B&B and Beyond: La Forge d'Hauterives, France

With views of the Côte d'Azur, this graceful guesthouse offers an intimate retreat in any season, says Lucy Gillmore

The French Riviera: so chic, so glamorous – and in summer, so crowded. However, edging out of Nice airport on to the Promenade des Anglais, bear left towards Cagnes-sur-Mer and then hang a right and head for the hills. In just 20 minutes you can be in the honey-hued village of La Colle-sur-Loup, a relatively sleepy backwater – even more so in winter.

Unlike neighbouring St-Paul-de-Vence, a hilltop hamlet preserved in aspic, La Colle-sur-Loup feels like a real, living village. At dusk, children play on scooters and dogs scrap in the pretty square, pricked with plane trees. There's a smattering of restaurants and brocantes to rummage through while the French painter, Yves Klein is buried in a little graveyard here. You can dip in and out of the Riviera, retreating each evening to the log-fired tranquillity of La Forge d'Hauterives, a romantically rambling B&B owned by a French interior designer.

The bed

Squeaky iron gates open on to a tiny cobbled courtyard shaded by an arbor of vines. Inside the sprawling old stone house, the hallway leads into the sitting room, all rough hewn walls, elegant faded linen sofa and chairs, piles of coffee table books, a piano and open fire.

There are four charming rooms and one suite – up a ramshackle wooden staircase with a rope railing – decorated eclectically and named, earthily, after trees: Bois de Charme (hornbeam), Bois d'Amarante (a tropical hardwood), Bois de Buis (boxwood) and Bois d'Amourette (snakewood).

Our room, Bois de Palissandre (rosewood) was on the top floor with a glorious view of St-Paul-de-Vence, perched on a hilltop far away. There were rough terracotta tiles on the floor, distressed lamps, a carved wooden wardrobe, a rustic embroidered cream bedspread and matching curtains, offset by striking modern artworks. The bathroom, behind a curtain, had a sleek tub with a shower attachment and two sinks.

If you prefer a door with your shower, Bois de Charme, opposite, has an old stone balcony with a view over the garden to the hills beyond, reams of gold silk draped over poles for curtains – and a rain showerhead and stylish pebble-floored bathroom. Bois d'Amarante directly below, also has a gorgeous private terrace – the bathroom separated by a glass wall.

The breakfast

Breakfast is at a civilised 9am. During the summer you eat in the garden at a big round table by the stylish stone pool. In the winter, it's served at the long wooden table in the airy dining room. Your host bustles around making coffee then joins the communal table, chatting about guests' plans for the day and advising on itineraries over fresh fruit, crusty bread and croissants, homemade melon jams and marmalade.

The host

Anne d'Hauterives is the heart and soul of the guesthouse. Whether gardening in her bikini or sweeping past you on her way to a gallery opening in a fragrant flurry, she is bubbly and charming, fizzing with enthusiasm and humour. She had a successful interiors shop, La Treille Muscade, in Nice for years but fell in love with La Forge, the old building swathed in a tangle of greenery, and spent a year renovating the house to create a haven of French style. It's a real labour of love.

The weekend

If you don't want to stray far, you can mooch around the galleries of St-Paul-de-Vence, visiting Chagall's grave and then head to the sculpture gardens and modern and contemporary art exhibitions of the nearby Fondation Maeght (00 33 4 93 32 81 63; www.fondation-maeght.com).

However, La Colle-sur-Loup is the perfect base for exploring the coast in one direction, the mountains in the other. We spent a day weaving our way through the dramatic Vesubie gorge to the pretty little Alpine village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie, looping back via one of France's prettiest villages, Coaraze – and some hair-raising single-track roads.

The next day, we swapped empty mountain roads for the clogged coastline, motoring to Monaco along the Basse Corniche to visit the Picasso exhibition at the Grimaldi Forum (00 37 7 99 99 2000; grimaldiforum.com).

The pit-stop

Anne provides a list of recommended local eateries, from tapas bars to gourmet restaurants. L'Ateliers des Saveurs (00 33 4 93 59 75 71; restaurantscordel .com) is Francis Scordel's chic and sleek gastronomic gem with a fixed tasting menu for €36 (£30) per person: crustacean cappuccino with lobster eggs and black pearls, for example. La Vie est belle (00 33 4 93 32 19 40; restoviebelle.com), meanwhile, does a mean steak: two courses cost €26 (£21).

Anne also offers a table d'hôtes, creating a private candlelit feast with house specialities such as veal tagine and lamb with honey and pine nuts.

The essentials

La Forge d'Hauterives, 44 rue Yves Klein, La Colle-sur-Loup, Provence-Alpes-Cote-d'Azur, France (00 33 6 82 82 84 45; laforgedhauterives.com). Double rooms start at €100 (£83), including breakfast.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
This weekend's 'Big Hero 6' by Disney Animation Studios
arts + ents
News
i100
News
Budapest, 1989. Sleepware and panties.
newsDavid Hlynsky's images of Soviet Union shop windows shine a light on our consumerist culture
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
News
In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.
science
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee