If you want to immerse yourself in complete indulgence, you’ll have to go to Hotel Richer de Belleval in Montpellier. For centuries, the former Hôtel Particulier has looked out over Montpellier’s most beautiful square: la Place de la Canourgue. The brothers Jacques and Laurent Pourcel, along with Olivier Château, have breathed life back into this unique townhouse. Montpellier certainly has regained a luxury destination where gastronomy and art reign.
Normally, Chéri and I both forget our wedding anniversary. But since it was our 12.5 years of marriage, which is only celebrated in Holland I guess, I cooked up a little surprise. It was the perfect occasion to skedaddle for the weekend and book us a night at a wonderful hotel. The choice was easy, as I had long wanted to stay at Hotel Richer de Belleval. And by combining it with a fancy dinner at the hotel’s restaurant Jardin des Sens, I could check another address off my wish list. As soon as we’d driven underneath Montpellier’s Arc du Triomphe, a hotel staff member awaited us to park our car. Chéri and I are not used to this kind of luxury, and this was just the beginning. The gentleman guided us inside, and as soon as we crossed the threshold, we were in utter awe.,
When checking in, we only looked up at the magnificent ceilings created by Jim Dine, Abdelkader Benchamma and Marlène Mocquet. Although the hotel has five stars, the gracious staff put us at ease in a blink. The upgrade to a superior room helped for that matter. Hotel Richer de Belleval has 20 rooms, each in its own style signed by designer Christian Collot. You will also find the gastronomic restaurant Le Jardin des Sens and the bistro La Canourgue, run by the Pourcel chefs. The Élytre bar is worth mentioning separately. We couldn’t stop marveling at the towering bookcase with the upside-down tail end. At the top end of the room, artist Jan Fabre created a fabulous piece of art made from thousands of beetle shields (called élytre in French). It’s the combination of historical heritage with contemporary art, design and little jokes that makes the hotel so unique.
Pierre Richer de Belleval
But who was Pierre Richer de Belleval? Well, he was a French botanist and personal physician to King Henri IV who created Le Jardin des Plantes in 1593. He lived in one of the buildings on the Place de la Canourge. The current private mansion dates back to the 17th century. In 2010, a new chapter in the building’s history began when the Groupe Helenis, in association with the Groupe Château Pourcel, bought the majestic townhouse. It took several years to transform it into a Relais & Château hotel. The Philippe Prost Architecture Studio and Atelier de Ricou meticulously restored the historic building and ancient drawings. And in June 2021, the Hotel Richer de Belleval opened its doors. Chéri and I were exhilarated to spend one night of sheer pampering. We didn’t really want to go home, and we still can live off our dream stay for at least another 12.5 years.