La Reserve Ramatuelle, Obamas' Eats & Les Crayeres Buzz

By Margaret Kemp

Picture an unspoilt hilltop village called Ramatuelle, close enough to Saint Tropez to park the mega-yacht, far enough from the madding crowd to zen out when you want. Add a new Jean Wilmotte designed resort and spa, Les Villas de la Reserve Ramatuelle, just 2km from Pampelonne plage, awaits. Heaven or what?

La Reserve, part of Design Hotels group, with luxurious “must visit” addresses in Geneva and Paris, is the concept of Michel Reybier, bon viveur and owner of Chateau Cos d'Estournel. The Bordeaux winery was built by Louis Gaspard d'Estournel, known as the Maharjah of Saint-Estephe for the Indian influences on which he based his chateau.

The hotels' 7 rooms and 16 suites have private terraces or gardens. Stone floors, woven rugs, clean lines, contemporary décor showcases modern design mavens such as Hans J. Wegner, Finn Juhl, Morose, Poltrona Frau, B&B Italia. “La Reserve is based on uncompromising excellence, guests experience a “retreat experience” and the spa programme will give them energy to dance the nights away in Saint Tropez”, says Michel Reybier.

So who's in the kitchen then? Eric Canino (ex-Michel Guérard and Le Grand Vefour) creates fresh Mediterranean dishes in the restaurant "Le Restaurant" infuenced by Guérards' Cuisine Minceur, a form of healthy low-calorie cooking. “The overall focus is on health and well being”, explains Canino.

The Spas' indoor pool has a jet lane, there's an outdoor pool, pool house and steam room; the fitness centre has Technogym equipment and a Kinesis Wall, said to produce amazing results on the body. La Mer products, as well as the hotels' signature line, are used for treatments. Following a (not compulsory) consultation with the in-house doctor, guests are prescribed a combination of up to four spa treatments daily, an exercise routine, meal planning and stress reducing ideas. Consider the six day programme, a bespoke plan to promote anti-aging, inside and out.

In addition to the new hotel and spa there are 12 Mediterranean-style villas with private butlers and concierge service, available for one night, one week .........why not as a résidence secondaire?

La Reserve Ramatuelle

Chemin de la Quessine,

83350 Ramatuelle

T: 04 94 79 14 28

www.lareserveramatuelle.com

Rooms from 400€ Suites from 1500€

Rates include breakfast and drinks from

the mini-bar

Villas from 4,000€ per night

15,000€-30,000€ for seven nights

In town last week, to commemorate the 65th anniversary of D-Day 6th June, the Obama family stayed at The American Embassy and dined at La Fontaine de Mars www.fontainedemars.com owned by Christiane and Jacques Boudon, featuring cuisine of the South-West. The couple also have the achingly chic Cafe de L'Alma

www.cafe-de-l-alma.com. The President and Michelle Obama dined, with three friends, in a private upstairs room. “We knew some “important Americans” were coming about ten days ago, but only found out this morning who they were ”, admit the Boudons. Wonder if Barack knows Christiane once worked at Chicago Pizza Pie?

Thinking of an away-day? Forty five minutes from Paris by TGV the handsome 20th century Chateau Les Crayeres, Reims, is set in a six hectare park deep in the heart of Champagne country. For an overnight stay because you're visiting the champagne houses, Les Crayeres have 20 rooms, seventeen located inside the Chateau some with excellent views of Reims Cathedral. The Gardiner family, who also own Chateau Phélan Ségur, Saint Estèphe, have decorated in perfect keeping with the style of the elegant chateau, working with architect and designer Pierre Yves Rochon.

The gastronomic restaurant headed by Didier Elena gets rave reviews and 2-Michelin stars. This year “Le Jardin des Crayeres” launches, a brasserie with outside terrace and inside tables for chilly days. “So that guests will have an alternative to the main restaurant”, explains Elena. Taking the old garages and workshops, “at the end of the garden”, there's now a slick brick state-of-the-art space, with magnificent open kitchen. “We also realise that with the straightened times at present we must offer a budget alternative”, says Elena. So the locals have their rond de serviette, eat dans le Jardin on a daily basis. Le Semainier, is the dish of the day menu, Monday: Marmite de poisson-bouillabiasse (22€) Tuesday: Rumsteak au poivres (20€) Wednesday: Jarret de cochon lentillons roses (18€) and of course fish on Friday, last week Lasagne de morue fraiche. As far as the extensive A La Carte menu is concerned Elena says he's created international dishes, souvenirs of his travels. Dashi-maki omelette: Clam Chowder: classic Hareng pomme à l'huile. Mains include Marmite de Saint-Jacques. “Jolly” boudin blanc: Black Angus Beef, chips with parmesan: Tender slow cooked spare ribs: excellent sides: Camembert by Jean-Yves Bordier, desserts include perfect raspberry bread and butter pudding and astringent tarte au citron. Chef-Sommelier Philippe Jamesse's wine and champagne list includes by the glass (Enomatic system) say, Bourgogne Aligoté Bernard Moreau white 3.50€ Chateau Phélan Ségur 2004 14€. Relax with a cigar, you're outside it's OK, the aroma of the herb garden is delicious as is Le Jardin des Crayeres.

Les Crayeres Le Jardin,

7 avenue du General Giraud, Reims,

T: 03 26 24 90 90

www.lescrayeres.com

Open 7/7

Average spend 28€ + wine

Free Wi-Fi

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