If, when you think of Provence, you picture hilltop villages lording over curvy, rolling vineyards, and fields of lavender; you’re likely fantasizing about France’s Luberon region, a protected mountainous landscape between Aix-en-Provence and Avignon. And in this postcard-perfect pocket of southern France, in the village of Gargas, is Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa, named the best resort in France by Travel + Leisure readers in the 2022 World’s Best Awards. (It was also voted the 24th best hotel in the world.)
When I stayed there for a few days in the summer, it was easy to see why readers called it "charming" and "sumptuous." The expanse of the vineyard-cloaked property (about 100 acres in size) and the impressive laundry list of amenities are thoughtfully balanced by attentive service and the adorable bastides that guests call home during their stay. Those who voted for this bucolic resort have it pegged right — it is at once cozy and indulgent, the ideal combination for a transporting French vacation.
During the pandemic, Coquillade implemented a number of upgrades, including a grand reset of the arrival experience. They streamlined the drive up to the lobby with dramatic effect. To be clear: Getting to Coquillade isn't super easy. After landing in Paris or Marseille or Lyon, you still need to drive or take the train for a few hours. I flew into Paris and took the three-hour train to Avignon. From there, the hour-long car ride was punctuated with a meandering drive up to the resort's main building — a slender road flanked by towering cypress trees, vineyards, and 300-year-old olive groves. It was such a beautiful moment that it almost made me forget that I was exhausted from nearly 17 hours of travel.
I don't know what the lobby looked like prior to the renovation though I was told that it was smaller and more closed-off. Today, it has an easy elegance about it: brightly lit and decorated with country motifs via couches upholstered in floral textile and vibrant artworks depicting Provençal living. But before I could even truly take in the scene, the indulgence was ceremoniously hoisted upon me: A member of the staff materialized with a glass of Champagne, pointing me toward the row of jars filled with all sorts of sweet treats. "Help yourself!"
And I did. For the next four days, every time I would walk by those jars, I would dip into the one stuffed with cookies chunky with hazelnut. They were the perfect cookies: they offer a crispy first bite, followed by moist chewiness, the hazelnut adding that nutty sweetness. Is there something delusional and unhinged about losing your mind over free cookies? Not when you're in France.
Sixty-three rooms and suites spread across 100 acres of prime Provençal real estate make Coquillade a genuinely tranquil place. Even if every room were fully booked, the amount of space available to you is so vast that solitude should be easy to come by. Rooms here, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes (including one with its own sauna), are beautifully realized to reinforce a bucolic fantasy. The interiors are rustic but luxurious and minimal so as not to feel intrusive. This isn't a modern design hotel, after all.
Because every room is stuffed into a traditional Provençal country house (or a bastide), and there are so many thoughtful details woven into the resort experience, I couldn’t help but feel like I was staying in a very fancy little village, closed off by vegetable gardens, fertile vineyards, and shadowy woodlands. Oh, and there’s even a pétanque court!
If those cookies were the best thing I ate at Coquillade, I would still sing the praises of its culinary program. But thankfully, there’s plenty to get excited about here. For instance, if I’m in Provence, I’m doing as the locals do and drinking my weight in rosé. The property has its own wine label called Aureto. Its tasting room is a five-minute drive from the hotel, but the winery, which I did visit, is on-site. Aureto produces a special rosé called the Cuvée Coquillade that is only available at the resort. The best grenache, caladoc, and mourvèdre grapes organically harvested from 20-year-old vines are specifically picked for this production, and you get this bright, supple wine that you can drink all day all over the resort. It’s especially breathtaking on the main bar’s terrace, as the sun is setting over the horizon. That’s exactly what I did, and whatever anxiety I was holding onto after a long day of travel dissipated with every sip of that pink nectar.
As far as eating is concerned, Coquillade offers enough variety that you may never feel compelled to dine elsewhere. (But you're in France, so do feel compelled to eat outside the resort.) The fine-dining space, Avelan, is currently closed because like most places, there's not enough manpower to staff it. But there's Les Vignes, where they serve breakfast in the morning, and Provençal classics for dinner. Don't sleep on that breakfast — the cornucopia of morning cakes is worth getting up for.
Cipressa is a buzzing Italian restaurant adjacent to the Luberon pool, which has its own bar. (And adjacent to that is another pool — Olympic size.) Its kitchen can prepare made-to-order pasta, pizza, and roasted seafood, but the appetizer and dessert buffet is a treasure trove of treats if you can't be bothered to pick from a menu. I get that the word buffet might be terrifying, but I was impressed with the selection: so many salads, salami, cheese, and all the tiramisu my arteries could handle.
The biggest surprise here is actually the dining program at the main bar: Some nights they serve Thai food. Nowhere in my wildest dreams did I think that a trip to Provence would ever include eating larb salad, tom yum koong, and pad thai. But there I was: double fisting a glass of rosé with a spring roll. A trio of Thai women oversee this menu, and the food is generally pretty good. After four straight meals of butter-poached everything, fish sauce and chili are the palette cleansers I deserve.
Contrary to what I would have you believe, the crowning jewel of this 100-acre retreat is not the hazelnut cookies. It's the 21,500-square-foot, 12-treatment-room spa and the wellness program around it. It's a truly comprehensive destination spa, and as a guest of the hotel, I didn't need to have booked a treatment in order to use the sauna, hammam, indoor pool, outdoor jacuzzis that overlook the vineyards, or the hydrotherapy circuit. (Here's a pro tip: If you feel like a cold plunge isn't for you, just sing through it in full voice. It works in keeping me in there for longer than I could otherwise stomach it, and it keeps other guests away. Win-win.)
But I did have a treatment: a custom facial using Tata Harper products. I wish I could tell you what it was all about, but the experience was so relaxing that I slept through the 60-minute ordeal. The next thing I knew I was looking into a mirror, and my skin was glowing; I looked like Dua Lipa.
There's a solid two-room gym with an outdoor platform, for, you know, jumping jacks while breathing in fresh air. I wouldn't recommend it now considering it is very hot in Provence, and the gym is air-conditioned. The calendar of fitness classes has at-cost cardio training, aqua aerobics, Qi Gong. I took a yoga class on a Sunday morning, which was held al fresco on a rooftop pergola over Cipressa. Sun salutations are much more atmospheric when you're looking at the Luberon hills as you settle into mountain pose.
It’s time to finally seek out adventure beyond the gates of this tony Provençal hamlet. And I did it on two wheels. You’ll immediately notice that there is a lot of spandex being worn around the resort, and that’s because affluent cycling-obsessed travelers choose it as their homebase when they’re passing through Provence. The Luberon is a major destination for biking, and travel companies like DuVine (our readers’ top pick for best tour operator of the year) don’t only spend time exploring the region, but they like to book their guests into Coquillade, too. And that could be because it has its own cycling center, which can organize something as simple as a bike rental (and off you go) or comprehensive biking tours tailored to your experience and skill level. (You can go mountain biking if you want, too.) I opted for a meandering cycle through the Luberon visiting a few villages and attractions, breezing past the shocking red of poppy fields (the lavender wasn’t blooming yet) and the occasional family of horses. There are so many places to visit ’round these parts, and my guide Gaetan was fantastic at adjusting our itinerary based on my mood swings. My quads and I made it all the way up to Roussillon, famous for its picturesque red rocks.
Beauty in Provence comes in many colors: rosé, ochre, lavender, olive. And when you're staying at Coquillade, you get to experience them all.
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