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At a glance

  • You'll love

    Michelin-star dining

    Rural location

    The hotel’s vineyards

  • Kids will love

    Playing in the gardens

    The outdoor pool

    The best food

  • Don’t expect

    Lots of distractions

    A beach nearby

    Hi-tech frills


Here in rural La Celle, grapes grow fatly and the sun shines ripely. Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle, a family-friendly Alain Ducasse-owned inn with 10 rooms, is as Provençal as pétanque and pastis. For parents with kids in tow, there's an outdoor pool, gorgeous gardens and an excellent restaurant to keep everyone happy.  

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle with us:

Flowers in your room and 'La Comtesse' aperitifs (a blend of local sparkling wine, peach liqueur and grapefruit juice); kids get a mini mocktail-mixing lesson, and make their own welcome drinks


Every property featured in the Smith & Family collection – including Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle – has been selected and approved by parents.


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Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle hotel - Provence - France

Need To Know


10, including seven suites.


12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.


Double rooms from £198.44 (€230), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.00 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rates include Continental breakfast and WiFi. Children Cots (free) and extra beds (€40 a night) for under-18s can be added to rooms.




If you love the hotel’s bergamot bath products, stock up on them in the little boutique in the former chapel. The lady who runs the shop doubles up as the resident masseuse: let staff know in advance if you’d like a treatment in your room.


Hotel closed

The hotel is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between February and Mid-April, and from October to December.

At the hotel

Pool, vineyards, vegetable gardens, bicycles (on request), restaurant, boutique selling local groceries and ingredients, WiFi.


In your room

Flatscreen TV, minibar, slippers, bathrobes, bergamot-scented bath products (made specially for the hotel by the Different Company).


Our favourite rooms

Perpétue de la Celle is a really spacious suite, with room for up to two children to sleep in its downstairs living area: one on the sofa bed, one on an extra bed (€44 a night for both). Upstairs, there’s a bedroom with an exotic feel – thanks to the hand-painted Moroccan bed-head – and a bathroom with olive-green tiles. The suite also has a lovely semi-private garden for little ones to play in; when the wisteria is in blossom, it smells divine. If you want interconnecting rooms, book Lucréce de Barras and Garcende de Sabran, two first-floor suites with plenty of historic gravitas.



Built on Roman ruins, the tranquil outdoor pool overlooks the 12th-century abbey and its bell tower and has a clutch of elegant wooden loungers with ruby-red covers. Bring your own arm bands and floats for the pool – the hotel doesn’t have any spares. It’s an unsupervised area, so parents need to be on hand to keep an eye on less confident swimmers. Thick white towels and parasols are provided and there’s a service cabin with toilets and changing rooms, an honesty bar and a telephone so guests can ring for a cooling citron pressé. Please note that, in accordance with French law, children in pools must be supervised at all times.  


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.


Book ahead

Book babysitting an hour or so ahead. Transfers from the airport or station need to be booked a day in advance.


Food and drink

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Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle hotel - Provence - France


Ducasse wouldn’t just leave any old Tom, Dick or Hercule in charge of his kitchen: head chef Benoit Witz has already enjoyed a glittering culinary career, having first worked with his boss back in 1987, at Louis XV in Monte Carlo. Witz’s philosophy is low-key: ‘real ingredients, simple cooking and authentic tastes’. Most of the restaurant’s produce comes from its gardens; everything else hails from within a 30km radius. Choose from a variety of menus: seasonal; six-course tasting; and the weekend lobster menu. Porcelain vegetables by local French artist Jean-Paul Gourdon decorate the white-linen-topped tables; the crockery comes from Atelier Soleil, one of the oldest pottery producers in Provence (  

Family fare

For €25, children can enjoy any course on the menu with a drink and ice-cream. Items can also be adapted to junior palates, with fussy sauces removed or frites added. Highchairs are available; picnic baskets can be provided.  

Hotel Bar

There’s no formal bar, just a small area in the lovely, light-filled conservatory (decorated with 18th-century antiques and flea market finds picked out by Mr Ducasse) where drinks can be served. All the usual libations can be provided, but you’re in wine country – make the most of it.  

Last orders

Breakfast is served between 7.30am and 10.30am, lunch from 12.30pm until 2.30pm and dinner between 7.30pm and 9.45pm.  

Smith Insider

  • Top table

    Out on the terrace when it’s warm, so you can eat in sight of the cypress trees and craggy Candelon mountain. The trees and parasols provide shade during the day; at night, little lanterns light up the tables, trees and abbey.

  • Room service

    Between 7am and 2am, guests can choose from three options: the signature Abbeye salad, a plate of cheeses and cold cuts or home-made cakes with fruit. It’s a simple selection – the restaurant is the main event. If you want something in particular for your little ones – a healthy snack or sweet treat – just speak to staff in advance.  


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Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle hotel - Provence - France

Parent approved

Every property featured in the Smith & Family collection – including Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle – has been selected and approved by parents.


Babysitting is available for €25 an hour (minimum three hours; give at least an hour’s notice).

What's there already?

For babies

• Highchairs • Travel cot • Cot bedlinen

For toddlers

• Highchairs • Travel cot • Cot bedlinen • DVDs • Craft supplies

For older children

• Bikes to borrow • Board games • DVDs • Craft supplies


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Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle hotel - Provence - France

Things to do

There’s an outdoor pool, pretty gardens and a Wine Conservatory to explore.

Hotel activities

Kids can run wild in the gardens and vineyards; water babies will want to spend most of their time in the pool. The chefs are sociable sorts: let them know if you and your brood would like an instructional tour of the vegetable garden. Adults can take part in cookery classes (September–December and February–June). Explore the Abbey, which dates back to the 12th century and now doubles up as the hotel’s wine cellar.  

Local Guide

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Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle hotel - Provence - France
Smith tip

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.

Don't miss…

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.

La Celle is a great place for kids, because it’s pretty, quiet, safe and easy to explore by foot. The little village has a few cafes and bistros worth eating in, and a short drive away, from Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle, there are tempting restaurants and bustling local markets.

Book a wine-tasting session at Château Miraval (Brangelina’s pad), just around the corner from the hotel, at Le Val, 83143 (+33 (0)4 94 86 39 33; The château is famed for its ornate architecture, its chapel and dovecote; it also has a famous recording studio. Some of the wines are named for the artists who have warbled here – Château Miraval Pink Floyd, a 2009 rosé, for example. For horse riding lessons, try Les Ecuries de la Renarde, a friendly equestrian centre that’s just over 10 minutes away by car (+33 04 94 77 84 35) at Chemin des Pourraques. There are friendly little horses for junior riders. Pick up some carrots on the way as bribes. Café du Midi (+33 (0)4 94 69 49 93), just opposite the hotel at 3 place de la Mairie, is the village’s only other eating option. Come here for a café au lait and croissant, if you fancy a change of scene at breakfast, or perhaps a pre-dinner aperitif: sit at one of the tables on the street and just watch village life go by. (The café also serves a well-priced daily special.) Côté Jardin (+33 (0)4 94 78 00 14) at 3-5 avenue Albert Albert 1er in Saint-Maximan, 20km away, serves tasty local dishes in its pretty garden: listen to the tinkling of the water fountains while you eat. La Crémaillière (+33 (0)4 94 86 40 00) at 23 rue National in Le Val (8km away) is a tiny, characterful restaurant run by a French couple. If you want a table on the terrace, book early – there are only four spots outside.




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Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle
10, Place Général de Gaulle, La Celle, 83170, La Celle en Provence, France
Hotel setting

Vineyards and cypress trees

Getting There

The hotel is in La Celle, a little rural village in the heart of Provence. Neighbouring villages include Camps-la-Source, Forcalqueiret and Tourves; Marseille is around an hour’s drive away, as is the coast.


The closest airports are Marseille 90km away ( and Nice 119km away; Marseille offers the most choice. Fly to Marseille from London Gatwick with Ryanair, easyJet and British Airways. You could also fly to Avignon (, 130km, or Nîmes (, 150km away. There are also direct flights from further afield, including New York and Québec.


The nearest train stations are Aix-en-Provence (hop on the TGV to/from Paris in season, or catch the Eurostar from London and change at Lilles or Paris), or Marseille-Saint-Charles, which connects to Lyon, Nantes, Aubagne, Franjfurt and other destinations (;


Bring a car, so you can explore picturesque Provence. It takes an hour and a half to drive here from Nice on the A8 and an hour from Marseille. Take exit 35 for Brignoles and turn right at the first roundabout (towards Toulon). At the second roundabout, go straight on (towards Abbaye de la Celle and Toulon). Take the A57 from Toulon and stay on for 40 minutes. Follow the motorway in the direction of Draguignan, Fréjus, Nice and Hyères. Take exit 10 for Brignoles and carry straight on for 21km. At the roundabout, take the D405, Route de Brignoles, towards Celle.


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Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle hotel - Provence - France

Smith & Family  Parent Panel reviews

Every property featured in the Smith & Family collection – including Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle – has been selected and approved by parents.

Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle is built upon romance: in the 17th century, the abbey was closed down following an outcry over the saucy resident nuns’ trysts with local menfolk. The rebellious sisters and their ardent swains have since made way for an elegant 18th-century manor house built from touron-coloured Candelon rock, cut from the mountain just above the village.

The hotel is full of French character: kids and adults alike will admire the old key collections, flea market furniture, sentimental chansons playing in the conservatory and hat stands topped with the French take on the bowler hat.
Families coming here can expect a peaceful proposition: a shimmering turquoise pool, sprawling gardens, a resident dog for little ones to befriend and quietly elegant rooms. There’s no kids club or crèche, or an array of organized activities, because this is the kind of place where families come to just relax together. Of course, there’s the excellent Ducasse restaurant, where black-and-white photos of vegetables hang like the visiting A-list on the walls, and the Wine Conservatory (vineyards showcasing more than 88 types of grape). At Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle, less really is more.


Smith & Family

‘We all lead such busy lives, that it’s rare for the five of us to find the time to really be together, without having to worry about rushing to the next thing. Hostellerie de L’Abbaye de la Celle gave us the opportunity to slow down and just enjoy some proper family time.

Rather decadently, the more memorable moments were spent in the bedroom, or, should I say, our bed. Breakfast in our antique bed became our routine, all huddled together feasting on the most exquisite homemade pastries and cereals, freshly squeezed juices, fruits and omelettes; served on beautiful silver trays and delicate china, of course.

Diffused light streaming though the floor-to-ceiling shutters added to the magic, making it one of those experiences that I will treasure for a long time. And I’ll never get over the sight of our middle daughter draping herself over the bed seconds after we’d first arrived, Instagramming pictures of herself to show off to her friends. Hilarious!’

Anonymously reviewed by Bill Granger, Bill's

The Guestbook  Smith member reviews

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