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LES HAUTS DES CHENES

NOTE: While Les Hauts des Chênes has four bedrooms and four baths, occupancy is generally limited to six or seven guests.

In the countryside, hidden in an idyllic setting of privacy and total tranquility, this recently renovated and classically decorated mas offers two qualities rarely found in the same property: a beautifully planned garden and exterior environment, and an interior decor worthy of sophisticated interior design magazines like Elle Décoration and Maison Côté Sud. The property is within reasonable walking distance of the perched medieval village of Bonnieux, and has stunning long-range views of the Luberon from the terrace, pool, garden area and almost every room in the house. It's a wonder the owners can tear themselves away long enough to let visitors enjoy this lovely property.

Pool and garden area

The 6 m X 12 m (19’ X 39’) pool with overflow edge is set some 20 meters (a meter is about a yard) from the house and is surrounded by lawn. The well-kept grounds are landscaped with many oak and olive trees and, since this is Provence, rows of lavender here and there. A venerable mulberry tree provides shade at the front entrance to the mas, and boxwoods in terracotta pots line the vine-covered outdoor dining area.

Ground floor

From the foyer a staircase leads to the upper floors. To one side there is a guest lavatory decorated in black and white toile de jouy, and directly ahead lies the spacious gourmet kitchen.

The kitchen is equipped with a two-door American-style refrigerator, Miele dishwasher and a semi-professional gas range with five burners. A marble-topped island supplements the already generous workspace. For breakfast or meals during cold or rainy weather there is a farm table for up to eight guests.

The main terrace, shaded by a canopy of vines, has a table for up to 12. The terrace is accessible from the kitchen and is the perfect setting for traditional Provençal meals prepared by you or a private chef arranged by JUST FRANCE. With long-range views of the Luberon mountains and the perched village of Lacoste, it’s easy to imagine passing countless hours each day in this shady spot. One can brew up a pot of coffee to accompany fresh pastries from the village, enjoy an afternoon apéritif after a few laps in the pool, and wind up the day with cocktails followed by a candlelit dinner with friends that stretches well into the night.

The living room, adjacent to the kitchen, is a warm, comfortable space with an off-white sofa and three armchairs ranged in front of a working fireplace. Guests can relax here, watching television (with satellite reception of many international channels) or, on a quiet night in, watch a movie on the VCR or DVD player. Built-in shelves with a large collection of books in different languages lend a library-like ambiance to the room. Behind the sofa there is a good-sized desk, the ideal place to set up a laptop computer for e-mailing friends back home.

Beyond the living room is a charmingly appointed guest suite, prettily decorated in a floral motif, with large built-in closets and a king-sized bed. The suite is ideal for a single person, a couple seeking extra privacy or anyone who has difficulty with steps. The ensuite bath is finished in tile and gray marble, and has a stall shower and WC. This bedroom opens onto the main terrace through French doors and has superb views of the Luberon mountain range and the village of Lacoste.

Upper level

On the upper level are three bedrooms, two of them with ensuite baths, each of which has a WC. While all of the bedrooms are elegantly appointed and exceptionally comfortable, determining which guest stays in the sumptuous master suite may be a tough decision.

The master bedroom, filled with light and decorated in soft neutral shades, is a spacious room with high ceilings with exposed beams. The king-sized bed has a red and white toile de jouy headboard. From the comfortable seating area or from the private balcony, reached by French doors, there are spectacular views of the mountains as well as the villages of Lacoste, Goult, and, on a clear day, Gordes. Built-in closets provide ample storage space.

The ensuite master bath is tiled in a tasteful diamond pattern and decorated with red and white toile de jouy accents. The white wall tiles are handmade by local artisans. The oversized bathtub has a marble edge for seating, and a wall-mounted adjustable shower. Large French windows and a traditional l’oeil de boeuf opening provide ample natural light and offer long-range views.

The second bedroom on the upper level is also decorated in red and white toile de jouy. While smaller than the other three bedrooms, this room is pleasingly decorated and comfortable. The ensuite bath has a stall shower in gray marble. The views are of the pool and garden area.

The more spacious third guest bedroom, referred to as the green and white room, overlooks the entrance to the property. Guests of this room use the bathroom just outside in the hall. The bath has a marble stall shower and a separate WC.

All four bedrooms have a king-sized bed comprised of two twin mattresses placed side by side and made up with individual sheets, in the continental style.

Exploring Provence from Les Hauts des Chênes

Les Hauts des Chênes is generally available from late May through the third week in June, all of August and mid-September through mid-October. The property's situation in the central Luberon makes it well suited for a group of adults who desire luxurious accommodations while exploring the different regions of Provence.

In the Luberon, no important destination in this celebrated part of Provence is more than a half hour away. Bonnieux is almost equidistant from two other major regions of interest - the Vaucluse Plateau and the market town of Vaison-la-Romaine to the north, and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and the villages of the Alpilles to the south and west, both less than an hour's drive.

Bonnieux, home to some 1,500 permanent residents, is a well-known hilltop village and a tourist destination in its own right. The otherwise quiet village comes to life every Friday morning when vendors from miles around set up their stalls on a square flanked by restaurants and cafés. The village has all a variety of small shops and food merchants, as well as a post office and a presse where one can buy the International Herald Tribune and other international papers. The 12th-century Haute Eglise (accessed by 86 steps) and Musée de la Boulangerie (bread museum) both merit a visit, as does the Musée des Tire-Bouchons (corkscrew museum) in nearby Ménerbes.

Of course no visit to Bonnieux is complete without a visit top one of its several fine restaurants. One of our favorites is Le Fournil, where if you are fortunate enough to secure a table by the window you likely will see a spectacular sunset. That sunset, along with your enjoyable and relaxed stay at Les Hauts des Chênes, will be among the many happy memories of your visit to Provence.