After a wonderful return to Avignon, we made our way to the last stop on our journey through Provence: Crillon-le-Brave. The town of Crillon-le-Brave rests high on a hill overlooking some of the most beautiful vineyards and mountains in all of France – including the stunning Mont Ventoux of Tour de France fame. It’s hard to believe that this stunning spot was largely deserted from WWII to the 1980s due to the lack of a clean water source. When we arrived I instantly knew it would be hard to leave! Sweeping views of the surrounding valley, purple and orange sunsets, and gorgeous vines clinging to 300 year old homes… I think you can feel the peace and tranquility of this place through the pictures.
In 1988 new life returned to the hilltop when Peter Chittick discovered a large country house and set about modernizing the building, opening an 11 bedroom hotel a year later. Over the years, the property has expanded to include eight additional historic houses all built in the 16th and 17th centuries. Rightfully calling themselves a “village hotel” each building bears the name of the original family that owned it. The hotel’s greatest asset is undoubtedly the view, and our first night we opened the french doors in our suite and enjoyed a bottle of rose while looking out over the valley as the sun faded from view. We had similar feelings at Crillon-le-Brave to the experience we had on our honeymoon at Le Sirenuse in Positano – incredible views and discrete, but thoughtful and welcoming service. In fact, a few of our friends told us after our stay that they had chosen Hotel Crillon-le-Brave for their honeymoon, and I believe it’s the perfect place to unwind after a wedding.
When we weren’t soaking in the views, we tried our hand at a few adventures. We learned to play the Provincial game of petanque, which is very similar to bocce ball, and took a few trips to surrounding towns, including Gordes and Bedoin. So many friends had offered effusive praise of Gordes, and the moment it came into view we pulled off the road to admire the Roman town seemingly chiseled out of the hill. You can walk the entirety of Gordes in under an hour, and double your time there by grabbing an espresso in one of the cafe’s on the central square. Bedoin is a short walk or bike ride down the hill from Crillon-le-Brave, and our hotel provided us with walking maps that took us past rivers and vineyards and to a spot with a wonderful view of Crillon-le-Brave. The main street in Bedoin caters to cyclists with lots of places to park bikes and carbo-load on pizza, but I preferred the pastel side streets and neighborhoods clustered around Elise Saint Pierre. We would have liked to visit more towns, but David had to make an unexpected trip to Paris one morning to pick up a new passport (he ran out of pages!). If we had more time I would have liked to take bicycles and done a full day cycling from town to town, stopping for snacks or a glass of Pastis at little cafes along the way. This winter they’ll be hosting truffle hunts and wine weekends, and now that I know how much fun truffle hunting is I’d love to come back to appreciate the vineyards painted in color and find a few more truffles!
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All photos by David and Stacie FLinner for Stacieflinner.com.