24 hours in a Palace: La Bastide de Gordes

At the heart of the Luberon region of Provence, perched high on the rocky cliffs of one of France’s most beautiful villages, La Bastide de Gordes stands out immediately as something very special.

This 18th century stately home has been magnificently rebuilt and restored to its full glory by expert specialist craftsmen. So its elevation to official ‘Palace’ (luxury hotel) status in 2016 came as no surprise.

9 am: A swim with a view... of the Alpilles

How do you feel about starting your day with a swim in this perfect pool? Caught between the sky above and the valley below on one of the many landscaped terraces of La Bastide, this 25-metre pool is heated to a constant 30°C. So if the morning air is a trifle fresh, who cares? And what a happy coincidence it is that the deep blue of the water seems to melt wonderfully into this spectacular landscape.

10 am: Breakfast en-suite

Whether the aspect is the citadel village of Gordes or the soft curves of the Alpilles Valley, La Bastide’s 34 rooms and 6 suites all boast spectacular views and a luxuriously authentic feel. In this ancient manor house which so successfully recreates the spirit of the château homes of the Counts of Provence, every moment of the day is exceptional. And none more so than breakfast on the terrace of the Duc de Soubise Suite.

11 am: A jewel box of a room

Paintings, chests of drawers, vases, wall lights and art objects, all carefully curated from the stocks of antique dealers, furnish La Bastide with a real eye for detail. The parquet floors are beautifully patinated, and the wallpaper and fabrics are period designs. The bookcases feature every volume in the La Pléiade collection of French classic literature, and the TV screen doubles as a large mirror. We love it when the 18th century infuses bedrooms, suites and lounges with such exquisite taste!

1 pm: Lunch on the L’Orangerie terrace

On the panoramic terrace of L’Orangerie, one of the three restaurants at La Bastide, it’s time to enjoy a lunch that brings all the colours and flavours of Provence to your plate. Too warm outdoors? In that case, the cool of the conservatory will be a welcome retreat. With a ceiling of exposed beams and huge windows with breathtaking views over the valley and the Alpilles with their olive trees and mulberry bushes… the stage is set!

4 pm: A voyage through the senses in the spa

Carved from the living rock at the heart of La Bastide lies a stunning spa: 1,600 m² on two levels that breathe the mineral essence of the hillside, authenticity and the promise of a voyage that will be both sensory and meditative. The almost monastic simplicity of the treatment rooms and the Sisley treatments offered are an open invitation to refocus on yourself. If you prefer, you can take your massage outdoors in the shade of a hundred year-old olive tree. The special something? This relaxation room with its canopied beds. Like everything else at La Bastide... totally unique!

6 pm: Revitalising me-time in the indoor pool

Magical... especially at dusk! The views from the spa are the stuff of dreams. Its enormous windows frame the gently sloping valley dotted with traditionally authentic Provencal mas farmhouses flanked by cypress and olive trees.

9 pm: A Michelin-starred dinner in the Pèir restaurant

Pèir is the Provencal dialect word for pierre (stone), but the cuisine served in the Michelin-starred restaurant of Pierre Gagnaire at La Bastide is a world apart from rustic. In its extremely discreet vaulted dining room of just 8 tables, each plate of food is envisioned by this chef as a work of art in its own right to be relished and savoured against the breathtaking views from the terrace. Reservation essential!

8 am: Under the watchful eye of eight centuries of history

Guests leave La Bastide quietly and with a sense of calm, taking with them the spirit of this grand house which so successfully embodies and interprets eight centuries of history. Everyone who comes here appreciates having spent a few days as the privileged friend of a welcoming château host. And there’s always the opportunity to return to enjoy open fires in the grand lounge or starry nights on the terraces.

Getting to Provence