La Fontaine de Saumane, a prestige rental property sitting in stunning grounds with far-reaching views over the Vaucluse plaine. Here you can see the cast iron entrance gate. As you drive down the long, cypress-lined avenue, passing a lavender field, you enter your own private Provençal paradise.
View from the main house of the 25m infinity pool, ammonite sculpture and the Monts de Vaucluse. The sculpture is large so as to not be overwhelmed by the view. You are only a 10 minute drive from L'Isle sur la Sorgue, the famous market and antique centre, and about 30 minutes from Gordes and the Luberon, with many of the perched villages classified among 'France's most beautiful villages'. Thirty minutes to the north of the estate you find Carpentras, with the oldest active synagogue in France. A little farther are the famous Côtes-du-Rhône wine villages of Gigondas, Vacqueryas, Beaumes-de-Venise. The up-and-coming Ventoux vineyards are 30-40 minutes away, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape is just a bit further but well worth visiting.
In the 17th century there was a tile factory on part of the site, which was already owned by the infamous de Sade family. In the 18th century the property became a Benedictine abbey, still part of an estate owned by the notorious Marquis de Sade's uncle, the promiscuous Abbé Jacques-Francois Sade, a friend of Voltaire. The young Marquis de Sade came here to be educated by his uncle.
The entire estate was restored and the landscaping created by English designer and architect, Giles Vincent. He used original stones and wood to make this an authentic Provençal home. Vincent purchased this estate, a 16th century priory, as a ruin. He had quite a challenge since parts of the roof were non-existent, and walls had fallen down, so he started by working out the original layout of the building. Before he did the interiors he worked on the landscaping, designing the stunning 25 metre infinity pool, an ornamental pool, walking paths and individual gardens all over the 40 acre property.
The magnificent grounds are reminiscent of an elegant French château. Here you see another large water feature, surrounded by greenery, roses, and sculptures. As you wander the scented pathways in the private garden filled with roses, lavender, iris and more, you will discover secret hideaways, tree houses, and mini gardens.
Whilst the estate sits in rolling Provençal countryside, you are no further than 15 minutes to an hour from the most important attractions in Provence. You are only a 40 minutes drive from Bedoin, one of the three access points cyclists take to climb the world famous Mont Ventoux, the highest mountain in Provence and made famous by the Tour de France. If you don't want to leave the estate however, you have extensive parkland for hiking, biking or just exploring the surrounding hills. There's also a dedicated jogging trail as well as the flood-lit tennis court.
A bird's eye view of the 40 acre estate. On the bottom right you see the rows of cypress trees that mark the entrance. To the left you can just about see the obelisk which marks the perimeter of the estate to the south. In the distance you see the Vaucluse plaines which include the Luberon National Park.
The majestic cypress-lined avenue as seen from the parking circle. During its existence the property has been used as a tile making factory, and at one point as a Benedictine Priory. It was given over to agriculture and silk worms in the 19th century before silk worms were devastated by disease.
At the end of the cypress-lined avenue you approach the circular driveway. Four covered parking places are available on the left, and cars may park here as well in the driveway. To the right (just out of view) is the two bedroom guest cottage. This is an excellent choice for teenagers, or perhaps staff.
La Fontaine de Saumane, the main house. The main door to the house; there is an entry just behind the door with a powder room to the right. The kitchen, dining and living rooms are on the left. A circular staircase leads to the upstairs bedrooms. Above the ancient rounded entry door please note the beautiful mullion windows.
The present house is said to originate in the mid-16th century, although the kitchen may be built on an even earlier structure. The site is even more ancient - in the 1920's Greek coins dating from 500 BC and with the markings of the Greek Phocean colony founded at the present-day Marseille were found.
This courtyard and private seating area are located in front of the main entrance to the house. This is an amazing place to spend real quality time, just lazing in the beauty of the lush garden and the breath-taking architecture. Moments like these are precious and unforgettable.
The summer kitchen is a large, open area with a vaulted, beamed ceiling. The table seats 10 people easily, and there is built-in seating on the left (not shown.) The kitchen is fully equipped with plancha, small fridge, and sink. The owners prefer that no fires of any kind be lit in summer months due to high fire danger, so they have provided the plancha for outdoor cooking.
Different options are available to get help in with meals. If you would like a chef to come on-site and cook for you, or indeed give a cooking class, please reserve before arrival since private chefs are in high demand. You could also have a meal delivery, or home style cooking done on-site.The housekeeper is a Provencal cook and provides meals as well.
The communal rooms at la Fontaine de Saumane. The living room is bathed in light, filtering in through the glass and metal doors. The high ceiling adds to the airy feeling. The two large sofas are casual and very comfortable - the house has an air of easy formality. The raised stone fireplace provides focus for the room. The tapestries and art add a elegant and refined look.
The kitchen has very striking edges and other original features. In the background you see the restored, original bread oven (no longer in use) and in the centre of the photo you can see an almost circular, custom made Provençal stone sink. There is a beautiful Lacanche stove with 2 ovens, a broiler and 5 induction burners. On the right there are two 22" refrigerator/freezers, and two under-counter refrigerators. There is another 4 burner electric stove and oven, plus a dishwasher and double sink nearby the kitchen in the laundry room.
The atmospheric dining room is in the original part of the house, right next to the kitchen. The antique table seats 10 people comfortably. The ancient beamed ceilings and tiled floors definitely give an authentic Provençal country feel.
The Bluthner piano sits between the dining room and the TV room. Perhaps a little music during dinner? Let us know if you would like this to be arranged. The stone pillar is a vestige of the building's construction during previous centuries. The arched medieval door (on the right) is the front door as seen in the first photograph of the main house section of this description.
Located on the first floor, this elegant en-suite master bedroom has all the hallmarks of a truly authentic Provençal room. Against the far wall is a walnut armoire with historic family portraits on either side. The 3 seat bench in front of the 180 cm king size bed is a painted "radassier". The large room has other pieces of walnut antiques as well. The terracotta tiles for the floors could have been produced by the former tile works located centuries ago on the site. Perhaps best of all is the "priceless" view of the garden and pool that you get from the two large windows. The photograph of the infinity pool with the view beyond was taken from this room.
All bedrooms are air-conditioned.
The en-suite bathroom for the above master bedroom. You see a claw-footed tub with a hand-held shower head, a sink and separate WC. There is a Italian shower also. The two large windows bring in lots of light. High quality toiletries are provided, either L'Occitane or La Durance: hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and body lotion.
The bathroom for the en-suite twin bedroom, above. As with all the bathrooms, high quality toiletries are provided, either L'Occitane or La Durance: hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and body lotion.
Located on the second floor, right next to the twin bedded room, you find another elegant en-suite bedroom. The king-sized bed is 180 cm. This room plus the twin room could be a perfect family suite. Both of these bedrooms enjoy en-suite facilities. This, like all the bedrooms, is air-conditioned.
On the top level of the main house you find this twin-bedded en-suite room, plus another en-suite bedroom next door. These two en-suite bedrooms would make a lovely, private suite for parents and two children.
The independent cottage. The kitchen/dining area in the cottage. The cottage is separate from the main house, and is just off the circular driveway. It would be perfect for teenagers who want privacy, or staff that you bring along.