Stay in an elegant 19th century country house, go glamping in a treetop cabin or have an erotic adventure in your own private boudoir - all at La Bastide du Bois Bréant in Maubec.
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As hotels feel increasingly challenged by cheaper alternatives such as Air B&B, many proprietors are looking for ways to stand out from the crowd, and La Bastide du Bois Bréant is one of the results. It has three treetop cabins, a caravan and 13 rooms in the main house, including an "romantic getaway" suite.
The entrance on the street is very modest and unobtrusive but, once through the security gates, you enter a stunning, beautifully maintained garden packed with shrubs and flowers, pictured below. This lovely old bastide sits in two hectares / five acres of grounds, including a truffle wood (which, apparently, hasn't produced any truffles, alas).
There's plenty of space for the caravan and three treetop cabins all to be tucked away in reasonable seclusion. One cabin (actually two separate cabins connected by a walkway) can accommodate a family of four and is very large with an Italian-style shower. The caravan, pictured top left, is big enough to contain a four-poster bed.
What none of them has is either a television or air-conditioning, so they could get stuffy in the middle of summer, though there is heating for mid-season visitors.
Over in the main house, the rooms are each differently and charmingly decorated with provençal antiques. Ours had a fin de siècle theme with a pretty period escritoire and Art Nouveau style stained glass window to the bathroom. A complimentary little bar of Marseille soap was a nice touch.
The sexy playroom is part of a rather odd mini-chain called Margarita Bonita, a Spanish franchise with rooms at about a dozen Southern European hotels (there's another one over in Nîmes, though most of them are in Spain).
It's difficult to imagine feeling much of an erotic frisson in following this "Love Route" of identical bedrooms, but perhaps some people do.
Anyway, the one at La Bastide du Bois Bréant, like all the others, has a vibrating bed, a sort of curved sofa that's meant to encourage you to experiment with unusual love-making positions and rather lurid multi-colour lighting. There's also some gentle bondage equipment such as an eye-mask and satin restraints.
Note that there are steps within some of the bedrooms. However one ground-floor suite is accessible to visitors of restricted mobility. As in many French hotels, the wi-fi reception was unreliable. Other facilities include a heated outdoor swimming pool, a spa with sauna and jacuzzi and free and secure off-street parking in the grounds.
A popular destination in the region, La Bastide du Bois Bréant changed hands in 2012 and since then there have been some adverse visitor reports on social fora about the quality of the service and food.
We were the only guests staying there in early April as part of a press trip and so didn't have a representative experience of the former and can't comment. But we would recommend the food.
La Bastide offers a four-course, home-cooked evening meal: ours was pissaladière (a sort of onion pizza that's a Nice speciality), honey-roasted duck breast with asparagus and caramelised apple, two good local goat's cheeses and chocolate fondant. If you wanted to eat out, there are restaurants nearby.
Breakfast featured homemade jams, fresh fruit salad, yoghurt, juices and croissants. A slight minus: it wasn't served before 8.30am. The dining room is cosy, with exposed beams and fresh flowers on the table, but summer visitors will make a beeline for the outdoor terrace.
There are two indoor sitting rooms, one of which was set up for conferences and the other used to store furniture when we visited, but presumably this changes too in the main tourist season. La Bastide du Bois Bréant is open from mid-March to early November.
Visited April 2014
Where: La Bastide du Bois Bréant, 501 chemin du Puits du Grandaou, 84660 Maubec. Book a room at La Bastide du Bois Bréant in Maubec.