Every time I get to do a tour in Provence, we always have lunch at La Bastide de Marie in Menerbes. Everyone knows about the beautiful fields of lavender; olive oil on tap; A lady friend of mine was telling me about waking up an early morning at La Bastide de Marie when the scent of rosemary borne in by the breeze, I was totally seduced.
The owners of la Bastide de Marie, are two very gifted hoteliers Jocelyne and Jean – Louis Sibuet , a couple who knows how to distill the essence of a destination and who also knows how to create a sense of place and peace. The property has thirteen bedrooms and they opened in June 2000, is very much the sum of all the pleasures Provence has to offer, refined by the owners’ flair. Jocelyne Sibuet wanted to explore and create something new; the couple also owns four charming inns in the Alpine resort of Megeve has drawn the discerning and savvy clientele. They totally fell in love with the Luberon when they were visiting friends. It was a coup de foudre that prompted them to buy the property that was for sale. The couple wanted to turn the old farmstead into a small, discreet luxury hotel. While Jean -Louis tended to the thirty-seven acres of vineyards while Jocelyne turned her attention to decoration. The results are amazing and you have to make a stop for the night, a weekend or just have a wonderful lunch with your friends.
The Sibuets are prescient in knowing what their guests want – or even what their guests would want if they had as much imagination as they do -from breakfast till late in the long summer evening. There is a small herb garden which is a resource for the chef and a great joy for the guests sitting at the iron tables. For breakfast, enjoy warm croissants, butter and homemade jam; there is a wee basket for you to fill with eggs into the water bubbling on the well- polished farmhouse stove. Life slows and there plenty of time for contemplation, the steam rising from the coffee, the play of light on the leaves, the surrounding mountains, the village just down the road. You can walk down to Menerbes where the writer Peter Mayle used to live, He sold his beautiful house and This where he wrote, a year in Provence.
In the evening, the chef fills a table with olives and small cheesy biscuits, bits of sausage and long sticks of bread to munch as they begin to meander toward dinner, with glasses of Jean-Louis’s own rose in their hands. Everything is included in the room rate except for lunch. You can wander as I did into the kitchen, a confection of polished copper and stone walls and think about what to have from the menu chalked up nearby. The Sibuets have found a great local cheese maker and the olive press that yields the very best olive oil and the chef’s own bread is cooling on the window sill.
The menu at La bastide de Marie makes the most of seasonal foods -tomatoes, fragrant and red ( they taste like tomatoes should taste) when they are in season; fish from Marseille I do not know if they still serve their chicken farci with olives, just out of this world. As I wrote earlier, the chef really makes the most of the local & seasonal ingredients, as in the scallop kebab with upside-down zucchini tart. The Sibuets definitely deliver and a stay at la bastide de Marie is a sensual journey that Provence has long promised. You definitely won’t be disappointed.
http://www.labastidedemarie.com. Route de Bonnieux, Quartier de la Verrerie, 84560 Menerbes, France. 011-33-4-90- 72 – 30-20; Fax 011-33-4-90-72-54-20