I love purchasing a new planner each January – all those crisp, blank pages waiting to be filled with weekly rituals, happy celebrations, and far flung adventures! Planning travel for the new year always thrills me the most. As you contemplate “getting back out there” where do you want to head first? Someplace new and exciting? Or a familiar favorite that ensures a happy, seamless time? While I love the rush of discovering a new place there are certain places so perfect I can’t help but succumb to their magnetic pull whenever I’m “in the neighborhood”. And at the top of that list is La Mirande, possibly my favorite hotel in all the world and a place I’ve been supremely fortunate to visit three times since first discovering the property 2017. So as you’re planning your adventures for 2022 I thought it was a good time to remind you of a wonderful spot in the south of France that is definitely worth a visit next time you’re “in the neighborhood”.
It’s not just the impeccably decorated rooms filled with custom wallcoverings by the France’s legendary textile houses, or the discreet yet supremely generous staff. Visits to La Mirande are a rare opportunity to step back in time and soak up 200 years of French contributions to the decorative arts, as if spending a night in a museum. But rest assured it’s not at all stuffy and yes you can sit in that chair. Despite it’s beautifully appointed rooms and pedigree as a home built for the Cardinal de Pellegrue in the shadow of Avignon’s Papal Palace) La Mirande is perfectly cozy and welcoming. I suspect this is in large part an extension of the owner, M. Martin Stein’s personality and the special care he’s taken in hand selecting many of the pieces used to decorate the place with items sourced from local brocantes. It’s the kinds of place where you can enjoy tea in a salon surrounded by one of the oldest examples of hand-painted Chinese import wallpaper in existence, or sip a martini in a bar clad in one of Braquenie’s most outrageous color ways of Pommes de Pin – and the color and the spunk feel just right, to the point that you would barely notice the individual components of the space, but just feel a sense that it all just “works.”
Even though I’d been before, I discovered new aspects of La Mirande because we booked with the help of Maupin Travel. I’ve said it before, but one of the biggest perks of working with a travel agent is having someone organize the cadence of your stay – what time is dinner? Should we visit this place the first day or last day? I can get very tied up in optimizing the schedule within an inch of it’s life, so I find it very relaxing and freeing to have a schedule set out by an expert. Consider how hard it can be to decide what to eat from a menu versus the ease of showing up to a dinner party where the host has everything planned out for you and all you need to do is relax and enjoy? Travel agents are kind of like that. And of course, during high season it can be a question of IF you can get a reservation so we were so thankful Maupin lined up everything for us. Whether a beautiful al fresco dinner in the garden, or one at La Mirande’s Michelin starred restaurant, or sipping coffee in the large pastel breakfast salon, there are so many experiences right on the property you barely have to leave. (And I recommend you take at least on breakfast in your room – c’est magnifique).
When venturing outside the walled gardens, I stopped through Villeneuve-lès-Avignon just across the Rhone River to take in their weekly market, then visited the beautiful grounds of Fort Saint-André, which is perched on a hill overlooking Avignon. (The Fort was built so the Kingdom of France could to keep a watchful eye on the Pope’s Palace, which represented a rival power (The Holy Roman Empire) in the region. Though a bit of a drive, I loved visiting Chateau d’Estoublon, which was recommended by the lovely Samantha Varvel who spends several months each year in Provence and is an amazing resource for the region. (Same goes for her mother, Shauna Varvel.) The Chateau was recently recognized for creating the “best olive oil in France” and it’s well worth a visit for an olive oil tasting, and their restaurant is another highlight. (If you visit in the summer, the drive from Avignon takes you through fields of sunflowers as far as the eye can see. Absolute bliss!)
I could go on about how much I love La Mirande, but I think you get the idea. As always, typing these words has me itching to return to this special place!
Ann Mashburn Boyfriend Shirt in White Poplin // Pucci Linen Mini Skirt // Cesta Collective Straw Bag // Sarah Flint Hidden Garden Silk Scarf c/o // Emme Parsons Metallic Sandals (similar here, and love these) // Pearl Earrings (from a small shop in Venice, similar here)