Dominic Bradbury, Journalist & Writer
 
SUNDAY TIMES STYLE – PROVENCAL AUBERGE – ‘DOWN TO A FINE ART’

DOMAINE DES ANDEOLS
WORDS – DOMINIC BRADBURY
PHOTOGRAPHS – MARK LUSCOMBE-WHYTE

It's Provence, but not as we know it. Perched on a hilltop, bordered by cypress and cherry trees, the small hamlet of Domaine des Andéols is both and old and new. This small collection of stone buildings is firmly rooted in the landscape of the Luberon, yet within the take is decidedly fresh and contemporary. No quaint French antiques and enamel ware bursting with sprigs of lavender here. Instead, Andéols, reinvented as a boutique hotel ranged around a 56 acre site, is bristling with modern art and designer furniture from the likes of Ron Arad, Noguchi and Bertoia, Garouste & Bonetti and Knoll.

Andeols is the love child of Olivier and Patrizia Massart, the founders of the chic Parisian events management company La Mode en Images. Olivier Massart was born at Andéols and when he inherited the rambling site, not far from the small and picturesque village of Saint-Saturnin d'Apt and the famous Cistercian Monastery of Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque, he decided on an ambitious three year plan. It would see the crumbling former farm buildings turned into a new home for the Massart's collection of art and furniture, assembled over 20 years of dedicated collecting.

"Olivier wanted to get back to his beginnings, to his origins," says Patrizia Massart, "and also share the place with people who like art, design and the area. But it was a lot of work. Apart from the main family house, where we spend our summers, most of the buildings were in ruins. We had to bring in water, electricity, everything. In the middle section of the site – where we have Maison Blanche and Maison du Voyager, we had to take the remains of the buildings apart and rebuild them using the same stone."

Working with architect Jean-Francois Bodin, the Massarts designed individual looks for each of the nine one and two bedroom houses, plus the Masion des Saveurs holding the restaurant – now under the guiding hands of premier restaurateur Alain Ducasse – and the Maison d'Eau with an indoor pool and Turkish bath. Two of the houses – Maison des Cascades and Maison du Voyager – have private pools and gardens, while others share the meticulously landscaped grounds, which also include a large outdoor swimming pool.

"Each house does have its own identity," Patrizia Massart says. "Sometimes the design was inspired by just one piece of art or piece of furniture. Voyager, for instance, is more African in feel, Cascades more Asian, so you have this stylistic journey from one house to another. But they are all modern interiors, even though the buildings are old."

Along with the interiors and the Ducasse menu, the other great asset in the triumvirate of Andéols temptations is inevitably the landscape itself. The hilltop views across the rugged and beautiful peaks, canyons and gorges, vineyards and fields of the Luberon are spectacular.

"Being in spaces that are not too heavily decorated really allows you to appreciate the beauty of nature all the more," says Patrizia Massart. "The windows become frames for the views all around. That was always important. We always wanted to create something that complimented the setting."

www.domainedesandeols.com