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Rendezvous en France is an Australian publication that features stories for their customers. The Australian readership is fun, clever and most importantly, adventurous. It’s important to keep the tone light while pleasing the publication’s French clientele.
Having only traveled to France a couple of times, the heavy lifting comes from hours of research and a lot of imagination.
Purity, pleasure, Provence
Rich in authenticity, skincare brand L’Occitane captures the nature and scents of the Provence orchard and marketplace – almond blossoms dancing on the mistrals, the air heady with honey. By Adrianne Young
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Nature and cultivation move in tandem in Provence, and from this partnership a life or pure pleasure is born. The perfumeries of Grasse are a prime example of how the people of Provence refine the land’s wild pleasures. Intoxicating scents, once indispensable to French nobility, are inspired by local harvests of lavender, orange blossoms and rose petals. This flower-bedecked town is a fragrance lover’s dream. Visit L’Occitane’s pristine perfumery and come away with a full appreciation of the art and history of perfume making.
Experience Provence unedited and make an excursion to the breathtaking Verdon Gorges. This 25-kilometre long canyon provides a rare glimpse of untrammeled wilderness. Take a drive along the canyon’s rim, walk one of its many trails or kayak the impossibly blue water aside sheer 700-metre cliffs. In Arles, inspiration plays constant companion and new art is celebrated. Don’t miss the annual summer photography festival Rencontres d’Arles, which largely showcases unpublished work and acts as a launching pad for emerging artists.
A new level of calm
Live Monday morning like a local at the festive Forcalquier Markets. Located in the center of town, the market spreads throughout Place du Bourguet. Over 300 stalls keep the area’s kitchens stocked with fresh produce, locally made bread, cheese, pasta and meats. Be sure to bring a shopping sack for irresistible clusters of grapes and achingly soft cheese.
L’Occitane offers several exclusive guest experiences in this setting, which has been integral to its product offering over the four decades since the company was founded in 1976. Just 10 minutes away from those markets is the Le Couvent des Minimes Hotel and Spa in Mane. The precisely renovated five-star spa hotel is the epitome of Provence’s easy marriage of pastoral beauty and absolute elegance. From the perfectly appointed hotel rooms to the garden café tables, each detail coaxes a new level of calm.
Prepare for an unforgettable gastronomic journey in any one of the hotel’s three dining establishments. The airy bistro offers outside seating, the well-appointed LeCoiltre Restaurant is both intimate and welcoming and the stunning wine cellar offers privacy.
In the hotel’s L’Occitane spa, wellbeing is perfected with services customised to each individual using L’Occitane’s all-natural product line. Soak up Provence through L’Occitane’s oils and lotions made with the very same lavender that graces the countryside. Native almond trees, reintroduced under L’Occitane’s stewardship, produce the almond oil that soothes travel-weary skin. Immortelle cleansers, mists and lotions make time stand blissfully still and L’Occitan’s Shea butter, ethically sourced from Burkina Faso, glides skin back to feeling bright and unblemished. Emerge from the treatment room like one of Provence’s rose-scented queens, immersed in the care and hospitality that have made L’Occitane spas renown worldwide.
For a more interactive L’Occitane experience, head to the bustling town of Manosque, where you can take a free one-hour tour of L’Occitane’s factory and workshop, learn the art perfume mixing firsthand in the dynamic L’Occitane museum and take advantage of exclusive pricing and services in the L’Occitane store – the largest in France.
There is so much living to be had in Provence that a guided tour might be the best use of your precious time in the region. Specialised bespoke tours offer the luxury of seeing Provence in intimate guided groups. L’Occitane’s opens doors to exclusive experiences available only through its partnership with Kairos Travel.
A Parisian Life in Courses
The ultimate pop-up dining experience, Voulez-vous Diner matches local dinner party hosts with guests eager to savour a different flavour. By Adrianne Young
A day in Paris means to imagine living another life. Walk under the warmly lit windows of Île Saint-Louis and you’ll find yourself wondering what it must be like to live in such a charming neighborhood. To visit Paris is to want to feel Parisian, even just for a moment.
For many years, travelers to Paris would never know what it is like to press past an unassuming door and step into a lively dinner party. Unless you use a service like Voulez-vous Diner, which pairs local hosts with dinner guests, it’s a world reserved for Parisians.
Visitors who want the most from their time in Paris, log onto Voulez-vous Diner and browse the event profiles of local artists and consummate hosts who’ve opened up their home for private dinners. Each profile includes photos, menus and pricing ($20 to $70). Simply pick and event and purchase seats online.
Some dinners are cultural events with a recital played between courses. Others end with a tour of the neighborhood. Menus are seasonal and offer everything from beef Burgundy to Papaya salad. Just as delicious, are the personalities at the table. An entire week in Paris could be spent hoping from dinner to dinner eating, sipping and making friends and having fantastic conversations along the way. And suddenly Parisian life is realized.
Sports & Luxury Hotels
Headline: Up your travel game
by experiencing the stunning and elegant hospitality that is uniquely French. From the linens to the table service, these properties play on a completely different pitch.
Les Crayeres, Reims
Tucked away like a love letter into the folds of a skirt, Les Crayeres sits in a lush 7 hectare park in the city center. This former chateau of the Polignac family come hotel brings the French ideal of hospitality to life with its service, food and attention to every linen.
In the hotel’s famed, 2-Michelin star restaurant, Le Parc, Chef Philippe Mille’s inspired, seasonally attuned plates are presented with intricate and graceful service. While Le Crayeres makes the perfect base camp from which to explore the riches of Champagne, it is just as delightful to wander the vineyards by perusing the Le Parc’s 600 label champagne list.
For those who want to see the 6th and 7th stages of the Tour de France 2017 in Troyes, Les Crayeres is just an hour and a half by car. This year’s Tour route is all about arduous climbs and the sprint through the broad streets in the centre of Troyes promises to be exhilarating and refreshing. Afterwards, celebrate the victories of the day or blithely forget its setbacks at Le Parc, where even the sea salt flecked butter is memorable.
Le Sources de Caudalie, Bordeaux
In Bordeaux, the enjoyment of wine and food is synonymous life itself. Where else could anything like the Marathon de Medoc be so successful? The September marathon gleefully breaks all the rules and costumed participants are encouraged to stop along the route for wine, feasts and a swim.
For participants who need to recover or for those who simply need an escape from the melee, Le Sources de Caudalie offers a serene retreat replete with a spa that features vinothérapie–a treatment that features grape extracts.
Each of Le Sources de Caudalie’s eight dynamically designed guest houses tells the story of Bordeaux’s history and celebrates its natural beauty throughout 25 rooms and 41 suites. Guests can nestle into the romance of the Aquitaine in the garden-side Hare Cottage or the airy, feminine decor of the Bird Island Suite.
Surrounded by vineyards, this hamlet of luxury could not be fully experienced without a wine tasting in The French Paradox bar and The Tasting Tower. For casual meal, take a table at La Table du Lavoir, set in the former washhouse used by the winegrower’s wives. Be sure to dine at La Grand’Vigne, where the menu celebrates each season with reverence and simplicity.
La Bastide de Marie, Provence
Provence’s pleasures and unique sense of ease are keenly felt at Bastide de Marie. The spacious maison with 14 rooms (including six suites) beckons friends to gather around the impressive grand fireplace or relax upstairs in the comfort of the library.
The property, surrounded by 57 acres of vineyards, is an oasis of leisure populated with olive trees, lavender hedges and walkways that beg to be explored. Find the two level pool crafted out of an ancient pond or discover a new serenity at the Pure Altitude spa for a massage among the vines. Or, lounge poolside and dream of a down to earth life in Provence.
La Bastide de Marie is open April to November and for a special Christmas stay when you can see Provence in a magical light. Wander the impossibly charming Christmas markets in town where the smell of mulled wine fills the air and holiday spirit is steeped into every sip. Make a sport of the holiday and embark on a black truffle hunt with La Bastide de Marie’s local truffle hunter. Afterward, the hotel chef will prepare the treasured finds simply and elegantly so as to preserve their freshness in memory alone.
Hotel Metropole, Monte-Carlo
Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo showcases Monte-Carlo’s royal glamour with refined service and unrestrained elegance. Each of the 126 rooms and suites of the 5-Star hotel have been painstakingly restored to celebrate the hotel’s roots in the Golden Age. From the shimmering fabrics to the Carrera marble adorned bathrooms, each room is painstakingly appointed.
For Formula 1 fans, staying at the Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo means being able to watch the race from the luxury of the hotel terrace where fine wine and food complete the experience. The annual January Circus Festival receives royal attention as an international array of performers compete to be awarded best in show by a jury led by HSH Stephanie.
Dining at any one of the four eateries is a Monte-Carlo spectacle in itself. The most accessible experience is the Lobby Bar with its delicate bites and custom made cocktails and background music designed by Béatrice Ardisson. Exclusive to Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo guests is the Odyssey a poolside restaurant whose view of the sky opens and closes with the seasons. The Michelin Star awarded 40-seat Yoshi, which serves delicate Japanese fare tailored to French sensibilities overlooks a Japanese-themed garden. While the 2-Michelin Star Restaurant Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo opens out to the sea and celebrates the Mediterranean in fare and decor.