Phoebe Hunt checks into a village-style hotel in the Luberon Valley, famed for its cycling and vineyards.
Coquillade was a wine-making village, tended to by monks, for many centuries before its sprawling buildings united to became a single luxury hotel — and the rolling vineyards still define its soul. From midsummer onwards, bunches of grapes stud the breakfast buffet (although you might be somewhat distracted by the patisserie selection, the brainchild of local and legendary baker Paul Appy) and there’s a bountiful wine list, plenty sourced from the surrounding Luberon valley.
There are 11 grape varieties that grow on the neatly pruned vines surrounding the hotel. I stole a few on an evening stroll, some grenache, the most widely-planted red grape, others viognier, caladoc and syrah.
There’s plenty to see and do beyond wine. In fact, Coquillade offers all the normal attractions of the South of France, all in one place.
A staggering €70million has been lavished on the site since 2008 and a suite of refurbished restaurants are currently enjoying the first full, Covid-free season. There’s something for everyone, from fine dining and Italian classics, to Provencal cooking and surprisingly delicious Thai-style snacks, available at one of the bars.
At brand new Bar Lalique, the Champagne cocktails are a favourite of barman Daniele. Best served in front the fire, as temperatures begin to dip.
The unexpected highlight was the world-class cycling centre and an afternoon spent cycling around nearby villages, like Roussillon. (Though I probably should’ve guessed that it might be good when I saw a number of lycra-clad enthusiasts and Tour de France hopefuls checking in next to me.)
Thankfully, you don’t need to be at the top of your cycling game to make the most of it. Simply mention the word ‘e-bike’ and the endlessly accommodating head of concierge Antonie will summon one up out of nowhere. No sweaty hill climbs required.
Best time to go
Autumn, when La Coquillade’s grape harvest is in full swing, and a gorgeous warm light floods the region. Cool, crisp mornings and plenty of sunshine also make October a popular month with cyclists.
While you’re there:
- Join a ‘wine break’, in partnership with nearby winery Aureto. Think wines, cheeses, pâtés and local honey
- A day trip to Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque is a must — especially in May when the lavender is in full bloom
- Spend a lazy morning in the spa, alternating between the myriad swimming pools, hammams, rain showers and icy baths. Don’t miss the steaming outdoor jacuzzi next to the vineyard
Between Provence and the Dordogne lies an undiscovered part of south-west France with panoramas that rival the best of Chianti,