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Helen Enjoys A Weekend in Provence

Filed Under: Blog

Posted on 15th May 2015

Arriving on a beautiful evening, the sun slowly went down over the Provençal countryside as we arrived at Terre Blanche.  The views in the evening light towards the surrounding countryside and hilltop villages were spectacular.  A warm welcome awaited us from the hotel staff and after a speedy check in, we were whisked away in buggies to our luxurious suites.  Built into the landscape, each suite is designed in the style of a Provençal villa with terracotta tiles on the floor, and the natural colours of the landscape incorporated into the design.  The suites are huge with plenty of space for a family of 4 with large bathroom, bedroom and separate lounge with comfortable sofa, TV and a handy coffee machine.  Views are lovely whether looking into the trees, over the golf course or towards the hills and all the villas are surrounded by lovely gardens with fragrant herbs and flowers.  Families requiring more space can opt for connecting suites or one of the beautifully appointed villas.

The main building houses the reception, a comfortable lounge area and the Gaudina and Faventia restaurants, plus a selection of small rooms suitable for meetings, private dinners or other occasions. The décor and design of the hotel is effortlessly elegant yet still feels as comfortable as a private home.  Just outside the main building you find the large heated pool with its super comfy sun loungers. From its elevated position, the pool enjoys lovely views towards the hill and in spring, the entrance was framed with flowers.

A treat lies in store when it comes to cuisine, not that I would expect anything less in France!  The freshest of ingredients, mostly locally sourced are used to create modern cuisine, that is just as appealing to the eye as to the taste bud and it is served with the kind of finesse you would expect at such a luxurious hotel.  The award winning Sommelier had chosen some exceptional wines including a truly unique and delicious wine from Corsica.  The bar at the Gaudina restaurant is a great place to start and finish your evening with pre-dinner cocktails which were expertly mixed, a wide range of digestifs and nightcaps.   To much amusement, our hosts introduced us to the ‘breath test’ machine located near the bar. Needless to say after a congenial evening we all failed miserably… no need to drive however as the hotel buggies will drop you at your suite door.

No stay at Terre Blanche would be complete without visiting the local villages and surrounding area.  Several small hilltop villages are within an easy drive and here you can find traditional restaurants, markets and the sort of independent specialist shops that are now a rarity in the UK.   There are many local vineyards where small wine producers will welcome you to try their vintages. The Côte d’Azur is a mere 35 minutes’ drive from the hotel, or if you prefer to stay inland there is a nearby lake offering water sports, a beach and restaurants during the main summer season. The hotel concierge will be happy to arrange car hire, bike hire or for the more adventurous a dune buggy for the day.  Dune buggies are easy to drive vehicles and we used these to explore the countryside and the local village of Faience where we were greeted by a few raised eyebrows from villagers who had hoped to enjoy peaceful stroll to collect their daily baguette.

All of this sounds rather adult focussed but children are definitely not forgotten at Terre Blanche.  The purpose built kids club is located near to the golf facilities and children enjoy a little ride in their specially designed kids’ club buggy. The club has excellent facilities with a range of toys, games, art materials and computers, plus outdoor playground and children’s pool. A full programme of complimentary activities is offered to children aged 2-12 years with trips into the local woodland included.  Teenagers are catered for too in the teen’s club and various activities can be organised both at the hotel and for days out of the hotel.  After our little tour, the glorious spa awaited.  The spa is located in a separate building just a short walk or buggy hop from the hotel.  It is a very large spa with a sizeable indoor pool, outdoor jet pool, sauna, steam rooms and treatment rooms.  Local oils, herbs and perfumes are used for massages and a range of beauty treatments. The hotel even has its own scent created by the famous Fragonard perfumery.  After a relaxing swim and massage, we headed out to local Michelin starred restaurant ‘Les Caroubiers’.  Located up on a hillside with stunning views, the restaurant is run by a young couple and the welcome into their restaurant, which is also their home is warm.  Again the focus is on local, seasonal produce, so as the first courgette flowers had just opened up, these appeared on the menu. Likewise the artichoke season was in full swing, so a delicately flavoured soup was made with these. Everything was delicious and presented with amazing wines to match.

Although sad to arrive at our last day, I was excited for our golf lesson.  Terre Blanche has state of the art golf facilities with two championship golf courses (one for members only) and a huge driving range and golf academy with swing analysis, Taylormade clubs, pro shop, specialist training equipment and putting greens both indoor and outdoor.   We had a really enjoyable introduction to golf and I was delighted not to miss too many shots!

Our last taste of Terre Blanche was Sunday brunch in the Gaudina restaurant.  This is a popular choice not just for hotel guests but for locals too.  A leisurely graze from the amazing buffet of fresh breads, starters, seafood, roasted meats, cold cuts and delicious desserts is the perfect way to spend a few hours on a Sunday afternoon!

My final note about Terre Blanche is to art lovers.  The hotel has the most amazing collection of contemporary sculptures and paintings with many internationally renowned artists represented including Anthony Gormley, Tony Cragg, Jaume Plensa, Jim Dine, William Quinn and Casar Radetzky, Herbert Brandl.

There truly is something for everyone at Terre Blanche!

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