Photograph by Bernadette Marie
Matisse slept here. So did Picasso. And Calder, Miró, Chagall and Braque. At La Colombe d’Or, a humble 25-room auberge in Provence, not much has changed since artists, authors and the like came here seeking peace and quiet and were given a room in exchange for their artwork. The hotel is still family-run, owned by François Roux, grandson of Paul Roux, a local farmer who opened La Colombe d’Or in 1920.

Today, museum-worthy paintings and sculptures line the walls of the dining room, hallways and bedrooms. There are no artist names or plaques or even a pamphlet explaining what’s what. But the graphic nature of a green plant above a dining table for four has the Surreal touch of Picasso, while a beautiful line drawing of a woman close by is Matisse. Matisse, who was a close friend Roux, would be chauffeured in regularly just to have tea with his friend. 

The d’Or redefines tranquility and discretion — something that has everyone from writer James Baldwin, Orson Welles and François Truffaut back in the Fifties and Sixties to modern-day rock stars. There are no bells and whistles (not even daily newspapers). But swim in the pool under an Alexander Calder sculpture. Or marvel at how the randomly spaced red, yellow, green and blue roof tiles pick up on the artwork and the natural surroundings while dining on the terrace.

Explore more features from the Getaway Issue, past and present.