The South of France is a vast area that unfurls from glitzy seaside hangouts (St Tropez, Cannes, Saint-Raphaël) to thriving cities (Marseille, Avignon) and small, inland villages set among the craggy mountains and olive groves. This is our pick of the top stays across the area to inspire your next getaway in 2022.
Le Moulin de Lourmarin
Featured on the 2022 Hot List of the best new hotels in the world by Condé Nast Traveller.
This well-located, old-world-meets-new village property offers an ideal blend of quintessential countryside charm with trendsetting, tasteful design. The hotel’s ivy-covered stone walls and typical sky-blue shutters invite guests inside, where the feeling of warmth continues to permeate the decor and service. You may want explore the Sunday market in L’Isle sur la Sorgue, or unlocking one of the free bikes for a ride around the village. Don’t skip the homemade Fougasse grilled with olive oil at dinner!
Les Roches Rouges, Saint-Raphaël
It’s the dazzling light that strikes guests the moment they step inside this stylishly revamped Fifties waterfront retreat. The concept is refreshingly straightforward: an easy-going hotel, right on the water, inspired by the colors of the shimmering cobalt Mediterranean and rusty orange rocks. But the real star attraction is the 30-metre saltwater pool carved out of the rock, which spills over right into the sea. There are two great restaurants serving everything Provençal, from pissaladière (onion tart) to steamed cod with garlic mayonnaise and vegetables or roast lamb with rosemary.
Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Cap d’Antibes
The ultimate French Riviera Experience: This is where the world’s most glamorous people descend every summer to live on what feels like an impeccably styled film set. The swimming pool is cut into rocks overlooking a glittering blue Mediterranean Sea, the restaurants that manage to feel casually chic in the day and all dressed up at night. This is a place where nostalgia is kept alive, where corridors are filled with photographs of its most famous guests from the past 150 years, and, where golden sunshine infuses everyone and everything with an air of romance, so that your time here feels lengthened and expanded, and etched in memory no matter how short your visit actually is.
Crillon le Brave, Vaucluse
Regulars at this rambling, extraordinary place at the foot of Mont Ventoux will know that the seven stone houses Crillon le Brave occupies once formed part of a prosperous hillside settlement, abandoned after World War II. Recently renovated, Bedrooms, suites and houses are all connected by passageways and courtyards. La Tour, aka Room 33, is one of the most thrilling, with twin bathtubs, a tower-top terrace and an arched window looking out over the olive groves and vineyards.
La Divine Comedie, Avignon
You’d never guess it but behind a massive unmarked iron gate at the end of an impasse lies a magnificent secret garden – Avignon’s largest – and a supremely chic new five-room maison d’hôtes. After seven years of painstaking restoration, Parisian owners have transformed this former residence for cardinals into an enchanting theatrical space filled with rescued church relics, hand-painted screens, rich fabrics and crystal chandeliers. Wherever your eyes fall, there’s something to discover, including the collection of 200 historical regional artworks that decorate the monumental curved staircase. After breakfast in the sunlit conservatory, explore the garden (with a terrific view of the Palais des Papes’ crenelated towers), then follow the jasmine-scented path to the stone pool and a spa pavilion.
Cheval Blanc St-Tropez
There are good reasons why, in the first half of the 20th century, the French Riviera in general and St Tropez in particular became the stuff of legend. This is one of them. When it opened in 1936, La Résidence de la Pinède, as it was then known, was an elegant, uncomplicated maison by the sea, a short distance from the town centre. When it reopened in 2019, having been acquired by LVMH, it had been transformed into Cheval Blanc St-Tropez. Though outwardly still the same elegant, uncomplicated maison by the sea, things had actually changed beyond recognition. The interiors by Jean-Michel Wilmotte manage to be at once soothing and startling, with Provençal art everywhere you look. A 20th-century classic has turned into a 21st-century one, with no loss of charm.
Epi 1959, Ramatuelle
A pin-up hotel when the French Riviera was the most fabulous place to go on holiday – especially for stars of the silver screen – has been rebooted for a new generation. Italian designer Monica Damante has rebooted rooms with old-world charm – full of vintage ceramics and sisal rugs. The restaurant serves seasonal Franco-Californian dishes with lots of vegan hits (rare in France). The closest village is Ramatuelle which is smaller and quieter than the other towns on the Riviera. Understated, breezy sophistication on the quieter Riviera – this is a retro oasis for rosé by the pool.
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Source: Condé Nast Travellers