TRAVEL: SLOW DOWN AT LES SOURCES DE CAUDELIE
Our early morning flight meant we were surrounded by vines and gazing at the scenery by 11am. Just 25 minutes’ drive from Bordeaux airport, Les Sources de Caudalie is probably best known in the UK for its eponymous skincare brand. Everything at the property pays homage to the wonders of vine and wine, ranging from the chef’s cuisine to the delights of the spa. Despite a wonderfully laid-back atmosphere, the hotel has been awarded France’s prestigious Palace status.
Set amongst the vineyards of family-owned Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Les Sources de Caudalie is built in the style of a traditional local hamlet. Six separate houses are home to the hotel’s 40 rooms and 21 suites, and each building has been lovingly built in sympathetic style with recycled local materials. Perched on stilts reminiscent of the fishing huts in Arcachon Bay, we stayed in Le Village des Pêcheurs (Fisherman Village), which was chic and cosy. Decorated with flamboyant wallpapers and stylish contemporary furniture, rooms are a haven of relaxation, with peaceful terraces overlooking the vineyards to enjoy the sunshine and while away the day.
Les Sources de Caudalie is a place to come and slow down, enjoy a spa treatment, some good meals and a glass of wine or two. Food is a huge part of the experience, with three restaurants to choose from that combine exceptional local produce with the expertise of their chefs. Overseen by Nicolas Masse, the two Michelin starred La Grand’Vigne is the property’s culinary jewel. He’s known for producing creative dishes that express the very essence of the local terroir. Sadly, this wasn’t open during our stay (closed Monday to Wednesday), but we enjoyed delicious bistro-style food at La Table du Lavoir housed in what was originally a nineteenth century former washhouse, complete with a huge fireplace. Dishes are rustic but of an incredibly high standard. We could shout from the rooftops about the flame-grilled entrecôte and salted caramel millefeuille for two. As you’d expect, the wine list is lengthy, with plenty of options from the various estates owned by the family and others a little further afield.
A casual space that is open all day, Rouge offers various local craft beers, wines by the glass, plus sharing plates of Iberian ham and chorizo, local cheese served with fig jam and the softest burrata in a sweet tomato sauce.
A short walk across the vineyard, guests can explore the magnificent and meticulously restored Château Smith Haut Lafitte, with its characteristic red shutters. Producing natural wines biodynamically, the working vineyards surround the hotel, meaning that every stage of the winemaking process can be viewed in action throughout the year. Pioneering both traditional and modern processes, guests can observe horses working the fields during certain months. These animals cause less erosion than machines, which have a tendency to compact the vines. Operating as a vineyard as early as 1365, the Château was also owned by the former Mayor of Bordeaux (1842), a passionate wine-grower, who made it into a Grand Cru.
Certified as fully organic in 2018, the Château is also one of only three producers in the Bordeaux region to make its own barrels. This way, the winemaker can control the quality of wood. The better the quality of wood, the better the quality of wine. Working alongside the winemaker for 17 years, their cooper steadily creates three a barrels a day. We are told that burning the barrel to its precise shape is essential to the amount of oak in the wine. Quite a sight to behold!
The Vinothérapie Spa is the birthplace of the skincare brand that was born out of the family’s winemaking business, working with the exceptional properties of the grape seeds to create the brand’s products. Combining the effects of warm mineral springs with vine and grape extracts, therapists offer unique treatments, such as the Crushed Cabernet scrub, Red Vine Barrel Bath and Winemakers massage. My Caudalie Resveratrol facial left me depuffed with significant definition to the face that hadn’t been there before, as well as plumped and glowing skin. Success! I left wishing this spa wasn’t quite so far from home.
There are plenty of activities to work off the food and wine. We took a peaceful bike ride through surrounding vineyards and meandered on foot through the Foret des 5 Sens (Forest of the Senses), following a trail of 23 works of art and sculpture. From Barry Flanagan’s majestic hare to Nathalie Decoster’s installations and David Middlebrook’s giant five metre safety pin, the hotel’s art collection is something to be seen.
Luxurious yet laid back, Les Sources de Caudalie is a charming escape nestled amongst the vines that is ideal for anyone with a passion for spa, wine, food, nature and art. The owners have an obvious respect for the natural beauty and environment of the surroundings. Despite only being completed in 1999, the property could have been there for hundreds of years.
STAY AT LES SOURCES DE CAUDALIE FROM 270 EUROS PER NIGHT.
TO BOOK, VISIT WWW.SOURCES-CAUDALIE.COM OR CALL +33 5 57 83 83 83
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