The golden stone of Provence seems to reflect and glow even during winter – its warmth is incandescent. It offers welcome and the promise of joys to follow throughout the year: springtime – when mimosa-clad hills near the coast waft gentle perfume – followed by the munificence of our long summers, when poolside relaxation in scented gardens provides a vie de luxe.
But when it comes to the stunning interiors of a stone bastide … what magic then awaits?
Just an hour’s drive from Nice, in the centre of the Var, close by the picturesque town of St Luc, a beautiful, extensive stone bastide glows with this special welcome. St Luc itself is pretty and bustling where the streets of its old town interlace stretching along the hillside.
Set just south is La Grande Lauzade – a wonderful Provençal domaine. Built in the 18th century on the site of a former monastery dating back to the 11th century (though it must be said this site was inhabited as far back as Gallo Roman times) it offers the ultimate lifestyle.
From the moment you enter its gates along a driveway set with beds of tumbling roses, you’re transported to a magical place – a sea of tranquillity away from the demands of 21st-century living.
And there is space, for there are 10 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms spread between several buildings. Currently run as an exclusive and successful B&B, it could continue to do so, or become a sensational family home while maintaining income stream from four further one- and two-bedroom dwellings.
The main house is a maison du maître – the doorway flanked by impressive original stones from the old monastery. Inside, the large hallway, with high cool ceilings, leads onwards to a fitness room on one side and a spacious séjour on the other – here is a wood burning stove for additional comfort in winter, and the billiard room.
But for those who love to cook – and use the wonderful herbs and produce from local markets naturally washed down with wine picked from neighbouring terroir – the real treat must be the fabulous Provençal kitchen. You will be able to while away the time chopping and cooking to your heart’s content. Of course, it is the perfect size to house a large family dining table, the prerequisite of any true French home.
The staircase leads upwards to the first and second floor bedrooms, but wait, stairs tucked away behind a door take you down to an enormous cave with a stone-vaulted ceiling and the most unexpected of treats – an indoor heated swimming pool complete with jacuzzi. With the ceiling lit at dusk, this is the most romantic and magical of spaces.
Back upwards on the grand staircase, on the first floor, two grand bedroom suites await – one complete with balcony and living area. Up another level are three further bedrooms with character beams and traditional floors – a family suite with two adjoining double bedrooms. All bedrooms are, naturally, en suite with air-conditioning and everything else required to ensure one’s comfort.
But the true joy of Provence is a life lived outside for so many months of the year and here again La Grande Lauzade does not disappoint.
Surrounded by the vineyards that still produce, La Lauzade wine are a number of terraces and lovely gardens shaded by plane trees – an essential for hot summer months. Steps lead gently down to the quite stunning heated infinity swimming pool with the perfect shaded terrace, designed for whiling away the hours. A magnificent cedar frames the spectacular view over the garden towards the vineyards and distant Maures mountains. Pure heaven!
With its mix of history and beautifully maintained buildings all set in a stunning location, La Grande Lauzade is a home of charm and character – a truly magical place set to enchant anyone lucky enough to live here.