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Hotel Highlights

  • The ravishing restaurant is a culinary dream
  • Romantically rustic interiors
  • The prime Provençal postcode

Overview

RUNNER-UP: BEST HOTEL RESTAURANT – SMITH HOTEL AWARDS 2014
WINNER: BEST HOTEL RESTAURANT – SMITH HOTEL AWARDS 2013


Situated where Provence’s lavender meets the Alps' rugged foothills, La Bastide de Moustiers hotel is Alain Ducasse’s romantic country inn with Michelin-starred dining, atmospheric local touches and dramatic views. Dine on picked-in-the-garden-fresh seasonal fare before returning to airy and elegant rooms that subtly showcase local craftsmanship from the sheets to the teacups.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking La Bastide de Moustiers with us:

A basket of seasonal fruits and flowers in your room, and an aperitif made with locally sourced ingredients

Facilities

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Need To Know

Rooms

13, including two suites.

Check–out

12 noon. Earliest check-in, 4pm. Both are flexible, depending on availability.

Rates

Double rooms from $240.18 (€195), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.50 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rates exclude breakfast (€24).

Also

The hammocks by the greenhouse are the perfect spot to unwind with a good book.

Hotel closed

The hotel closes for the winter season, from 16 december to 28 February.

At the hotel

Private park, gardens, book and DVD library, free WiFi. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD/CD, iPod dock, minibar, Bains Plus cotton nightshirts.

Our favourite rooms

Antique birdcages hang from the ceiling of La Volière, which translates as ‘the aviary’. This room has burnt-orange walls, a four-poster dressed with a lemon-yellow quilt, and French doors leading to a patio. La Chambre Pigeonnier is named for its location in the old pigeon house. It has a downstairs sitting area, a mezzanine bed with a hand-carved frame, and a bathroom with chequerboard tiles.

Poolside

The elegant pool faces the vineyards and is shaded by a wall of tall pines, with white sun loungers and parasols, and a small stone building with changing rooms.

Packing tips

Some bubble-wrap to package up your Moustiers-Sainte-Marie pottery with care; a notepad-cum-recipe book so you can record the restaurant’s creations; driving gloves and a headscarf for whizzing around the roads in style.

Also

Banish any residual pre-holiday tension with a massage by the pool. Should you like to make a dramatic entrance, the hotel has a helipad.

Children

Children are very welcome. Cribs cost €25; extra beds, €45. Babysitting with a local nanny can be arranged.

Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

Alain Ducasse’s gastronomic restaurant, headed by one of his protégés, Christophe Martin, is a foodie’s fantasy. Vegetables, herbs and edible flowers are plucked from the gardens to ornament delectable dishes such as roasted young pigeon with polenta, beetroot and turnip. It's extremely popular, so make reservations when you book your room.

Hotel Bar

There is a small, well-stocked bar area, in a cosy room next to reception. Silver ice buckets stand on a bar made of antique carved wood; green glass lamps hang from above, and an open fire blazes in winter.

Last orders

Breakfast is dished up between 7.30am until noon, lunch is a leisurely 12.20pm–2pm, and you can linger over dinner from 7.30pm until 9pm.

Room service

None, but with such a serious restaurant a mere stroll from your boudoir, you won’t want to graze.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Relaxed and comfortable but with an eye on glamour.

Top table

Take a terrace table for views as beautiful as Hocquet’s creations. For a really romantic dinner, book the intimate Salon des Amoureux (lovers’ salon), which has just one table.

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Discover the Gorges du Verdon canyons with a guided climb or hike and go windsurfing or canoeing on turquoise waters of the Lake Saint Croix (www.moustiers.fr). Wander among the lavender fields in the Verdon National Park – ask the hotel to pack you a picnic before you set off. La Bastide de Moustiers can arrange a hot-air balloon ride with a professional pilot, who can also instruct you in paragliding and hang-gliding. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is famous for its handcrafted pottery, so hunt out some new plates and salad bowls. In the 11th century, pilgrims used to journey to Moustiers’ monastery – follow in their footsteps and look out for the ex-veto, a chain with a golden star suspended high across the valley, left by a knight who returned safely from the crusades. Rise early one morning and set off on a drive around the narrow, winding hill roads – preferably in a convertible, with the roof down, and the wind in your hair. Or, let the hotel plan a perfect picnic for you: the chefs will prepare your gourmet fare, the sommelier will choose a wine to compliment each course, and your chauffeur will drive you out to the old oak tree where you'll find a table already set for your feast.

Local restaurants

Unless you’re staying for a while you won’t want to eat anywhere else. However, if the day’s adventures should lure you away, we recommend La Treille Muscate on Moustiers-Sainte-Marie’s Place de l’Eglise (+33 (0)4 92 74 64 31), where the emphasis is on fresh, seasonal ingredients and regional cuisine: beef with artichokes, turnips, chorizo and red wine sauce is a hearty example. There’s also Ducasse’s second country inn, Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle, an hour and 15 minutes’ drive from the hotel, at 10 place du Général de Gaulle in La Celle (+33 (0)4 98 05 14 14). The restaurant showcases Provençal produce in dishes such as courgette flower with crispy bacon, and fruity puds with local cherries.

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Lavender, herbs and olive trees

La Bastide de Moustiers

Chemin de Quinson, 04360, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Provence, France

Planes

Marseille is the closest airport to the hotel, just over one and a half hours’ drive away. Fly to Marseille from London Gatwick with Ryanair, Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) and British Airways (www.ba.com).

Trains

The nearest train stations are Aix-en-Provence, or Marseille (www.voyages-sncf.com). Both stations are around 90 minutes’ drive from the hotel.

Automobiles

If you’re driving to the hotel, Paris is 793km away, Lyon is 330km, Marseille is 118km and Aix-en-Provence is 87km.

Reviews

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Anonymous review

by Anthony Demetre , Champion chef

This review is taken from our guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France. Early December isn’t everyone’s choice for a French sojourn, but we find it perfect. We arrive to crisp, cold days and clear skies. Dramatic snowy peaks are the delightfully cliche?d backdrop as we head towards La Bastide de Moustiers, along what has to be the most enjoyable stretch of road I&rsquo…
Read more

La Bastide de Moustiers

Anonymous review by Anthony Demetre, Champion chef

This review is taken from our guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France.

Early December isn’t everyone’s choice for a French sojourn, but we find it perfect. We arrive to crisp, cold days and clear skies. Dramatic snowy peaks are the delightfully cliche?d backdrop as we head towards La Bastide de Moustiers, along what has to be the most enjoyable stretch of road I’ve encountered in a long time. It’s lavender central, with row upon row of bushes patiently waiting for the spring sunshine – we can only imagine the aroma when they flower.

Still owned by legendary chef Alain Ducasse, La Bastide de Moustiers is his former home, located in the foothills of the Alps, near the Gorges du Verdon and the Luberon. During a spell on the Riviera, Ducasse set off on his motorbike to explore, and happened upon a grand stone building, the former home of a master potter. Moustiers’ green, gold and blue beauty cast a spell on him,
and he decided to buy it and turn it into a luxurious inn.

As we climb out of the car, we’re greeted warmly by Jeremy, the assistant GM and, during our stay, very much the man who makes things happen. Although Ducasse doesn’t preside over Moustiers himself, the hotel and restaurant are imbued with his spirit and passion. We immediately get that lovely ‘staying at a friend’s home’ feeling. There’s no concierge nor formally clad staff; the clobber of choice here is smart-casual, and they pull it off fantastically. A charming welcome, by people who really make you feel like a long-lost pal, is hard to top.

Coffee cravings calling, we make for the view-rich back terrace. It is hard to imagine we left a rain-drenched London just hours ago. Then, easy though it would be to sit for hours in the cool winter sun, we drag ourselves from our wicker chairs to explore the magnificent grounds, finding tunnelled pergolas, meandering paths and a swimming pool. There’s no danger of time inside playing second fiddle, though. We’ve been given the Olive Suite, surrounded by mistletoe and arbutus trees in fruit. The rooms have discreet mod cons (including a handy iPod dock, and air-con for summer) yet they are, in essence, light-filled, airy and elegant.

Local artisans restored La Bastide and supplied furnishings for its interiors, resulting in a property that has a distinctly Provenc?al flavour, with hand-embroidered linens, painted ceramic sinks, handmade crockery (Moustiers is an historic centre for earthenware fai?ence) and gleaming copper pots hanging in neat rows in the tiny original kitchen. Heavy wooden antique furniture and a wall of framed botanical prints by the main staircase add gravitas, and vases of freshly cut flowers inject the rooms with colour and scent.

By 7pm, activity in the salon beckons us to enjoy an aperitif and have a sneeky peek at the other guests – mainly overnighters from further afield in France, rather than locals from nearby. On our way to join them, we steal a gander at the small but lavishly stocked wine cellar, with wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy, as well as some star bottles of Co?tes du Rho?ne.

As one would expect in a dining room belonging to the holder of the most Michelin stars in the world, eating at the Bastide is a highlight. It won Ducasse one of his stars, but don’t expect a barrage of unnecessary extras. It’s all simple, intelligent and seasonal. Even the crudite?s are mini flavour-bombs: zingy radishes, cool, crisp cucumbers, delicately steamed carrots and plump peas. Most of the produce is plucked from the sprawling gardens – planted with 30 varieties of tomatoes, along with peppers, courgettes, verveine, mint, lavender, beans and carrots – or the olive grove or herb gardens.

Like the hotel, the restaurant is a love poem to the surrounding area, with seats on the terrace so you can admire the Provenc?al hills as you eat, drink and make merry. The interior is divided into four separate rooms, each with its own allure. Le Salon des Amoureux is the choice for Mr & Mrs Smiths: a single private table – very romantic. Another has a splendid log-burning fire. We eat en famille in the library room, surrounded by Ducasse’s personal collection of cookery books. Out comes fantastic wild boar and silken potato gnocchi, accompanied by superb wine; the list is admirable, as you’d expect, but we stick with local, small, artisanal producers.

It’s hard to get out and about when you’re made to feel so at home at La Bastide, but the local attractions are not to be scoffed at: the Gorges du Verdon are a must for sheer rugged scenery. We also find a wonderful food market in Riez, where just-in clementines are a real treat. Years ago I made a pilgrimage to the marche? aux puces at Puimoisson, hoping to bring home beautiful antiques sold at knockdown prices by poor farmers clearing out the attic. The offerings couldn’t have been more flea-ridden but, determined to return with something, I bought an old child’s chair I thought the kids would love. I fought with the attendants to get it on the plane, and it now sits at home in our attic. Still, we return to peruse the 60 stalls of bric-a?-brac, and we’re rewarded with some fantastic old tin toys.

We’re happy to have a memento of our trip. La Bastide de Moustiers has much to offer families and food-lovers, romantics, weekend recluses and countryphiles. Yet what touches us most about our time here is the staff. We’re always made to feel comfortable and relaxed – nothing is ever too much trouble. They even make time to indulge me my shocking conversational French. That personal touch and natural hospitality will stay in our minds for a long time.

The Guestbook

Reviews of La Bastide de Moustiers from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The food was consistently amazing; they were able to move things around to find us a bigger room.

Don’t expect

The room called 'Potiron' is just too small to consider if you have even average baggage.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This is a delightful, relaxing and quietly efficient hotel. The restaurant is first rate yet unpretentious. The staff are friendly and intelligent. This is definitely a place we hope to visit again.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I enjoyed dining on the wonderful terrace.

Don’t expect

Tea and coffee in the room would have been nice.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved the incredible location, charm and natural beauty, fantastic food and service.

Don’t expect

The portions were so large that it was impossible to enjoy all the courses.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved the staff, decor, cuisine, ambiance… what's not to like? If I could afford it I would live there.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The room was beautiful, very quiet and comfortable. The bed was lovely with its beautiful linen. It was great having turndown service with a little pack of delicious sweets on the bed plus the nearest market to visit the next day. The staff was friendly and kind. The grounds were lovely, and the buildings beautiful.

Don’t expect

We found eating in the hotel just too much even the two nights we did it, let alone for the middle night. We wished they had offered a simpler menu of two courses. The food was delicious but there was a lot of it and it didn't change a great deal, being very seasonal and local. I like rabbit but had it twice, and we also had a lot of fennel and clafoutis. The maid service in our room was a bit erratic. The flowers were dying on our arrival and rotting by the end, and she sometimes replaced toiletries, etc, and sometimes didn't.

Rating: 9/10 stars