We continued our road trip in Provence with the Domaine de Fontenille, where I spent two nights of pure bliss. For more than three days, I did not leave the estate, which includes an intimate boutique hotel, a gourmet restaurant, a more relaxed bistro, and a wine domain. Follow me for more on my easygoing stay, perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life!
The Provençal Way of Life
To get to the Domaine de Fontenille, we left the lovely town of Aix-en-Provence and headed into the countryside. Only five kilometers outside of Lourmarin (a superb village worth visiting), we were immersed in a truly beautiful way of life. Behind the majestic gates stands a noble house built between the end of the 16th and 18th centuries, surrounded by century-old cedars. The grounds are enchanting; the superb restored building is nestled inside a 35-hectare park, the ideal setting for relaxation. Cypress and olive trees, lavender, and flowerbeds lend the estate a bucolic look.
A Superb Facelift for this Period Building
This unique estate combines the historic character of the original house with some contemporary elements, an audacious blend that closely resembles the characters of Frédéric Biousse and Guillaume Foucher, who made the Domaine de Fontenille their dream project. This nearly-abandoned domain has been given new life thanks to the initiative of its two buyers, who commissioned the Lafourcade architectural firm to carry out a renovation. When the estate reopened in 2015, guests discovered a chic boutique hotel inside the transformed family home. As soon as we arrived, we could see signs of the hotel’s philosophy everywhere: Klein blue walls, bottles from the vineyard on display like trophies, and a “La Chaise” designer armchair from Charles & Ray Eames set the tone.
The Wine Domain
The vineyard was also completely transformed, with an aim to restore its initial size of 35 continuous hectares. The domain was rejuvenated thanks to new cellars and modern winemaking techniques, as well as an effort to convert to organic farming, initiated in 2014. We were thrilled to discover several wine producing secrets with a very informative and absolutely captivating guided tour, which of course ended with a wine tasting in the trendy boutique.
An Intimate Setting with Only 17 rooms
Most of the 17 rooms and suites overlook the estate, and some even have a balcony. They feature a variety of natural materials such as wood, glass, and iron, which blend seamlessly into a perfect harmony. Oak parquet flooring, sandstone tiles and an old-fashioned bathtub are all elements of the past that beautifully offset more modern elements, like a series of contemporary photos. This is the elegant and spacious setting where I set up home for two nights. Nevertheless, the program was “full”: I spent a few hours by the fabulous heated outdoor swimming pool before heading to the spa, and I also enjoyed several gorgeous walks (including in the enormous permaculture vegetable garden).
A Place That Pays Tribute to Fine Dining
The Domaine de Fontenille’s two restaurants are directed by chef Jérôme Faure, who left his starred restaurant in Corrençon-en-Vercors to take part in this ambitious project as soon as it opened in 2015. He supervises all of the dining on offer, but it’s at the starred restaurant “Le Champ des Lunes” that guests can discover the extent of his talent through his original local cuisine. We had lunch there on the terrace overlooking the park, and the following evening we sat down for dinner in the modern restaurant room, filled with furniture from the most fashionable designers. The chef’s creations delighted us, and I will never forget the pan-fried foie gras – a real masterpiece!
We were also thrilled with the chic bistro “La Cuisine d’Amélie” where we dined on the first evening. This more informal restaurant offers an à la carte menu full of creative and flavorful dishes, all accompanied by wines from the estate. The cuisine features seasonal products, with the starred chef’s signature shining through the original flavor combinations and impeccable presentation. As for the setting, it left me feeling immersed in the Provençal art de vivre: we sat peacefully on the terrace under hundred-year-old trees, with only the gentle sounds of the fountain disturbing our reverie.
A Top-Notch Breakfast!
The following morning, we were thrilled to head to the terrace for a gentle awakening with singing birds and a rising sun. We were even happier when we saw the buffet – an incredible selection, with plenty of homemade cakes and sweetbreads, an exotic fruit salad, goat’s cheese, and a number of breakfast classics. I was very pleasantly surprised by the abundance of original dishes and flavors from the region, a unique touch that confirmed the chef’s talent.
A promising future
The famous duo Frederic Biousse and Guillaume Foucher are not stopping here, and are creating a collection of hotels called “Les Domaines de Fontenille”. “Les Bords de Mer”, an establishment located in Marseille, joined the catalogue in October 2018, while a new hotel will open next spring in Menorca. This is only the beginning of a wonderful adventure, which includes many other projects in the coming years.
The Domaine de Fontenille is a timeless place which combines 18th century classicism with more contemporary elements. This intimate boutique hotel offers a historic atmosphere without sacrificing modern comforts. It’s a haven of peace, the ideal place to get away from the chaos of modern life for a few nights. The two restaurants as well as the vineyard allow you to enjoy local flavors and cuisine, all in a tranquil setting that encourages you to recharge your batteries.
- Wonderfully original and generous gourmet offer, be it the top-notch breakfast or the two restaurants
- Wine domain that allows you to visit the vineyards and production facilities and to participate in wine tastings.
- Very beautiful estate – the perfect place to spend a few peaceful days and have plenty to do
- The service was a little uneven and not very friendly
- More information available on their website
- Prestige Duplex Park Room starting at 430€ per night in late September 2018
Thank you to Le Domaine de Fontenille for the invitation to explore their establishment. Of course, the content of this blogpost was left entirely up to me!