Travel Review: Provence

Terre Blanche Hotel Provence France

Make like Monaco’s jet set with a restorative weekend of fine living at Terre Blanche, a sprawling luxury resort in the heart of Provence’s wine lands

When the sun comes out, my thoughts turn to rosé wine. It might speak volumes about my lifestyle choices, but it’s the truth. There’s something undeniably attractive about a chilled bottle of the pink stuff nestled seductively in an ice bucket… Given the choice, I always opt for wines from Provence, so when the opportunity arises for me to visit Terre Blanche, a world-class golf and spa all-suite resort here, I simply can’t say no. I invite my mum, another rosé-lover, to accompany me. Unsurprisingly, she’s packed her case before I’ve even booked the flights.

Arriving after a short flight to Nice, we are met by our hotel transfer driver and are whisked off in style along the French Riviera and through the stunning Provençal countryside. Often celebrated for its breath-taking beauty, the area is characterised by colourful landscapes, with fields of lavender, rolling vineyards and medieval hillside villages adding to the region’s postcard-perfect charm.

Terre Blanche Hotel Exterior

Our destination is a 750-acre eco-luxury oasis, which, to give it some scale, is bigger than the size of Monaco. One of the resort’s biggest draws is the two 18-hole championship level golf courses, where major tournaments are regularly staged – which goes some way to explaining the size. I don’t mind admitting that it is the two-storey luxury spa that I am most interested in, though. It boasts a 20m indoor pool, an outdoor vitality pool heated to 35C, a sauna and steam room, as well as a modern fitness suite, and, of course, a menu of pampering treatments – the spa has partnered with premium Swiss skincare brand, La Maison Valmont and organic cosmetic brand KOS Paris.

Terre Blanche Hotel Spa

Accommodation comes in the form of 115 spacious suites and villas, ranging in size from 60 to 300 sqm, all with private outdoor space. We are taken by golf buggy (always available to guests, although it’s very easy to walk everywhere), to our suite. Set in its own building it is spacious and L-shaped: a large sitting area with sofa and dining table has doors leading to a very airy bedroom on one side and a good-sized terrace with wrought-iron sun loungers on the other. It feels totally private and gloriously peaceful; it’s no surprise to learn that the hotel is popular with ultra high-profile guests, who probably need this privacy more than we do.

Terracotta tiles, natural limestone and neutral furnishings give the space a feeling of space and serenity. The two double beds are made up with bedding so sumptuous that we find ourselves examining the labels to see if we can recreate the experience at home. The marble-clad bathroom has been designed with twin vanities, and a spacious walk-in shower, and it is stocked with a good selection of indulgent self-care products, including gorgeous lavender bath salts. We’re delighted to find a chilled bottle of Whispering Angel waiting for us in an ice bucket on the table, and make for the terrace to toast our good fortune, marvelling at the verdant surroundings of the landscaped grounds.

Terre Blanche Hotel Terrace

Terre Blanche’s art-loving owner has displayed his personal collection of world-class sculptures throughout the hotel and grounds, with works by the likes of Jean Miró and Antony Gormley on show – it’s lovely to stumble across these nestled around the trees and buildings. We particularly like a huge, eye-catching silver orb, situated by Les Caroubiers, the clubhouse restaurant, where we head for lunch – a classic Croque Monsieur and Caesar salad, deliciously executed.

Afterwards, we make for the beautiful infinity pool for an afternoon of relaxation in one of the cabanas there. Bright orange towels and fresh water are provided by the attentive pool attendants, and the peace is only broken by the nearby arrival of a helicopter dropping off VIP guests. We spend a few happy hours here, dipping in the deliciously cool water and sipping on iced coffees.

For dinner, we head to Le Gaudina, which is situated in the main hotel building. Seated on the lovely, shaded terrace, we order enormous gin and tonics and tear into some of the best bread we’ve ever eaten; a brown seeded cob, it’s still warm and we dip it into locally-made olive oil. From the Provençal-style menu we order a starter of lamb croquettes, they are delicious, so too are mains of pesto pasta with a huge portion of burrata, and tender grilled tuna served with baba ganoush, fennel and gnocchi. And the desserts are perfection on a plate – red berry mille-feuille and a classic Paris-Brest. We are served by friendly and patient staff who indulge my attempts to speak to them in ‘Franglais’ – my A Level French exam feels as though it were several lifetimes ago, and it certainly shows.

It is all too easy to settle into a routine of reading by the pool, but the hotel can organise a variety of trips, and arrange private drivers, for those who do wish to explore. We make sure to find time for a trip to Chateau d’Esclans, the home of Whispering Angel – no surprises there. The vineyard is a half hour drive from the hotel, but the scenery is stunning, and the hotel car is comfortable and air conditioned. We are treated to a fascinating tour, learning all about the history of the brand that’s taken rosé wine to a whole new level. We are also lucky enough to be allowed a peek into the home of founder Sacha Lichine, here we meet his elderly dog who is attempting to stay cool on the stone floor in the kitchen, and we see the cherubs in Sacha’s private chapel. The story goes that on his wedding day, he had a few glasses of rosé and then claimed he could “hear the angels whisper”. The rest, as they say, is history… We finish the tour in the best way possible, with a cellar door tasting, sampling the whole range of wines, from easy drinking The Beach, up to the very special Garrus, made from a single vineyard of nearly 100 year-old vines.

Terre Blanche Hotel Golf

On our last evening at Terre Blanche, we have another treat in store, with dinner at Michelin-starred Le Faventia, the hotel’s gastronomic restaurant, which is under the leadership of chef Christophe Schmitt. We enjoy the six-course tasting menu, which, with the addition of amuse bouche and palate cleanser, is more like ten courses. Every plate that is presented is a work of art, and a taste sensation. I even try my first ever snail (it’s not every day you’re offered a Michelin-starred snail, after all). Highlights on the menu include a huge king prawn, sautéed in a pan at our table by chef himself, and an incredible cucumber and mint origami (a refreshing medley of cucumber served in more ways than I thought possible) which is served with mint bread. Also of note are a delicate red mullet dish, and a generous portion of Wagyu beef, served with blackcurrants. Desserts from pastry chef Jérémie Gressier include a zingy rhubarb, peach and meringue palate cleanser and an incredible chocolatey finale of cocoa water wafers and a salty chocolate fondant, served with hazelnut cream. It is truly an incredible evening of so many flavours, and it’s heartening to hear that local food producers are an integral part of the conception of Schmitt’s cuisine, keeping it as close to the land as possible. This local focus extends to the tableware, which is made by a ceramist based in Tourrettes.

The next morning is our last at the hotel. We are sad to leave after our short but sweet stay, but as the friendly concierge points out, “how can you return, if you don’t first leave?” – he makes an excellent point.

Bed and breakfast rates from €500 for a Deluxe Suite and €720 for a Villa Premier. For more details, see