Provence. I know all 12 readers are waiting for a report. Although I'm pretty sure you just want to see the pictures. Do you guys actually read my posts? Because if you do, I'll try to think of something clever to write.
I'm not an experienced traveler so I struggled for a week deciding on where to book a hotel. Should we stay in something quaint and Provencal or luxurious and wellness-oriented? Or should we stay inland near the historical sites or stay right on the beach? And is it me, or is it difficult to really judge a hotel based on its web site?
I had just gone through another long spell of insomnia, so I was desperate to indulge. I finally decided on Chateau Montcaud in Sabran, which is further inland closer to the sites that Mr. Wild Dingo wanted to visit. Luckily for me, the Chateau had some limited spa services, such as massage, a hot tub and a beautiful pool. I didn't need or want any other kind of services so it turned out to be a great combination of Provencal and luxury.
The chateau was purchased 19 years ago as a run down home by a couple who seem to be experienced in the hotel rennovation business. The husband is Swiss and the wife French. Their multi-building chateau sits on 11 acres of beautiful gardens and forest, completely enclosed by 12-foot walls. The gardens included a made made pond, acres of forest and both single track and fire road trails. It would have been perfect to take our dogs and not worry about leashes as the hotel allowed them. It made me sad to walk the trails without them but I realized how badly I needed some dog-free days to myself. The entire setting was enchanting.
It seemed the hotel let in anyone, including the riff-raff, like this cracked-out labradoink having a few zoomies in the garden. He was pleasant boy and Mr. Wild Dingo and I fussed over him plenty during our stay.
There were several romantic quiet places to lounge and enjoy the views--not that Mr. Wild Dingo actually saw any of them. He prefered reading email on his crackberry. Still, it was actually difficult to leave the peacefulness of the grounds and garden to go site-seeing.
Dinner was always its own adventure. The restaurant, located in another building, features a renown French chef, who draws inspiration from Hong Kong, Tokyo, Ottawa and Lisbon, to incorporate a flair of Asian herbs and spices without losing the tradition of true French-Provencal cuisine. The Frenchies sure love to amuse their bouches. Each night featured some exotic pre-meal amuse-bouche, such as rabbit, salmon or a soup served in a shot glass. With each three-course meal, we indulged with a bottle of local wine. The evenings were ended with a visit to our table from the chef.
In addition, each Sunday, the Chateau features a Jazz lunch, served outside with a live Jazz band. Unfortunately, we left too early on Sunday to experience it, but it looked to be a huge event and a lot of fun.
On a walk around the garden, I unexpectedly discovered the grotto, another pond and waterfall.
The water flows over some bolders and below over a cave where the water drizzles down into the pond. Guests can book a massage in this cave area and listen to the soothing sounds of the running waterfall.
Also hidden in the trees was a tennis court and a hot tub. Yup. I could live here.
Later this week, I'll post a few photos of the local sites and Roman ruins for all those whacka-doo readers who like that stuff.
By the end of our trip, Mr. Wild Dingo and I gained a wee-bit of weight. But I can't imagine why.