We’re pitching Provence against the typical city break and we think you’ll love the difference – venture with us into the Var region amidst vines and groves.
Although undoubtedly attractive, and typically Provencal, the countryside is not of the uber-pretty variety found around the Beaumes de Venise area, however it is arguably more interesting and less cluttered with tourists. Reached by car from Nice or Marseilles in less than 1.5 hours, the location offers a rural lifestyle, historical sights and, of course, superb wineries.
The town of Lorgues has a weekly general market as well as a farmers’ market, which attract attention from a mix of locals and visitors. On non-market days there are still several speciality shops and more than a sprinkling of eateries including the famous ‘Brunos’ renowned for truffles - in every course. Daily pastimes include coffee-drinking, planning lunch, planning dinner and wine-tasting!
Short break – consider this
Of course, spending a full summer holiday here is just perfect, but we think this region is an ideal, alternative short break – quick, regular flights or trains from the UK, easy roads and a short drive from local airports – in a few hours you’ll be sipping your first rosé! There’s also so much to do, and it’s proven that an activity break is far more relaxing than sightseeing.
Pack in 3 days of fun
We took a look at what was on offer at Chateau de Berne in Lorgues, which has recently undergone major refurbishment and expansion to bring together five-star accommodation on a successful wine-producing estate, beautiful grounds and appealing activities. Approached via a meandering track through acres of vines, Chateau de Berne reveals its quaint grandeur of aged stone, layered greenery and gentle perfume. You can join in adventures here as a resident or a day visitor, with several options that include wine, food and exercise.
On your bike or ‘à pied’
Cycling has to be top of this list and this is readily available for all levels, with bikes for hire including partly motorised electro-bikes - a great option if you are not confident of keeping up with the group. The Chateau has mapped walking tours around the estate where you can meander through vineyards and olive groves spotting birds and taking in astounding views.
Kitchen & palate skills
A kitchen to take your breath away is home to gourmet cooking classes which begin with an amble through the kitchen gardens to collect your fresh ingredients. You will be guided through the principles of balancing flavours, and learn how to transform fresh ingredients into magical meals. On the theme of indulgence, the Chateau’s wine tour gives you a superb insight into how wine is produced and blended and then invites you to sample a few select varieties.
The courts give the impression of 1920’s glamour but the surface is 100% 21st century – enjoy a game with friends or book an intensive training course; there are packages that include food and massage too – fabulous!
If you have a massage in Provence then surely you have a right to an olive or vine-view! Expect this and much more in the serene suites and gardens at Chateau de Berne’s wellness centre where they also have the sense to install a long narrow pool suitable for lengths!
If you’d like to reinvent your short-break or spend a few quality days with the family, then do consider this charming area of Provence – summer or winter.