Jeany Cronk is co-founder of Mirabeau Wines and proud Provençal resident for almost 10 years. She enjoys nothing more than sharing the stunning beauty of the place she and her family have come to call home. We asked her to share her Provence travel tips to help our clients plan their trips.
We moved our young family to Provence to pursue our dream of making excellent Rosé wines from this iconic region and we still enjoy this beautiful place as much as when we looked around in wonder on our first day. Provence is a brilliant place for all ages and all activity levels, as it sports so many different things to do, from splashing in the Med to climbing mountains, tasting wine to starring into endless lavender fields, roaming the beautiful Provençal markets and eating delicious food and sipping Rosé under the plane trees. I am of course delighted to be giving you a few insider tips for your upcoming visit..!
Provence can be crudely divided into 3 areas, each is quite different in terms of look and feel and what you’ll experience as a visitor. We live in the Provence Verte, which is mainly made up of the Haut Var, the very green and hilly area away form the Mediterranean Sea. The area right adjacent to the Med, namely the beautiful Cote D’Azur offers both coastal city glitz and glam, as well as stunning beaches and seaside nature reserves. Lastly in the Luberon and the Bouches du Rhone you have the classic and sophisticated Peter Maylesque country villages, as well as the cool and stylish cities of Aix-en-Provence and Marseille. People often combine visits to all three areas, as it offers a very varied programme, or you can just opt for an area and explore in more depth, depending on your interests.
I will start with my home turf, the Provence Verte, as it’s the most lush and varied landscape, with the mountain range of the Verdon creating an imposing backdrop to many of the higher lying villages. I live in one of those stunning hilltop locations, the small village of Cotignac. It’s set against a breathtaking cliff and has a fantastic village square full of restaurants under age old plane trees. Nearby are many activities, such as horse riding, kayaking or (gentle) mountain climbing. Plenty of vineyards have welcoming Cellar Doors and you can easily visit other beautiful villages such as Aups, Tourtour and Salernes, each with their unique characters. Our tasting room and boutique is located on the village square and we are very happy to welcome visitors for a tasting of the whole range and a lovely shopping experience in our artisan boutique. The Gorges de Verdon and the Lac de St Croix are 45 minutes away and provide endless fun for kids with all sort of watersports, fishing and more hilltop destinations. The Haut Var is prefect for nature lovers and foodies, and those who like to be a little off the beaten track, it’s simply a bit less known and a bit less busy than the coastal areas and the area around Aix and Avignon.
We often undertake a trip to the coast, especially in the shoulder season there are areas of stunning beauty, as well as a little more sophisticated fun. My favourite beachside destination is the Route de Léoube, the beautiful coastal stretch between Bormes-les-Mimosas and La Londe les Maures ,where you will find two brilliant beaches with private parking - L’Estagnol and Le Pellegrin with lots of hiking trails if you want to be more active. I also escape to St Tropez a couple of times a year, to spend some time on the beach of Ramatuelle, which is stunning in terms of its size and the amount of fabulous beach clubs by its shores. As my huge party days are over and I am usually accompanied by kids I tend to go for the more chilled out ones, such as La Cabane Bambou or Indy Beach, but if your dancing days aren’t over, Niki Beach or Bagatelle will be perfect and serve you a chilled large format bottle of Provence Rosé. Nice, Cannes and Monaco, are all good shopping, culture and nightlife destinations, but beware, crowded, especially in the high season.
Aix-en-Provence is often called the little Paris and is a cool and sophisticated city, with beautiful golden stone facades and plenty of restaurants and shopping to while away the day. It’s also busy culturally with both the Musée Granet and the Hotel Caumont Centre D’Art putting on some excellent exhibitions and the Aix Music Festival in July is a fantastic summer event. Around Aix are some gorgeous and elegant country destinations, as well as a gaggle of nice hotels. We love the creamy faced town of Lourmarin, as perfect as a film set, and with lots of cool and original boutiques and nice restaurants. Nearby is the stunning vineyard and country house hotel Domaine de Fontenille, well worth a visit for the wine alone, but with a great restaurant as well as a modern Art Centre thrown in. We also really enjoy visiting the Les Baux de Provence, where the Carrières de Lumiere is one of the most amazing pieces of art projection ever seen- it’s where paintings come to life in 3D in a disused mine. The fabulous hotels Domaine de Manville and the smaller Hameaux des Beaux are around the corner, as well as the divine L’Oustau de Baumanière and the Brasserie Le Paradoux, where you eat what you’re given, but it’s inevitably entertaining and enjoyable.
Where to eat, stay and visit in the Provence Verte:
Hotel and Restaurant Abbaye de la Celle (near Brignoles): http://www.abbaye-celle.com/
Truffle Restaurant(near Bauduen): Domaine Majastre: http://domaine-de-majastre.fr/
Restaurant (Entrecasteaux) Domaine de Fangouse: https://www.labastidedefangouse.fr/
Hotel/Restaurant (Cotignac): Le Mas de Cotignac: https://www.lemasdecotignac.fr/?lang=en
B&B (Cotignac):La Licorne: https://www.lalicorne-cotignac.com/
Mirabeau Wine (Tasting Room and Boutique): https://www.mirabeauwine.com/
Cellar Door & Restaurant (Montfort): Chateau Fontaineblau: http://chateaufontainebleauduvar.com/en/tasting-and-wine-tourism/tasting-and-wine-tourism/
Where to eat, stay and visit on the Coast:
B&B (near St Tropez): Domaine Mesanges: http://www.mesanges.com/en
Luxury Hotel (near Frejus): Les Roches Rouges: https://www.hotellesrochesrouges.com/en
Restaurant & Beach (Bormes les Mimosas): L’Estagnol http://www.restaurant-lestagnol.fr/
Beach Café and Château (Bormes les Mimosas): Chateau Léoube/Le Pellegrin https://www.leoube.com/plage-du-pellegrin-et-cafe-de-leoube/
Beach Club (Ramatuelle): Cabane Bambou: https://cabanebambouplage.com/blog/
Restaurant (St Tropez): La Bouillabaise: http://www.labouillabaisse-plage.com/en/
Nature Reserve (near Cavalaire sur Mer): Rayol Canadel: http://www.lerayolcanadel.fr/en/
Where to eat, stay and visit in Luberon & Bouches du Rhone:
Village of Lourmarin: http://www.lourmarin.com/
Hotel, Restaurant, Spa, Golf (Les Baux de Provence): Domaine de Manville: https://www.domainedemanville.fr/en/
Hotel and Restaurant (Les Baux de Provence): https://www.hameaudesbaux.com/
Hotel, Restaurant, Spa (Les Baux en Provence): https://www.baumaniere.com
Bistrot du Paradou (Paradou): https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/French-Restaurant/Bistrot-du-Paradou-251201064893399/
Art installation Carriere des Lumières (Les Baux en Provence): https://www.carrieres-lumieres.com/en
Hotel and Modern Art, Wine (Lauris): https://www.domainedefontenille.com/
Boutique Hotel Cezanne (Aix): https://www.hotelaix.com/en/
Art Centre (Aix) & Restaurant: https://www.caumont-centredart.com/
Restaurant Incontournable (Aix): https://m.facebook.com/LIncontournable-412407662129682/
Bastide Boutique (Aix): https://fr.bastide.com/
Petit Nice Fish Restaurant (Marseille): http://www.passedat.fr
Apart from entrepreneurship in the wine industry, Jeany enjoys cooking and runs several building projects, with her unique modern Provence inspired style. She has been featured in numerous lifestyle publications, most recently in Delicious Magazine, House and Garden, as well as The Times Magazine for her inspiring style and family story. She is mother to 3 children and a spotty Jack Russell, who she’s brought up in the little village of Cotignac.
Inspired by Jeany's recommendations? We'd love to help you book your trip to Provence. From negotiating the best deals with hotels to organising all transfers, car hire, restaurant bookings and beyond - we'll help make your Provence trip one to remember. Get in touch with Dan and Katie firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.