SAINT-TROPEZ, FRANCE: Chateau de la Messardiere is a magnificent 5 star luxury hotel in a grand 150 year old palace Chateau with glorious views of Saint-Tropez and the beaches of Ramatuelle. A dazzling member of Leading Hotels of the World, it sprawls across 10 manicured acres at the highest point in St Tropez and has 117 luxury rooms and suites.
Visually spectacular, it provides the pinnacle of comforts and has a special designation as a Palace hotel, an honor shared by only 24 hotels in France.
This amazing property more than lives up to its reputation. Staying here is like discoveringa heavenly pinnacle of luxury in a part of France famous for its grand hotels along the Cote d’Azure.
Chateau de la Messardiere in Saint-Tropez
Entering the property through gates ¼ mile from the lobby, and passing through open fields and vineyards, its peach exterior shimmers on the hill like an otherworldly beacon of glory.
The driveway in front of the hotel is a circular mosaic of stone. The clientele is extremely well heeled, exemplified by the Bentleys, Porches and occasional Lamborghini in the driveway.
The lobby is an beautiful open space under a series of arched columns. Modernist art from a variety of contemporary artists adorns the entrance and the walls throughout the hotel. It serves as an onsite gallery and most are available for purchase.
A colonnade of steps leads up a flight of marble stairs to the bar, pool, and restaurant area. A hallway past the concierge desk leads to the spa area.
The Valmont Spa is just off the main lobby , and offers a range of beauty treatments and massages. An indoor pool adorns the entranceway, while the staff is friendly and extremely attentive.
Chateau de la Messardiere in Saint-Tropez: The Hotel
117 rooms spread out across the hotel in a variety of areas. The main Chateau house has 5 rooms on both the fourth and fifth floors at the highest point on the property, with balconies looking out across the beaches of Ramatuelle. Two structures flank the historic Chateau with room on the 3rd and 4th level.
A sprawling pool area covers the terrace on one side of the main chateau, providing an elegant tableau for relaxing in the St Tropez sun. A series of rooms form an arc around the pool area, with views overlooking the grounds.
In the afternoon the terrace is filled with guests enjoying a sublime afternoon beside the Greek tile inspired pool. A brilliant blue sky spreads out above peach and cream colored buildings. It is an idyllic scene from a fever dream.
A glass enclosure reminiscent of a Victorian sun house fills the back terrace of the Belle Epoch era chateau. This is the acclaimed restaurant l’Acacia, whose exterior wrought iron framework seamlessly blends with the architecture of the original Chateau house.
Chateau de la Messardiere in Saint-Tropez: The Room
The junior suite on the ground floor is spacious and beautiful, with cream colored walls, thick mahogany colored crown molding and high ceilings.
The room opens up onto a private terrace surrounded by flowers with lounge chairs and a small table. Statuary and garden paths are mere steps away, surrounded by views of the grounds and the beaches of Ramatuelle.
Red tile floors, a gorgeous sitting area, and a sumptuous king size bed fill the room. The furnishings are elegant, the atmosphere sublime. Recessed lighting in ceiling and an array of fixtures throughout the room give the feel of a private apartment as much as a hotel room.
The bathroom is huge, with both a fabulous rain shower stall as well as a bathtub. Massive closet space fills one wall, while the sink area has elegant towels, and embroidered bathmats.
Chateau de la Messardiere in Saint-Tropez: Dinner at l’Acacia
Dinner at l’Acacia is a lovely affair in elegant surroundings. The bar area is beautifully appointed, with smoky grey couches and a number of nooks and crannies to sit back and relax. The bar itself looks out across the outside terrace and the pool beyond.
The interior dining area spreads out across the back of the Chateau under the glass enclosed exterior Victorian structure. It outside resembles a Belle Epoch tribute to Royal Albert Hall.
Chateau de la Messardiere in Saint-Tropez: l’Acacia interiors
The inside of the restaurant is anything but Victorian. Within the belle epoch framework is a beautiful modernist design. Sweeping marble floors fill the restaurant, ringed by an artistic 12-inch wooden edging with a Japanese inspired marble inlay designs.
Silver mache beams holding recessed lighting fill the room, with the air of an elegant art gallery.
Corner tables for 8 occupy the cupolas at either end of the room, with a modernist Calder inspired lighting fixture. Sculpture by Jean-Phillippe Richard adorns the spaces between tables at several intervals throughout the room.
The contrast between the classic exterior and modern interior of l’Acacia is a wonder to behold. In some ways it is like a futuristic restaurant suspended in space, as if in some distant time the International Space Station had a grand dining room.
Chateau de la Messardiere in Saint-Tropez: l’Acacia Staff
Chef Alain Lamaison is making his debut as head Chef here at L’Acacia. Formerly with Les Barmes de l’Ours in Val d’Isire, he has earned one Michelin star at three different restaurants over his career. By the time the 2019 ratings are released he almost certainly will win a fourth.
Restaurant Manager David Polomat is in his eighth season at l’Acacia. Affable and engaging, he leads his guests through an evening of grand cuisine.
Sommelier Valention Peyrard has been at l’Acacia for five years. He begins the evening with a lovely Lanson pink champagne, a notable champagne house started in 1760.
Assistant manager Anthony Grifoni is a charming presence, explaining the menu and serving as Matre’d to the festivities. A full vegetarian menu is available, as well as an array of ala carte choices.
l’Acacia at Chateau de la Messardiere in Saint-Tropez: The meal begins
A tartar of veal is a tasty amuse bouche, while the vegetarian opening round is a spring country vegetable plate with Petit Pois Royale and horseradish consommé.
Squid stuffed with sweet peppers with a saffron rouille and a cherry tomato sauce is delightful. Half of the squid is like a soft shell crab preparation, accented with a stuffed large squid pocket filled with crunchy fresh sweet peppers.
Green asparagus with fresh Morels mushrooms with almond milk, shitake mushrooms and hazelnuts is simple but delicious. It is a tribute to the innovative nature of the vegetarian menu.
The meal is accompanied by a 2011 Nuit St George Clos des Rorrets 1st Cru from Domain Henri Gorges. A gently textured wine with medium body, it opens up beautifully over the course of the next two hours.
A terrine of Landes duck Foie Gras is marinated in absinth and served with a plum chutney and toasted country bread. Luscious and flavorful, it is a delicious take on a classic French appetizer.
l’Acacia at Chateau de la Messardiere in Saint-Tropez: Vegetarian entrees and veal
White, green and black celerisotto with a gourmet truffle vinaigrette is fantastic. Light and flavorful, it flows across the palette with a subtle intensity.
The vegetarian dinner entree concludes with an artichoke poivrade barigoule with chickpeas, corn, black garlic and a spicy crunch. Remarkably filling, with a broad flavor profile, it is the culmination of the power of the vegetarian alternative.
A powerfully wonderful fillet of free range veal is accompanied with fresh Morel mushrooms, sweetbreads with wild garlic, a veal foot bonbon, caramelized shoulder and mushroom puree with baby vegetables.
A luscious cut of veal, it is tender and richly marbled. It is beautifully accompanied by the sweetbreads and crunchy veal foot, and brilliantly accompanied by the Nuit St George 1st cru which has opened to its full pinot noir flowering climax.
Dessert at l’Acacia at Chateau de la Messardiere in Saint-Tropez
A vegetarian dessert of poached rhubarb with tangy combava, warm opaline compote, rhubarb sorbet and siphon of sparkling wine is simply wonderful.
A honey soufflé from hives on the property is remarkable, served with a raspberry granite and honey ice cream. Its sweetness is subtle, its richness is layered, a delicious finale to a lovely evening.
Dinner at l’Acacia is the full expression of life at Chateau de la Messardiere, an elegant excursion into paradise, surrounded by the beauty of the region, and the soft deep blue glow of the Mediterranean.
Breakfast at Chateau de la Messardiere in Saint-Tropez
Breakfast is served on the terrace outside of L’Acacia on a glowing morning filled with blue sky. A full buffet is laid out inside l’Acacia, while scrambled egg whites and other specialties can be ordered.
Doves are cooing in the background. A gentle cool breeze flows across the terrace. A quiet serenity fills the moment as the sun dapples in and out of the rising morning fog, revealing the coastline and the beaches of Ramatuelle. Another day in paradise begins.
Tropezina beach club in Ramatuelle at Chateau de la Messardiere in Saint Tropez
Just down the road from Chateau de la Messardiere is the expansive beach area of Ramatuelle, and their affiliated beach club Tropezina. Ramatuelle is the Malibu of the south of France, but each stretch of beach along the stunning bay of Pampelonne is lined with restaurants or private beach clubs.
Tropezina, very near the hotel, is a lovely beachside restaurant and private club run by long time owner Patrick, featuring a range of Mediterranean cuisine. The hotel provides a shuttle for guests to both there and into the bustling town of St Tropez itself.
Decorated all in white, it also has a wonderful boutique, Les Demoiselles de Pampelonne, where proprietor Frederique Valenza is a sweet and friendly presence.
The villages of Ramatuelle and Saint-Tropez
About 8 kilometers from the hotel is the hilltop village of Ramatuelle, from which the beach region takes its name. A medieval village filled with ancient homes, it also has a number of quaint shops and many small restaurants.
One of the restaurants at the front of the village, La Forge, serves brilliant Italian cuisine from chef Paolo Amadori. Proprietor and owner Francesca Alessi is currently renovating a beautiful stone building next door to open a new restaurant venture for the summer season.
St Tropez itself is a world unto itself, filled with upscale shopping and restaurants and teeming hordes of tourists. Massive yachts and the glitterati from around the world make St Tropez their playground each summer.
While it has a glitzy Beverly Hills feel, it also has a more common sense of Venice Beach. The pace of life in St Tropez is the stuff of legend, from Bridgett Bardot to Mick Jaggers wedding to Bianca.
Chateau de la Messardiere in Saint-Tropez: A world unto itself
One of the joys of Cheateau de la Messardiere is that it is in the countryside, occupying the highest point of land in Saint-Tropez. Its views of both Saint-Tropez bay and the Bay of Pampaleone is extraordinary.
It allows its guest to indulge the nightlife and shopping of St Tropez, while letting them get away from the crowds. It also provides private access to its own beach club in Ramatuelle, while again, allowing a retreat to the 10 acres of heaven on the hotel property itself.
The fact is that it would be easy to never leave the property at all. Upscale, luxurious, impeccable and stunningly gorgeous, Chateau de la Messardiere is a world unto itself.
Between the pool and spa, the ancient Chateau, the incredible restaurant and the sweeping grounds, it is hard to imagine a more beautiful place to be.
Two days passes all too quickly, and leaving is difficult, but the memories of Chateau de la Messardiere will live on indelibly, and inevitably lead to a fateful and joyous return.
Chateau de la Messardiere www.messardiere.com @messardiere
Leading Hotels of the World www.lhw.com @LeadingHotels
Air France flies direct to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and from there to the rest of France and all of Europe from Washington, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco and a number of American cities.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPeoplesPal