Lying just outside the hamlet of Chantemerle-lès-Grignan in the heart of Drôme Provençale, the rustic-chic, romantic style of Domaine Le Bois des Dames
intoxicates, goading you into pouring a glass of Côtes du Rhône, sitting back, and letting the distant buzz of bees and the scent of lavender wash over you.
Walking through the gate of this 18th-century former lavender farm, you enter a large stone-flagged courtyard lined by creeper-covered, low stone walls bedecked with an array of antique demijohns, and ceramic and terracotta plant pots. Here, by day the branches of the old Acacia tree provide dancing, dappled shade; while after dark, candles flicker in the warmth of the evening as tables are set for dinner. It's a scene that resembles the square of a Provençal village but with all the comfort, style and sophistication of a beautiful home.
Clotilde leads the way as we climb the stairs, moving from bedroom to bedroom, each room an elegant fusion of quintessential Provençal style and 21st-century comfort – showers are capacious, towels are thick and fluffy, the bed linen is top drawer. Windows look out over lavender fields, the sun-drenched swimming pool, or the woods from which le domaine takes its name – Bois des Dames (‘Ladies’ Woods’). Clotilde adjusts a cushion here, straightens a bed corner there, seemingly random items adding the finishing touches to her design. A straw trilby hangs on the back of a wrought iron chair as if someone had just walked in from the fields and thrown it there.
Despite the consummate taste, there's an easy relaxation about the place – the large family dog lies sprawled out across the courtyard; a couple of leftover breakfast baguettes still sit atop a bread basket; by the pool, a guest soaks up the sun, briefly opening her eyes to wave and share a joke.
“We wanted this house to be inviting, comfortable and elegant, with personality but always with a simple and casual spirit,” says Clotilde. And that's exactly what it is, this beauty by the bois .