Summer In Provence: A Travelogue
Last month we shared a house with our friend Nellie, pictured here running joyously through fields of lavender. It was the first time we visited this beautiful part of the world, which is a little like Napa with a splash of 16th Century Tuscany blended lovingly into a gorgeous, heady perfume that captivates every sense. Even the air is an intoxicating mix of lavender, lemons, cinnamon, and honey. We arrived at dusk and picked up our rental car with much trepidation as the two-way roads looked narrow and the electronic highway toll booths seemed intimidating. We drove over an hour to the small, hillside village of Bonnieux. We took wrong turns, backroads, and confusing roundabouts but the drive at sunset was achingly beautiful so we couldn’t complain. Early the next morning we woke to the full splendor of our surroundings. I nudged my nine-year old and said, “Come quickly to the window! It’s like we’re in a movie.” Jetlagged, she rubbed her eyes and shuffled out of bed over to the blue shutters. She peered out at the verdant valley below, a patchwork dotted with varying textures and shades of greens, purples, and yellows. “No mommy,” she said awe-struck, “it’s like being in a painting!”
We spent one glorious week exploring neighboring towns, preparing dinners at home, and taking leisurely drives–newly confident with our two-lane road navigation skills. We made note of the best experiences from our trip below. But, if you can’t get to Provence, you can bring home its essence in the form of blissful lavender scented products from our friends at EO, our partner sponsors for this Travelogue. EO is dedicated to making personal care products that nurture the people who use them, respect people who make them, and honor the planet we all share.
WHERE TO STAY IF MONEY IS NO OBJECT: Villa La Coste
“Situated halfway between the historic town of Aix en Provence, home of Cezanne, and the famous Luberon Nature Park, Villa La Coste is set in the midst of the Provencal landscape, in the heart of the biodynamic vineyard Château La Coste, an international destination for art, architecture and natural beauty. Sitting high on the hillside of the private domain, the property features 28 Villa Suites, surrounded by gardens, herbs and flowers and each opening onto a spacious terrace offering expansive views over vines and valley. The hotel’s contemporary architecture is emphasized by local materials and embraces the natural setting. A selection of indoor and outdoor dining venues, extensive gardens with pool area, as well as a lobby gallery, complete the guest experience. Authentic and individual in its contemporary refinement,Villa La Coste is in complete affinity with the artistic spirit of the Domain. Composed of 28 Villa Suites, a spa, a library and a bar,the Villa seduces those with a sensibility for art, beauty and the comfort of living. Developed with an eye for detail and a sincere respect for the traditions of Provence, the spacious Villa Suites allow light oak wood, marble and natural stone to sit comfortably together.”
WHERE TO STAY ON A SHOESTRING: Airbnb Provence from $58 nightly
WHERE TO LUNCH: Oustau de Baumaniere is a Michelin-star restaurant a few steps away from, Carrieres de Lumieres, one of the best sights in Les Baux de Provence. Lunch will set you back a small fortune but you only live once, possibly less after eating all that cheese.
WHAT TO SEE: Carrieres de Lumieres in Les Baux de Provence. Feast your senses on the most magnificent moving art installation in a cool, cavernous quarry. It will blow your mind. Photos cannot do it justice! See here. Look at the scale of the work to the people experiencing it. Now imagine the images moving to iconic musical pieces. We saw Picasso and the Spanish Masters installation and were moved to tears when we heard Maria Callas’s Casta Diva paired with a sequence of Picasso’s portraits of women. Truly moving.