The Prieuré Baumanière, a former “Relais & Châteaux” monastery, has once again been awarded its Michelin star.

Le Prieuré-Baumanière is a haven of peace nestled in the medieval town of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. This Relais & Châteaux restaurant has just won back its Michelin star. Its chef, Christophe Chiavola, delights us with his Mediterranean and floral dishes.

 

Across the Rhône from Avignon, Le Prieuré is a country house in the city, housed in a former 14th-century monastery. As soon as you step inside, you’re captivated by the peaceful setting, set against the backdrop of the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame de Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. This calm, once enjoyed by men and women of the clergy, is a perfect balm for the troubled souls of the modern world.

 

Villeneuve-lès-Avignon is a rare commune in France. It’s still unspoiled by tourism, despite its collection of monuments! Strollers are delighted to discover Fort Saint-André and the Abbey, the Papal Charterhouse and the Tour Philippe Le Bel. They enjoy browsing antique shops, lingering in a bookshop, stopping off at a café terrace…

 

Le Prieuré is an ideal place to stay away from the hustle and bustle of Avignon during the Festival, which this year runs from June 29 to July 22. Guests love to relax here, or use it as a base for day trips to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Nîmes, Arles, the villages of the Luberon…

 

This five-star hotel was bought in 2007 by Geneviève and Jean-André Charial, owners of Domaine de Baumanière in Les Baux-de-Provence. They have turned this historic house into a place that perpetuates a philosophy, an authentic and sincere art of living. Director Alexandre Favier and his smiling team are here to make you feel at home. Le Prieuré has just been awarded a Michelin star, a new distinction from the red guide that highlights establishments with a little extra soul!

 

A priest’s garden with wisteria trellises

 

Suite La Réale n°64 at Prieuré-Baumanière ©Guillaume Gleize

 

With its curé garden and wisteria trellises, Le Prieuré offers 38 rooms and suites in three buildings. Geneviève Charial’s clean, luminous décor features contemporary furnishings that enhance the charm of the old stones.
This makes Le Prieuré a convivial hotel where you can relax, dream and sleep in absolute silence.
The Priory’s original building, the first stones of which were laid in 1332, now beautifully covered in ivy, houses the rooms with their old-world charm. The Chapter adjoining the main house opens onto spacious rooms with private balconies. The Atrium is a more recent construction, offering living rooms overlooking the pool. On hot days, this open-air pool is a real eye-catcher. And, for added comfort, there are rarely many swimmers in the 18-meter-long pool. You can enjoy a cocktail on a deckchair, lulled by the rustle of plane, cypress and lime trees.

 

Six months to win back the Michelin star

 

Christophe Chiavola, Chef at Le Prieuré-Baumanière, wins a Michelin star ©Virginie Ovessian

 

The Michelin star shines again at Le Prieuré. It’s a feat for chef Christophe Chiavola who, six months after his arrival, regained the red guide’s famous distinction on March 18.

 

His background? The Savoy native moved to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in 2013. He was Chef at Le Hameau des Baux, where he retained his Michelin star, and then at Château de Massillan, where he was awarded it. He took a break to work as a culinary consultant before taking over the reins at Le Prieuré.
“For me, cooking is like a show, like theater, where customers have to say ‘wow’,” comments Christophe Chiavola. I want to offer a cuisine that’s like me, daring, personal and uncluttered. Flavors with a pronounced acidity, crunch, not too much sugar, land-sea dishes, where the journey for the taste buds also involves surprising combinations, the right balance in pairings, cooking and juices. Our aim is to bring new inspiration to the table, while preserving the DNA of Baumanière: Provence.

 

Romantic dinner under the arbour

 

The Prieuré-Baumanière table in perfect alignment facing the blonde stone columns ©Johan Meallier

 

In the evening, tables with white tablecloths are set in perfect alignment under the wisteria and jasmine arbour, facing the blond stone columns. The romantic ambience is appreciated by couples who dine here as lovers. The chef doesn’t wish to seat more than thirty to forty guests, so as to be able to pamper each and every one.

 

Examples of Christophe Chiavola’s Mediterranean and floral cuisine? The starter starts with red tuna and beef broccoli gomasio and ginger, a perfect match. Lacquered pigeon, porcini mushrooms, Camargue oysters and full-bodied jus melt deliciously under the tongue. The apple with fennel, bergamot and pastis offers a beautiful variation of textures. The cellar is a highlight, with tastings of the finest Rhône wines. Americans rave about their plates and strike up conversations with their neighbors… They’re happy to be enjoying this gastronomic experience in Provence.

 

Lunch at Bistro’Chic under a lime tree

 

Bistro’Chic offers a relaxed lunchtime menu. When the weather’s fine, it’s a bon chic bon genre barbecue. The tables are always decked out with white tablecloths, and you’re seated in the shade of a lime tree.

 

Bistro’Chic specialties? Matured rib of beef or braised rack of veal. Valentin, a native of the Gard region of France, is busy smoking the hay rib.Undeniably, the wood-fired meat is tasty, enhanced by thyme, rosemary, tarragon and other herbs from the Prieuré garden.

 

A glass of Jean-André Charial’s “L’affectif” red wine is a pleasure to savor. “The name of this wine came from a conversation with Georges Wolinski, who said of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin: ‘He runs on emotion’. That’s how I describe my cuvée. I like winemakers who are firmly rooted in the land. It’s the climate that dictates production, it’s a school of modesty,” explains the owner of L’Oustau de Baumanière, a three-star Michelin restaurant and one of France’s finest restaurants.

 

Let’s go there!

Le Prieuré
7, place du Chapitre
30400 Villeneuve-lès-Avignon
Tel: + 33 (0)4 90 15 90 15
www.leprieure.com
Rooms from 223 euros
Five-course discovery menu: 95 euros

Le Domaine de Baumanière
13520 Les Baux de Provence
Tel: + 33 (0)4 90 54 33 07
www.baumaniere.com
Rooms from 249 euros
Flânerie” menu: 220 euros
or Vegetable Menu: 190 euros

 

See also > CHÂTEAU DE MONTCAUD: A RENAISSANCE AT THE HEIGHT OF ITS HISTORY!

 

Featured Photo: Le Prieuré-Baumanière, a country townhouse nestled in the medieval town of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon © Olivier Pascuito

Corine Moriou a été Grand Reporter pour le groupe L’Express pendant 15 ans. Aujourd’hui, elle exerce son métier en tant que journaliste indépendante. Ses domaines de prédilection sont les sujets de société, la culture, les voyages, le bien-être. Jamais blasée, toujours prête !

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