It is a rare but incredibly important occasion throughout all women’s lives when you can find the time to get together with your best friends; sharing new experiences, stories, wine, laughter and good food. This can happen at one of the friends’ houses, in a restaurant, outside in a park or even further afield… on holiday! We thought we’d write to inspire you to take yourself and your best friends on the trip of a lifetime to Provence, with a range of activities to suit all needs and interests. Because as Cyndi Lauper quite rightly tells us; “girls just wanna have fun”…
Take your friends to the 19th Century Provencal “Bastide des Saveurs” and wander through the beautiful grounds and kitchen gardens- savour the delights of their astonishing vegetable and herb selection and invigorate yourselves ready for your cookery lesson- you couldn’t have fresher ingredients to use during your course! Since there are so many flavours in Provence the chef René Bérard (Michelin star rated) will introduce you to a wide variety of them and he takes great delight in this mammoth task. You will learn all about Provencal and Mediterranean gastronomy and the course also includes a trip to the local market to purchase fresh, seasonal produce, hands-on lessons, a visit to a local olive oil mill and introduction to wine tasting. What a great experience to share with your nearest and dearest friends.
A trip to Avignon
Once you’ve got your bearings on French cuisine why not travel to Avignon for a spot of culture, this stunning town was the Papal seat for 70 years in the 1300s and owing to this brief importance in the Catholic world this town hosts an impressive legacy of ecclesiastical architecture, most notably the soaring, World Heritage–listed fortress-cum-palace known as the Palais des Papes. So it’s perfect for a bit of culture and historical interest, as well as an excellent place for long coffee stops in French cafés or lazy Rosé afternoon waterings in leafy squares. Of course a trip to Avignon would not be complete without a trip (and maybe a dance) on the famous bridge Pont St-Bénezet, built by Pastor Benezet who had three saintly visions telling him to build a bridge across the Rhône, but sadly over time only four of its spans still remain, the others being washed away. But you and your friends can still merrily sing the nursery rhyme ‘’Sur le pont d’Avignon/L’on y danse, l’on y danse…’ as you skip along the bridge.
After a good dose of culture and French food, you and your chums might be ready for a bit of adrenaline pumping action at the race track… The Paul Ricard Circuit has just been announced as hosting the Formula One French Grand Prix in 2018 and offers days to experience the thrill of the track, to have a tour of the actual route the F1 cars will take, or take the wheel yourself and race your friends on the go karting circuit. There is also a whole host of other exciting activities for you to enjoy including Segway riding, an incredible 900m zip line to dash down or a quad bike trek to enjoy the scenery of both the Provencal hills and the sea in the distance. If all that activity has exhausted you pop into 5* Hotel du Castellet to sample Michelin chef Christophe Bacquié’s gourmet menu and enjoy the stunning views from the terrace with a cold glass of something bubbly. La vie est belle!
Is there a better way to relax with friends than a trip to a spa; we highly recommend the Bérard AromaSpa in the same hotel as the cookery course. This spa not only offers areas to unwind and indulge in; such as the pool with hydromassage jets and a Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna but also has a wide list of the most sumptuous treatments. Why is it that chatting blissfully in a Jacuzzi can bring out some of the most hilarious stories and memories with your best friends? If you’re after true spoiling book in for the Wonderment Treatment, with 2¾ hours of treatments and a delicious lunch at the “Le Bistrot de Jeff” to cap it all off. The best part of this treatment might actually be the CHOCOLATE candle massage and chocolate body wrap, delicious (good enough to eat!) and incredibly relaxing.
Glamour in St. Tropez
End your ladies trip sauntering through one of the most glamorous towns in France enjoying the high life, great shopping and an incredible array of great restaurants and bars. Start with a lazy Sunday brunch at Pearl Beach, wander through the boutique lined streets to pick up some French style items, check out a few galleries for artistic inspiration especially Artabrial for breathtaking pieces with animal paintings filled with movement and passion. Find peace and tranquility amid the hustle and bustle of the town at La Vague d’Or for a lunch by the waterside on the terrace, with 3 Michelin star rated food and fantastic service. Spend the afternoon by the beach enjoying the warmth and end your day at L’Acacia with an exceptional ambiance, exquisite food and sweeping views over the beach of Pampelonne. If dinner is not quite the full stop to your ladies night out jump in a taxi to Les Caves du Roy to party the night away amongst the other jetsetters of St. Tropez.
Su Stephens is Owner of Olives & Vines.