It’s 2,320 metres from Saint Paul de Vence to the five-star Mas de Pierre. No, we haven’t measured it. Rather 2320 is the property number for the exceptional domaine on Route des Serres (translation: the Street of Greenhouses). Long ago, when this area was still exclusively dedicated to horticulture, addresses were assigned according to the distance from the village.
This might be a thing of the past now, but in the Mas de Pierre – a hotel consisting of seven authentic bastides – the charm of yesteryear is still present. Guests, including ourselves, can’t help but be beguiled by the place on walks through its three hectares of gardens, with the century-old olive trees, aviary, orchid house, vegetable patches and fragrant herbal paths. Two heated swimming pools (one is reserved for adults only) as well as a spa, gym and sauna add the touch of modernity expected at such an esteemed establishment.
During the 19th century, the Mas de Pierre was just one building. Today that site houses the Junior and Prestige suites. Since that time, six more properties have been added in keeping with the same style, but with a more contemporary touch. In total, there are 45 rooms, suites, and apartments with various balconies and terraces that were all restored in 2017.
The chef & his cuisine
Emmanuel Lehrer is from Alsace, but made his way to the French Riviera via Switzerland and Dubai. He spent five years working for Michel Rostang before he retired (in his own words) to the countryside in 2009 to develop his own style at the Mas de Pierre. “I want to put the sun on the plate,” Emmanuel says. “If I was to open a restaurant in Alsace, it would be Provençal, even if you only get the true wealth of Mediterranean products here.”
But he rarely cooks when at home in his native region... His mother doesn’t let him near the stove and instead spoils him with goulash, spätzle and wiener schnitzel. We taste his pissaladière with sardines in the garden; never has this onion-based dish been more enjoyed. The barley risotto with cod is also a wonderful experience. He finds real value in the local and season-driven market for fruit, vegetables, fish, meat and cheese here, and personally chooses his farmers and suppliers. Emmanuel’s ambition is to get a Michelin star, but after sampling just a few of his imaginative dishes, we have to wonder what the adjudicators of the famous guide are waiting for!
With its natural setting and original menu, the Mas de Pierre is a rewarding destination to visit, especially in the summer months. If you’re yet to try it, a garden party with a BBQ, buffet and live music is held every Thursday from 7.30pm until September (€65 per person, excluding drinks).