Hotels of the month

Provence: luxury and tranquillity at Château de Fonscolombe

Less than thirty minutes from Aix-en-Provence, a haven of peace proudly reigns over the Provencal countryside. With its five-star Relais & Châteaux label, Château de Fonscolombe promises a princely stay of simplicity and elegance.

The pitch | An 18th-century private residence transformed into a 5-star Relais & Châteaux

Located in Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, this Provence hotel owned by 2LCollection has a rich heritage of historical anecdotes. It was around 1730 that this building, nestled between Mont Sainte-Victoire and Mont Ventoux, was built and welcomed its first owner, the cloth merchant and supplier to the King, Boyer de Fonscolombe. The Marquis Gaston de Saporta, who subsequently took over the château, developed the estate in a botanical spirit, with formal gardens and planting in the 12-hectare park (27 hectares including vines).

Drawing on this history, so dear to French heritage, Fonscolombe was entirely renovated in 2017 under the impetus of Hélène Martel-Massignac, mother of the current owner and founder of the 2LCollection brand, Lorène Martel. The restorations were carefully studied, since the main building, which once housed England's Queen Elizabeth II, is a listed historic monument, requiring the organization to validate each project. The result was the award of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux distinction in 2018. Since then, the estate has continued to offer a luxurious but no-frills hotel experience, where travelers can enjoy the calm of the Provencal countryside to recharge their batteries and take the time to appreciate the French art of living.

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What's the hotel like?

Château de Fonscolombe is the fruit of an adventure led by Hélène Martel-Massignac, a member of the exclusive club of France's 500 richest people(Challenges), and surrounded by a talented team: Corrado de Giuli Morghen, heritage architect; Arnaud Behzadi and Vincent Bastie of the Artefak agency, hotel specialists (Les Bains Paris) and Cathy Crinon, interior designer. The result of this collaboration is particularly successful.

Walking along the path leading to the hotel is already an invitation to disconnect. With its Italian Quattrocento-style facade, the setting is revealed in a pretty orange hue punctuated by blue shutters. These shades change with the sun, which easily penetrates the château's two towers. One of them features a clock which, like all the others in the building, is stuck at 11:11 a.m., the time at which the hands stopped turning when the sale was signed in 2014. On the other side of the building, various paths lead to long, relaxing walks in the park. And as you pass the chapel adorned with a painting by artist Malel, you'll discover a large pool enveloped by trees, ideal for a leisurely swim.

Inside, visitors are immersed in luminous, high-ceilinged spaces, divided into eight salons: the billiards salon, the Chinese salon, the piano salon and the games room, with babysitting service on request. The grand salon features a magnificent Genoa leather tapestry painted in 1768. The decor is extremely elegant, combining Provençal style with elements of past centuries. This is evidenced by the 18th-century crystal chandelier, the gilded ornaments on the walls and the original or second-hand furniture.

As for activities, a vaulted room houses a massage table and hammam, not far from a cosy bar area where you can schedule a wine tasting. Indeed, encouraged by its surrounding hectares of vines, the Fonscolombe vineyard produces rosé, white and red wines, which will be bottled directly in the residence's cellar in early 2025. Enthusiasts of wine tourism will be delighted. 

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And the rooms?

50 keys are available scattered around the estate, including 13 within the château itself. Each has its own unique decor, characterized by both a princely and modern spirit. A dreamy balance of styles. Royal floral or Toile de Jouy tapestries, chiselled woodwork, romantic four-poster beds, mirrored fireplaces, terracotta floor tiles, luxurious marble and wood bathrooms... these are just some of the features that will ensure a peaceful night's sleep. A particular highlight is the room where the Queen Mother of England stayed in 1965, which, in addition to its sublime decor and marble Jacuzzi, boasts the only balcony among the accommodations overlooking the estate's grounds.

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The restaurant offer

Arriving in summer 2023, chef Marc Fontanne is at the helm of the hotel's restaurants. Inspired by the seasons and the produce, Fontanne's cuisine is instinctive and easy to understand, driven by his current desires, and which he hopes to lead to a Michelin star in the near future. In keeping with his vision of sustainability, the chef would like to expand the château's kitchen garden to encourage (ultra) short supply chains.

The gastronomic La Table de l'Orangerie features a six- or seven-course menu, with marinated red tuna tataki accompanied by delicious turnip tagliatelle and a dried bonito broth; roast venison with surprising accents of Madagascar vanilla; and a very tasty carrot revisited in a variety of ways. At the bistronomic brasserie L'Orangerie, the pissaladière takes your taste buds straight to the heart of Provence, while the comforting potimarron velouté is a real treat. All, of course, washed down with wines from the estate.

Note that you can order a picnic basket to eat in the park. A bucolic getaway guaranteed.

What makes the difference?

The absolute peace and quiet, the large park, the hundred-year-old cedar donated by the Queen of England in whose shade we take tea, the intimate dimension (only 50 keys) or large, luxurious communal areas make Fonscolombe an exclusive retreat.

 

The room to book?

The 46m² Suite Prestige, with its four-poster bed and view of the gardens and park.

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What to remember?

Château de Fonscolombe combines all the attractions of a stay focused on relaxation and pleasure. The estate offers many epicurean moments in an exceptional setting, enhanced by the history of the place and the charm of the South of France.

5 things we loved about Château de Fonscolombe

  • The coolness and calm of the swimming pool, ideal for relaxing after a stroll in the park or a game of billiards or pétanque.
  • The period rooms on the second floor, the reading room and the living room with its Chinese wallpaper.
  • Excellent lunches and dinners in the shade of the 320-year-old bald cypress.
  • Bicycles on loan from reception, jogging along the canal that runs 100 meters alongside the hotel.
  • Close proximity to Château La Coste (a major contemporary art foundation in the region), Silvacane Abbey and Aix-en-Provence.

How much does it cost?

Rooms from €215 per night.

Practical

Château de Fonscolombe

50 keys from €215 per night

Route de Saint-Canadet
13610 Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade - France

All locations are independently selected by our specialist journalists. If you make a reservation, we may receive an affiliate commission.

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