Hotel Île Rousse, Bandol, Côte d’Azur, France
We are classic last-minute folk. Armed with just a roadmap and a Michelin guide, we often don’t know where we are going to sleep when we decide to go away for the weekend. We arrived in Bandol after landing at Marseille Airport from Paris in need of some sunshine, before a birthday party in St Tropez the following day.
Marseille is the perfect airport to land into in the summer, often less costly than Nice, and everyone rents cars to drive around anyway. So that’s my little tip. We hired our Sixt car (less queues than Enterprise) and headed towards the coast.
We were headed for Cassis before deciding on Bandol. This gentle seaside town is very popular with French families from Lyon and Paris. Cradled by hills and protected from wind, the sheltered environment provides excellent conditions for grape growing. Vineyards have been in the area since 600 BC. The rosé is very well known, and is the perfect accompaniment to they fish and seafood dishes in the restaurants along the shoreline and beach restaurants.
We arrived at Hotel Île Rousse (after booking our room whilst on the road), a 5* spa hotel overlooking the Mediterranean. We headed straight to the sun-drenched terrace and booked a table at the gastronomic restaurant, Les Oliviers. Only the best regional produce is selected by Head Chef Jérémy Czaplicki, we opted for the evening set menu, a 7 course feast that settled us into holiday mode in no time.
We’d left a rainy Paris the day before so to wake up to the blissful heat of the south, we enjoyed our breakfast on the terrace before taking the short walk down to the hotel sun beds on the beach. You must pop your head into the spa though.
The Thalassotherapy Centre & spa in the basement which looks out to sea level was entirely refurbished in 2010, a centre for wellness, it can be enjoyed as an entirely separate experience. You can spend the entire day being pummelled and pampered. Use of the indoor saltwater pools come with an extra access charge even to hotel guests, but the outdoor pool upstairs, sauna and steam room and fitness centre is open to all hotel guests.
We stayed less than 24 hours having to make our way to St Tropez that afternoon, but a few hours on the beach, and a beautiful lunch at their beachside restaurant La Goélette. Right on the beach the restaurant offers regional produce prepared in the purest of Provencal tradition. Local fish and meats are prepared ‘à la plancha’, and the spiny and rock lobster tank means that you can enjoy fresh lobster every day.
Visit the hotel website here