What do artist Paul Cezanne and actor Christophe Lambert have in common?
They both have adored strolling under the blooming rose arcade of the Hotel Le Pigonnet in the Provençal city of Aix-en-Provence, perhaps stopping to rest by a century-old chestnut tree and listening to the babbling of the water in the nearby fountain – a little over one century apart.
It was here that Cézanne would often contemplate the majestic Sainte-Victoire Mountain, equipped with easel and canvas, and that Lambert, the star of films such as Highlander, or Greystoke – Legend of Tarzan, would eventually discover the same magic in Le Pigonnet’s tranquil 1.5 hectare French garden.
the difference was that Lambert liked the place so much, he bought it.
While actors like Clint Eastwood, Lenny Kravitz, Serge Gainsbourg, or Catherine Deneuve have also spent time here, not to mention another famed artist, Pablo Picasso, the difference was that Lambert liked the place so much, he bought it. “I fell in love with the garden at first sight. I’ve always loved gardens and flowers. This one is magnificent. If I don’t make it to heaven after I die, at least I will have had a glimpse!”
A 90-YEAR-OLD FAMILY HISTORY
Le Pigonnet is an unconditional institution in Aix-en-Provence, with a family history dating from 1924.
At that time, it was a four-bedroom 18th century Provencal mansion, which the Swellen family transformed and extended into an elegant hotel. Regular guests, for holidays and local residents, were loyal to their gatherings to play their traditional “bocce ball” game, enjoying the swimming pool and the delicious Mediterranean cuisine.
The family-run hotel vocation endured until 2014, when Christophe Lambert, his close friend/business partner Michel Halimi and Esprit de France took over with the aim of pursuing this unique spirit leading to its incredible success.
Le Pigonnet is a secluded and enchanting escape, slightly outside the centre of Aix-en-Provence; a peaceful Eden with a grand gated entrance.
THE NEW LOOK PIGONNET
Since Lambert and his partners took over the property two years ago, they have been investing in a major refurbishment of the guest rooms, creating a savvy and tasteful blend of contemporary and Provençal. “We wanted to bring the best service possible to people; and who better placed for that than someone like me who always lives in hotels? Each time I come, I try to stay in a different room – depending upon availability – and I check on everything. It allows me to see what needs improving in each room. It’s all about the details.
At the same time, the garden, and its 25 fountains are to retain their original charm, although more flowers are to be added. The pool and spa are being renovated, large picture windows added for the restaurant.
You may have lunch on the sunny restaurant’s terrace or have dinner in the elegant stylish dining room overlooking the garden. “La Table du Pigonnet” allows one to admire the outstanding view of the gardens.
During summer, diners can enjoy the shaded terrace enveloped in greenery facing a lane of century-old chestnut trees. Magic occurs in the kitchen with the Chef Thierry Balligand.
Known to be one of the finest tables in Aix-en-Provence and commonly appreciated for its excellent value for money. The chef offers an original and creative cuisine that focuses on seasonal products and in particular respecting this beautiful region.
Travellers can take a drink at the hotel’s chic and relaxed Côté Jardin Bar during the summer months – elegantly merged into the hotel gardens, a superb teak terrace with a spacious bar at the centre, or during the cooler days at the new cosy interior “1924” bar with a British club-like atmosphere. Twice a week, the bar has live music – attracting many of the locals, and creating an interesting and pleasant cultural blend with the other French and international visitors staying at the hotel. According to the season, visitors may enjoy jazz, soul, blues, gypsy, samba, pop and other melodies around a cocktail or glass of wine.
SPACIOUS, TASTEFUL GUESTROOMS
The spacious and air-conditioned rooms offer contemporary decoration, inspired by Provençal touches. In a refined style, the rooms and suites each have their own colour code harmoniously blending hues of turquoise, ochre or beige in a warm and elegant feel. All rooms have outstanding views: overlooking the hotel’s main courtyard and its wonderful plane tree drive, or overlooking the grandiose poetic garden.
While they all differ in terms of decoration, they have the same attention to detail. Tatiana Halimi, the hotel’s new General Manager, recently added new services in order to improve the room equipment and comfort (optic fibre for faster and free Wi-Fi, Nespresso machines, kettles, new TV-sets with free VOD system…). They have also changed the mini bars, and developed a unique offer by selecting and offering visitors products supplied by local Provençal producers.
“We are delighted to implement our expertise to carry on the dream and the magic that surrounds this mythical hotel and by sharing with you our vision of luxury ‘made in Provence’,” says Halimi.
“Our goal is to genuinely create your home away from home, where you may find a flawless quality service but above all a friendly and sincere environment, not often felt in too standardised hotels. We deeply hope that we will be able to count on you in the coming years to contribute to the new chapter of Hotel Le Pigonnet and help us to continue to live this fabulous story.”