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My Route du Bonheur

The ‘major sites’ of Provence from Avignon to Marseille

Jean-Paul Passedat
By Jean-Paul Passedat, Owner of the Petit Nice-Passedat

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itinerary with our concierge

+1 800 735 2478 * *Local charges apply
"Why did the greatest artists come to Provence? For the light, of course! So it gives me the greatest pleasure to invite you to come with me on a route of ‘major sites’, where, under clear and crystalline skies that are the envy of the world, we shall visit the most symbolic towns and landscapes of Provence. Avignon, the Alpilles, Salon de Provence, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, you must admit that there are worse journeys you could make! When I think of this route, simple words and images comes to mind. Avignon and its immense, inescapable and indeed improbable Palais des Papes. Les Alpilles, a small mountain range with discreet little villages built into the folds in the limestone. Salon de Provence and the immense Nostradamus… Aix-en-Provence, that magnificent ‘chocolate box’, the ‘ideal’ city for art, education and countryside! Last of all, ‘egocentric’ Marseille, with its 2,600 years of History, a huge vibrant city and the cradle of Provence. I am sure that you, like me, for I never tire of it, will discover many wonderful things on this route through the ‘major sites’."
Suggestion of itinerary
  • 6 hotels
  • from US$ 977.43 *
1
40 km
2
59 km
3
45 km
4
58 km
5
42 km
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To give you inspiration, Relais & Châteaux presents the Routes du Bonheur: suggestions for travel itineraries that you can fully personalise according to your wishes and the experiences you would like to discover. Our consultants are available to help customise your route and assist you in making reservations at our properties. It is up to you to reserve any recommended activities on-site or nearby that might interest you.
*Total price provided for information only, based on accommodation for two people in a double room for the number of nights per property as indicated on this page, exclusive of recommended activities, properties that cannot be reserved online and restaurants.


1 Villeneuve lez Avignon — 1 Night
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Le Prieuré Baumanière

Villeneuve lez Avignon - France

Hotel and restaurant in a village. Le Prieuré in Villeneuve-lez-Avignon, tucked away in the mediaeval village, with its cottage garden and its trailing wisteria, emanates a rare charm. Jean-André and Geneviève Charial, who also own two properties in Les Baux-de-Provence, say that this former convent epitomises silence and relaxation. In the different rooms and suites contemporary style meets ancient tradition. The menu also pays tribute to the region, with dishes such as duck foie gras with Gariguette strawberries from Nîmes and pot-roasted Costières wood pigeon with fresh sage. Le Prieuré’s mouth-watering cuisine is served in surroundings which bring all the senses to life. ... Learn moreless

TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor
Key Services
36 rooms
Close to the property

The Carthusian Monastery in Villeneuve lez Avignon

The Carthusian Monastery in Villeneuve lez Avignon

After you have explored Avignon, take a moment to visit the Val de Bénédiction Carthusian Monastery. It was built in the heart of Villeneuve in the 14th century by Pope Innocent VI, and takes you right back into an atmosphere of unimaginable tranquillity. The cloister of St John and the Cemetery cloister, the chapter house, church and refectory all bear witness to the former power of the Carthusian order. This Carthusian Monastery is larger than the Palais des Papes (!), and is a ‘nave’ that will delight all those who love tranquillity and religious architecture.

On the route

The road from Barbentane to Graveson

The road from Barbentane to Graveson

This is only a short 9 km route, but it is little known and receives few tourists, so I recommend it but please do not spread the word! You leave the lovely village of Barbentane and its 18th century castle, and wind your way up the Departmental road through the pines above the plain of the Rhône, to the heart of the Montagnette hills. This typically Mediterranean ‘small mountain’, a foretaste of the Alpilles, is overlooked by Saint-Michel-de-Frigolet Abbey, where they produce a delicious liqueur…

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2 Les Baux de Provence — 1 Night
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LES COUTEAUX LES PIEDS DANS L'EAU (2)- David AUDEMA 2019
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Anchoïade camarguaise poulpe confit Legumes cuits crus
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Baumanière Hôtel & Spa

Les Baux-de-Provence - France

Restaurant and hotel in the country. As a result of the merger of La Cabro d’Or and L’Oustau de Baumanière, Baumanière has become the epitome of Mediterranean art of living in a magical place. Appreciated by personalities from the political and the media world, this domain was founded by Raymond Thuillier, the "historical monument" of French gastronomy according to Gault et Millau. In 1969, Jean-André Charial took over from his grandfather as the head Chef, a position he held with maestria until today. This respected Chef is now no longer in the kitchens but managing the domaine. Baumanière remains a unique place, nestled in the Baux-de-Provence rocky outcrops. It encompasses five buildings: L’Oustau, the historical centre, La Guigou, a Provencal mas, the Manor of the 18th century and finally Carita and Flora, in a rural setting. It also includes two gourmet restaurants, L’Oustau de Baumanière – an institution to enjoy the refined, subtle, simple cuisine of the chef – and La Cabro d’Or. A table d’hôte for lunch, a bar and numerous terraces supplement them. Moreover, the estate boasts a spa, three outdoor pools and a tennis court. ... Learn moreless

Key Services
54 rooms
(from) US$ 251.63
Choose Room
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3 Bonnieux en Provence — 1 Night
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La Bastide de Capelongue

Bonnieux en Provence - France

Restaurant and hotel in the country. In the heart of the Luberon golden triangle, why not try the fragrant gourmet cuisine of two-star Chef Édouard Loubet at this elegant, sophisticated Provençal bastide. Serenity and art de vivre are the hallmarks of this prestigious hotel which offers its guests a simple and magical experience: to appreciate the décor of the elegant rooms, to breakfast by the side of a fountain, to sip iced herbal tea next to a pool surrounded by lavender, to go and pick food in the morning and then take a cooking class with the chef, or simply to enjoy the setting of the sun and the magnificent views over the village of Bonnieux. ... Learn moreless

Key Services
18 rooms
1 villa
Close to the property

L'Enclos des Bories, Bonnieux

L'Enclos des Bories, Bonnieux

The Enclos de Bories, at almost four hectares in size, towers over Bonnieux village. Long forgotten by those living in the region, the site was cleared about ten years ago, revealing some 20 buildings which had formerly been a hamlet of dry-stone homes. Now meticulously restored, they are a quintessential reminder of the pastoral life experienced by the men who lived there.

La Louve Garden, Bonnieux

La Louve Garden, Bonnieux

La Louve was classified as a Remarkable Garden of France by the French Culture Ministry in 2007, and is one of the finest contemporary gardens in Provence ... and even in the whole of France. Created in the 1990s by the famous designer Nicole de Vésian, the garden passes from mineral to plant elements along the length of wonderful terraces. Stone sculptures, river pebbles from the Durance, wooden benches and trimmed plants make up the beginnings of a heavenly place.

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4 Aix-en-Provence — 1 Night
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Villa Gallici

Aix-en-Provence - France

Hotel and restaurant in town. Paul Cézanne missed Aix terribly whenever he left, and never ceased to be inspired by its beauty. Many after him succumbed to the charm of this town and the ambience of this Florentine residence. The rooms are sumptuously decorated, and open onto a private garden filled with the fragrance of lavender. The cuisine pays tribute to Provence with dishes like sautéed loin of lamb and aubergine caviar with olives, black garlic sauce and fried basil. Try the famous local speciality of Calisson, sweets flavoured with melon and orange. Villa Gallici offers a special “Cézanne package”, which includes a visit to the painter’s studio. ... Learn moreless

TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor
Key Services
23 rooms
(from) US$ 297.48
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Close to the property

Aix-en-Provence and Cézanne's studio

Aix-en-Provence and Cézanne's studio

Aix-en-Provence, with its 17th and 18th century town houses, its maze of busy streets, its tiny squares with their fountains and the café terraces of its famous Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence is a perfect example of Provençal art de vivre. I am sure you will enjoy, as I do, the market on Place Richelme, the fitness treatments at Les Thermes, the calisson sweetmeats… Especially, you will be able to visit Cézanne’s studio; it was in that humble ‘shed’ that the painter created some of his best-known works.

On the route

Pedestrian footpaths and the Petit Sonnailler Estate

Pedestrian footpaths and the Petit Sonnailler Estate

Abbaye de Sainte-Croix is right in the heart of the countryside and is the ideal setting-off point for a stroll through the Provence countryside with its fragrances of thyme and rosemary. There are two routes you can take from the hotel. The first takes you up to a small plateau of garrigue overlooking Salon de Provence. The second leads you up to the old ruined village of Vernègues and its stunning views of the Luberon. On your way, why not stop off for a wine-tasting at Château Petit Sonnailler, a top-quality wine-growing estate!


 

Salon, Nostradamus' house and Château de l'Empéri

Salon, Nostradamus' house and Château de l'Empéri

Salon de Provence is known worldwide for its Patrouille de France (the famous aerobatic demonstration team of the French Air Force) and also as the town that was host to the seer, Nostradamus. There is a museum dedicated to him which tells his life story with his enigmatic prophecies, which appeared in his famous Centuries. And when you are in the town centre, don’t forget to visit Château de l’Empéri. This former residence of the Archbishops of Arles is built on a rock overlooking the town and now houses a military museum.

 

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5 Le Castellet — 1 Night
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Hôtel & Spa du Castellet

Le Castellet - France

Restaurant and hotel in a park. On the edge of a forest of pine trees overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the Hôtel du Castellet is one of the region’s most charming properties. Guest rooms are painted in hues of honey, lavender and grape and there are plenty of sun-drenched terraces. Three-star Chef and MOF (Best Craftsman of France) Christophe Bacquié has stamped his style on the Restaurant Christophe Bacquié, the prestigious gourmet restaurant of the hotel. The cuisine is based on seasonal and Mediterranean produce enlivened by a hint of flavours from further afield. For absolute relaxation there is the pool, golf course and spa. When night falls, the gazebos are illuminated, to highlight the beauty of the grounds. ... Learn moreless

TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor
Key Services
42 rooms
(from) US$ 232.61
Choose Room
Close to the property

Paul-Ricard track, Le Castellet

Paul-Ricard track, Le Castellet

Throughout the year, all kinds of competitions and vehicles continue to go round the old Formula 1 track. Legends including Jackie Stewart, Ronnie Peterson, Niki Lauda and Alain Prost have all raced and won here. Fans of high-powered and collector's cars still drive along its 5 861m (and 25 turns). Driving lessons are run regularly on certain sections of the track.

 

Bandol vineyards

Bandol vineyards

The medieval village of Le Castelet overlooks the Bandol wine-growing plains and hillsides. Although unknown to many, the Bandol was one of the first wines to be awarded AOC guaranteed origin status (Appellation d'origine contrôlée) in 1941. The Maison des Vins de Bandol provides all the information required before you set off to discover one of the 50 estates making these very fine wines (rosé, white and red). The New Vintage Wine Festival held on the first Saturday in December brings together every producer of the Bandol appellation area along the town's quay. You're guaranteed to meet some great characters as you sample the wines!

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6 Marseille — 1 Night
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Le Petit Nice-Passedat

Marseille - France

Restaurant and hotel on the seafront. To love Marseille means to love the Mediterranean, inseparable from the city, just like Gérald Passedat’s three-star cuisine. First come sea anemones, bonito, sea urchins, crabs and shellfish. Then fish occupies the heart of his cuisine. More than 65 varieties are fished locally over the year, such as tub gurnard, rascasse, red porgy, comber fish, common dentex, in compliance with the guidelines for the protection of maritime resources. The cult dish is “Bouille Abaisse”, light, iodized and zephyr-like, and also the famous Lucie Passedat sea bass. Sea views are everywhere… from the terrace, from the restaurant and from your spacious bedroom, overlooking the distant horizon. ... Learn moreless

Key Services
16 rooms
(from) US$ 195.71
Choose Room
Close to the property

Notre-Dame de la Garde

Notre-Dame de la Garde

Notre-Dame de la Garde symbolises Marseille. It is a domed basilica crowned by a gilded statue of the Virgin Mary, perched at 160 m on its own hill, from which it dominates the entire city. It is a place of religious fervour and its walls are covered with legions of commemorative plaques. It also provides a superb view point commanding magnificent panoramic views of Marseille, the sea and the coastline. The locals refer to it as the ‘Good Mother’ and it is somewhere you simply have to visit when you come to stay in Marseille!

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