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Jardins Secrets - Review

PRESS THE BUZZER, step through the door and hey presto, you’re in another world. No wonder Jardins Secrets got its name – you’d never know this peaceful enclave in the midst of Nîmes was there. Yet this 300-year-old family house set in fabulous gardens hidden behind the city streets is an out-and-out winner.

Shaded by palms and a froth of bougainvillea, the lush gardens of Jardins Secrets are the star of the show. Orange and lemon trees, lofty bamboo, urns laden with flowers and giant birdcages a-flutter with song underline that other-worldly feel. Olive trees shade the stone salt-water pool, while wooden sun loungers invite slothful afternoons in the shade.

Talented owners Christophe and Annabelle Valentin turned their atmospheric family home into a boutique residence a few years ago, creating a place of immense style.Ten further rooms have been added to this sought-after hideaway in southern Provence this year.

Boudoir bathrooms

Bedrooms at Jardins Secrets are serious tempters. Huge, high ceilinged rooms come with silken drapes, regal shades, polished wooden floors, striking prints, old-new furniture and shuttered doors or windows opening onto the garden. One has huge murals on the walls, a lavishly draped coronet bed and a period armoire.

Wide beds come wrapped in Toile de Jouy linens, while boudoir bathrooms sport chandeliers, clawfoot baths standing elegantly on Montelimar marble floors, gilded mirrors and antique candlesticks. Fluffy robes and jars of bathtime goodies come as standard.

Strewn with old photographs, 18th century oil paintings and objets d’art, the three inter-connecting lounges are just as special. You’ll see marble fireplaces, a sweeping staircase, baby grand piano, eclectic art and a help-yourself honesty bar.

The gardens are the jewel here, and we wouldn’t blame you for idling away your entire stay in these lush and lovely surrounds. Softly lit by lanterns at night, they are also the place for summertime breakfasts – beautifully served on fine china with home-made preserves (look out for the jasmine jam) and delicious fresh pastries.

Roman Nîmes is minutes away, so make time to see the famous arena and other ancient relics. There are plenty of places to eat out at night, and you’ll return to find Jardins Secrets’ much-feted chocolate cake awaiting in your room for late-night nibbles.

Faultless attention to detail makes the place glow. Nothing’s-too-much-trouble service and a friendly, un-stuffy atmosphere are the icing on the cake.

Jardins Secrets was reviewed for Room for Romance by Raz Murray

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