Villa Saint-Ange is a boutique five-star hotel — and a hidden gem, with its garden and a luxurious swimming pool — in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, just a five-minute walk from the Cours Mirabeau.
Jean-Brice Garella, who bought and renovated the property that’s now Saint-Ange, published an essay describing the discovery of the then half-abandoned site. It’s a well-written, fascinating tale, for if to take it as true, the stars aligned to write a story better than fiction.
Apparently, the moment Garella received the news of the accepted offer, he named his new property Saint-Ange, practically by chance. Only much later did he discover the villa originally belonged to the 18th-century noblewoman. The twist? Her family name was… Saint-Ange!
It’s an origin story worthy of the hotel steeped in the romance of the 18th-century high life and infused by a refined atmosphere of an upper-class place-to-be.
The Villa Saint-Ange Design
At Villa Saint-Ange, the 18th and 19th-century themes are weaved through salon-like dining spaces, classically-influenced architecture, and gorgeous rooms. The inspirations underlining the design come together perfectly to create a supremely elegant place.
To create Saint-Ange’s elegant style, the designers, craftsmen, and architect Henri Paret tapped into the Second Empire fashions and influences. Napoleon’s victories and his contemporaries’ craze for all things Egyptian inspired many architectural ornaments of the villa. The 19th century also saw a fascination with the archeological discoveries at Pompeii, and panoramic wallpapers became all the rage; today, they are one of Saint-Ange’s design features.
The whimsical wallpapers, reprinted from old documents, contribute greatly to the beauty of guest accommodation. But they are only a backdrop to the elegant decor, which includes a well-curated selection of art and antiques, Persian rugs, silk curtains, period furniture, and luxurious parquet floors. The complete look is stunning — we rarely see rooms so beautifully designed and curated.
In the heart of Aix-en-Provence
Villa Saint-Ange stands out among the honey-colored mansions of Aix-en-Provence with the well-concealed garden that made it easy to forget that we were in the middle of Provence‘s “capital of the South.” And few other city hotels in the area can boast a large 19th-century conservatory and a 28-meter swimming pool.
The conservatory houses a light-flooded restaurant, and the culinary experiences are one of the hotel’s highlights. Here the artful creations on the plate are served with white-glove style on porcelain, and the cuisine is a melt-in-the-mouth affair, all the while the menu favors the simplicity of classic dishes.
The heated outdoor pool revealed itself to us only after a stroll around the garden and the restaurant. Situated behind the conservatory, it feels like a secret place. And Garella himself, in that Saint-Ange origin story, wrote that the villa’s “charm lies in the way its secrets are slowly and gently revealed.”
In that way, the hotel truly belongs to Aix-en-Provence. The town’s history reaches far into the past, and there is so much to discover here that we always feel the next revelation is just around the corner — just like at the Villa Saint-Ange.
Don’t miss our write-up: Seven Best Hotels and Resorts for a Great Road Trip in Provence.