911 chemin du mas de la Tour, Beaucaire
Walking through the gates to the courtyard from the car park and capturing first sight of this elegant French estate is a bit of a wow moment. It is quintessential Provence with a quirky mix of classical French château style combined with a contemporary casual air illustrated by wicker sofas with plump cushions, deckchairs and arty touches such as the modern iron sculptures dotted around the grounds.
Domaine des Clos is located back from the road halfway between Beaucaire and Bellegarde (Beaucaire and adjoining Tarascon are best for restaurants). Originally an 18th century Provençal farmhouse, it is the product of a labour of love for owners David and Sandrine Ausset who spent years restoring it to its current immaculate state.
There are loads of cosy, inviting little nooks and crannies set with tables and chairs to enjoy long, leisurely lunches or decadent dinners with local cheeses and a bottle of vin from nearby Mourgues de Grès. Pride of place is the one in the centre of the lawn in the shade of the old tree which is pure ‘A Memory of Avignon’. It’s all beautiful, elegant and very, very French.
What we particularly liked about it (apart from the fact it looks like a dream vision of a French farmhouse) was that Domaine des Clos pulled off feeling like a home, a rural hotel and the most idyllic self catering accommodation all in the one exquisite package.
Rooms and apartments are either in the old farmhouse or in the former stables. The rooms and apartments in the farmhouse, where we stayed, are more classically rustic French – rich colours, thick drapes, open stone staircases, polished wooden floors and terracotta tiles. Those in the stable, although they still exude that French country vibe, are more contemporary in design with modern furnishings. They also feel roomier thanks to an open plan design.
In the farmhouse we had access to a well equipped little kitchen (useful for cooling wine and keeping cheese from melting) and a colourful dining room with Moorish touches – vibrant tiles, stained glass windows, ceramic tagines.
Wifi is available everywhere in theory, but accessing it was quite complicated and the signal, when we managed, was intermittent.
The dining room (and artistic lounge) is in the lower floor of the old stables. It’s easy to find as the smell of fresh coffee directs your nose to its location on the first morning. The food is as fresh as the décor; crusty breads are delivered daily and you know the orange juice is squeezed straight from the fruit as you make it yourself.
There are a selection of quality cold meats, local cheese, fruit, yoghurt, cereals and croissants; however, the tastiest part of breakfast were the creative pots of jam made by Sandrine. These are as imaginative a display of jams as you’ll find anywhere. I spent days testing them without duplicating flavours. A must is the courgette with lemon and mint. Initially unusual, but the flavour soon grows on you.
David often joins guests for breakfast which is a nice touch as well as providing a good opportunity to take advantage of his wealth of local knowledge. Dinner is also available at Domaine des Clos, but only at certain times of the year. It wasn’t available when we stayed in September.
The reception adjoins the dining room, doubling as a shop selling local wines and Domaine des Clos’ own olive oil as well as Sandrine’s sublime jams at €4 a jar.
The gardens are as perfect as everything else and ideal for wandering around with a glass of wine in hand. Olive trees, vines and a peach orchard keep up the Provence farm look, an avenue of cypress trees lends a classic château touch whilst palm trees, pomegranates and oleanders bring a tropical flavour to the area around the swimming pool.
What you get with Domaine des Clos is beautiful looking and comfortable French boutique accommodation that seamlessly blends contemporary style with the historic heritage of a former vineyard.
Domaine des Clos; 911 chemin du mas de la Tour, Beaucaire; tel: +33 466 01 14 61; double rooms from around €115 per night with breakfast included.
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+