Terre Blanche offers a heavenly rural escape less than an hour’s drive from Nice Airport
Words: Holly Kirkwood
Located in the heart of the Pays de Fayence, Terre Blanche is a Provençal retreat offering a tonic from the high-octane atmosphere of the summertime Riviera – which is probably why so many families from Nice, Cannes and Monaco head back into the hills to holiday here.
Spread over a 750-acre estate, which was previously owned by Sean Connery, the resort was a run by the Four Seasons in a previous incarnation. Roughly the size of Monte Carlo, and considerably prettier, it also happens to be a lot more pleasant to spend time in. The winding hills are peppered with villas and suites, while two top-notch 18-hole golf courses attract some of the best players in the world – this is an established stop on the European Tour. However, we weren’t here for the golf, we were here for some R&R and with the heavenly surroundings and over 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s an ideal destination, even for those who wouldn’t know a 5-wood from a 3-iron.
Accommodation features 115 well-appointed suites and villas with private terraces and far-reaching views – the villas either have a private pool or Jacuzzi, and all the rooms are beautifully turned out with large showers, opulent baths and plenty of living space. Although the estate is extensive, your car remains in the car park while you’re on site: guests zoom around on golf buggies –just call reception to be dropped where you’d like to go, if you don’t fancy the walk.
The main hotel building houses the reception, concierge and three of the restaurants, as well as the centerpiece of the resort – the vast (and heated) infinity pool which has views to die for. There are also two tennis courts on the property, as well pétanque – which for us is the ideal way to while away time before dinner. The concierge can arrange anything from a babysitter to a day trip, and everything in between.
Of course when you’re in France the food is always an attraction, and the selection of restaurants here is well judged, allowing for the formal and the informal. From the Michelin-starred Le Faventiato the Tousco Grill by the pool.
Set up on a hill above most of the properties, the 35,000sq ft spa is a Mecca for all things relaxing. The detox facial was as relaxing as it was theraputic: all the skincare is currently all by Clinica Ivo Pitanguy from Rio. The gardens are green and fragrant, and offers lots of private corners to escape to, while the vast indoor pool is great for proper laps.Yoga and pilates classes are held in the gardens in summer.
It seems many guests here for a few days rarely have cause to leave, but plenty of French families stay for two or three weeks, which gives them a real chance to explore the charming surroundings. Local villages include Seillans, Fayence, Tourrettes, Callian, Mons and Feyance: foodies won’t want to miss the Provençal markets on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. This is one of the gastronomic centres of France, after all. It’s also famous for its wine: the tradition of viticulture here stretches back 2000 years. Of course the the Var is best-known for their rosè– which makes up nearly 90% of the local production. There are countless local vineyards to visit, although the landscape isn’t all the endless vineyards you find in the Hérault: the dense green woods and lavender fields of the tourist brochures are also within easy reach. Alternatively, head for Grasse, the world capital of perfume, or to Mougins,easily one of the most romantic towns in France.
If you want to ditch the car, visit the local villages on electric bike or the local riding centre can show you more of the landscape on horseback. There is some fantastic hiking nearby: explore the and creeks of the Corniche d’Or, or walk around the St Cassien lake, a paradise for swimmers and fishermen.
Terre Blanche’s last great plus is that although children are wecome everywhere – this is France, after all – the resort runs a five-star kids’ club so that parents can have time to themselves. The Kids Club itself has different rooms for each age group, and the activity programme changes daily offering everything from clay modelling to jewellery making. It also has its own pool.
In summer the kids roam all over the estate visiting the donkeys, painting outdoors running their own Olympic Games, or visiting the tennis academy. The ultimate family holiday is one where everyone gets to spend quality time together, and parents still come away feeling rested and recharged. What Terre Blanche offers is a top quality escape in a stunning part of France which caters for both parents and little ones. You never know: you might even make it to the beach.
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