Where to Stay (and Live the Good Life) in Avignon: Domaine de Rhodes

Where to Stay (and Live the Good Life) in Avignon: Domaine de Rhodes

When I first started planning my return trip to France seven years ago, my plans extended beyond Paris as I began to fantasize about Provence. In my mind, the fantasy included: a cozy, countryside stay on a farm or in a B&B; carefree hours spent frolicking in lavender fields; laying on a blanket amidst blooming flowers under a sunny sky while reading an engaging book; chirping birds lulling me to sleep for long, midday naps; and comforting dinners of rustic, Provençal cuisine accompanied by fresh baguettes (of course). This fantasy was everything I envisioned a quintessentially French vacation to be, and seven years ago I decided that my return to France just wouldn’t be complete without a stay in Provence.

When we decided to spend some time in Avignon this past March, the hunt was on to find a hotel; not just a hotel, but the perfect place to stay. I definitely didn’t want to stay behind the walls of the old city as I had my heart set on staying somewhere that gave me a true taste of life in the French countryside. After reading review after review, I decided on Domaine de Rhodes, a bucolic estate on Île de la Barthelasse, an island in the Rhône that’s a short five minute drive to the city center.

Scenes around Île de la Barthelasse
Scenes around Île de la Barthelasse
Scenes around Île de la Barthelasse

In the 16th century, the property was used as a hunting lodge but has been revamped in recent years to accommodate guests like me who are in search of the good life in Provence.

Upon arriving to the property, we wondered where we should check in. Not seeing anyone around, we knocked on the door of a house connected to the main property.

Francǫis, the lady of the house, warmly greeted us and showed us to our rooms. As she escorted us upstairs, she explained that a lot of the furniture, accessories, and trinkets in the B&B are family heirlooms; thus, please handle with care.

Staircase leading to our rooms
Staircase leading to our rooms

Jave and I had the room right off the main staircase. It was beautifully decorated and pleasantly quiet despite its location in the house.

(l) Desk in our room; (r) Closet in our room
(l) Desk in our room; (r) Closet in our room

The window was slightly open which allowed a cool breeze to flow through the room on an unusually sunny March day.

The en suite bathroom was immaculate with L’Occitane hair products on hand in case we needed them.

My parents’ bedroom was actually a completely private suite that included an adjacent bathroom and a day room that was the perfect place to chat over glasses of wine. I especially loved the carved headboard on their bed.

Before we caught our train from Paris earlier that morning, Jave cleaned out the fridge in our Parisian apartment and packed lunches for our enjoyment during the ride to Avignon. However, none of us were hungry during our train ride, so we decided that the outdoor table and seating area at Domaine de Rhodes was the perfect setting for an afternoon picnic.

As we ate, Francǫis surprised us with a tray of freshly squeezed apricot and pear juices – the perfect way to wash down our lunch.

After eating, we took a walk around the sprawling grounds and admired the plants and trees. The B&B sits on over two acres of land, so there’s plenty of room to roam.

While the property features a swimming pool, it wasn’t in use since the weather wasn’t quite warm enough.

Our nights at Domaine de Rhodes provided some of the best rest of our lives. The first night, the winds kicked up, and all of the howling lulled us soundly to sleep.

During our stay, we often saw Francǫis’ Spanish husband, Paco, tending the grounds. He always seemed to be trimming bushes, making repairs, and otherwise taking care of all of the maintenance that an estate of this size requires. Over breakfast one morning, Paco explained that the B&B was just opening up again following its winter season closure. As a result, he had a lot of little fixes to get through to get the B&B in prime shape for the high season.

The living room inside of the B&B
The living room inside of the B&B

Breakfasts at Domaine de Rhodes were memorable as they provided a chance for the ten or so of us guests to discuss our plans for the day, but more importantly, our lives back home. During our stay, we met an Aussie lady who was scoping out the area in preparation for her family’s move there. Her days were spent checking out available real estate and local schools for her kids. We also met an Indian couple from North Carolina who were taking a short vacation from their sabbatical in Belgium. But our breakfast conversations also gave us a chance to learn more about our hosts, Francǫis and Paco. We discussed marriage, aging parents, past travels, and much more. They were so gracious, kind, and welcoming, and their hospitality really made our stay at Domaine de Rhodes that much more enjoyable.

Our engaging morning conversations occurred over plates of fresh croissants, baguettes, boiled eggs, fruits, homemade jams (the rose flavored jam was the best), fresh juices, and coffee.

While I didn’t get to frolic in lavender fields or read a book in a field of flowers during our stay in Avignon, the part of my Provençal fantasy that I did fulfill was staying in a B&B like Domaine des Rhodes. The impeccable service, the relaxing atmosphere, and the beautiful estate itself were enough to satisfy my craving for a taste of the good life in Avignon, and the next time I’m in town, I wouldn’t think of staying anywhere else.

My parents still can't stop raving about our stay at Domaine des Rhodes
My parents still can’t stop raving about our stay at Domaine des Rhodes

Check out the hotel’s website for rates and booking details.

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Tell me, does Domaine des Rhodes look like the kind of place you’d like to stay at when in Provence?

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  • That looks like a very charming place with lots of character. It would be great to relax there for a few days.

    • Dana Carmel

      Freya, it’s the perfect place to relax and escape from everything. You should definitely consider a stay there if ever in Avignon.

  • This place looks so perfect to me – peaceful, relaxing and super cozy. I wish I could spend there a day or two to meditate and get some fresh air :).

    • Dana Carmel

      I could definitely use a return visit right about now for some meditation!

  • Such a beautiful and quaint place … the owners (Francois & Paco) seem so lovely … and the food looks amazing. I definitely see why you had such a great time.

    • Dana Carmel

      Yes – Francois & Paco’s hospitality definitely made the experience that much more enjoyable. It would be hard to stay at Domaine des Rhodes and not have a great time.

  • Oh my gosh Dana, this gave me one of those deep butterflies (good ones) in my stomach. It was like you were the narrator speaking softly in the background of a whimsical nostalgic movie. If I didn’t have Phoenix with me and you and Jave had called me right during me reading this post to join you and your parents…I would have done it! Seriously. When you mentioned the Aussie lady it made me want to be able to transfer this exact B & B and Francois to any dream location in the foothills below the Alps! 🙂 Btw…I’m on an old monitor at work (shhhh…don’t tell) and your pictures are super wide which I LOVE. Did you change your margins or is it just my monitor. Also, for the first time ever in following bloggers (and travel bloggers are a big part of my community) and you & Jave the longest something occurred to me that I’ve never thought of before. My first tour will likely be on a tour…and hence a tour bus. Regarding taking pictures…do you find there comes a point in time you need to put the camera down to actually take in the scenery versus have the viewfinder in your eye? Of course I want the memories to keep forever but I don’t want to ruin the moment either if that makes sense. Whoa!!! Sorry for the long comment!! 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      There are some posts that I’ve started posting with wider margins – usually posts where I want to show off pictures. With that said, when traveling, it’s hard to find the balance between taking pictures and just actually sitting back and taking everything in. I think it’s gotten harder now that I’ve started blogging and I’m always on the lookout for a great shot. But there are times when I go easy on the picture taking. But then when it comes time to write about a subject and I don’t have adequate pictures, then it’s like I could just kick myself! It’s really a Catch 22. Anyway, glad that you love this B&B. And hopefully you’ll add France/Provence to your bucket list of destinations. And I would STRONGLY encourage you to tour independently – not on a tour bus. I did the tour bus thing when I first went to Europe and I didn’t get nearly as much out of that trip as I’ve gotten out of this recent one. It’s always great when you can custom design your itinerary to match your individual interests and comforts.

  • There’s so much character in this place! The breakfast looks to die for as well – the way to my heart is most certainly through the food!

    • Dana Carmel

      You and me both, Catherine! That breakfast was definitely a great way to start our days!

  • jan

    It was such a beautiful place. I love talking to other guests over breakfast too. It is good to find out about what there is to see nearby and compare notes. What a gorgeous place to fulfil you Provence dream.

    • Dana Carmel

      It definitely was the perfect place to stay, Jan!

  • Such a beautiful and rustic setting! The bathrooms looked so modern and that really caught my eye. I love antique furniture and decor but need a modern bathroom! The landscape is so peaceful too! Did you have to drive out far to find lunch and dinner?

    • Dana Carmel

      Me too, Rosemarie! Bathrooms are so important to me – they make or break a hotel room in my opinion. Although the B&B is located on an island, it’s only about a 5 minute drive to the center of town. Very convenient which is one of the reasons I chose it – it offers the best of both the countryside and the city.

  • Wow! I can understand why your parents are still raving about it. It looks idyllic. The grounds are so well kept. I think it would be easy to sleep well and deeply there, something l rarely do. The food looks amazing too.

    • Dana Carmel

      Yes – if you have problems sleeping, this is definitely the place to come and catch up on your rest!

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