My Lavender-Scented Dream in Provence

I’d been waiting for this moment for years….


Where We Stayed

During our time in Provence we decided to stay at the five star Relais & Châteaux resort, Le Phebus. Located in one of the most beautiful regions of France, Le Phebus sits nestled into the rolling hills between Joucas and Gordes.

The seven hectare property was originally purchased in the 90’s by Xavier Mathieu’s family, who currently operates the resort and Michelin starred restaurant. After some heavy renovations to the historical property, Le Phebus became one of the most refined and elegant establishments in the region. With only 29 rooms and 4 suites, this charming resort manages to preserve a feeling of seclusion and intimacy.

My Lavender-Scented Dream in Provence

In our suite’s front courtyard

We tucked into the Grand Prestige suite, which is absolutely massive, and boasts a beautiful view of the rolling hills from its expansive terrace. Separated from the main property (2 min walk), you feel miles away from civilization. It checked all the boxes: a cozy king sized bed, high ceilings, a giant outdoor terrace where we can eat and lounge, a big comfy sofa and a large TV next to a fireplace so big you could sleep in it. I was in heaven! The walls are composed of beautifully carved white stone that adds warmth without sacrificing sophistication. It even had a charming fountain outside that sounded like a running stream. Simply put, it was heaven.

My Lavender-Scented Dream in Provence

My Lavender-Scented Dream in Provence

My Lavender-Scented Dream in Provence

As excited as we were to be staying in such a beautiful setting, we were equally excited to try a tasting menu at restaurant Xavier Mathieu at Le Phebus, as we’d heard good things and knew we were in for something special. We chose to sit outside, with a view of the sun setting behind the rolling hills of Provence. I’ll start by saying that given the fact that we, and our friends, are vegan, we are always ever-so-slightly apprehensive about whether a chef is up to the task and will create something not only nutritionally balanced and filling, but also creative and delicious. But by the end of our first few courses, Xavier Mathieu had already cemented himself as one of the most creative chefs I’d ever come across.

My Lavender-Scented Dream in Provence

My Lavender-Scented Dream in Provence

Over the course of three hours, we were serenaded by a medley of delicious vegan flavors. We started with a wonderful gazpacho, followed by smoked artichokes with local grains. Then on to a cucumber tartare with rice vinegar which tasted unbelievable refreshing. The main was polenta with local spelt that was lightly fried, accompanied by mushrooms and sorrel. Dessert was cherries with almond milk and caramel. The flavors and textures blew my palate away. There were tastes of the sea (algae foam), wonderful aromas, and colors that excited me as much as the taste did. In the end, it was one of the most impressive meals I’ve ever had. This trip was only just beginning, and it was off to a delicious start!

My Lavender-Scented Dream in Provence

After a long day of exploring, drinking delicious wine, and soaking up the sun, there’s nothing sweeter than slipping into the spa at Le Phebus. Sitting just off the main building, there are twenty different treatments awaiting your arrival. After our couples massage, we took a dip in the heated swimming pool and jacuzzi, then chilled and read a magazine in the relaxation room. As I sipped a delicious organic tea, trying to extend the zen as long as I could, I had one thought in my mind: how excited I was to have found Provence — my version of paradise.

My Lavender-Scented Dream in Provence

My Lavender-Scented Dream in Provence

Drying my hair at the spa at Le Phebus

I had incredibly high expectations coming into this trip. I was even a little fearful that I might be disappointed given my lifelong hunger for this place. Thankfully, Provence managed to exceed all of my wishes and has certainly earned it’s reputation as one of the most beautiful places in the world. Even now, sitting back in my office, I can close my eyes and vividly recall the sights, smells, and emotions that Provence bestowed on this trip. I’m guessing it won’t be long before I’m back in the lavender fields giving this one-of-a-kind region another spin…

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Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 74 Comments

  1. Avatar of Jennifer Hartmann

    Jennifer Hartmann

    Curious about that biodynamic vineyard mentioned. But since it is quite a novel method, I assume there are not enough scientific studies or basis about that winemaking process yet. I’ll go for organic wines to be safe.

  2. Avatar of Ashley Thompson

    I love the short distances to the water and to beautiful vistas. I love the architecture and endless examples of it. I like the climate- most of the time! I like the old-fashioned feel and variety of the neighborhoods. I love the number of cultural things to do and see. I love the proximity of good medical care. I love the incredible history that is here. I like the number of natural settings and parks and hiking and birding trails. I like the lack of industry and relatively low level of air pollution. I really like the overall convenience of Providence on a daily basis.

    • Avatar of JUSTINE



  3. Avatar of Justin Carter

    Justin Carter

    Provence has so much to offer with breathtaking scenery, delicious cuisine, and the freshest produce. A rich cultural heritage, wonderful museums, and exhibitions, great shopping, without forgetting that lovely singing ‘provençal’ accent and a particularly addictive “art de Vivre”; all make the place so special.

  4. Avatar of Mary Jamieson

    Mary Jamieson

    Now I know what’s next on my travel bucket list – Provence!!!

  5. Avatar of Janet Day

    Wow! Written in detail yet very conversational. As If I was already transported to Provence while I was reading this article.

  6. Avatar of JURIK


    Provence, one of the places that made a mark during the French Revolution is somehow, we can regard as a historical beauty. As the setting in the movie “My Summer in Provence,” I can visualize the experience of Hilary in this idyllic location. If you want to indulge in tranquility at its best, Provence is the place to be.

  7. Avatar of Maria Rapier

    Maria Rapier

    Lacoste and Bonnieux is a favorite and I would have ranked it on my 1st and 2nd. I’m not sure why, I guess I like things different.

    • Avatar of Marjory Brooks

      Marjory Brooks

      All the places that were listed are great. I would have ranked it all #1. ?

  8. Avatar of Oxi Harger

    Oxi Harger

    If you go to Verdon, it’s where you discover that Provence is wilder than you suspected. It’s not just lavenders and good tasting wines. From sunlit vineyards and pine forests around Lorgues and Brignoles, it swings north to a rockier, rougher country of gorges, ravines and sinuous roads which want you dead. Plus, it’s vertigo-inducing too.

  9. Avatar of Gregory Arsenault

    Gregory Arsenault

    In Aix, the studio is also the second best visit in town. The very best is the St. Sauveur Cathedral! ?

  10. Avatar of Jenni Wilson

    Jenni Wilson

    Not only does this sound exciting, it seems to be one of the best places that you can go in your entire life!!

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