Holiday in France like the stars at hilltop hamlet in Provence

WHAT’S the one thing that beats a room with a view? His ’n’ hers bath tubs next to the window.

With a glass of fizz in hand, it made for a dream start to our bucket list trip to Provence.

Nearby lavender fields are heaven scent

We knew it would be a memorable stay the moment we arrived at the 5H Hotel Crillon le Brave, near Carpentras, which has become a secret escape for celebrities from across Europe.

The hotel is made from a cluster of 17th century honey-coloured stone houses that dominate the hilltop hamlet from which it takes its name.

They have been tastefully and sumptuously converted into 16 rooms and 18 suites — ideal for a second honeymoon or that blow-out trip of a lifetime.

Actress Keira Knightley enjoyed a break here recently, while Game Of Thrones star Sophie Turner and her pop star husband Joe Jonas chose it to celebrate their wedding in 2019 — and probably stayed in our suite.

It’s not just the view from the twin bath tubs that draws people to Crillon le Brave.

Your senses are bombarded the moment you arrive — from the peel of old church bells to the scent of lavender from nearby fields.

Market town with 40 ancient fountains

About an hour’s drive from Marseille airport, the idyllic hotel is approached along steep, winding country lanes.

It just oozes luxury while still creating a home-from-home feel.

After checking into our lavish suite, we decided to stretch our legs with a stroll through the maze of narrow, cobbled alleyways and terracotta-roofed houses that make up this picturesque village.

By night, they take on a more romantic hue as the buildings bask in the soft light from old-fashioned street lamps.

Lunch back at the hotel’s Table du Ventoux restaurant is a real treat. All the food is prepared using produce from within a 25-mile radius.

Despite the hotel’s remote rural setting, there’s plenty to do from the moment you have breakfast on the magnificent terrace until you sink into the huge, soft bed at the end of the day.

The best way to explore is by bike, which the hotel can organise for you.

We found the roads free of traffic but it’s worth considering an electric bike as the hills can be gruelling.

And unless you’re an expert, it is probably best to avoid the trail up the 6,263ft Mont Ventoux, one of the most difficult stages of the Tour de France.

Some of the finest wine estates are within easy reach, too. We took a diversion to Chateau Pesquie for a tour and tasting before enjoying a picnic in the magnificent grounds there.

Everything you need for a tasty lunch on the lawn is available at the vineyard shop.

Try to fit in a visit to Pernes-les-Fontaines, a historic market town which boasts 40 ancient fountains.

A stroll around its thrice-weekly market is a real treat, as is a visit to the old church or the ancient dungeon, where you can climb the 11th century clock tower to take in the view.

To celebrate our final night at Crillon le Brave, we booked an outdoor table for a gourmet meal at La Madeleine, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant.

Chef Adrien Brunet served us a gastronomic symphony of flavours, including foie gras and tuna tartar, all swilled down with magnificent wine from the Ventoux region.

Keen to explore more of Provence for the rest of our trip, we took a scenic drive to the French Riviera to sample the delights of Lou Pinet, another 5H gem — this one a stone’s throw from the beaches of Saint-Tropez.

There are just 34 rooms and suites as well as an emerald green swimming pool, which is the largest in the area.

Again, the food is exceptional with Riccardo Giraudi, of Paris’s famous Beefbar, opening a sister restaurant at Lou Pinet.

Try the Wagyu and Kobe beef. Or for the ultimate in flavour, go for the tomahawk steak — but be warned, no meat will ever taste good enough again.

We walked off the meal with a hike along the Sentier du Littoral, a three-mile coastal trail along the Cap d’Antibes.

We stopped when we reached Les Graniers, which boasts a golden sandy beach with its own rustic restaurant.

Here we tucked into more French culinary delights before retiring to the sand for an afternoon doze.

After all, isn’t that what we all need from a holiday? Sun, sea, sand and a snooze.

GO: Provence

COVID: Fully vaccinated travellers can enter France without having to take a Covid test. The NHS Covid Pass is now recognised in the EU.

GETTING THERE: British Airways, Ryanair and easyJet fly year-round to Marseille.

STAYING THERE: Rooms at 5H Crillon le Brave from £150pppn including breakfast. See crillonlebrave.com or call +33 4 90 65 61 61.

Rooms at the 5H Lou Pinet from £182pp, per night including breakfast. See loupinet.com or call +33 4 94 97 04 37.

Crillon Le Brave
Hotel Crillon le Brave is a classy destination[/caption]
Crillon Le Brave
Crillon le Brave is a secret getaway for celebs[/caption]
The luxury Lou Pinet hotel in Saint-Tropez


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