20th to 24th May, 2019:
An exclusive TELEGRAPH tour hosted by gardens correspondent, HELEN YEMM and led by PATIENCE SHONE
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, whilst 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 have carefully selected two contrasting hotels: 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. La Coquillade is set amongst vineyards, a converted hamlet overlooking the countryside with excellent food and a deeply peaceful atmosphere.
Day 1: Monday, May 20
We travel from London Heathrow, Terminal 3 on BA0368 departing at 13:05 PM arriving at Marseille at 16:00 PM. We then drive to Avignon and Hotel d’Europe where we dine together at the hotel restaurant: La Vieille Fontaine, one of the best restaurants in town.
Day 2: Tuesday, May 21
Heading to the Alpilles we visit a very special private garden, English in style, content and design. Then at Mas de Payan. Sophie de Brignac invites us to lunch on a shaded terrace before showing us her potager and arboretum. In Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, we visit the town residence of international garden designer Dominique Lafourcade who will guide us through her new, playful, and contemporary loft and courtyard gardens. We then return to Hotel d’Europe for a free evening.
Day 3: Wednesday, May 22
After a free morning (including time to find your own lunch) in Avignon, we drive 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 drive to the Petit Luberon and to our hotel, Domaine de la Coquillade, where we stay for the next two nights with time to settle in before dinner together in the bistro restaurant overlooking the vineyards.
Day 4: Thursday, May 23
We start with an exclusive invitation to visit a garden designed by the late Nicole de Vésian set amongst olive terraces before walking up to the ancient hilltop village of Ménerbes for a special invitation by owner Mrs Frankie Coxe to a picnic lunch under the cherry trees in the cliff-side garden of Carmejane. Frankie Coxe has not only created one of the most beautiful gardens in Provence but with the help of an enthusiastic team is also developing an exciting, ambitious new permaculture garden for the community that we are invited to view. We then return to Domaine de la Coquillade for dinner together in the gourmet restaurant.
Day 5: Friday, May 24
An optional introduction to the gardens of La Coquillade before a visit to Pavillon de Galon, where Guy Hervais has created a blue-planted terraced garden featuring many varieties of artichoke as well as abundant orchards. We are invited to lunch on the terrace before returning to Marseilles for the 16:50 PM BA0369 flight to London Heathrow arriving 17:45 PM.
How much & what’s included:
The price per person: £3290
Single supplement: £300
(levied by the hotel on double rooms for single occupation).
The price includes: two nights bed & breakfast with one dinner at Hotel d’Europe; two nights dinner bed & breakfast at Domaine de la Coquillade; three lunches, all with local wines; and return flights to Marseille with British Airways. Those wishing to make their own travel arrangements should state this on the booking form and we will deduct £143 per person from the tour price. Please note that hotels used by Boxwood Tours are invariably hotels of character featuring a variety of rooms & styles.
This tour is financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate.