Even in the world of high-end hostelry, Le Domaine Haut Jardin is one of a kind. Conceived by the Masson family in the verdant Vosges version, it consists of individual wooden chalets, elegantly sheltered from the outside world and equipped with state-of-the-art Jacuzzis, hammams, and saunas. Over the years, it has developed out of a personal project into a small-scale village-hostel, with peace and tranquility at its core.
TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND | PHOTOS: LE DOMAINE HAUT JARDIN
Le Haut Jardin was born out of a dream chalet first imagined by Agnès Masson, who is behind the charming concept of a wooden village made up of personally designed chalets. A mother of three children with a busy professional life, Agnès did occasionally wish for the quiet and tranquility that an active household cannot guarantee. Determined to have a place that she could call her haven of peace, she drew the plans for several chalets, which now make up the Domaine du Haut Jardin. To maximise this peaceful atmosphere, all chalets are independent and furnished with a private balcony. This unique project has become particularly dear to the three Masson children, who were raised at the Domaine and have been very closely involved in its success, later bringing their own skill sets to the table.
Known as the ‘Pearls of the Haut Jardin’, the chalets themselves are separated from the Auberge by a spacious garden. They were all built using ‘noble’ materials, relying on natural components like wood and stone, but each chalet was conceived individually, with a particular character in mind. The spacious Suite, created for comfort and serenity, contains a relaxing, muted decor as a wooden spa with Himalayan salts. Built as a duplex, the Rondin mirrors the atmosphere of a comfortable forest cabin, and its capacity of up to five adults makes it ideal for a family or a group of friends. For couples on a romantic getaway, the Cupidon features a heart-shaped bed, while the Romantique is equipped with a spiralling snail shower and a spa on the balcony.
The Secret du Haut Jardin, tucked away higher up than the rest, is a masterpiece of intimacy. Nestled in the foliage like a cocoon, the Secret is its own self-contained world: the round, open fireplace proudly stands in the centre of the chalet, visible even from the wooden bathtub on the other side. The private jacuzzi contains three zones: one for each member of a couple to relax separately, and a third semi-spherical area where they can meet.
But far from resting on their laurels, the Massons are continually working to optimise their guests’ experience. Two recent additions to the village are the luxurious Désir, featuring a Himalayan salt sauna, and the Étoile, which includes a hammam. Both chalets, of course, are equipped with a private Jacuzzi.
Beyond the luxury of the accommodation, the cuisine itself (a collaboration between father and son) is one of the added perks. Agnès’ husband Didier Masson holds the prestigious title of ‘Maître Restaurateur’, but his son Luc is a talented young chef himself. Running the kitchen together, they combine an interest in the regional Vosges cuisine, an affinity for products grown in their own garden, and a typically French flair for innovation and presentation.
Adding an extra touch of well-being, the Domaine has recently started to offer a Spa service. It is run trained therapeutic masseuse, who offers treatments from various traditions depending on individual preference: Indian, Californian or Ayurvedic massages, detox treatments and prenatal care.
With a team that speaks French, English, German and Spanish, a four-star certification, and a general passion for hostelry, Le Haut Jardin balances modernity with tradition. The limited number of chalets makes for a close, personalised service, ensuring the serenity and tranquility of guests. And looking back at the history of Le Haut Jardin, this is very much in keeping with Agnès Masson’s original project: what she works hard to offer her visitors is precisely her original vision of a quiet oasis. If anything, Le Haut Jardin is literally a dream come true: no wonder it works so well.