Long Weekend review: We get ahead of the game with an early detox retreat in the south of France

Martin Gaston
Les Baux de Provence, a historical village overlooked by the resort

The weekend:

If your idea of detox sounds like it would be better in the part of the world where wine, bread and cheese are considered food groups, this stay marries Provence's relaxed lifestyle with yoga, hiking, circuit training and restorative spa treatments. Though you’re not allowed to sample the wine – not until you’ve finished, anyway.


A short journey from Avignon, accessible by the Eurostar service from London St. Pancras, is 5-star hotel Domaine de Manville’s 100 hectare estate in the Alpilles National Regional Park, a picturesque landscape of boozy brunches, an 18-hole golf course and 30 individually designed contemporary rooms restored from the estate’s original farm buildings.

The stay:

Those on Domaine de Manville’s detox and wellness stay inhabit their own private villa located a walk away from the hotel’s main reception, though our own personal golf cart made getting about great fun. We started our days at 7:30 with an hour of yoga practice before tucking into fruit salad with gluten-free breads, and then took in a more active fitness session. After a vegan salad for lunch it was off to the spa, where I opted for restorative treatments to help alleviate months of various knocks, and then we’d while away the afternoon by lounging with a fresh juice, trading some jibes with the hotel staff about the state of the French rugby team and enjoying an occasional dip in the beautiful outdoor pool.

The terrace at La Table restaurant

The food:

Dinner was served in the hotel’s La Table restaurant, with personalised menus curated in partnership with the hotel’s resident dietician and chef – with dairy, meat, gluten, caffeine and sugar-free options available. There’s an individual cookery class on offer, where you can learn to make delicious and light dishes, including carrots three-ways with coffee mousse, grilled pollock with grapefruit and stuffed courgettes, and coconut milk panna cotta. But be warned: it takes extreme willpower to dodge the patisserie selection from the nearby bistro.

Ask about:

Ask about cycling through the olive trees of the estate if you’re feeling adventurous, though you’ll need a keen sense of navigation to make the most of so much twisty, open space. Also, chat with the locals about what detox means to the French for lessons in a more relaxed worldview.

And after that:

The hotel is overlooked by Les Baux de Provence, a village steeped in history yet oversubscribed by tacky tourist shops hiding genuine treats, displaying incredible views of the Alpilles region. Carrières de Lumières, an utterly mesmerising, enormous lightshow attraction set in an old quarry, is another short walk away.

Need to know:

Domaine de Manville’s ‘Detox & Wellbeing Stay’ starts from £1,741pp based on a three night, full board stay in a shared villa on selected dates. Book at domainedemanville.fr Eurostar fares from London St Pancras to Avignon start at £99 return from eurostar.com. Carrières de Lumières tickets €12 and are available on-site.

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