La Bastide de Moustiers in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie - France
Located in the spectacular Gorges du Verdon, the Bastide de Moustiers sees its charm enhanced by the wild beauty of the landscape. Canyons, ravines, lakes, cliffs, caves… it is an ideal region for summer sports. Less than an hour and a half by car from Aix-en-Provence, this corner of the south of France still looks absolutely untouched. The place provides a perfect backdrop for this business ofAlain Ducasse. Known with Louis XV, his restaurant in Monte-Carlo (three stars in the Michelin guide), he has always maintained that priority should be given to ingredients. But growing in importance, his restaurant in Monaco had perhaps suppressed the message a little. By acquiring an old country house, a large dilapidated farm in Haute-Provence, Ducasse has created an establishment where he can give free rein to his passion for fresh produce. Unlike most hotels with renowned tables, the Bastide de Moustiers is nothing grand. The object of the game for customers is to witness the transformation of freshly picked fruits and vegetables into incredibly delectable dishes. The main kitchen, the laboratory reserved for pastry making and the vegetable garden take center stage. Crates of tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, melons, figs and green beans litter the hallways, pile up on the stairs and haphazardly sprawl around the main entrance. The food and its preparation is the heart of the matter.
A stay at the Bastide de Moustiers is at the height of the most voluptuous and endearing passages of Peter Mayle's book “A year in Provence”. The wild beauty of nature, the charm of the slightly decrepit stone of the farmhouses and the authenticity of the sleepy old villages form the double backdrop of Mayle's prose and Ducasse's cuisine. Aptly, the accommodation has not strayed too far from the rural tradition. The interiors are bright, colorful and terribly French. The decor of the rooms adopts the same credo as that of the table: pleasant, elegant, but not ostentatious. Pretty floral fabrics, whitewashed cupboards, terracotta tiling, linen blinds, as well as some old Provencal furniture reinforce the general atmosphere of authenticity and relaxation.
Apart from gastronomic pleasures, various activities are offered: mountaineering, horse riding, hang-gliding, mountain biking and kayaking. The less adventurous are content to walk to the village, to stroll in the markets, to sit on a terrace to have a drink. coffee or a lemonade local, to play a game of boules. Fortunately, the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie escaped the onslaught of banks and shops. What, at the Bastide de Moustiers, greatly amuses foreigners is that they have the impression of learning about the traditions and know-how of Provence, its architecture (stone farms), its landscape and , of course, to the secrets of his cooking. Ducasse manages to elegantly reconcile his respect for the past and for nature with the requirements of hotel equipment. There is indeed a swimming pool, but, while offering an extraordinary view over the valley, it is perfectly hidden in the landscape.
As in all well-known houses, there is no menu: it is the chef who decides on the dish of the day. And which shows, here, invention and originality. The great French classics are reinvented with a lot of imagination. the yarrow - alternating layers of bacon crisp and mash potatoes de pumpkin - is one of those exemplary creations.
Each meal is thus a succession of spot new and discoveries for the guests. The hotel, which opened in the spring of 1995, caused a stir on the international scene. The most important fashion, travel and design magazines are fighting over the subject. So much so that, ironically, in spite of his efforts at simplicity, Ducasse could not prevent that at lunchtime, a helicopter, filled with all the Riviera jet-society, landed at his house.
La Bastide de Moustiers, chemin de Quinson, 04360 - Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.
Telephone: + (33) 4 92 70 47 47 - Fax: +33 4 92 70 47 48
Website : http://www.bastide-moustiers.com/