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50th B-Day + Honeymoon hotel and dinner. Oustau de Baumaniere or Mas des Herbes Blanche?

labender Jan 17, 2011 01:37 PM

We only have 3 nights to spend in the Luberon/Provence area, and I am having a hard time deciding between the Oustau de Baumaniere and Mas des Herbes Blanches. We love simple food more than foam -- cuisine that honors the flavors of the ingredients -- and my husband will not be happy unless there is a firm mattress and good water pressure in the shower.

Any insights would be most welcome!

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  1. Parigi RE: labender Jan 17, 2011 01:45 PM

    Baumanière or its "bistro" Cabro d'Or. Food: no foam but not simple either.

    1. boredough RE: labender Jan 17, 2011 01:57 PM

      We have dined once in each place, but never stayed in either one, so I can't give you any guidance there. I can say that neither meal was particularly memorable, but both took place several years ago. In any case, Relais & Chateaux are always reliable and special. I would just suggest you take a look at two other lovely places: the Bastide de Marie in Ménerbes, and the Domaine de la Coquillade in Gargas. Both are set in vineyards and are absolutely lovely. I wish I could suggest the Bastide de Capelongue in Bonnieux (another fabulous setting, also R&C) but the chef is into foams & fancier food than you would like.

      1. labender RE: labender Jan 17, 2011 04:53 PM

        Thanks for the replies!

        1. PBSF RE: labender Jan 17, 2011 08:31 PM

          We've stayed and dined at L'Oustau de Baumaniere three times over the past thirty years, twice in the early 80's when Raymond Thuilier was still the owner. The food was excellent but by no means the best compare some of Frances greatest chef such as Chapel, the Troisgrois Brothers, Jacques Pic, etc. A more recent meal in the 90's under J. Charial was more 'correct' than stellar, mainly because the cooking seems to be stuck in time. We have friends that dined there couple years ago and thought the cooking has really improved and modernized under the current chef; the food is definitely not simple but still retain the flavors of provence. All three times, we were there in June where the beautiful weather made dining on the terrace fronting the pool really magical, especially with Les Baux above lit up during the evenings. It really is a special place. All three times, we stayed in the main building (the two adjacent properties didn't exists then), an old olive mill built on a slope, the bedrooms comes in different sizes and form. Some have twin beds which might put a damper on things, some have beautiful view terrace, the pool and the valley; while other might be tucked away in a quiet corner with only windows above to let in light but no view at all. But all are beautifully furnished in provincial style; one need not worry about foamy mattresses or old plumbing. But do be specific if you decide to reserve. The property is not large: a welcoming reception/sitting area leads to a vaulted dining room; bedrooms are scattered through the main building; fronting that is an outside terrace for outdoor dining; a few step down is the pool with a small sunning area. We can't comment on the two adjacent properties since we have not stayed in them.
          We stayed one night at Mais des Herbes Blanche two years ago. In comparison to L'Oustau, the whole experience is much more rustic. The food, simpler using very good ingredients. The bedroom that we stayed in was fine and comfortable but nothing truly special. The ground is beautiful with a pool overlooking a vast valley. It also has a spa which we didn't have time to use. If I were in a celebratory mood, I would definitely choose L'Oustau de Baumaniere.

          1 Reply
          1. re: PBSF
            beaulieu RE: PBSF Jan 17, 2011 09:56 PM

            We have been there too several times over the years. I generally agree with PBSF and recommend it. I think we prefer staying in the annex down the road, which also has its charms. For our last stay, which was just one night, we bought a "Forfait Gastronomique." It included the room, the evening tasting menu with wine pairings, breakfast, a cookbook and, most important, two hours in the kitchen in the morning working with the chefs who are prepping for lunch, ending up with a small lunch at a staff table with what we had cooked. Very enjoyable. We speak French; I don't know if it would work in English.

          2. labender RE: labender Jan 18, 2011 06:26 AM

            thank you again for the very detailed feedback. I am working on the flights now so that I can confirm our dates. So many great choices, so little time!

            1. ChefJune RE: labender Jan 19, 2011 08:00 AM

              I have had wonderful experiences at l'Oustau de Baumaniere, although I have not stayed in their pension. However, I'd like to call your attention to another charming place in the area that I have never seen referenced on this board, La Riboto de Taven. http://www.riboto-de-taven.fr/anglais... It's smaller, and I believe dinner is really only available to those who stay in their hotel. Great food, when I was there, charming setting, delightful host.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChefJune
                boredough RE: ChefJune Jan 19, 2011 05:18 PM

                and a few of the rooms are carved into the mountain (think troglodyte) - very very cool

              2. g
                grace3 RE: labender Jan 20, 2011 07:54 AM

                I have stayed at Oustau de Baumaniere and dined there, of course.

                I much prefer la Riboto de Taven acroos the road. It is the property that Baumaniere really wanted to purchase for their place, but the family was not at all interested in selling. Easy to understand as it is most lovely. I try to fit in a few days there when in Paris by taking the TGV down. A different world!! Riboto was the first of the starred restaurants to retuen their star to Michelin and Michelin was so upset that they sent their top man down to ask why? Reason: they wanted to do their own thing!! Now, of course many have done the same thing. It is a family thing andthe food is excellent. Often those staying at Baumanier make reservations at Roiboto..if they can get a reservation. They take their own guests for dining first.

                1. labender RE: labender Jun 1, 2011 03:58 PM

                  We had a lovely stay at the Mas des Herbes Blanche. The hotel is very charming and dinner on the terrace was a treat. The food was quite good, but not earth-shattering, which was fine. We ate all meals but the first dinner elsewhere, because we wanted to see the area. Since we live in NYC and have easy access to stellar French cuisine, we decided not to make gastronomy the center of our trip, and thus we didn't come across any restaurants worth sharing.

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