HOTEL CRILLON LE BRAVE – PROVENCE, FRANCE
The Vaucluse, that part of Provence where agriculture is the culture, maybe lavender-scented and Grenache-splashed, but it is also tough and down to earth. Viewed from the terrace at Hotel Crillon, its weather-beaten greens, browns and mauves take on a Cezanne-like allure. The once-desolate village where this 36-bedroom hotel has been evolving elegantly since the early 1990s is a settlement on a low flank of Mont Ventoux, yet, with a glass of Viognier and a feather light piece of aubergine tempura in hand, you could be soaring sky-high over the plain. As well as the expansive, half-roofed terrace bar and restaurant, where a jazz band plays and the ex- Negresco chef sends out gastronomically plated pork and mountain lamb, there’s a nominally less glamorous bistro, tucked into one of the many stony nooks that are so unfakeably ancient, mossy and charming.
A petanque piste lies hidden just beyond the swimming pool, and a new adults-only sun bathing corner seems like a wonderfully sensible idea when families are splashing about in the afternoon. You may have the pleasure of walking along a narrow street or passing the old church to reach your room. Big, cool and very quiet, they combine chic linens and mineral tones of grey and heather with original tomette floor tiles and whopping wardrobes. If the huge walk-in showers don’t soothe your woes, a new spa in the vaulted former stables provides treatments suitable for everyone from heavily pregnant women to Tour de France emulators.