Mas de la Tour is a top accommodation choice if you are travelling to the Luberon region in Provence.
This authentic 12th century country house in the heart of the ochre hills was originally part of the Sénanque abbey, near the villages of Roussillon, Gordes and Bonnieux. It has recently been completely restored into a lovely hotel with an excellent restaurant.
On our Nice to Milan cycling tour Phil and I were tossing up between staying right in the centre of one of the Luberon hilltop villages, or out in the countryside. As we were on bikes we thought it might be more convenient to stay in one of the towns and be close to shops/restaurants/supermarkets etc, but in the end Mas De La Tour looked so peaceful and typically provencal that it trumped convenience.
We rolled up to the hotel at about 2pm. We turned off the main road onto a country lane and found Mas De La Tour jutting out of the rolling hills. I couldn’t help but grin as we rolled closer as nothing but vineyards, wheat and lavender fields were to be seen for miles. It couldn’t get more provencal.
Image credit: Mas De La Tour
A long gravel driveway flanked by a beautiful garden led to the main building that is built out of warm stone, with vines climbing across the facade. The colour of the hotel is all pale yellows, white and ochre, which looked quite dramatic against the lavender fields and the green garden filled with pink azaleas. As cliched as it sounds it actually smelt like rosemary.
To our delight there was designated bike parking right out the front, and as we pulled up a friendly old dog came out to greet us. The owner followed soon after his dog, and after a few minutes of conversation in stilted French-glish he showed us to our room which was at the front of the building on the second level, looking out over the garden and hills beyond.
Image credit: Mas De La Tour
The hotel isn’t fancy, but the rooms are clean and comfortable with an ensuite and fridge (and aircon!)
We were visiting in late June, and the temperature was hitting mid 30’s when we arrived, so as soon as we were settled we jumped in the pool to cool off. We had grand intentions of cycling out to Roussillon for dinner, but after a G&T by the pool we started eyeing off the on-site restaurant.
It was warm and dry so tables and chairs had been set out under a vine covered annexe that came off the inside bar. There was a set menu that included a starter salad using a local goats cheese, followed by duck in cherry sauce and a cold peach soup with ice-cream for desert. It sounded pretty good to us so we settled in for the night.
I'd never had cold peach soup before, it sounded weird but was actually really refreshing.
One thing that stood out for me was that they sold half bottles of local Luberon wine from Chateau de l'Isolette. Phil is not a big drinker, and I can never finish a full bottle of wine to myself, so a half bottle was perfect for us. Australia should totally adopt this.
After dinner we went for a wander around the grounds which looked lovely in the late evening light. We discovered a petanque court and i’m guessing you could probably hire the pentaque set from reception - there was also a chess set and pool table in the bar area if that takes your fancy.
We were impressed by dinner, but breakfast was even better. It was the best we’d had in France to date. Our waitress from the night before was on the breakfast shift too and she was cooking up a storm - fresh crepes, waffles and omelettes cooked to order. There was a large continental bar of fresh fruit and yoghurt, meats, cured fish and cheese plus your typical fresh bread and jams. There were delicious croissants and pain au chocolates to top it off. Oh and boiled eggs...i’ve probably forgotten things as I kept and finding new delicious surprises every time I returned with my empty plate. On top of this they were serving three different blends of coffee. We had entered a cyclists breakfast heaven.
This big breakfast set us up for a day out on the bike exploring the Luberon Hilltop Villages. You can read about that here.
It was a hot day, so we returned mid-afternoon and basically repeated what I’ve said above (except we had salmon for dinner...and something chocolately for dessert). The only low point was when we were lying by the pool and were covered in dust due to the wheat field harvest that was happening in the field next to the hotel. It was actually pretty funny watching tourists jump in the pool to escape the wheat storm that was blowing right in our direction.
But I can put up with a bit of dust. We are in Provencal countryside after all, you can’t really ask the farmer not to do his harvest so we can relax by the pool!
We only had two nights at Mas de La Tour, but I could have stayed longer. If you are travelling to the area look it up...even if it’s just for the breakfast!
Read more about Mas De La Tour here: http://mas-de-la-tour.com/en/