Sunday, 7 August 2011

aug, 7th - provence: monte arena....

day 540:

i am always hoping to find a hotel that feels completely indigenous to its' surroundings......although, there are some incredibly beautiful, 'exotic' hotels that contrast with their locations, when i am in a different country, i want my hotel to feel like it has taken the best bits from wherever it happens to be.

Monte Arena is exactly that sort of place. 

Patrick and Menelik own this amazing French chambre d'hote. The building dates back to the 15th century and has solidly, beautiful bones: huge, carved fireplaces that dominate the rooms; vaulted ceilings; thick, grey stone walls and curved staircases leading to lovely hidden passageways and balconies. 

Inside and out, this couple has enhanced the beauty of the space by combining pieces sourced from the local brocantes {see one of their recommendations on day 532}  with sleek design (our suite had a Eames leather daybed and vintage children's toys). 

Objects of curiosities are carefully curated and displayed throughout the house (and garden) with only 4 bedrooms (including two suites), this guesthouse feels incredibly intimate and friendly which was further enhanced during our stay, by Limi making firm friends with all the other guests (including a French director, Michel, who comes to stay every year at the same time).

You are spoilt at Monte Arena, our suite was skip-around-with-Limi vast and beautifully appointed with views of the church tower; breakfasts are abundant and delicious; our hosts were exceedingly charming and helpful and the garden is wonderfully secluded, with a plunge pool for swimming and daybeds for lounging. 

Although there are many rooms (especially the entrance room above) in Monte Arena that actually made me gasp (yes, audibly gasp) at their beauty, my favourite space is the alfresco dining area in the garden, covered with another vaulted arch and protected from the elements, it's my idea of heaven to wake up and have breakfast outside no matter what the weather decides to throw at you. 

Limi on the otherhand adored the fountain....this fountain-fascination was a bit of a holiday theme...but at Monte Arena she was especially fascinated with letting the water flow over her hands, our hands, baby's hands, down her arm, onto her toes.......her other unrelenting activity was trying to make friends with the two haughty, resident cats.....they were perfectly indifferent to her. Poor child, she was desperate for them to sit still and let her stroke them. It's probably worth mentioning (before you go and book two weeks) that Monte Arena is not necessarily child-friendly...but in true European style, the hosts and other guests were delightful with Limi and accommodating with things like milk and cots. Even pets are welcome, as long as they can share the house with those felines. 

Our suite was pre-toddler the top of the house, it extended the length of the building. Pure decadence to have a reading space, sitting room, bathroom, bedroom and wall of wardrobes. 

The carefully arranged collections were incredibly tempting for Limi to explore and low height windows made the space less than ideal.....but we loved it, Limi resisted breaking anything (including herself by climbing out the window) and to be honest the wonderful space (including twirling room for Limi) more than made up for any stresses caused by having to keep her in check. 

The hotel is situated in the sweet village of Montaren-et-St-Médiers, just outside Uzés. It is in the Langueroc region rather than Provence and from our brief encounter, we really loved this area. The village is perfect for evening promenades and the bar is welcoming, even with a toddler. Then of course there's Uzés, a short drive away, that has wonderful markets {see day 528}, restaurants and shops. 

I could happily swop lives with Patrick and Menelik. They spend their Summers looking after guests from their wonderful apartment within the house and their Winters travelling the world....sounds like the perfect balance of home and adventure to me.

Monte-Arena 6, Place de la Plaine, Montaren-et-St-Médiers, Uzès, 30700  


  1. Just Beautiful my dream is to visit france
    One Day!

    Always Wendy

  2. Oh, Dee - you really did the place justice. So glad you all loved it so much! It was D and I's first trip together, and possibly where we fell in love. Your photos have made me want to get back there soon, soon, soon (pre-bub, or maybe when we're parents next year). F x


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