This week we’re craving Provençal cuisine in palatial surroundings. La Mirande boutique hotel in mediaeval Avignon – a regally rustic stay housed in a 14th-century cardinal’s mansion – is ideal for a restorative sojourn to the south of France, and this month thespians, dancers and musicians flood the commune’s cobbled streets to perform at the Festival D’Avignon… Style Mediaeval Provençal grandeur
Setting Ancient heart of Avignon
Why this week? The Festival d’Avignon, a month-long cultural celebration, takes place 4–27 July 2014. Join the throng of international art appreciators to watch Shakespearean plays in the papal palace’s floodlit courtyard, and catch avant-garde recitals in Rue des Teinturiers and quirky ‘Off-Festival’ pageantry in the Place de l’Horloge. Festival organisers have 11th-hour tickets for fashionably late culture vultures, and there’s last-minute availability at La Mirande – but not for long…
Our favourite bits Ooh là là, where to begin? The noble architecture and art- and antique-strewn boudoirs, superb cookery school where impassioned chefs guide guests to Michelin-star-decorated greatness (well, almost) and the hotel’s deliciously debauched past as a cardinal’s party den all charmed us to check-in.
Mr & Mrs Smith say… ‘All before us is dressed in ardent devotion to 18th-century detail – sage panelling skirts the room; golden wall fabrics, printed with exotic flowers and pigeons, beg for stroking; wooden herringbone floors creak satisfyingly underfoot. We gaze out windows that open up to the garden below, where on balmy evenings guests sip wine amid blooming roses. An exquisite marquetry writing desk whisks me away: I am writing a Voltaire-esque masterpiece – by the flicker of candlelight; to the tone of Avignon church bells; with a feathered quill that drinks deeply from a pot of jet-black ink before scratching rhythmically upon the parchment.’ Read the anonymous review of La Mirande on the Mr & Mrs Smith site…
You say… ‘The chef, Jean-Claude Aubertin, is absolutely fabulous. Dinner in the restaurant was an absolute delight. I can’t wait to go back! The place has been renovated in exquisite fashion by the present owners, who you will find are very present at La Mirande. They manage to make it grand and cosy at the same time. I wish we had stayed more than one night.’ Lisa, GoldSmith, stayed on 2 February 2014.
Copy compiled by Laura Brassett.