The Beaupied family's creeper-clad hotel, Auberge de la Benvengudo, just outside the village of Les Baux-de-Provence, remains compelling, despite recent changes - and much more affordable than most places in the area. The Beaupieds, who established the hotel back in 1967, are now taking a back seat. They have appointed Jean-Pierre Côte as the new Chef de Cuisine and joint manager with his wife, Catherine. Rooms have the style of a private country house: a cosy sitting room with beams, an intimate dining room and, although some of the bedrooms are a little brash for our taste, others are homely with pretty patterned curtains and antique furniture. A couple have four-posters.
One guest told our inspector: 'This is absolutely my idea of a charming small hotel. Just the place to spend a quiet, gentle relaxing week or ten days. And the food is marvellous.' Jean-Pierre Côte's menu changes every day according to what is in the market. Although the garden adjoins the road, there are no complaints of noise. The bedrooms are split between the main building and an annexe; some have a terrace or balcony, and the suites, with a kitchenette as well as a sitting room, are ideal for families.
The garden is delightful; there are olive groves and views of the natural stone outcrops of the Alpilles, the 'little Alps' of this part of Provence. Good walking country.