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Magical. Dreamlike. Exquisite. A treasure found in Provence – all can be use to describe Château de Berne. A short train ride from Cannes, immediately after arriving at Gare Les Arcs-Draguignan, I was whisked off to the idyllic property nestled in the Var hills.
Pioneering wine tourism, Château de Berne features a vineyard, a five-star hotel and spa, fine dining and year-round cultural events. The quaint hotel is comprised of 27 rooms and suites, beautifully designed in a French countryside style with a hint of modernity, along with a grounds and courtyard that could be set in Italy.
The friendly hotel is pet-friendly and the surrounding grounds are home to many species of birds, wildlife and wild boars in the nearby forest.
Also, on the property is a four-bedroom stone villa called La Bastide, which is located in the center of the Gomberts olive grove, with a private garden and pool. The property’s Cinq Mondes Spa offers a full range of face and body treatments, and an oasis to relax and rejuvenate, with an indoor pool, two Jacuzzis, sauna, steam room and a spacious patio overlooking the vineyard.
Dining and culinary activities are robust with Le Jardin de Benjamin gourmet restaurant, the namesake of Michelin-starred chef Benjamin Collombat, who incorporates fresh seasonal produce into his menus. A native of Provence who trained with greats Philippe Da Silva and Guy Martin, Collombat was awarded his Michelin star in his first year.
According to the prestigious guide, “Benjamin Collombat didn’t take long to find his marks at this elegant address, with its atmosphere halfway between Provence and Tuscany. His cuisine, tailored to the seasons, magnificently celebrates the Haut-Var regional specialties: garden vegetables, local cheeses, regional wines… And the service is pleasant and attentive.”
For more casual cuisine you can visit the Bistrot de la Cave, awarded the Bib Gourmand Michelin, also lead by Chef Benjamin. The hotel also features an elaborate cooking school, a traditional bar and a relaxing library.
Another highlight was a tour of La Cave, which included a private wine tasting at its onsite store. My travel partner Alien Pictures founder Eileen Tasca and I had the pleasure of going on a guided tour lead by Chef de Cave Alexis Cornu, a true ambassador of the Provencal lifestyle. Cornu’s passion and devotion to the winemaking industry is clear as is his dedication to craft elegant wines that express the spirit of Provence.
Cornu comments, “Everything at Château de Berne contributes to your well-being, including the limestone terroir on which the organic grapes flourish, on the way to meet their destiny as quality wines. Mediterranean grape varieties have everything they need here to ripen, serenely, and much later than along the coast.”
It is this breeding and refinement that Cornu brings out in all of the estate’s red, white and rosé wines.
Tasca describes the property as “an idyllic location to experience the beauty and sensuality of the French countryside. With the many activities offered on site, it is the perfect for celebrating family milestones or as a place to corporate retreats.”
Each July and August, the property hosts Jazz Berne, a festival that hosts some of the world’s top jazz acts. The property also hosts many other events throughout the year, some taking place at its outdoor theatre overlooking a picturesque pond.
I am truly looking forward to returning the South of France to visit the group’s latest property for the brand Ultimate Provence in Saint Tropez. Named simply UP, the modern property features 34 hotel rooms and apartments and the ATMOS restaurant and bar, all overlooking the vineyard.
Still dreaming of the Riviera! ■