La Mirande

Avignon, Provence, France Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Classical interiors, ambrosial food and exceptional service are the hallmarks of this grand hotel, which overlooks the famous Papal Palace
La Mirande - one of the loveliest buildings in Avignon - stands opposite the southern wall of the Papal Palace and was once owned by the physician of Napoleon III. The façade dates to 1688, the dining room to the 14th century, and on this land once stood the Palace of the Cardinals. Outside, the cobbled streets of the old town are strictly for feet, not cars, making this one of the quietest city hotels you’ll ever find. And all things Avignon are on your doorstep.

Inside, a treasure-trove of beautiful things awaits, not least in the excellent restaurant (don’t miss the cheese board). The hub of the hotel is the interior patio (afternoon tea here is irresistible). Elsewhere, chandeliers aplenty in the drawing-room bar; English decorum in the pretty breakfast room; a sublime walled garden that shines in summer. The smart rooms come in country-house style, with marble bathrooms, beautiful beds, the very best linen. All but 3 have palace views.


  • This beautiful old mansion has an unbeatable position opposite the Papal Palace
  • The food - served in a 14th-century dining room - is out of this world
  • The terraced garden is a real boon in the middle of the city
  • Staff excel at delivering brilliant service throughout the hotel
  • A great base for day trips around Provence


  • It is undoubtedly expensive, but this is a beautiful hotel and they rarely come cheap
  • The buffet breakfast is pricey, and while the spread is extensive, you can head to nearby cafés and pay a lot less
  • The city can get very busy during its summer festival (mid-July/early August)
  • Parking is an issue; either outside the old town or in the hotel's expensive car park

Best time to go

Avignon is a small city, thus a year-round destination. The festival draws 200,000 people into the city walls between mid-July and early-August, so if you want to avoid the crowds, steer clear then.

Our top tips

If you want to eat in town (and if you stay for 3+ nights, you probably will), try Christian Etienne just around the corner for food that's as exciting as La Mirande's. We also liked La Vache à Carreaux for French delights at good prices, and L’Epicerie for tasty Provençal cooking.

Great for...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 26 rooms
  • Restaurant and bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen


This is a small, grand hotel and smart rooms come as standard. All shine in English country-house style, and all but 3 have fine views of the Papal Palace. If you’re in town for a night or so, a Deluxe room will be fine, but other than that, you’ll want the extra space the Grand Deluxe rooms afford. Having said that, there’s no difference in the décor.

Expect an uncluttered, period feel throughout, with smart fabrics on the walls, sisal matting on polished wood floors and beautifully upholstered armchairs. The Suite is there for those who want to splash out, and features 6 huge windows and a separate living area. Beds - turned down while you’re away at dinner - are extremely comfortable and come with beautiful white linen. You’ll find TVs hidden away behind gilt-framed mirrors, acres of curtains, good prints on the walls and fruit laid out neatly on a plate with pressed white napkins. Families can book the Suite (for 3-4), which is made by combining the Suite and a Deluxe room.

Wallpapered bathrooms come in coloured marble; most have shower heads above the bath. You’ll find very expensive Dr.Hauschka toiletries, then waffled robes and big white towels.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Tv
  • Wifi internet


Breakfast is served either in the garden or in a pretty room overlooking it. Tea and coffee are made to order, eggs are available if you’d like one. Other than that, you harvest from a big central dining table which is crammed with temptation. You’ll find poached apricots and figs, delicious pears, a big bowl of fruit salad, perhaps a cake of fromage blanc. There are baskets of croissants and pains au chocolat, baguettes you slice yourself, then homemade jams, plates of ham, salami and cheese.

Lunch is served in the dining room. It’s the same menu as dinner, with the addition of a 3-course Menu du Marché (not Sundays or bank holidays). Alternatively, you can order light snacks in the drawing-room bar, the patio and the garden in summer - club sandwiches, a chicken salad, a plate of charcuterie, a bowl of soup; it’s all organic. There’s Afternoon tea, too. Extremely tempting cakes go out on display on the patio, making all resistance futile.

Dinner is the main attraction and it’s served in the 14th-century Cardinal’s room. Our meal here was the culinary highlight of our recent tour of Provence. It’s all organic, quite expensive, worth every penny. There are a couple of different formulas to choose from: à la carte; a 7-course tasting menu; 4 courses from the tasting menu. We ate foie gras, cauliflower soup, roasted pigeon, magnificent cheeses, chocolate served with Camargue sea salt and caramel ice cream. Utterly faultless.

The guest table on Tuesdays and Wednesdays is a chance to eat in the original 19th-century kitchen (which is predictably beautiful). Your dinner is cooked in front of you on a wood-fired stove, then eaten communally at a big kitchen table. There are different wines for each of the 4 courses.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Cooking classes
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby


  • Cooking classes with the very best chefs from the region take place in the 19th-century kitchen. It’s a hands-on affair. You can cook in the morning then have lunch, or cook in the evening then sit down to dinner. There are pastry classes in the afternoon, too. Classes run for one week every month (except during January, July or August)

  • The Papal Palace stands directly in front of the hotel. The Avignon popes lived here from 1307-1377 (the antipopes stayed until 1408), but the palace didn’t rise until Benedict XII took the reins in 1334. It’s very old and quite spectacular. Entry includes hand-held audio guides

  • Le Pont d’Avignon fails - in some style - to cross the Rhône. You’ll find it to the north of the Papal Palace and you can walk down through the attractive gardens of Rocher des Doms for splendid views of bridge and river below. There’s a path down to the bridge on the western flank that briefly gives access to the city’s ramparts

  • There are a number of good museums in town, not least Musée du Petit Palais, where you can see an exceptional collection of medieval art. If you buy the tourist pass, you pay full price for the first museum and the rest are discounted by 20%-50%

  • The wine fields of Chateauneuf du Pape were cultivated to serve the popes of Avignon. They start north of the city and are famed around the world, so give yourself a day and make sure you stop for a good lunch

  • Head to The Luberon (30km east) for beautiful hilltop villages. Pierre Cardin puts on opera in a quarry in Lacoste every summer. The chateau is his country retreat; previous owners include the Marquis de Sade, who lived here before being carted off to the Bastille

  • L’Isle-sur-La-Sorgue (15km east) is home to one of Europe’s biggest antiques markets. It takes place every Sunday; about 350 stalls that wind through the narrow streets of the old town and spill out across the water

  • Uzès (25km west), is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in France. Its hallmark is a network of vaulted stone walkways that snake around the city. Gérard Depardieu filmed Cyrano de Bergerac here. Market day is Wednesday and Saturday

  • The Pont du Gard (10km west), is a magnificent Roman aqueduct. It dates to 50AD, is built on three levels and stands 49m high. It was built to carry spring water from Uzès to Nîmes and over 50km, its horizontal fall is a mere 17m

  • Nimes is a hive of Roman architecture. Its amphitheatre is the best-preserved in Europe, while the Temple in Place Carrée - the only fully-preserved Roman temple in the world - is free to all. Les Jardins de La Fontaine in the northwest of town are also worth a peek

  • Spend a few hours in Arles, for all things Van Gogh (he lived here for a while); for its excellent summer photography exhibition (which is scattered around all over town in fantastic locations); for the Roman amphitheatre; for its Saturday market

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Wine tasting


Children are welcome.

Family friendly accommodation:

Deluxe rooms can take a baby cot; Grand Deluxe rooms a rollaway bed and a baby cot. Families could also book the Suite for 3-4 (the Suite and a Deluxe room combined).


Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly: La Mirande

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