FRANCE – La Vie en Provence

With a very rich cultural and gastronomic legacy, Provence is a treasure trove of magical landscapes, history, architecture and food: the world’s largest Gothic palace as awesome as the 14thC Palais des Papes, fine gardens, Roman remains as impressive as the Pont du Gard and the theatre at Orange, villages as magical as Bonnieux, artistic expressions that have immortalised the region by artists as renowned as Van Gogh, Matisse, Cezanne, Gaugin, Renoir, Picasso and countless others, nectars as comforting as Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, and the famous wine regions of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Rhône and Languedoc-Roussillon right on the border.

This 10-Day Culinary Odyssey can be tailored for private groups of six to eight+ friends/guests. At least 6 months notice is required for Marieke to host the program. The first four nights are in a stunning villa near Uzès, and the next five nights in two stunning villas in the heart of Provence, in L’isle sur la Sorgue. There are daily excursions into the countryside, combined with several half day cooking classes at the villas, fine dining meals in some of the region’s excellent restaurants, picnics in lovely gardens, visits to local markets and quaint villages, such as Ménerbes and Oppède Le Vieux, shopping for brocante and antiques, excursions to such alluring towns as Aix en Provence, Avignon and Arles, and VIP wine tastings in specially chosen domains.

HIGHLIGHTS

• stunning market towns
• Michelin starred dining
• tutored winetastings
• sunny cuisine + rosé
• remarkable gardens

AT A GLANCE


PAST TOUR | SUGGESTED ITINERARY
LENGTH:  10 Days
ACTIVITY LEVEL:   Moderate
TYPE: AoL Escorted | Small Groups | Guided | Bespoke
STYLE: culture | arts | architecture | heritage | cuisine | cooking | wine
START/FINISH: Avignon | Avignon

INCLUSIONS

All meals and wine, cooking classes, entrance fees, domestic airfare, ground transport

HOTEL STANDARD:

Deluxe

TRANSPORT:

Luxury mini coach

TRAVEL DATES

Best times for travel are May – mid June and September – October

PRICING

from Euros 8,900 twin | double share

ITINERARY OVERVIEW

  • DAY 1

    Avignon | Laudun

    Guests meet on a Monday at Avignon TGV from where you drive to your beautifully restored mas surrounded by lavendar and olives.
    Apéritifs, including French Champagne and hors d’oeuvres is followed by Dîner d’Accueil by Marieke.
    Each evening guests are introduced to wines + champagnes rarely seen outside of France from small exclusive houses, mostly regional.

  • DAY 2

    Avignon

    The morning hands-on cooking class segues into lunch al fresco. The afternoon is spent in the glorious medieval city of Avignon with its gothic cathedral, the Palais des Papes, 13th-century ramparts and elegant shops.
    Tonight’s dinner is a regional degustation in a fine dining restaurant.

     

  • DAY 3

    Uzès

    Today’s excursion is Market Day at Uzès, a charming medieval city in the Languedoc-Rousillon region – self-proclaimed first duchy of France, and host to one of the most colourful markets in the south of France.
    After lunch stroll through the town of St Quentin la Poterie, the epicentre of pottery revivified by many ceramic studios whose artists come from far and near.
    Later, visit the Pont du Gard that fascinates visitors with its elegance and majesty.
    Dîner en famille will be prepared by a visiting chef.

  • DAY 4

    Mt Ventoux

    Today is a day for special wines + vineyards. Of the many hundreds, I have chosen two special properties for your delectation.
    Early this morning depart in the direction of Mt Ventoux, to visit Chêne Bleu, the exceptional wine biodynamic estate owned by Nicole and Xavier Rolet, to enjoy a private VIP Tour/tasting/lunch with matched wines.
    Later continue to Domaine Solitude, a classic Domaine, owned by the Lançon family that dates back to 1535.
    Dinner this evening in a local extremely charming restaurant.

  • DAY 5

    L’isle sur la Sorgue

    After settling into your restored renaissance house/hotel in the adorable town and capital of antiques, L’isle sur la Sorgue, travel to the hill town of Bonnieux, to lunch with Edouard Loubet who was France’s youngest chef to receive 2 Michelin stars at ‘Bastide de Capelongue’ and his cuisine involves strong, clean flavours, and extraordinary originality.
    After lunch, browse the streets and boutiques of Lourmarin, possibly the chicest village of the region. Supper at home tonight

  • DAY 6

    Arles

    Today is market day in Arles, with the lively Saturday morning market where the heady aromas of Arabic spices will assail you and we shop for the next Class.
    Lunch at Armand Arnal’s Chassagnette in the Camargu: a stunning restaurant in terms of its innovative décor and ambience set in a rural outdoor setting where the menu elevates the fresh offerings of his garden and the bounty of the nearby Mediterranean sea.

  • DAY 7

    Ménerbes

    After breakfast drive to Oppède-le-vieux, to walk the tiny atmospheric medieval village. Continue to Ménerbes, a beautiful, medieval village, exquisitely poised over the Luberon valley’s sea of cherry orchards and vineyards.  Picasso brought his mistress Dora Maar a house. There is a wonderful garden to visit before lunch.
    After lunch return to the domain for this afternoon’s class with Marieke seguing into another convivial dinner. The theme will be le grand aioli accompanied by the legendary Domaine Tempier wines from Bandols,

  • DAY 8

    Aix en Provence | Cucuron

    After an early breakfast depart for Aix-en-Provence where you will have a couple of free hours to wander the farmer’s market. Later, visit one of the most thrilling domaines of South France, Château la Coste – a visionary and special place where art, architecture and land came together. Artists and architects as famous as Tadao Ando, Frank Gehry, Alexander Calder were given the freedom to create something that would live there. After the walking tour, a wine tasting and a simple market lunch. En route home visit a wonderful garden before dinner with another of the regions’ famous chefs with a Michelin star.

  • DAY 9

    Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

    A day in and around the very pretty town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and the neighbouring antique site of Glanum, that was a Greek city, eventually covered by a Roman city.
    After a light bistro lunch return to wander the attractive boutiques of L’isle sur la Sorgue before a grand farewell banquet.

  • DAY 10

    Avignon | Departure

    Farewells and Au Revoirs to new friends.
    Departure after breakfast. Guests are driven to Avignon TGV for the train back to Paris.

    SUGGESTED TOUR EXTENSION: Paris

TESTIMONIALS

Dearest Marieke,

I have been trying to get to my emails and send you a very big thank you. Tonight I will not let anything get in the way!

Travelling with you is always such a joy … so much fun!
Your research and careful planning were in evidence yet again – a marvellous mix as always: traditional and contemporary, culture, food, architecture, landscape, art and the simpler pleasures of wandering off the track in some truly magical places…not to mention a cooking class with someone from Master Chef!!!
I can never quite explain to others what its like travelling with you – Is it like travelling with your family? – but without all the terrible family dramas! Or is it like travelling with friends? – no.. because that can be the beginning of the end of friendships if someone gets upset about the wrong hotel or restaurant or …
And yet its not like travelling with strangers either because Marieke you always draw together people of like mind who, after a week or so travelling together, find so many shared pleasures and interests.
I always know it will be fun and I love the fact that I don’t know exactly what we are going to do. Putting yourself in someone else’s hands requires trust – and you always repay that trust in spades!
You brought us the traditional and the surprising, the cutting edge and the quaint, the sophisticated and simple, the amazing layers of history and some 21st century wonders, the picturesque and the rugged … all in this extraordinary part of France!
That afternoon at Chateau La Coste just blew me away – I can’t stop telling people about it!!
So …. a thousand thank yous to you Marieke … yet again. Jo Dunin, Melbourne

Dear Marieke,
I’ve just returned…… Had a beautiful time in Paris and then went on to London and Italy. Glad to be home as well so happy all round. The highlight was of course Provence and I can’t stop talking about it!!!
Thanks too for the recipes, wine notes etc…
“Marieke finely crafts experiences and treats on her Provence trip. It all appears effortless but a lot of research has been done to create a masterful journey. I didn’t feel as if I was on a tour, I felt like I was traveling with a group of friends with Marieke and Baxter the locals!! Each day a gem …..”
Thank you for a wonderful trip….love to you Di Howison, Adelaide

YOUR GUIDES

Marieke Brugman’s Academic (Fine Arts) beginnings segued into the culinary world where she is a highly regarded chef, educator, consultant, public speaker and occasional writer. She has been both a pioneer in Food/Wine Tourism and an ambassador for creating a distinctive Australian identity in the evolution of our gastronomic culture.
Marieke co-established and operated Howqua Dale Gourmet Retreat - an exceptional hospitality destination experience in the Howqua Valley, and over 30 years, cemented its outstanding reputation for superb cuisine and innovative cooking schools.
In 1990, Marieke also co-founded and conducted an international niche-market Travel Company so that her passion for human experiences and cultural connections could open doors to world class journeys, enabling guests to see the world differently, and always in superior comfort and with great culinary inquisitiveness.
In the last 20 years, she has conducted specialised culinary vacations in various Australian regions, New Zealnd, North and South India, Bali, Dordogne and Normandy.

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