Le Couvent des Minimes Hotel & Spa
When you think of Provence, the villages of Gordes, Menerbes, Bonnieux, Les Baux de Provence, or maybe even Saint Remy de Provence are the first villages that come to mind, but you rarely hear the village of Mane mentioned. This is good for those of us who like to explore new Provencal villages and prefer to avoid the crowds- especially in the summer.
Mane is another idyllic, hilltop Provencal village at the heart of the Luberon that has been occupied since at least roman times and features picturesque, steep, cobbled pathways that wind through the village up to the castle. Nestled on a hillside just outside of the village is a former convent that has been converted into a 5-star luxury hotel, L’Occitane spa, and a restaurant with a Michelin star- Le Couvent des Minimes.
General Manager-FABIEN PIACENTINO
“Obviously there is history at the Couvent des Minimes, a serenity which it owes to the religious life which still permeates every space. However, there is also the warmth which we bring to the Couvent des Minimes today. I firmly believe that memories of a stay here are not just about the beautiful setting. What really sets us apart is the quality of the services we offer. All of our teams are fired with a belief that they are working in a magical place, and that is apparent in our relationship with our guests. It is this joy in providing a pleasant experience and treating guests at the hotel as if they were guests in our own home that makes the difference. “
The beautifully preserved Provencal retreat, which dates back to 1613, is a blend of medieval architecture and contemporary design. Within the convent walls, there are 46 guest rooms and 8 suites that offer a serene experience. Each room is decorated a little differently while maintaining a style that is uniquely contemporary, but with a fusion of French elegance. The room we stayed in was larger than most hotel rooms found in the south of France and featured a memorable bathtub/shower experience. At the end of the day, the room was magically filled with late fall sun rays, which created a unique ambience and yet another reason not to leave the room, except to get a cocktail.
The Couvent des Minimes is surrounded by 100 year-old terraced gardens that provide ample opportunities for guests to soak up the Provençal sun. My recommendation is to try your hand at boules on the pétanque court, but don’t forget to ask the bartender for a glass of pastis and jug of water if you want to play like a local. The bartender also recommended his speciality, which was his take on a French 75 combining gin, fresh lemon juice, and Champagne. The cocktail was refreshing and our first step on a journey of rest, relaxation, and a reinvigorated body and mind. Step two, a visit to the L’Occitane Spa for a couples massage.
Inspired by the Mediterranean art-de-vivre, L’Occitane Spa combines authentic ingredients from Provence with the best of traditional massage therapies from around the world. We walked through the door and were immediately immersed in the scents of the Mediterranean- lemons, verbena, and honey. Our traditional couples massage and a private visit to the heated pool, left us feeling pampered and a mile away from any thoughts of the outside world.
If we weren’t already enjoying the Couvent des Minimes, the visit to the bistro within the hotel, Le Pesquier, was a gastronomic experience in itself. Even though we were disappointed that the 1 star Michelin restaurant, Le Cloître, was closed for the evening, you could have fooled me that the bistro didn’t have at least one of their own stars.
The chef offered us a memorable evening with a first course of organic poached egg, sweet onions chutney, haddock, truffle butter sauce, followed by organic spelt risotto with parmesan cheese, poultry jus & fresh herbs. Since we are in France, but American’s we took both the cheese and then the desert aptly named “Tiramisu 2020,” as imagined by the pastry chef with mascarpone ice cream and different textures of coffee.
Many say that time stands still at The Couvent des Minimes, but unfortunately it didn’t for us, because after a few days of self indulgence, we had to head back to the real world. I hope to make it an annual tradition of visiting the Spa with my wife and I plan to try the food a Le Cloître during our next visit.
PS: I love you April. I hope we can continue to create memories like this together, for ever.