First Dates is back, but with a twist.
Instead of meeting their blind dates in a London restaurant, the desperate daters will meet them for dinner in a hotel in France. If sparks fly, they’ll get to stay on at the hotel and go on a second date. If cupid fails to work his magic, they’ll have to check out.
Channel 4 have added their own sign (with a heart, naturally), but the hotel is actually called Le Vieux Castillon. They’ve added an extra star, too – Le Vieux Castillon is a four, not a five-star hotel.
Fred the maître d’ with the hotel’s new sign
It’s in a medieval village called Castillon-du-Gard in Provence, between the historic cities of Nîmes and Avignon and near a famous Roman aqueduct called Pont du Gard. The village was built in the 13th century from honey-coloured stone and is perched on a hill above a valley. In short, it’s as lovely as it appears on screen.
Sadly the Radio Times Travel team have yet to receive an invite, but one of the daters in the first episode, fashion model Kelly, tells us the hotel is also as luxurious as it looks.
We asked a First Dater what it’s really like to stay in the First Dates Hotel
If the First Daters grow tired of making smalltalk or doing laps in the pool, there’s also a spa. The Second Daters can explore the village’s atmospheric, cobbled streets or bicycle around the dozens of vineyards on its doorstep.
As for the all-important restaurant, it overlooks vineyards and is described as “bistronomic”, which apparently means the food is fancy but not too formal. Naturally, the menu includes French classics like foie gras and frogs legs. (There’s a cracking snail faux pas in episode one.)
Fred with the First Dates team (who look remarkably similar to the staff at the First Dates restaurant)
So how much does it cost to spend a night there? Well, it’s free for the daters: Channel 4 covers all the costs, from the flights to the meal, even doling out a daily allowance.
If you’re tempted to book a romantic weekend away there yourself, it’ll set you back between 115 and 300-plus euros, depending on the time of year. The hotel is closed at the moment, but opens its doors in early February when the best available rate is 122 euros (about £100) or 168 euros with breakfast.
In early July, the best rate is currently 304 euros (around £250).
The bad news is it’s more cost-effective to find a date before you arrive: rooms cost the same whether you’re travelling as a singleton or in a couple.
For more information and to book a room at Le Vieux Castillon, go to: vieuxcastillon.com