brochure.
Just a suggestion.
You can either stay in the castle itself, whose rooms are more traditional, or in the newly added rooms in what I believe were the stables, which are more modern and have their own private entrance.
Being privacy freaks, we opted for the more modern option.
We loved the idea of being able to rip open our doors and walk outside.
Oh, and the outside.
Literally like being in your own Cezanne.
The grounds were so breathtaking I walked (and biked) around pinching myself in the soft Provençal sunlight.
The hotel has bikes that you can just grab and go.
Don’t you just love that?
We were over the moon.
But let’s talk food.
It was incredible.
The day starts with breakfast in the courtyard overlooking a fountain.
Freshly baked croissants, local cheeses, coffee, eggs made to order, so fresh, so good. Real food.
No wonder, the food comes from their own organic garden on the property, which you can wander through.
Note to self: Plant a garden.
Wait, is this legal? It’s France…who cares!
One day we didn’t leave the property at all, save for a quick bike ride through the vineyards, and while there is a pool on the property and no more than three people were ever at it, we just enjoyed lazying around and eating to our heart’s content. A little caprese and wine for lunch, a little nap and then dinner.
As dusk fell, the light turned to a soft violet that was romantic and beautiful.
What’s lovely is there are only a handful of rooms, which means only a handful of guests. You see the same couples at each meal. It feels intimate and warm like dining among friends in the walled-in courtyard of the castle.
And can we talk about this risotto? The best dish of my life. I asked Fred Baby, What is that?
“Butter…and cream,” he answered.
Dessert was pretty sweet too.
The perfect ending to a dream trip. Thank you for coming along!
More info on Chateau de Massillan can be found here.
Photos by Fred Baby
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Brought to you in collaboration with Booking.com. All words and opinions are my own.