International Feature – The Stunning Mas De l’Ardet
For our international feature this month we profile the absolutely stunning Mas de l’Adret in France. Perched on a hill surrounded by lavender, the Mas de l’Adret affords a panoramic view over Lez Valley and Mont Ventoux, situated 40 km away. In search for a better quality of life, Françoise, Patrick and their cat Caramel, left Luxembourg to make a new beginning under the Provencal Sun. Françoise shares her story with us.
Could you tell us a bit about your backgrounds and why you decided to leave Luxembourg and open up a B&B in France ?
We decided to leave Luxembourg because we were looking for a better quality of life. I was working as secretary for the royal family and my husband as a Manager in a real estate company. We spent our holidays in Provence and always said that when we stop working we would come here and open up a Bed & Breakfast.
We both had very pressurised jobs and one day, my husband just burned out. That moment was life changing, we decided to stop everything in Luxembourg and to come here in Provence. It was a big decision because we were financially secure where we were but the price to pay for it was too high. It was the right moment to take the decision.
Did you view many properties before settling on L’Adret
We came to Drôme first because my mother in law has been living here for the last 12 years. We registered with the first agency we found and told them that we were looking for an old authentic mas with a view, a minimum of 8 bedrooms and we wanted to be in isolated in the middle of the countryside. They told us that this would be impossible to find and the perfect mas doesn’t exist! After one hour, we said “ok, you don’t have what we are looking for, so we will go to another agency” He then remembered that he had something, but was very old with no interest for 6 years and this was le mas de l’Adret . It was love at first sight!
Everything was perfect. The mas de l’Adret is perched on a hill and surrounded by lavender fields, it’s so beautiful with a panoramic view of the valle – our dream had come true. After this visit, we quickly made an offer to the owners but it took time to complete the sale. We visited a few others houses to be sure of our choice but since the beginning we knew it would be the mas de l’Adret. Each time we welcome guests the first thing they do is to take a picture of the view, just as we did the first time we arrived.
Were you welcomed in by the local community?
Yes, no problem at all the people are so nice and so friendly, it’s so different from Luxembourg. Here in Provence you find simple, honest, true and warm people. They are always ready to help you without necessarily wanting anything in return. Now we have new friends here. The most important thing I think is that when you come here is to be humble and to be ready to learn from them. They like to be asked for their advice but you do have to take the first step
Where did you get the inspiration behind your fabulous interior design, including the bedroom names and artwork?
My husband always worked in architecture and we love both design and special interiors. We travelled a lot and this has given us a lot of inspiration too. In Luxembourg Patrick was building and selling houses for more than 20 years so he great experience in this domain. We decided against a traditional Provençal décor because that just wasn’t our style. People were coming to our home so we wanted to welcome our guests into our world.
We proposed a contemporary interior design into a traditional Provençale house. We also enquired beforehand to see if there was anything else in the area which was like our project and there was not. We didn’t want to name our rooms after flowers etc as so many B&B’s had done before us. One day we were in Paris and we saw some beautiful photos from an artist called Romina Ressia. Each photo represented a girl styled in the renaissance period with a modern element (a bubble gum, popcorn, a bottle of coke, a pink helmet etc)…we looked at each other and we said this is it! The only problem was that we had more bedrooms as pictures from Romina Ressia. We decided then to create our own photos in the same style with a Belgian model and a professional photographer in Luxembourg. For the family bedroom, we bought pictures from Rafael Mantesso who produced amazing pictures of his dog named Jimmy. Most of the others pictures in our house come from art galleries or are self-made by my husband who also loves photography.
Tell us about the food you serve – it looks delicious and are you passionate about using local produce?
I have always loved cooking, I especially enjoy my granny’s recipes. I create good home style cooking with seasonal produce . Here in our area, the local produce is bio (organic), vegetables, fruits and wines ! This area is a “pionière” region on the subject which was really important for us and I try to cook everything myself using only fresh and local produce . We also have an extensive wine list.
What activities are you able to offer your guests?
We have a heated swimming pool with spa (treatments on request), billiards and table tennis. It’s also a great place for people who love hiking, cycling, mountain biking, paragliding and climbing. The Mas de l’Adret is ideally situated for discovering the Drôme as well as the Ardèche and Vaucluse, its close neighbours.
Lastly in your opinion what do you think makes a perfect B&B host?
Most importantly for us is a warm welcome when guests arrive – you must take time to speak with them. For this reason we always invite our guests to have a drink with us upon arrival. It’s fantastic because we get to meet people from all around the world. Treat all your guest as VIPs and try to answer all their demands (sometimes it’s fun or a little bit crazy) but people are so grateful after.