French connection – a mother-daughter spa break in Provence

Bonding holidays are on the rise this year — Victoria Prever checks in to Coquillade Provence for some mother-daughter time in very relaxing Gallic surroundings


For the last decade, a spa holiday meant respite from my children. It represented rest, relaxation and a chance to switch off. So, taking my (now) 13-year-old girl with me on a mum-and-daughter break to the South of France was something of a parenting milestone.

A chance to spend some uninterrupted time together (while she still wants to hang out with me), a venue we’d both enjoy and a chance for some much-needed indulgence — what’s not to like?

Since the pandemic, bonding holidays with some one-on-one time between parent and child have grown hugely in popularity, according to holiday specialists Original Travel — and we were both happy to get on board with the trend.

The hour-long drive from Marseilles Airport to Coquillade Provence  took us through richly verdant countryside, which I remembered from family holidays in the region when I was her age, before reaching the Luberon Regional Nature Park.

Gliding up the elegant cypress tree-lined driveway with acres of vineyards stretching off around the property, the hotel is far more sophisticated than its “all-inclusive” label might suggest.

Formerly an 11th-century hamlet (Hameau Le Perrotet), there are now 62 suites and rooms housed in a collection of beautifully restored buildings perched on a hillside in Gargas — with a further four super-luxe pool suites due to open this year.

The hotel was originally founded by Swiss billionaire Andy Rihs, who invested millions in restoring the old buildings. Since his death, his two sons have continued his legacy, continuing to expand and filling the resort with their impressive art collection, which is easy on the eye as one makes a stroll around the hotel’s public areas.

Our garden suite, set in a rustic-looking shuttered villa, a short walk from the sunlight-filled reception area, overlooked the sprawling vineyards.

My daughter squealed with delight at the huge whirlpool bath, walk-in shower and private garden, but her excitement levels truly peaked at the resort’s Olympic-sized pool.

It’s one of three pools here — another sits on an adjoining terrace and a third, indoor pool forms part of the gorgeous spa.

We checked all three out but the spa pool, a stylish mix of modern and boho décor, with silvered mirrors and essential oils heavy in the air easily made for the most indulgent-feeling dip.

The spa itself is an oasis of calm with 12 treatment rooms where we could enjoy a range of pampering. My beauty therapist told me that the anti-ageing facial she gave me (using products from Swiss brand Nescens) would hydrate my eyes and peel back the years.

For more of the best child-friendly spas in Europe, check out our top picks

Whether or not I looked a decade younger, I floated out of the treatment room to reunite with my daughter and her own newly painted nails.

There’s also a highly spec’d gym, plus a schedule of exercise classes that we sadly couldn’t quite fit into our schedule.

As you’d expect in a Provencal hotel, food and wine is key, with a range of options at the three restaurants.

I’d opted against fine-dining Avelan (not ideal for my picky companion) and we both loved the fabulous sunset views over dinner at the slightly less fancy Les Vignes. During the warmer months, guests sit al fresco under the vines on the terrace while there’s also a glamorous bar for cocktails (or mocktails).

Kitty’s favourite was the lunchtime-only, Italian-influenced poolside restaurant, Cipresse. Its pizza oven churned out the freshest focaccia and authentically Italian pizzas, served alongside fresh salads, many of the ingredients for which had been grown in the hotel’s own kitchen garden.

In common with much of hotel world, sustainability is heavily promoted here. A stroll around the potager de chef (or kitchen garden) revealed crates of freshly picked tomatoes, aubergines, beans and courgettes, as well as pomegranates ripening on the trees and a host of herbs.

And new executive chef Pierre Marty, who spent 12 years working for multi-Michelin star-winning Alain Ducasse, told me that he and the head gardener try to maximise what they use from their home-grown harvest, both in the kitchen and in the hotel’s bar. Any leftovers are recycled for compost.

Wanting to explore more of the local area, I left my daughter lazing in our suite while I took a tour on a state-of-the-art electric bike, available to hire from the hotel’s BMC cycling centre.

The Luberon region, which sits in the hilly foothills of the French Alps, is a magnet for cyclists, who you see pedalling with grim determination up inclines I’d hesitate before walking up. But after a quick run-through on how to use the bike from personal trainer Romain, I sailed up even the steepest slopes.

En route, he shared the history of the area, which includes medieval hilltop villages Roussillon and Gordes — picturesque villages perched on steep hillsides that regularly top the charts of France’s prettiest.

Throughout spring and summer, much of the countryside is carpeted with lavender too, all bathed in that famous Provençal luminescent light.

With luxe living, delicious food and drink, and the chance for both of us to indulge in a bit of me-time (as well as some we-time), this was the perfect mother-daughter break.

​Getting There

Rooms at Coquillade Provence cost from around £640 per night B&B, including access to the spa, fitness classes and to the Aureto winery.

Return flights from London to Marseilles cost from around £50.

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