History and philosophy
of the Couvent des Minimes in Provence

Editorial

We have the greatest job in the world and we get to do it in such a fantastic place!

When I was a child, I would love it when people came to visit us.
It gave me such a feeling of fulfilment.
Today I am passionate about my job, as it is a dream come true for me.

Nestled in the heart of Provence, we are proud of our establishment: Le Couvent des Minimes Hotel & L’Occitane Spa.
More than ever, accompanied by a great team, we are so pleased to have you among us, so make yourself at home!
The family-style spirit that is so cherished by the Relais & Châteaux label has been reinvented in our establishment.

Le Couvent des Minimes, steeped in history, in beautiful natural surroundings, backing onto the picturesque village of Mane, is the epitome of Provence style and traditions!
You are sure to be won over by its tranquillity, natural setting and bucolic walks.

Celebration of the senses is on the menu with Chef Jérôme Roy. He will move, thrill and surprise you...

The L’Occitane Spa will pamper you in its cosy cocoon during this unforgettable fairy-tale stay.

All the staff, my wife and I are really looking forward to welcoming you here.
See you soon!

Fabien PIACENTINO

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Mr. and Mrs. PIACENTINO
mane landscape

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History and passion

The Couvent des Minimes was founded in 1613, in Mane in the modern-day French department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, by the Marquis Melchior de Forbin Janson for the Minimes order of mendicant monks established by Saint Vincent de Paul.

Growing and studying plants was an important part of life at the Couvent at the time. Louis Feuillée, Louis XIV’s botanist, studied and wrote botanical treaties there.
During his expeditions to South America, he studied new species of plants, such as nasturtiums and fuchsias, which he brought back to France.

After the French Revolution, the Couvent des Minimes remained uninhabited until 1862, when Canon Terrasson, archpriest of Forcalquier, undertook its transformation into a hospice.

Several years later, a community of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary came to live there to look after the hospice and its residents.

Between two missions abroad, the Missionaries took care of the gardens, turning them into Provençal raised terraces where they planted fruit trees and vines. These cultures allowed them to cater for the hospice’s residents and help missionaries coming back from tropical countries to get back on their feet.

In 1999, the Missionaries left the Couvent, which was left unoccupied until its reopening as a hotel and spa in June 2008. Far from its original vocation, this residence dedicated to relaxation continues to cultivate the same welcoming spirit that has dwelled there for the last few centuries.

The Relais & Châteaux Le Couvent des Minimes Hotel & L’Occitane Spa was awarded the “Best Boutique Hotel in Europe” award at the 2009 Prix Villégiature Awards on 19 October.

Outside Le Couvent des Minimes

Mr Saint Vincent, who is working on the Couvent's restoration, cannot hide his enthusiasm:

The Minimes! Who could imagine such a marvellous site, surrounded and protected by the Alps? The Minimes are separated from the mountains by a wide plain, which, in the spring, is covered in the most beautiful flowers. White and pink almond trees make sumptuous embellishments. Narcissuses, different coloured anemones, and white daisies peek out of the greenery, with perfumed hawthorn bushes all around.
Everything here is heavenly scented and a feast for the eyes.

A glorious array of aromas and visual delights.