Places like La Colombe d'or generally only exist in your dreams. Imagine entering through a simple stone facade in the prettiest Provencal village, into the most beautiful fig tree filled garden restaurant, where, while the wait staff are formally dressed, the greeting is warm and you feel as if you've been welcomed into a private invitation only event, only without an invite. If it's summer, you sit in the garden which is so effortlessly curated with the kind of furniture you only find in France, and if you're lucky you're shaded by a fig tree or next to a jasmine vine.

The meal is simple and classic French and the house Rose is chilled and surprisingly well priced. You notice the most beautiful tiled ceramic artwork on the wall and up close discover that it is an original piece by Fernand Leger, no glass cover, just there for you to touch with your own hands. This is one of many of the original artworks that adorn the hotel grounds and interiors, with an enviable collection by the likes of Picasso, Chagall, Matisse and Calder. The staff, a lot of whom are part of the Roux family, the original owners, welcome you into the formal dining room to admire their incredible collection of 20th century artwork. While most hotels would only permit paying guests to enter the hotel grounds, the staff at Colombe d'or are so inviting and you're given time to wander the space as if in an Art Gallery, which their dining room certainly rivals.

Staying at Colombe d'or has been one of my most memorable hotel experiences. The original artworks are also showcased in the hotel rooms, and the incredible sculptures and wall art appear around their perfectly manicured pool area. Having the terraced garden to yourself at breakfast is a true pleasure, and you're then happy to spend the day between the pool and the terrace where you return for lunch and dinner. While there are several other lovely places to eat in the village of St Paul de Vence, the lure of the jasmine scented terrace means you’re unlikely to leave.

Once you enter through the stone facade of La Colombe d'or, there really is no need or desire to leave, as when you do you somehow feel as if you have walked back into present time and have left behind a piece of history and a place so unpretentious, unique and full of French charm that it could not exist in any place other than your dreams.

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