Our stay at La Mirande was nothing short of perfect. Situated in the historical center of Avignon, right behind one of the biggest and most important Gothic architectural ensembles in Europe Palais des Papes, which served as a residence during the 14th Century, La Mirande offers its guests an authentic and atmospheric stay. Imagine your bedroom window opening at the mesmerizing fortress that hosted 6 papal conclaves! An experience than can only compare with being magically transported right in the midst of a historic novel!
Genuine but perfectly maintained – you won’t get a dusty museum feeling in here – the building and the interior of La Mirande is a true joy to explore. In the 14th century the building served as a cardinal’s mansion and is nowadays owned by the Stein family who restored the place in order to keep the memory of the past centuries alive. I was running around the place for hours with my jaw literally dropping at every corner – so full of wonders this place is! The three years that the hotel’s co-owner and general manager Mr. Martin Stein – a German physician who now calls himself “the doctor of old houses” – spent working with a Parisian interior designer and a local architect to bring La Mirande to its former grandeur have certainly paid off! According to Mr. Stein, the feeling they were going for the 18th century, the age of Enlightenment. The 18th century aristocratic tradition is emphasized by the period wallpaper, silk-lined curtains, and antique furniture.
In my opinion, La Mirande is a perfect manifestation of the original meaning of the word ‘hotel’ which in French comes from ‘hotel particulier’ standing for a ‘private mansion’. Thus, it has very little to do with the standardized tourist stays we associate hotels with in our everyday life.
But the highlight of our stay was definitely the chef’s table. If you are new to this concept as I was, the idea behind it is that 14 people from all over the world are invited to gather at a huge communal table, while the lovely Séverine Sagnet, the La Mirande cooking school director, prepared a 6 course meal for us to share. Words can hardly describe this out of the world gastronomic experience that I can’t wait to repeat! The feast ended with us accompanying Séverine – who, by the way, signs as well as she cooks – in her vocal performance of several French classics, including La Vie en Rose. A perfect culmination of a wonderful dinner!
And I would certainly like to extend my gratitude to Mr. Martin Stein who shared a breakfast and an engaging conversation with us the following morning.