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Les Lodges St. Victoire – Luxe, Calme et Qualité

Les Lodges St. Victoire – Luxe, Calme et Qualité

Summer in Aix 2014

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  How about an unforgettable holiday with us at  New Years’ Jazz in Italy

Follow the route Cezanne east from Aix, and within minutes you’ll be in the countryside he loved and painted, leaving us a vision of peaceful Provençal beauty. Just a little longer on the winding road, and a discreet sign on the right points to Hôtel Les Lodges Sainte Victoire and the celebrated Le Saint Estève restaurant. There are no roadside notifications to let you know you’re getting close, because Les Lodges is in a protected natural area, the Grande Site Sainte-Victoire – no signage allowed.

The gates swing open as we approach, and once inside we find that we have no desire to leave…the 5 hectare grounds surrounding the hotel invite a wander,

or a dip in the infinity pool,

or simply a relaxing glass of rosé under the plane trees.

The thirty five rooms, spacious and plush with every amenity and modern furnishings,

offer marvelous vistas of the surrounding park. We’d suggest a ground-floor room with terrace – ours was in the oldest part of the building, with an ancient door surround leading out to the shaded park

the perfect place for an apertif-with-a-view on a summer evening, Montagne Sainte Victoire shading to rose as the sun sets.

Want to relax even more? A full- service luxury spa is part of the property as well.

The day begins with a continental breakfast like none other – not just coffee and croissants here!

Restaurant Le Saint Estève, which received its first Michelin star just 6 months after opening, is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Whether from inside or out on the terrace, the views are superb, matching the marvelous cuisine of Chef Mathias Dandine. Click here for more details of our lunch at Saint Estève.

Luxe, Calme and Qualité – our take on Baudelaire’s phrase – describes perfectly the serenely luxurious haven of Les Lodges Saint Victoire.

Dining Low, Dining High – it's all good!

Dining Low, Dining High – it's all good!

Summer in Aix 2014

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  How about an unforgettable holiday with us at  New Years’ Jazz in Italy

Ikea is the first suggestion everyone makes for kitchen renovation, so we’ve rented a car to begin our kitchen research. When most locals hear the village name Vitrolles, two things come to mind: the Aix TGV station, which is in that area, and Ikea, the closest one to Aix in an industrial zone outside of Vitrolles.  But last Sunday, at the monthly art fair in Aix, we were intrigued by the intricate map-like work of a young artist, and several of her pieces were of the rust-hued cliffs and pretty lanes of Vitrolles. So after perusing cabinets and counter-tops at Ikea, we drove into the village, in search of the top-rated and simply named eatery,  Restaurant du Village. And from first glimpse, we were charmed by this quiet hamlet, sloping lanes crowned with a crumbling fortress.

Right in the center of the tiny town is the restaurant, and the few mid-week guests are all seated outside on the terrace.

Across the street, electric-blue morning glories tumble down a roof, those cliffs, recognized from the artist in Aix, in the distance.

Lunch, a bargain at 3 courses for 12.50€, is delicious – and my main course of Millefeuille d’Aubergines (an eggplant “napoleon”)  is SO good that I ask how it’s made. After describing the process, our server (who sometimes cooks as well) offers Kirk a taste. She brings a handwritten recipe, explaining further details, and that  “taste”, which turns out to be even more than my main dish! Caramelized bananas are the tasty finale,

and we take a few more minutes to stroll the town before returning to Aix. An archway leads up to the fortress – would be a fun hike for a future visit.

Walking back to the car via another road, we see that the tower is backed up by extensive ruins.

Thursday, and we’re counting the hours until Kirk’s latest project is turned in this afternoon…so I’m off to the market while he slaves at his desk. Place de l’Hôtel de Ville is again overflowing with blooms today,

along Cours Mirabeau the clothing and home-goods vendors do a brisk business,

and Farinoman Fou (the crazy flourman) has our favorite breakfast loaf, brimming with hazelnuts and dried apricots, on the shelf.

We’ve packed a suitcase for a night in the countryside, checking out a new hotel we’ve heard about, Les Lodges St. Victoire.
Another of the many things we love about Aix is that within minutes one can be out in lush green countryside…and as we drive out of town, the road is soon canopied with trees, birds and cicada song trilling through the air.  Our table’s waiting at Le Saint Estève – with a view to match the service and cuisine!

Yes, this is the “dining high” of the title – and from first view of the terrace, there’s an enveloping ambiance of quiet elegance and abundance, that relaxed bliss that anything you want would not be too much to ask. My first course of wild mushrooms on pastry comes laden with truffles – why not?!

And even the bread is remarkable – a warm crusty turnover filled with black olive tapenade is too good to resist.

Kirk’s melt-in-your-mouth tenderloin is superb, but he has to leave too soon…work to do before the final conference call – we’ve already set up an office for him in our room.

I’m in no hurry…just want to sit and sip and enjoy the view.

No dessert, merci. But before I leave, the waiter brings out a “compliments of the chef” assortment of delicious bites. Why, this could be a café gourmand!

So I order a café and nibble…oh my, have you ever heard of pastis marshmallows? Perfect for this licorice-lover. And the golden mirabelle plums are at their peak, a splendid mouthful each. These yummy morsels will be a lovely treat for Kirk when he’s done, so I take at least half of them back to the room.
Slipping into a bathing suit, I sit by the pool, feeling decadently relaxed

and around 4 o’clock I’m happy as can be when Kirk, project completed, joins me –

now we can BOTH take it easy!