Le Mas de Chastelas is a place that one does not find by chance. It is an exclusive place that has managed to preserve its history and timeless beauty. Beauty shines all over it, as a present to those who linger and gaze at it. This welcoming home, flooded with sunshine and fragrant flowers, provides a safe haven for a bespoke stay in Saint-Tropez. Eric Pujos, the owner, wrote a letter to Maison Sensey from le Mas de Chastelas, to give us a taste of this wonderful gem from the Côte d’Azur.
Dear Maison Sensey,
I have been the lucky owner of le Mas de Chastelas since 1995. I have met many people who told me about the history of this house, people who knew le Mas from having stayed there in the past, or more recently.
Some of them wrote to me for Maison Sensey:
Le Mas de Chastelas was built in 1716, a hundred steps away from Saint-Tropez’s village where said Saint arrived from the sea, above the Bertaud vineyards, on the foothills of the Gassin hill, surrounded by centenarian trees, and ‘sous le soleil exactement’. Back then, the house was not yet called Chastelas, nor did it have a particle, but it was already a ‘mas’ from latin mansun,which means house or home. Le Mas was surrounded by olive trees and oak trees. At first, there was no road or railway access although they would later play a great role in the peninsula’s popularity.
The house is surrounded by long grass, burnt by the sun of summers past. Underneath the house runs a spring that shows in several spots in the garden over the winter. Everything seems to stand still, pinned down by the sun, but the telluric water flows underneath the stones. Time goes by while the house remains. You are still as beautiful, Madam.
For many years, le Mas was the summer villa of the Pessoneau du Puget family, who also owned the Château Bertaud with its Moorish crenels in the style of the Alcazar of Seville. Just a few meters away from the castle, the beautiful villa overlooking the vineyards was to them a holiday home, a breath of fresh air in the hills with a taste of travel.
The castle still exists today and is owned by the French Navy. In days of old, when France was inhabited by workers and farmers, torpedoes used to be manufactured in the castle. Today, Le Mas remains what it has always been – a large holiday mansion full of corridors, stairways, and people mysteriously bustling around behind the scenes for the guests to enjoy themselves. Back in the days, the guests could write their names with a piece of chalk on their doors. Serge Gainsbourg used to write ‘Boris Vian’ on his to have some peace and quiet. He wasn’t yet as popular as he was to become in later years but the guests did think that he was a good piano player. Jane was in love.
Charles (carnal love)
The first time I came to Chastelas, gigantic mimosa bouquets were drying downstairs, in the dry air of the peninsula. The perfume of dead flowers in the heat was diffusing all around the old house, thickening the air like fabric. Alone on my bed in room 16, I was reading “Histoire d’O.”, Pauline Réage’s book, which I had found in the hotel’s library. Her book felt as close as a smile on a stranger’s face, as biting as a silk stocking, and placed its heroin’s iron-coated gold ring on my ring finger. I could not put it down for one second.
I read it in one night, consumed with love, and all the while the warm, sweet, heady, bright smell of the mimosas blended with my browned skin, while bare words penetrated my body. Much like Rousseau would go walking and think about Madame de Warens, I did not read this book with impunity.
This was twenty-five years ago. The mimosa is no longer in the hotel, but the villa’s thick walls, its corridors and rooms with their white doors and golden numbers, the terracotta tiles polished by bare feet, the creaking, the yowling and the cries of the old mansion, as well as the clean bedsheets into which one slips with pleasure still color my dreams. It is indeed Cupid who hides with delight behind the persona of the young woman who opens the door of the Mas to me.
True guides are the ones who make you dream – all in all, it does not matter if the story is true. Le Mas de Chastelas is the most beautiful hotel of the magical peninsula of Saint-Tropez, but is it really a hotel ? ‘In the utmost comfort, with refined rooms and suites, authentic cuisine, attentive staff…’ Oh, but this says nothing about the Mas… First, let us talk about the Bastide, with its rosy roughcast and its wisteria, its climbing rose trees in May, its red Virginia creeper offering shelter to the doves in September.
There are thirteen rooms, no more, no less. And they are all different, inviting you to come back. Some of our clients will only stay in room 15 for its balcony, or room 16 for its terrace and private stairway down to the pool. To please everyone, several rooms once bore the same number… And let us not forget about the grounds, the endless garden, the pool that Marisa Pavan was so surprised to discover as she used to come when the Mas was surrounded by fields of stones and oak trees. And finally, let us talk about the most difficult and precious thing – the people who live there and cross paths.
The hotel does not have staff, but houseworkers; clients are but hand-picked friends, who come back when summer comes. In their eyes, one can read the approval granted to one’s presence. There are many grand, comfortable, correct hotels on the Saint-Tropez peninsula. ‘But,’ says the young man standing barefoot in his linen pants with a smile, ‘do you know le Mas ?’
Many thanks to Jérôme, Charles and Guy for sharing a moment frozen in time through their talented writing. Special thanks to Eric Pujos for this highly poetic letter full of modesty. Thank you for sharing your singular stories about an enchanting place.
Le Mas de Chastelas is open isn the summer months.
Request your room by calling +33 4 94 56 71 71 or on chastelas.com