Off the beaten <I>plage</I>

Glamorous splits from Cannes on an indie budget

After the Cannes screenings frenzy winds down and A-listers like Brad and Angie, Nicole and Keith, Elton and David have jetted off to their respective fabulous European escapes, you might think your only recovery option is a walk on le plage and polishing off the dregs of your leftover vin ordinaire.

Good news: there are plenty of Provencal paradises that are surprisingly within reach, both geographically and pocketbook-wise. Here, we spotlight three. Because why should the megastars have all the fun? 

1. Chateau de Bagnols,

Located 55 minutes by air from Cannes, this 13th century chateau stands sentinel over the picturesque village of Bagnols, where it was built as a defensive fortress in 1217. The 21 rooms offer a tranquil and private getaway steeped in historical opulence — Tom Cruise once rented the entire property for guests Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, John Travolta and Kelly Preston, who flew in to the nearby private airstrip. Luxuries include Louis XIV-era silk velvet wall hangings, 18th century Italian marriage chests and Directoire-period blue and cream silk armchairs. In addition to adjacent culinary treasures (Bagnols is home to the Michelin-starred La Salle des Gardes), the surrounding countryside has gorgeous hiking and horse riding trails. However, it may be best seen in a hot air balloon ride with a glass of champagne. A votre santé!

doubles from $531

2. Hotel Royal Riviera,
French Riviera

Built in 1904, the palatial Hotel Royal Rivera, roughly 30 minutes from Cannes along the Cote d’Azur near Monaco, is draped in subtle opulence; but Hollywood glitterati book the separate 16-room villa L’Orangerie for ultimate seclusion. Val Kilmer, Denzel Washington and David Bowie have all rested their weary heads in its Neohellenic grace. The villa’s wrought-iron and glass entry gates evoke the warmth and light of a conservatory, but the villa’s rooms sport either blackout curtains or shutters to ward off paparazzi lenses. From there, guests can be whisked off, James Bond-style, via speedboat to Nice, Monaco or even St. Tropez for dinner or take a helicopter tour of the Cap-Ferret Peninsula, a wild strip of land jutting out between the Atlantic and Bassin d’Arcachon (designer Philippe Starck has a home there). Depending on wallet size, the French Riviera is at your disposal.

doubles from $348.

3. La Bastide de Moustiers,

At first, celebrity chef Alain Ducasse just wanted a quiet place to rest after his long motorbike rides across Southern France, so he purchased this 17th century retreat — a former potter’s country house — and turned it into a charming Provencal paradise. He tacked on five rooms to the existing seven and hired regional craftsman to restore the structure to its Old World glory. Each room is designed to provoke a sense of Provence (an aroma, a color, an image) and includes bathrooms designed by Philippe Starck and furnishings hunted down by Ducasse himself. It’s like staying at your uncle’s house — if he just happens to be one of the most famous chefs in the world. This serene spot, 90 minutes from Cannes, is, of course, a prime destination for foodies. Some of Hollywood’s finest have been known to fly in by helicopter for lunch. A meal at Ducasse’s on-site Michelin-starred restaurant is worth the trip across the Atlantic itself.

doubles from $186