LE DOMAINE DE MANVILLE : A DELICIOUS FAMILY AUTUMN WEEKEND
Catherine Seiler Luttmann, maried, mom of Justine, from Paris
(Wdenesday 29th November 2017)
The question comes every year invariably from the month of September, which destination to choose to make the most of all your holidays with your family? There are the Brittany lovers, (where the weather does not tend to be so good!), there to enjoy rubber boots, polar temperatures and a fire! There are also those who prefer distant destinations, but for 3 days, it’s complicated. There are ski lovers and snow-capped mountains, but it’s too early! And then, there is me! And my special affection is for Provence in autumn. How to combine this natural enthusiasm and a beautiful family holiday? I will tell you!
The place is magical and full of history, breathtaking landscapes and is bathed in light. Welcome to Baux-de-Provence, a medieval city that’s perched in the heart of the Alpilles. We decided to bring our suitcases to the Domaine de Manville for a long autumn weekend. We took Justine, our latest little mouse, who is already very travel seasoned. We did not want to take a big bag for her and decided to put on her sneakers, to be sure to make the most of this great property, which is nestled in the heart of the wonderful landscapes that were dear to the writer Alphonse Daudet, who camped there, and wrote Letters of the Mill. As soon as we parked, Justine was leading the way, and we couldn’t hang about, because she could not wait to find out where she was staying!
LE DOMAINE DE MANVILLE
The Domaine de Manville, which was once a vast agricultural estate, has now been transformed into a hotel that its owners describe as a “rural palace”, a palace because the house offers all the services of a 5 * modern hotel and rural because of its anchorage in the heart of a territory with unique wild beauty and authenticity. We were lucky – the sun was waiting for us on our arrival.
Here is the set decor, now let’s get down to business! First good point, the hotel is part of The Little Guest Hotels Collection, which promised some nice surprises to discover here and there for Justine.
THE BELL AT THE RECEPTION
“Do you see mom? There is a bell, just like in the olden days! ”
We were warmly welcomed by Anne-Sophie, who’s in charge of the reception, and is also the hostess. Listening to her about all the joys offered by the Domaine de Manville is already a promise of an enjoyable stay – our beautiful family room overlooks the pool and the ancient plane trees.
Warm colors, cashmere, taffeta, antique furniture, everything here was created in the spirit of a family home, where we could welcome our friends to the sweetness of Provencal life. It was exactly as we had dreamed. We were already imagining the smell of home-baked bread and fresh coffee that would float in the air when we woke up the next morning or the special flavour of the honey bee hives, after falling asleep to the sound of the light lapping of the fountains. The decoration mixes contemporary spirit and Provençal roots with serenity. We are fans!
“We were already imagining the smell of home-baked bread and fresh coffee that would float in the air when we woke up the next morning or the special flavour of the honey bee hives”
On her bed, Justine discovered some very pretty welcome gifts, among which was a ‘goose game’, which particularly attracted her attention. Once again, proof that the new generations are very sensitive to environmental issues.
ORGANIC COTTON SET
The time had come to go to the kids-club where the very good-humoured Marion was waiting for us. With enthusiasm and great professionalism, she takes care of toddlers during all the school holidays and on request throughout the year, when booking. I noticed that many children seemed to be regulars at the Domaine de Manville and considered her a big sister. Would not that be the best guarantee of quality? A warm and motivated team for whom the word ‘welcome’ is not meaningless.
A SUNDAY IN MANVILLE
Note that at Manville, the kids-club is included in the price of your room, a nice bonus that allows parents to fully enjoy their day quietly installed by the pool, more active on the golf course or enjoying a wellness break at the spa.
Justine discovered the pleasure of the trailers of the kids-club, where she immersed herself in a book of riddles while waiting for the yoga class given by Marion. An opportunity to learn, to focus but also a great moment of fun! It’s autumn, the kitchen garden created by Marion has started to hibernate, it’s a little chilly at the end of the afternoon but the spirit of the young host makes you forget all that and the laughter of the children that you hear is a real treat for parents.
THE WHOLE FAMILY BY THE FIREPLACE
On our side, we opt for a long stroll on the magnificent 18-hole eco-friendly golf course that’s superbly integrated with the landscape and environment to meet the constraints of a protected and classified region. The day begins to fall, reinforcing the pleasant scent of pines and olive trees. Everything here invites you to relax and let go, we feel nature and we let ourselves sink into relaxation. A pleasant smell of wood fire begins to float in the air, it smells like an aperitif by the fire. I think it’s time to give myself a quiet swim before the return of my mini tornado.
“Everything here invites relaxation and letting go, we feel nature and let ourselves sink.”
After a truly festive day, Justine does not want to prepare for the evening and delays as much as she can. After diving into an art book devoted to Calder in front of the beautiful fire that warms up the lobby, she embarks on a game of goose before trying the ball, followed by a detailed exploration of the mini-bar.
The choice of dinner was unanimous – a casual nibble in the warm bar. The place has a real ambience and offers a nice selection of cocktails to savour with a few small dishes. A festive holiday party, without constraint.
THE TWO SECRET ROOMS
As for the cocktail selection, it’s always a family affair – Justine and Laurent take it very seriously. And Justine will not fail to lean on the bar to verify that her ‘Virgin Colada’ is made correctly, as well as gather some advice from the barman, who laughs along. Cheers!
While waiting for our order, we discover two “secret” rooms on both sides of the bar – the first is a small, private cinema room and the second a library with many board games, a benchmark for families after dinner. We took part, of course! But the first game was the last, because the hands of my watch flirt with the number 12 and I’m already thinking that awakening will be difficult tomorrow. But no question of missing breakfast – it is a sacred moment, wherever you are.
I cannot wait for tomorrow. While we fall asleep in our large bed, Justine takes her place in a small bed in the living room of our suite. She is the one who wakes us up by putting a glass of orange juice on our bedside tables. It must be said that hotels are her passion, she could stay for days in a hotel room to play at ‘Room Service’ – her imagination is limitless! Here is what she was preparing last night!
THE BUFFET’S PASTRIES
The day begins wonderfully, with a famous breakfast served in the winter garden. The buffet, very well presented and diverse, is full of good products. A nice table with savoury dishes, a large central buffet with homemade pastries and a large selection of juices, fruits and cereals as well as homemade jams.
THE LARGE CANOPY
The trees have deposited some of their leaves with autumn colors on the magnificent glass roof and the light of the early morning gives the place, which is decorated with great taste (flea market chic!) an almost magical atmosphere.
After a delicious breakfast, we are waiting at the Spa, which is open to children every morning from 10h to 13h. We leave Laurent immersed in his book, his tea nearby, and slip into our bathrobes for a sweet moment of relaxation.
After a delicious Sunday of relaxation in Manville, we must think about hitting the road, with a large supply of beautiful family memories! Did we need our Provencal pause? There is no doubt we did, because at the Domaine de Manville, we found everything that we like. We lived those few hours peacefully, to the rhythm of the Alpilles, guests of honour in a house full of little things that make the difference. A house with a soul, or simply pure hospitality? And the last word will as always be with Justine, who leaves with some provisions for the road – a hotel that is always thinking of the children!
A HOTEL THAT’S ALWAYS THINKING OF THE CHILDREN
Thank you to Domaine de Manville for opening its doors to us for one night. What a privilege and what an adventure it was!