GARDENS OF PROVENCE: The Art of Outdoor Living...
A garden tour led by Maïté Delmas, featuring a day hosted by Louisa Jones.
Mediterranean gardening at its best is a way of living in harmony with the earth, with a strong visual unity between the house, garden and landscape. This can be seen in most of the gardens we will be visiting. In spring, the Provençal landscape is coloured by irises and cascades of Rosa banksiae and scented with bee-foraged tresses of wisteria. On the slopes of medieval hill towns, elegant terraces enable gracious outdoor living among olives and vines, while the hilly terrain and sunshine have stimulated the creativity of a succession of influential designers. The legendary Nicole de Vésian used evergreens, ‘evergreys’ and lavender inspired by the Provençal garrigue; in contrast, the Saint-Rémy-de-Provence town-garden of Dominique Lafourcade is stylishly complete, with potager, hen house, pool and green room. A number of old country estates have been elegantly rejuvenated in recent years by contemporary designers, creating sensuous gardens with great sensitivity to the spirit of place. We are honoured to be joined on one day by Louisa Jones - the expert on gardens of the region - as she introduces us to two very private gardens. This tour includes a variety of marvellous dining experiences including a Chef’s table at La Mirande. We have carefully selected two contrasting hotels: La Coquillade is set amongst lavender fields and vines, a converted hamlet overlooking the countryside, with excellent food and a deeply peaceful atmosphere. In Avignon, we have chosen the 5-star Hotel d’Europe, enjoying a long-established reputation as a hotel of great style and comfort, just a step away from the Rhône and the Palais des Papes.
Day 1: Monday 14th May
Travel from London St Pancras direct to Avignon with Eurostar Standard Premier seat reservations. The train departs at 07:19 and arrives in Avignon TGV at 14:08 (a light meal will be served on the journey). Start the tour with a visit to Le Terrain, the atelier of Marc Nucera, to see his wood sculptures and tree shaping. Marc’s work is a component of many modern Provençal gardens and we are privileged to have him show us his work. We then drive to the Petit Luberon to our hotel, Domaine de la Coquillade, where we stay for the next two nights with time to settle in and explore the gardens before dinner together in the bistro restaurant overlooking the vineyards and lavender fields.
Day 2: Tuesday 15th May
The morning commences with a drive through the Luberon to Pavillon de Galon, where the owner, Guy Hervais, has created a blue-planted terraced garden featuring many varieties of artichoke as well as abundant fruit orchards. We are invited to lunch on the terrace before returning to Bonnieux to visit La Louve, home of the late Nicole de Vésian, described as one of the most beautiful contemporary gardens in France; a small garden that has had a strong influence on not only Provençal garden design but on many contemporary gardens throughout the world. We then return to Domaine de la Coquillade for dinner together in the gourmet restaurant.
Day 3: Wednesday 16th May
Louisa Jones is the gate-keeper of all information on Provençal gardens: though officially retired, she is favouring us with her company today to introduce us to two exceptional very private gardens. We start with an exclusive invitation to visit a garden designed by the late Nicole de Vésian set amongst olive terraces before driving to the ancient hilltop village of Ménerbes for a special invitation to a picnic lunch under the cherry trees in the cliff-side garden of Carmejane. Leaving the Luberon, we drive to Avignon and Hotel d’Europe where we dine together at La Vieille Fontaine, one of the best restaurants in Avignon.
Day 4: Thursday 17th May
In Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, we visit the town residence of international garden designer Dominique Lafourcade who will guide us through her own playful and contemporary loft and courtyard garden. There will be free time for lunch in this delightful town before returning to Avignon. This evening, we walk through the old town for a ‘Chef’s Supper’ at La Mirande a mélange of tasting and viewing the creation of some wonderful dishes by renowned chefs.
Day 5: Friday 18th May
Heading to the Alpilles we first visit a private garden very English in its style, content and design. Nearby, Sophie de Brignac invites us to lunch on a shaded terrace before showing us her potager and arboretum at Mas de Payan. We then return to Avignon TGV station for the 15:59 direct Eurostar service arriving at London St Pancras at 22:12.
How much & what's included
The price per person: £2998
Single supplement: £300 (per person, levied by the hotels).
The price includes: two nights with dinner and breakfast at Domaine de la Coquillade; two nights’ bed & breakfast at Hotel d’Europe with one dinner at the hotel and one Chef’s table evening meal at La Mirande; three lunches, all with local wines; and return Eurostar direct train service with Standard Premier class seating which includes a light meal, drinks & magazines.
Those wishing to make their own travel arrangements should state this on the booking form and we will deduct £179.00 per person from the tour price.
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