Ultimate Provence in La Garde-Freinet

The new wine domaine-slash-stylish guest house is situated in La Garde-Freinet about 45 mins north of St Tropez and 40 mins’ drive from our village of Cotignac. It opened in June of this year and I went to check it out 2 weeks into their opening.

At first glance Ultimate Provence looks really out of place. The Urban-chic look attracts a younger clientele, perhaps the rich St Tropez vacationers who couldn’t find a place nearer the coast or preferred to have a more spacious and relaxed feel without all the glitz and blitz. The tasting room sparkles to the contrasting heavy dark iron details; a mélange of New York loft à la plage. But it’s all new so it’s clean and impressive and certainly commands a “wow” reaction. Their wine bottles look like elongated perfume bottles with ridges that can’t be cheap to produce. They’d make great gifts.

The main hall leads one straight through to the tasting room on one side and the outdoor terrace where fluffy big white couches and wooden plank tables under thin bamboo rods for shade are inviting in an understated and carefree “Club 55” kinda way. It’s a pleasant feel of natural and modern comfort with the big sky above.

The service was a little awkward; the staff are still trying to get a feel for how things should be managed (nothing was very smooth and check-in took a good 20 minutes). But the bedrooms are nicely spread out, two-in-one town house buildings with outdoor entries, views of the vineyards from every building. There are no elevators anywhere, but some disabled-friendly-access-rooms on the ground floor. The gardens are impressive with modern fountains, a massive dark grey pool with dark stone plage and black showers and stunning mediterranean plants, lavender, and tall standing grapevines that adorned a long pergola to walk through. It was very romantic. The establishment is still going through some teething problems, not unexpected, since it is big and will eventually be popular but I get the feeling they never want to get crowded.

I opted for a glass of champagne for an aperitif, some of their rosé (very nice) with our meal, and although a bit disappointed with the sushi (being half Japanese I’m a huge sushi snob as I make it myself) the steak was great and the desserts very good. The beds were very comfortable, the huge breakfast spread was A-class, they had fantastic coffee, and filtered and home-gassed water in pretty bottles was offered without ever suggesting brand names, this was a huge plus. Overall I give this establishment an 8 out of 10. When they get used to how to manage the place I’m sure they’ll be overwhelmed with bookings in the future. Ultimate Provence does have that uber-cool feel but it’s not for those looking for an authentic Provence village experience. Come to Cotignac for that!

Domaine Ultimate Provence Hotel-Restaurant and Bar: 7270 route du Luc 83630 La Garde-Freinet 0494 85 29 10 www.ultimate-provence.com or click here https://www.ultimateprovence.com/en/