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Jardins Secrets

Listed under Small Hotels in Nîmes, France.

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Grand 18th-century townhouse with succulent gardens, shimmering pool and sparkling rooms

Step off a city street and enter an enchanted garden. There’s a banana tree in the corner, oranges and lemons grow in another. Bougainvillea streaks across the walls, a shield of bamboo shuts out the world beyond. Flanked by crisply dressed loungers and urns holding sculpted box, the salt-water pool is shaded at one end by olive branches, fat with fruit; you can pick and swim and eat at the same time. Breakfast in the shade at wooden tables on a brick terrace; at night lanterns illuminate garden and pool.

As for the interior, it's luxury to the power ten: cavernous claw-foot baths, enormous beds wrapped in the crispest linen, gilt-framed mirrors and chandeliers in the bathrooms. Murals, four salons, a sweeping staircase, oils on the walls, smouldering logs, a baby grand piano, Toile de Jouy fabrics, Farrow and Ball paints, marble fireplaces. Opulent colours overflow in four high-ceilinged bedrooms overlooking the garden, while smartly-painted green shutters keep the morning light at bay.

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