‘We like to keep things interesting,’ says Denise Kuppers (‘Kupps’ to her friends and guests), and within a short time of arriving at Sous Les Figuiers, it is easy to see this is true. Kupps and her partner Giséle’s operation is interesting on many levels: from the cool, shady garden with its hundred-year-old fig trees, to the 14 individually decorated bedrooms, to painting courses in the workshop and impromptu drinks parties on the terrace when the atmosphere is right.
Kupps is an artist and Giséle a photographer. When they came to Sous Les Figuiers eight years ago, they applied their creative talents to the building to create a unique and rather beautiful space. The decoration, in tones of mauve, grey and lavender, is soothing and cooling. The bathrooms contain pieces of ironwork designed by Gisele, and each item of furniture has been carefully selected and often painted or reworked, creating a real ‘handmade hotel.’ From the enormous reupholstered chair in room 7, to the trompe l’oeil headboard in room 8, every room has had attention lavished upon it. Most of the rooms are in outbuildings scattered across the garden, and the winding paths and low hanging branches create a sense of privacy around each one.
Breakfast, which can be served on the private terraces, the breakfast room or the adjoining patio, is a real treat. Fresh local fruit arrives daily, always in season and always different: peaches and cherries one day, melon the next. When the fig trees bear fruit it is brought to your table, and in winter when seasonal fruits are scarce homemade jams appear. Bread and croissants are warm from the oven. Fresh natural yoghurt and hand-squeezed juices complete the picture, and you are served at your table. Although breakfast is currently the only food served at Sous Les Figuiers, Kupps and Giséle plan to expland their repertoire to include light meals and snacks.
What really makes this place special is the atmosphere and the owners. Kupps and Gisele (who speak English, French, Dutch and Italian between them) have a real gift for putting their guests at ease, creating an inviting, relaxing atmosphere. They offer a variety of rooms suitable for a range of budgets, and their open, honest hospitality creates a hotel that is not exclusive, but inclusive. A unique place to escape to: a great place to belong to.