Picasso’s La Colombe d’Or in Provence

Though it would be unfair to dub the exclusive Provençale La Colombe d’Or a “hotel”, it’s become impossible to name the property that once housed Picasso, Matisse, Calder, Braque, Léger, and Changall and is now home their masterful artistry. Hotel? Museum? Living monument?

Instead of whitewashed walls, their paintings span every inch, wall and crevice – their artwork served as their currency in exchange for monetary fair for a quiet respite at La Colombe d’Or. The works of the 20th century greats can be felt everywhere – in bedrooms, hallways, and most ardently in the secluded, aged inn’s dining room. Paintings hang together in no structured order or fashion: Picasso’s are next to Matisse’s are next to unpublished painters.

Owned by Paul Roux, a local Provençal farmer who opened the inn after World War I, Roux attracted the type of masterful artistry not through ritzy signage or well-published deals. Instead, he befriended the artists, who were, like him, in desperate search of quiet and tranquility. After a time, a sign on the hotel’s entrance read: “Ici on loge à cheval, à pied ou en peinture,” which translates loosely to: “Here we lodge those on foot, on horseback or with paintings.”

In beautiful homage to the southern French property, The New York Times magazine visited the secluded inn, which only allows reservations by telephone or requested in writing. The magazine’s profile is striking, poetic, and sincere.

Paul’s grandson, François, and his wife, Danièle, who both assumed the reins in 2000, now run the hotel. And though much of southern France has lost its under-the-radar charm, La Colombe, they promise, has maintained every ounce of its mythic allure.

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