Imagine waking up in a Provençal mansion; the sun is streaming through an open window, bathing the room in soft golden light. Your feet hit the cool clay tiles and you wander over to the window which frames a medley of terracotta rooftops jutting into the deep blue sky. Below, a leafy terrace is adorned with breakfast tables and peeking out at the end of the lush garden, the turquoise pool is ready to cool you off after an afternoon exploring… Welcome to Les Jardins de Baracane, a beautiful guest house in the heart of Avignon where you can live out your dreams of living in a historic house in the South of France. The perfect place for exploring both the ancient city and the bucolic surrounds, it’s an affordable escape to Provence.
A discreet sign on a stone wall is the only evidence of what lies within this boutique property in Avignon. Walking past, I doubt you’d even notice it. But step inside the heavy wooden door and you’re welcomed into another world.
The 17th-century property has been lovingly restored into a welcoming, character-filled space that will win you over from the first moment. Modern conveniences bring comfort, while traditional touches throughout the guest house remind you of the artistic and theatrical roots of the city in which it resides. Set over 4 floors, the house offers 3 guest rooms and two suites, making it an intimate and quiet escape.
When current owners Olivier and Laurence first stepped foot in the property, it was love at first sight. They were enchanted by the garden and the oasis it provided right in the heart of the old city. They vowed to make it theirs, even though it wasn’t officially on the market… This passion is evident in the way they present the property. Provence locals, they’re fully versed on the history and attractions of the city and its surrounds, and are all too happy to impart their knowledge on you, should you wish to receive it! Their aim for Les Jardins de Baracane is to create a friendly, homely environment, a maison d’aimée. A sanctuary after a day exploring, a place where you feel at home.
Each of the well-appointed rooms in Les Jardins de Baracane comes with a view over the garden. Tiled rooftops and tall cypress trees complete the scene and encapsulate life in the South of France. The rooms are tastefully and individually decorated with intense attention to detail. Many of the pieces adorning the rooms have been crafted by local artisans, and period features such as exposed beams and original tile flooring add to the charming aesthetic.
Comfortable beds will ensure a good sleep, while air conditioning units allow you to keep cool in the heat of summer. Each room has a private bathroom and toiletries are provided should you forget your shampoo. The two suites cater to those wanting more space to spread out, and they provide it in spades. The exposed stone walls and stained glass detailing in the Alhambra Suite won me over. And the Babylon Suite on the top floor was just as lovely with its (retired) fireplace, whitewashed beams and rustic tiled floor. All rooms are lavishly furnished and finer details – such as the kettle and tea selection – will ensure you enjoy your stay all the more.
While the rooms at Les Jardins de Baracane may be sumptuous, it’s the gardens at this Avignon guesthouse that really make it stand out. Like a well-hidden secret, it’s hard to believe such tranquillity exists between the tight-knit streets of the historic city centre. A lush green courtyard is laid out with bistro tables to enjoy your breakfast under the canopy. Follow the curved walkways and you’ll find a pool hiding zen-like at the rear of the garden, surrounded by overflowing foliage and climbing Ivy. It’s a beautiful area, with enough space for all the guests to find their private nook among the trees. And if you’re lucky, the resident cat will happily keep you company too.
The Communal Areas
Les Jardins de Baracane is a fairly petite property, so there isn’t a surplus of communal areas. However, there is a lovely informal dining room where you can relax with a complimentary drink before a night out, and of course, when the sun is shining the gardens will lure you outside…
Breakfast is optional when you stay at this Avignon accommodation. As Olivier explained, some wish to wander into a nearby square to have coffee and croissants under the plane trees instead. And while this would also be a lovely idea, breakfast at Les Jardins de Baracane should be experienced at least once during your stay. A simple French breakfast, you’ll be provided with fresh fruit, pastries & bread picked up from the market and boulangerie that morning. A range of locally made spreads and fruit juices complete the decadence. Enjoy it in the garden and you’ll have trouble pulling yourself away when you’re done. If you’re looking for places to eat in Avignon, your hosts have you covered there too. They’ve tried and tested a lot of the local restaurants and have put together a handy sheet of all the best places to eat in town, along with information such as opening hours and price range. It’ll save you a lot of leg work.
Location & Things to do Nearby
The guest house is ideally located within the old city walls, meaning most Avignon attractions are within 15-mins walk. The best way to explore is to simply start walking and see what you discover, but if you prefer a more structured approach here are some must-sees. Palais du Papes The Pope’s Palace makes a grand impression rising up above the Avignon skyline. The largest gothic building in Europe, it was built when the papacy moved from Rome to Avignon in the 14th century. Make the effort to take a tour – the unique histopad brings the building to life and tells of its history in a fun and interactive way.
Rue des Teinturiers The textile industry was once flourishing in Avignon and the water wheels of the rue des Teinturiers were used to provide energy for the mills. Nowadays, it’s a lovely place to walk in the shade of the grand plane trees, watch the River Sorgue flowing by on its journey from Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, and grab a coffee in one of the neighbouring cafes. Les Halles Avignon’s most famous market is open all year round, every day except Monday. It’s a busy place (but quieter on weekdays) where the locals go to buy their produce, meat, and cheese on a weekly basis. Pont Saint-Bénézet One of the most iconic bridges in the South of France, the Pont Saint-Bénézet, commonly known as the Pont D’Avignon, is an attraction in its own right. You can admire it from afar or pay a small fee to access the bridge (buy a combined ticket when you visit the Palais du Papes for the best price).
Jardin des Doms The best place to get your bearings in Avignon, the Doms Garden offers spectacular views over the city and beyond. Climb up to the raised gardens from behind the Palais du Papes, or take the tourist train if you’re feeling fatigued. Once there, you’ll enjoy strolling through the shaded gardens and enjoying a wine or ice cream next to the duck-filled pond.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in central Avignon, you can’t go wrong with Les Jardins de Baracane. A tranquil home away from home, it has everything you need to make your holiday in Provence a memorable one.
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* My stay at Les Jardins de Baracane was hosted in exchange for this review. As always, I retain full editorial control and all opinions expressed are my own.