26 September 2014
Domaine de la Baume: a lost paradise in Provence
The Domaine de la Baume is a fantasy of the purest form; that of a family house in which you unpack your bags for a special séjour.
Nestled around a bend on the Haut-Var road, near the delightful (cloudland) village of Tourtour, the Domaine de la Baume was the family home of painter Bernard Buffet. Today, the house belongs to another family, the Sibuets, owners of legendary Fermes de Marie in Megève. They took over the property and in spring 2014, they opened their doors to those who yearn to put their life on pause.
The house appears to be tinged by the passing years. And yet, on the inside, everything is brand new. Or rather, everything has been patiently renovated fastidiously and tastefully, giving a feeling of history. Warm shades of colour varying from brown to dusty pink, from celadon green to deep blue before moving onto saffron, echoing prints on fabrics in reference to Indians and Toile de Jouy. Cabriolet armchairs and wingchairs rub shoulders with flecked fabric furniture from antique dealers in the region. Kilim carpets in profound colours intersperse wooden flooring with geometric motifs. Standout objects positioned here and there act as an insight into journeying. The arabesques and the twinkling of chandeliers add a final touch of sparkle and impart an authentic charm to the overall look. As for the rooms, each is named after a painting by Bernard Buffet, inviting guests to daydream…of the perfect family home.
All around the house, guests feel impassioned by the domain’s 40 hectares in the shade of century old horse chestnut trees. A little French garden here, a chapel there. Three waterways open up onto a view of the hillsides. And an exquisite rectangular swimming pool. Understated, even slightly out-dated compared to the infinity pools of today’s palaces…built in the 1920s, it was the largest in the whole region. It is not hard to image stars of the golden years basking here. More daydreaming…
For a serene break, the Pure Altitude spa offers a range of sophisticated treatments, such as hot shellfish massages…but the real beauty secret of the Domaine de la Baume rests elsewhere. At the end of a woodland trail lie the most incredible natural waterfalls! As if lost in a forest, guests envisage themselves as Robinson Crusoe on a deserted island. There is no greater luxury than allowing fresh water to wash over you in the heart of nature. A near wilderness that is situated just a stone’s throw from the charm and luxury of the house…And don’t just stop at the first waterfall. Keep climbing. Pass ahead of the little cabin in which lovers of nature can indulge in massages away from the cosy spa. A second waterfall awaits you. Away from the rest of the world. You are overwhelmed by the thrill of the wild. Before you know it, it is suppertime and succulent little fruit tartlets await you beneath the chestnuts on the terrace.
In this ‘family home’, there is no restaurant. Instead, take your seat in the ‘dining room’! On offer, chef François Martin prepares a southern style cuisine in correspondence with the seasons. Truffles and game follow garden summer vegetables. He sources the best products from small local producers, such as goat’s cheese from “Chez Jean-Marc”, that are served with a dash of the Domaine’s own olive oil. You could even set off with the chef’s homemade jams, whose melon and vanilla bourbon is unforgettable. Seated on the terrace, guests overlook the bushy valley below and savour these undeniably refined dishes. One thing is for sure; you would do well to call this beautiful family house your second home…
Room start at €440 (price for two people including breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner). Open from April until November and during Christmas holiays.