After having read all the rave reviews of the Outsteau de Beaumaniere (good manners) properties, I had to stay in one of these gems. Heading to Avignon, we chose Le Prieure, where we spent three nights in two different rooms as we ended up extending a night because we loved it so much.
Le Prieure is an old convent in the center of Villaneuve-les-Avignon, which is literally just over the bridge from Avignon, a 5-minute drive, and a great option if you want to experience a quiet and totally compelling French village. Villaneuve is located right on the pastoral, sleepy banks of the Rhone and the town is framed by a stunning fortress, built to protect the extremely impressive Palais du Papes in Avignon, on the other side of the Rhone. We found Villaneuve, with its cobblestone (and quite narrow) streets, main plaza and charming restaurants and shops to be truly idyllic as a base of operations to explore some of Provence’s great sights.
We spent two nights in room 16, which overlooks the patio one level up. I loved the high ceilings and wood panelling, and great casement windows that open onto views of the patio and the beautiful trees. The bathroom was roomy with a great big raised tub built into the paneling. Alas, no shower, but no need. The shower attachment was set and easy to use – or at least would be to most people. I ended up spraying all the walls and mirrors, practically flooding the entire space. The bed was a bit lower than usual, but extremely comfortable with a beautiful throw and lots of great art and details. We slept with the windows open and the sound of the leaves rustling in the breeze was hypnotic. Being there in early Oct ober could not have been a better time – much less people and warm, beautiful weather.
Because we hadn’t booked in for three nights, they needed to move us on the last night, which didn’t bother us a bit. We didn’t ever want to leave, frankly. Of course, they handled the whole thing, so that when we returned that evening, our things were ensconced in room 65 – La Chambre Nue , which was a contrast to our first room. This room, on the top floor in the main building, was like a totally redone attic nook, large and bright white and gorgeous. Very contemporary and modern in feel. Lots of windows and natural light, again overlooking the patio – a different view this time, though. For me, the best detail was the bathroom. Designed into this attic space, to access it you walked down three stairs from the bedroom, which was really charming, and then boom! you are greeted with this really sensational, clean and chic bathroom. Separate shower – and what a shower! This is a showcase room – clean and contemporary whereas Room 16 was more historic and traditional in feel. Given the option, I think I would stick to the main building, but then again…
We ate breakfast in the restaurant everyday. For us, it was perfect – a great selection of cheeses and meats, muffins, breads (oh the breads), cereal, yogurt, great coffee and fresh juices. They also served eggs and other dishes, which we never tried as we were slightly obsessed with the cheese. I believe the breakfast was 25 euro, so maybe a little pricey, but this is France, afterall.
Probably the most distinguishing characteristic of Le Prieure are the grounds, which all feed into a large patio with lots of tables and chairs and areas to sit and enjoy the day or evening. There is a spectacular country garden full of flowers and trellises and ornamental, decorative features. There’s also a lovely big pool with plenty of loungers. All of the outdoor spaces seem designed to just sit and enjoy the day, with a glass of wine and a good book. And at night, with the lighting, they become totally enchanting.
We had rented a car at the airport in Marseille and driving to Villaneuve was easy. Villaneuve, though, is full of narrow and windy streets, and thankfully, there is a private parking lot with immediate access to the property. Le Prieure is about 2 mins walk to Villaneuve “town” where there is a wonderful square with great restaurants to sit, have a bite and people watch.
Excellent front desk staff, as well. Helped us with directions, questions about the area and good restaurants. Made our visit very warm and comfortable. Do go for a walk or run along the Rhone, easily accessible from the hotel. The scenery is magical and you feel you’ve stepped back in time. We discovered a fun restaurant right on the river called La Guinguette – really delightful, all lit up at night for outdoor, riverside dining. Also, a fantastic market takes place every Thursday morning.