Be it a year in Provence or two in Périgord, southern France has long been the ultimate place to hatch your Plan B. To the east, an abundance of sunlight nurtures lavender fields, olive groves and vineyards in Provence, while to the west the Dordogne river ebbs through a land of black truffles, foie gras and fortified hillside villages. Here we share a selection of the rustic bastides, charming chateaus and grand manor houses available for PRIOR members during their travels.
Chateau de Cum Arca — Dordogne
The castle-like Château de Cum Arca appears as if a medieval mirage with its stone walls and tapering turrets rising from the meadows of Périgord in the Dordogne. Up close, the 14th-century chateau is equally enchanting, with a citrus-lined courtyard and rose-scented gardens aside the main property and a converted walnut oil mill and tobacco barn.
Inside, baskets and pots dangle from the roof of a modern kitchen, blankets from Paris flea markets are thrown over patinaed leather couches, and four-poster beds adorn the spacious bedrooms.
The surrounding Dordogne area is one of the richest gastronomic pockets of France, with a cuisine that merges a natural love for seasonal fruits of the land with goose, duck, and black truffles. Guests can forage for the latter in the forest that surrounds the 600-hectare property of the chateau, ride horses through the rolling hills, or venture further afield to vineyards producing fine Bergerac and Monbazillac wines.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about staying at Chateau de Cum Arca and becoming a PRIOR member.
Domaine d’Ares — The Alpilles
The gardens take pride of place at this bastide estate in the heart of the Alpilles region of Provence. Its owner spent some fifteen years dreaming up a “jardin à la française,” planting medicinal herbs, vegetable patches, rows of cypress and a pergola heaving with wisteria. It even includes a tree hut reached by a staircase that spirals around the trunk of plane tree.
The interiors of the bastide have been conscientiously renovated with a soft, earthy color scheme and modern furnishings. The ten-bedroom property comes with its own wine-cellar, dining terrace and tennis court.
While the picture of bucolic charm year-round, the surrounding Alpilles region is at its most enticing during the warmer months, when the summer opera festivals of the towns of Aix-en-Provence and Orange take place and diners flock to restaurants serving local specialties like Alpilles lamb, eggplant gratin and Bandol rosé.
Contact us at email@example.com to learn more about staying at Domaine d’Ares and becoming a PRIOR member.
Chateau des Anges — Provence
If you’re looking to live out the Provencal fantasy, Chateau des Anges satisfies all the requirements, with olive groves, vineyards and even a windmill aside a field of poppies. The Luberon mountains provide a fitting backdrop, with their hillside-perched villages and farmers’ markets bearing seasonal specialties like black truffles, cherries, honey and goats cheese.
Originally built in the 17th-century as a hunting lodge, the bastide aristocratique was partially designed by a landscape architect known for his work at Versailles. Accordingly, the gardens include neat rows of cypress trees and manicured hedges, as well as a jasmine-covered columns before the pool and a small pond where swans sometimes swim.
Inside, polished stone floors lead to a staircase lined with traditional Provencal plasterwork. The kitchen retains a rustic touch with copper pots and a wood-fired oven. Rounding it all out is a converted chapel and a farmhouse-turned-guesthouse.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about staying at Chateau des Anges and becoming a PRIOR member.
La Bastide des Fontaines – Luberon
This pale-peach bastide lies in the sun-baked Luberon region of Provence. Its rustic exterior belies the modernity of its modest rooms, which are variously appointed with Italian linens, a well-curated assortment of antiques and a floor-to-ceiling library.
A large kitchen opens onto a loggia perfect for breakfast, and astride the property is a courtyard table for dining beneath the shade of an arbor of twisting vines.
Nearby escapes include the towns of Roussillon, Gordes and L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, where you can go brocanting through antique stores, explore Roman ruins, and peruse the many farmers’ markets.
Contact us at email@example.com to learn more about staying at La Bastide des Fontaines and becoming a PRIOR member.
The PRIOR editorial team, overseen by David Prior, works together to write and produce stories that inspire curiosity about, and the desire to connect to, places and people across the world.