As Provençal as petanque and pastis, Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle is an Alain Ducasse-owned inn with 10 rooms in rural Provence, where grapes grow fatly and the sun shines ripely. Nocturnal nuns and Gallic generals have bedded down here – without the turquoise pool and Wine Conservatory, poor things…Perfect your aioli, roux or tart aux pommes in the hotel’s kitchens: guests can spend a day helping the chef prepare lunch, starting with a trip to the vegetable gardens to pick ingredients. You’re likely to be sharing kitchen space with the next big thing: Ducasse dispatches fledgling chefs to the hotel on work placements.
This pretty patch of Provence boasts a wealth of local markets selling fruit, vegetables, hats, espadrilles, clothes, antiques and so on: you could easily go to one every day of the week, if you were so inclined. Cotignac is one of the most picturesque villages and has a rustic Tuesday morning market; St Maximan is larger and has a popular Wednesday market. Saint-Maximan also has some tempting restaurants and cafés. Pick up gifts and furnishings from Le Java du Juju (+33 (0)4 94 59 32 16), at 27 rue Général de Gaulle, Saint-Maximan. There’s plenty to do in the hotel itself: have a cookery class with the chef and explore the Abbey, which dates back to the 12th century and now doubles up as the hotel’s wine cellar.