Domaine des Escaunes probably has the most favourable position for sightseeing from all the hotels we visited. It is at the cross-borders between Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon and the Rhone Valley. Nearby you can find the iconic aqueduct Pont-du-Garde, the stunning cities of Nimes, Avignon and Uzès, while Chateauneuf-du-Pape’s legendary wines are only a 45 minute drive away.
As we arrive at the Domaine, we drive through endless vineyards till we reach the gate. I later discover that the vineyards belong to Domaine des Escaunes but are being rented out to a local cooperative for wine production. The gates open to a charming stone house surrounded by a hundred year old park full of Mediterranean tree species. The house was originally built in the 16th century and served as a resting post for some of the most famous French kings and even Nostradamus.
Marc and his wife Patricia have renovated the house but kept the charms of the old staging post transforming it into an authentic countryside family home and hotel. Marc shows us around the Domaine accompanied by one of his 3 dogs. Domaine de Escaunes has a collection of 22 rooms, each with a different name of a local grape variety. The rooms are the most spacious I have seen in Provence, each with its own, equally big bathrooms, all dotted with flat screen TV, free WiFi and other modern amenities. Some rooms have a terrace or balcony with splendind views of the vineyards or the village. Fascinatingly, each room has a personalised décor, from ultra modern monochrome, to rustic or flamboyant style. There is something for every taste here. Marc explains that they extended the hotel step-by-step, hence they had new inspiration each time.
We stayed in the Terret room (Terret is a local grape, and is one of the 13 allowed grapes in Chateauneuf-du-Pape) which perfectly blended a traditional style with modern touches. The room had a large bed with double red posts that looked like they have been transposed from a royal chair. The bathroom is immense, though we do not have a bath, the shower can fit more than one person. I particularly liked the stone carved his & hers washbasins. It feels grand. The bedroom door opens to our own lawn, all with tables and chairs to enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the sun.
Outside, you can lounge by the pristine stone pool or have a go at table tennis. There is so much to explore in the area too with Pont du Garde only 10 minutes away, wineries at your doorstep, ancient Roman tunnels or canoeing under the aqueduct. Domaine des Escaunes offer off the beaten path tours for its guests highlighting the historical, culinary and architectural heritage of the Gard, Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon regions. Marc’s father-in-law personally researches and tailor makes the tours to meet the client’s needs. Worth nothing that the Domaine is popular with families due to its large outdoor space and limitless activities to entertain the children.
At Domaine des Escaunes guests can also enjoy the restaurant and tantalise their palates with local Provencal flavours. The cook only uses seasonal, local and fresh produce to create a changing 4 course daily menu. We started on the night was smoked duck breast, with quail eggs on a bed of watercress. The thin sliver of the fat on the duck was melting in my mouth paired with a vintage bottle of Chateuneuf-du-Pape. For our main we enjoyed veal steak with potato dauphinois and a rich mushroom sauce. I love the pungent flavours of the sauce but I wish I had my meat less well done. The main is followed by a plate of local cheeses, which I am accustomed to by now being a cheese fanatic. The cheese is creamy and delicious and I wonder if I can eat my pudding. Luckily dessert is quite light – a banana spring roll with a pineapple sorbet. Dinner is available upon request so do not miss the opportunity to dine in a cosy atmosphere.
Domaine des Escaunes is currently running a 3 for 2 nights offer on all room types.
Our verdict on Domaine des Escaunes:
Spacious elegant rooms, large outdoor and pool area, surrounded by vineyards – Domaine des Escaunes is your countryside Provencal getaway, perfect for the whole family.
- Proximity to touristic sights such as Pont du Garde, the Nimes amphitheatre, Avignon
- Spacious rooms with larger than average bathrooms
- Restaurant on-site only open to guests with a ‘menu du jour’ on offer for €38 for a 4-course meal. It’s a great option for the nights you do not want to drive to the nearest village to eat!
- Family friendly
- Not all rooms had a bath
- Breakfast is not included in room prices at €16 per day
- The hotel is also sometimes used as a seminar centre though these rooms are situated at the other end of the house, guaranteeing privacy for other guests
Reviewed by: Tatiana Livesey, Winerist Co-founder.