Tuesday 15 October 2013
Ousteau de Baumaniere–Heaven in Provence
Ousteau de Baumaniere is one of those 'once in a lifetime' places you should try and visit if you possibly can, but be aware that once you leave this gorgeous place all you will want to do is to return.....as soon as possible.
On my way back to London I stayed here for a night, and was invited to eat in the gastronomique restaurant. Arriving early evening in dappled sunlight you breathe in the Provencal air infused with lavender and thyme, even this late in the season, and cannot avoid the beauty of the gardens and buildings which nestle in a moonscape of incredible rock formations.
A little bit of history - The Mas Baumaniere was originally bought by Raymond Thuillier in 1945 and was inaugurated by Georges Pompidou in 1947, earning 3 stars in the Michelin Guide in 1954 as well as becoming a member of Relais and Chateau. Jean Andre Charial joined his grandfather to assist in running the hotel and restaurant in 1970. Ousteau de Baumaniere celebrated its 60th birthday in 2005, and became a 5 star hotel in 2011.
The actual town of Les Baux is built into the rocks high above you. L'Ousteau sits below, with the contradiction of wild but landscaped gardens, pale buildings, statues and fountains plus incredible planting pots all seemingly totally natural to the landscape.
The restaurant at Ousteau de Baumaniere is a treat in itself and one worthy of any celebration. With two Michelin stars and no less than five knives and forks in the Michelin Guide you can expect to be delighted by both the food, the service and the surroundings.
The famous Salade Baumaniere, a picture of different leaves, olives and parmesan shavings encircled by tomatoes is much less rich than most of the menu and makes an excellent starter. I had fish as a main course, rouget, beautifully prepared and of course completely delicious. Then if you have any space left try the vanilla ice cream with chocolate croustillant, all of which simply melts in your mouth. And yes….I’m afraid I did.
There are of course many exceptional desserts to choose from. After that comes a tray of home made friandises and then if that wasn’t enough, the trolley of candied fruits and nuts. This is not the place to visit if you are on a diet.
Ousteau de Baumaniere is a well kept secret in Provence - known to those who love beautiful and very special places, and one that you should visit, for a lunch, a day by the pool and walk in the grounds or, if you're lucky enough, dinner in the restaurant and a stay in one of the unique and pretty rooms with terracotta floors and home-like but subtly luxurious furnishings. Go if you can.
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