Hotel review: Les Vieux Murs

Head for the caves in the hills of Provence

Space is at a premium in the ancient Provençal hilltop village of Montfort in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. For the locals living in the honey-coloured stone houses that crowd the summit, digging a cave out of the rocky cliffs that protect the town was the natural thing to do.

Such caves remain ideal for keeping oil cool and wines fresh, but at the chambre d’hôte Les Vieux Murs, those below the main house have been converted into quirky rooms that offer guests a refuge from the summer sun.

Les Vieux Murs is tucked down a narrow lane and you have to park elsewhere in the village and walk the rest of the way. My room lay off a private courtyard that contained a small but adequate pool, two sun loungers and a garden table at which to sip an aperitif or have breakfast.

From the outside, all seemed normal, but going inside I found a comfortable, domed sitting room that had been hewn from the rock. Following the curved walls led to a bathroom where the Flintstones would have felt at home. Standing under the shower it felt as if I were washing in a buried spring.

The bedroom area was accessed by what could only be described as a hole in the floor and it was a good idea to remember exactly where it lay. Stone steps led to another domed cave even larger than the living area, where everything seemed almost prehistorically oversized with a huge bed, massive pillows and deep soft towels.

If the prehistoric life appeals after a stay at Les Vieux Murs, the fossil groves of the geological reserve around Dignes-les-Bains are within easy reach.

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Paul Lamarra

Les Vieux Murs

04600 Montfort

Tel (Fr) 4 88 16 60 27

www.vieuxmurs.com