Provence is full of hotels that combine luxury and history. In Marseille, France's second-largest city and a friendly foil to Paris, the Old Port area was transformed by the revival of the landmark Hotel Dieu, built as a hospital in the Middle Ages, into a five-star property operated by the InterContinental chain. Outside the city, you'll find stately mansions, modernized farmhouses and remote country retreats.
Please note that prices and other details can often change. We recommend that you call ahead before you go.
INTERCONTINENTAL MARSEILLE - HOTEL DIEU
1 Place Daviel, Marseille
Telephone (33) 4-13-42-42-42
This historic landmark was dramatically brought back to life last year as a five-star hotel, transformed by French designer Jean-Philippe Nuel. The light-filled lobby of white Cassis stone leads to a sprawling courtyard terrace flanked by two open-air, winding staircases, which, along with the building's facade, are listed as national monuments. The terrace houses a brasserie and bar that's become the apéro hour it-spot for well-heeled Marseillais. Rooms and common areas are sumptuously finished in white, black, gray and silver tones—except for the lavender-themed, 1,600-square-foot Presidential Suite.
A modern extension was added to the back of the hotel during the renovation, so visitors who want to wake up to views over Marseille's port should be sure to reserve rooms in the historic front. The best-positioned accommodations are junior suites or executive-terrace rooms with port views and private terraces. All rooms feature separate showers and tubs. Chef Lionel Levy presides over two modern restaurants: the Michelin-starred, neo-Mediterranean L'Alcyone and the casual brasserie Les Fenêtres, which offers concoctions such as Levy's signature creamy "Bouille-Abaisse milkshake" served with a straw. Sip with a bottle of white Clos Ste.-Magdeleine Cassis 2012 ($78).
Château des Alpilles' main building dates to the 19th century.
CHÂTEAU DES ALPILLES
Route de Rougadou, St.-Rémy-de-Provence
Telephone (33) 4-90-92-03-33
Suites 6 (including family rooms, an apartment and a family cottage)
Towering 200-year-old platane trees line the stately entry to one of the most intimate and relaxing addresses in Provence: a 19th-century estate restored and improved by a mother-daughter team over 25 years. Set in a wooded 20-acre park about a mile outside St.-Rémy, the château is a three-story bourgeois mansion featuring step-back-in-time common rooms appointed with crystal chandeliers, marble floors and velvet-covered walls.
The outdoor area features a shaded dining terrace, along with garden canals that gurgle water from a natural spring, and a poolside grill. In the main house, guests have a choice among 14 classically decorated rooms in three size classes. Each room displays a different color theme, with Provençal wall fabrics, antiques, vintage parquet floors or carpet, and modern marble bathrooms with standard tub-showers. Three smartly renovated farm buildings provide more options, including light country-modern rooms or suites.
The five star hotel Bastide de Capelongue not only provides views of the Lubéron mountains but it also houses a Michelin starred restaurant.
BASTIDE DE CAPELONGUE
Chemin des Cabanes, Bonnieux
Telephone (33) 4-90-75-89-78
Édouard Loubet is not only a master of herb-infused Provençal cuisine, he is owner of this five-star hotel. Situated in a pair of stone farmhouses surrounded by herb and lavender gardens, it looks over the village of Bonnieux and the Lubéron mountains. Large rooms—some with separate sitting areas and private terraces—exude an updated country feel, with terra cotta floors, painted antiques and reproductions and earth-tone textiles. Modern bathrooms have shower-tub combinations. The only misstep is a poorly designed modern three-level suite, Le Pigeonnier, with a perilously steep, rolling steel staircase. Larger accommodations are available across the road at Loubet's Ferme de Capelongue. The rustic-meets-modern apartments sleep two to 12 at attractive weekly rates ($1,100-$6,000). Even if you don't stay here, splurge on a meal at the Lubéron's only restaurant with two Michelin stars, featuring a 1,300-label wine list, or try the bistro, new this season, which offers more casual cuisine. Loubet, who is known for his near-alchemical cooking with wild plants such as navelwort, crocus and polypody ferns, also offers four-day cooking-lesson packages.
Hotel Crillon le Brave is a stunning sanctuary that boasts gorgeous vistas.
HOTEL CRILLON LE BRAVE
Place de l'Eglise, Crillon le Brave
Telephone (33) 4-90-65-61-61
Suites 7, plus a 2-bedroom house
The epitome of country class, this intimate five-star retreat has spread over 25 years from a remote hilltop village's 13th-century presbytery to include seven buildings, connected by winding staircases, passageways, galet stone walks and courtyards. Impeccably renovated, with views over vineyards to towering Mont Ventoux, the generous rooms are simply and tastefully decorated, with terra cotta floors, antiques and pastel fabrics. Throughout the property are beautiful, large-format black-and-white photographs of the landscape by British photographer Craig Easton. Sprawling bathrooms—each the size of many a Paris hotel room—feature footed tubs and immense tiled showers. The master suite has a fireplace, sleeping loft and side-by-side tubs, situated to take advantage of the mountain views. There are lots of terraces, hidden corners and niches on several levels to take in the setting. When the wind kicks up off Ventoux, guests can head into common rooms, including a panoramic bar and a dining room housed in a vaulted stone cellar. The hotel's only flaw was slow service in the gastronomic restaurant taken over last year by 33-year-old chef Jérome Blanchet and his young team. In season, Blanchet's more casual locavore Bistrot 40K offers only ingredients and wines sourced within 25 miles.