I’m a keen gardener – which is very much at odds with my love of travel, and causes all sorts of issues with it comes to planning out my summers. There’s nothing better than seeing grapes juicy-fit-to-bursting on the vine, or smelling lavender fields and following your nose to find them. But while I’m admiring these rural riches and eating food fresh from the soil, my own fruit trees are being decimated by scavengers – and I don’t just mean hungry beasts, you know who you are! But this year there’s a dedicated picker come to stay, and I have offered to wave my fee if they ‘manage the farm’. There’s not really a fee to stay with us, but having someone indoors means that I’m free to admire someone else’s soil-y toil. And I turned to the Hotel Guru for some highlights of rustic Europe…
Burgundy: For a ripening rural table
Burgundy is a fantastic winter destination, but it’s also great in the summer, what with local produce ripening and additional food markets springing up. And of course ’tis the season for seeing tree-like sunflowers and grapes on the vine. But Burgundy’s landscape might surprise you, and you might find it just as memorable as the region’s table. And of course there’s architecture dating back to the Renaissance and the Middle Ages. And the wild national parks, of which there are many thousands of acres.
Where to Stay?
La Beursaudière’s beautiful old Burgundian buildings are a wonderful welcome to this rustic region, and the family who run this hotel do it with charm and spirit. Expect wooden beamed ceilings and traditional decor, in individually decorated rooms themed around local crafts. You should also expect an impressive all-day restaurant, which is very popular amongst local people as well as visitors. There are eleven rooms, which start from only €98 per night.
Or, for something a bit grander, consider the Château de Chailly, a 16th century château turned rather luxurious country house hotel. The château’s location is ideal for sightseeing, close to Dijon, Beaune iand surrounded by vineyards, and onsite you have the pleasure of a pool, spa, golf course and two restaurants. There are 45 traditionally styled rooms and suites, which start from around €199 per night this summer.
Practical Details: La Beursaudière is in Nitry, which is probably best reached by train from Paris. The Château de Chailly is close to Chailly-sur-Armancon, which is also probably best reached via high speed train from Paris stopping in Dijon, but you could also fly into Dijon. It may be an aberration this year, but usually this area can expect temperatures in the mid-twenties during August.
Puglia: Rural and rustic, and right on the Adriatic – or the Ionian Coast
If you want to look out over peacefully sun-drenched and charming rural views, which encompass gnarly olive groves, charming old whitewashed towns, and unusual trulli structures, and culminate in the bright blue of the Adriatic coast, then pack your bags and head for Puglia. This is a fertile, flat, spacious region, but it’s actually quite narrow, and wherever you stay you’re not far from the Adriatic or the Ionian coasts.
Where to Stay?
Canne Bianche is a beautiful beach hotel with spectacular views of the Adriatic, and simple, stylish interiors. Expect the 53 rooms and suites to come decorated with antiques, but in neutral shades, and for the restaurant to have a Puglia focus, with special attention paid to seafood sourced very locally. Rooms start from €221 per night including breakfast.
Practical Details: Canne Bianche is just ten minutes from peaceful Fasano, which is close to Brindisi and Bari airports. Average temperatures in August usually hover around the high twenties, but this year you can probably expect it to be warmer.
Provence: Rural romance and long lunches
If you dream of gentle afternoon breezes rustling the tablecloth under your heaped olive and goat cheese rich dishes, and elegant wine, as you sit in on a restaurant terrace, in a beautiful medieval hilltop village, surrounded by fields of fat lavender rows, then Provence is your spiritual homeland and will leave you feeling warm and full of contentment. This is also a place for sifting through markets and admiring the lines of architecture, and vines, and of the colour of the light.
Where to Stay?
Le petit Figuier is a charming, two-room B&B in La Roque d’Anthéron in the heart of rural Provence, but just 30minutes from Aix-en-Provence. Under 16s are not permitted to stay here – they’re going for a grown up, peaceful vibe, and the decor, which is rather eclectic, reflects this. There’s a pretty garden, a lovely pool area and a generous breakfast. And rooms start from only €110 per night B&B.
Practical Details: Aix-en-Provence is served by Marseille-Provence Airport, which is well connected to UK airports. Aix is also well served by both TGV and regional trains, so you could easily get to La Roque d’Anthéron by train from Paris, Nice or Marseille. If you don’t mind the heat and the influx of Parisians and other visitors the best time to visit Provence is during the summer – the lavender is in bloom and this is how this region is supposed to be seen. The summers are hot and sunny, and who knows how hot they could get this year, but at least the region is well prepared for it!
Le Marche: Like Tuscany but with fewer people
Le Marche is oft overlooked in favour of its glamorous neighbours Tuscany and Umbria, but it has a similar array of charms on offer: like atmospheric and beautiful medieval hilltop villages surrounded by an orderly sea of grape vines in rows. There are towns with incredible local markets and cellar doors, and the region is so big its history is a fascinating tapestry of great lives and interesting events. And Le Marche is also lined by the Adriatic, and its beautiful, sun-drenched beaches. The real challenge of Le Marche is its size – its highlights are spread quite widely. But there are so many peaceful pockets that you might find you don’t feel the urge to travel…
Where to Stay?
The Hotel Leone is a charming, little country hotel in a hilltop village, but with sweeping views of the valley below. There are seven rooms and suites and one apartment in this carefully converted historic building, and they’re all chicly decorated – but all very different, so make sure you have a look at all the photos. There’s a restaurant which you’ll want to visit more than once, plus a lovely pool and terrace with a fantastic view. Rooms start from €150 per night including breakfast.
Practical Details: The Hotel Leone is in Montelparo, and the closest major centre is Perugia, which has Perugia San Francesco d’Assisi International Airport: one of the largest air-hubs in the region, and directly linked to several UK airports. This region is hot during the summer, with temperatures regularly hitting 30 or above, but as with Provence, at least Le Marche is prepared for the heat, and it’s right by the sea.
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