Thursday, January 10, 2019

Château La Roque: A French Country Fantasy



Once the calm of the winter season settles over Provence, I scurry around doing lots of recon for the season ahead: visiting beautiful new hotels, rental villas and shops...trying new restaurants and revisiting others...sampling the wares at wonderful vineyards...exploring pretty villages, markets and museums...driving country roads and making all sorts of super discoveries to share with my travel-planning clients.

For example, a few weeks ago I went to see the stunning five-room hilltop Château La Roque, in the Vaucluse village of La Roque-sur-Pernes where owners Chantal and Jean Tomasino could not have been more warm and welcoming! I was totally taken with their story of decamping from Paris, searching all over Provence to find the perfect property and undertaking the meticulous four-year transformation of a crumbling 11th century fortified castle—which dominates the village within its ramparts--into a luxury boutique hotel. They brought in skilled tradesmen and historians, carted away 500 tons of rubble and revealed numerous architectural and decorative details that had been hidden for hundreds of years. Learn more about the history here.

Then they created the beautiful interiors, mixing elegant and “important” pieces with eclectic art, antiques and fabrics found locally. Exquisite, one-of-a-kind chandeliers and wall sconces were custom designed by artisans in Avignon and the Luberon; a handmade, all-white bedcover came from a vintage linen shop in Isle sur la Sorgue. When I commented on how bright the large beautiful salon was, Chantal explained how, back in the day, windows and soaring ceiling vaults were sized and placed to provide--and then reflect--maximum sun throughout the day. The rooms, gardens and swimming pool dug from the rock all have exceptional views. The sunsets, I’m told, are glorious.

As Chantal showed me around recounting fascinating tales of the counts, lords, ladies and Popes who prized and protected this property over the millennia, the tantalizing aroma of good cooking wafted from the kitchen until Jean called us to the table for lunch by the crackling fire. His cuisine is exquisite, her taste is impeccable and I’m sure a stay here—for a couple, family or group--would be beyond fantastic.

If you’re looking for night life and the type of village shops and restaurants that appeal to tourists, you won’t find that in La Roque-sur-Pernes. What you will find are two super knowledgeable hosts who love to suggest activities and share their favorite local discoveries, which include restaurants, vineyards, villages, historic sites, outdoor activities and more. (To get started, see their pages Ideas for Breaks and The Provence.) You’ll also find that this is an ideal base for exploring the popular and lesser-known corners of the Vaucluse (with easy access to Avignon, Châteauneuf du Pape, Isle sur la Sorgue and other wine villages of the Southern Côtes du Rhone, the Luberon, Mont Ventoux, Carpentras, lavender farms, etc.) and central enough for day trips to Aix, Vaison-la-Romaine, St. Remy, the Pont du Gard and more.

Whether you book just one room or privatize the whole château, you’ll be immersed in serenity and laid-back luxury, pampered by charming hosts who’ll do all they can to make it a magical getaway.

Château La Roque
263 Chemin du Château
84210 La Roque-sur-Pernes
France
+33 (0)4 90 61 68 77
contact@chateaularoque.com

Photos: (1-3) No matter the time of day, the south-facing Château La Roque gets the most-beautiful light and views. This luxurious but laid-back boutique hotel has just five rooms, allowing for the most-personal service. (4) Owners Chantal and Jean Tomasino: still laughing, after all these years. (5) The belltower--atop what was once the village church--is just one of the many carefully preserved historic features of the property. It dates to the 11th century but was rebuilt and restored 400 to 500 years later. (6) The neighbors graze their horses in lush fields below. (7) Facade walls under renovation. (8, 9) The property offers quiet outdoor spaces for cool drinks, swimming, reading, strolling, etc. (10-12) Three interior shots, before.  (13-20) Eight interior shots, the way things look today. (21) Jean in his pretty kitchen. (22) Breakfast, anyone? (23) Food at La Roque is often organic, mostly local and always seasonal. Pictured: a zucchini flower filled with a mixture of cod, ricotta and chive, served with organic pepper sauce. (24) Jean works closely with nearby farms to get the best, freshest ingredients. Here, a salad of organic greens with asparagus is nestled with marinated salmon in a citrus/olive oil glaze. (25) Jean's “millefeuilles de fraises en majesté'': baked phyllo, light pastry cream, strawberries and sugar.  

Monday, December 17, 2018

Giving Old Treasures New Life


In her charming and jam-packed atelier called Banaborose in St. Remy, local artist Lisa Guillot “reinvents” furniture of all types, salvaging its original beauty while giving it a fresh new (or completely vintage) look. She uses Annie Sloan chalk paints and has mastered a wide range of treatments, most of which require little or no sanding or stripping. For do-it-yourselfers, Lisa sells the paint and offers popular 3.5-hour workshops on Saturdays and Wednesdays, for a minimum of two people (60 per person includes paint and all materials, by appointment only). She’ll also come to you, to lead a workshop in your home or do the painting herself. Don’t have a favorite piece that needs some TLC? Let Lisa find and finish one for you in whatever color makes your heart sing, from vibrant red Emperor’s Silk to creamy Versailles to soft green/gray Provence. Or, she’ll create the perfect blend. For pieces too big to transport yourself, Lisa offers pick up and delivery all over France. You’ll find her tucked away in the courtyard (officially known as Place Mireille Moatti), behind the shop Tectona, at 34 blvd. Mirabeau. banaborose.com, contact@banaborose.com, +33 (0)6 07 16 17 98. 

Photos: (1,2) Lisa...and her studio. (3, 4, 5) Finished pieces. (6, 7) An armoire, before and after. (8) Color chart. (9) Lisa's worktable.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Volunteers Wanted to Restore Medieval Site


If you're thinking of visiting Provence next year, here's a way to learn new skills, give something back, leave your mark on an ancient village and meet people from all over the world.

Since 1969, the international non-profit volunteer program La Sabranenque has been devoted to the safeguarding and restoration of traditional rural architecture in Southern France. They're now accepting applications for summer 2019, to work at the medieval Provencale site and village called Saint Victor la Coste. La Sabranenque hosts 150 to 200 participants of all ages and nationalities annually. No previous restoration work is required but you must be at least 18; the oldest volunteer so far was 81.

Saint Victor la Coste is a picturesque village of roughly 1900 people in a beautiful setting 30 km northwest of Avignon. At the foot of a hill dominated by a medieval castle, the village overlooks a small vineyard-covered plain, with the Rhone Valley in the distance. The territory has been inhabited for several millennia; neolithic and Bronze Age artifacts have been found and several known Roman sites are nearby. Once part of the medieval domain of the Sabran family, vassals to the Count of Toulouse, it's known today for its historic buildings (including an 11th century church and a 13th century fort) and traditional rural village lifestyle.

The re-construction of the large structures in the hamlet is now done. This summer's projects include additional stonework tasks (uncovering and securing structural vestiges, improving dry stone terraces, etc.), establishing gardens and building a shelter for small wildlife.

Six-day volunteer sessions run Monday to Saturday, from June 3 to September 28. A fee of 300€ per week covers lodging (double occupancy, in traditional houses restored by La Sabranenque), all meals and activities. The food is Provençal family-style, featuring local vegetables and fruit, traditional cheeses, bakery-fresh breads and local wine. If you wish to stay two or more weeks, you can use your room and the kitchen over the weekend. There are ten participants maximum per session.

Volunteers work on the site in the morning and are also expected to participate in everyday activities such as kitchen work. Afternoons are free to explore and relax, with some historic tours and guided nature walks provided.

For more info, visit the Sabranenque sites here and here. Or email: info@sabranenque.com.

Photos: Scenes from summers past at La Sabranenque.

Friday, November 9, 2018

You're Invited: Thanksgiving in France 2018



Because I totally live to please you, once again I've rounded up a great selection of American Thanksgiving celebrations here in the South of France and in Paris. Who attends these gala soirées? Local expats of course, but also hungry French folks and other Europeans, travelers, house guests...whomever! All nationalities wanted and welcome! 

Over the years, many of my French friends have told me they love the idea of celebrating this American holiday...to meet new people, to sample unusual foods, to learn the history and traditions. At a friend's Thanksgiving in Provence a few years back, the Frenchman to my left told me he loved how the various dishes were served all at once, all on one plate, rather than in courses. Another said he was looking forward to his first taste of cranberry sauce, which he called red fruits jam

While the literal translation is Action de Grâce, most French people just call it Thanksgiving...except for my friend Philippe who refers to it as Merci Donnant, which he says "means absolutely nothing at all." 

Some of these feasts listed below are hosted by groups and clubs, who love non-members to join in; others happen in restaurants or hotels.  If you plan to be in Paris for the holiday rather than down south, I've included a number of celebrations there as well...and two links to help you find others. 

I’ve only listed the Thanksgivings that still had space available, as of today. Book soon because most have limited capacity and fill up.

For those of you hosting your own Thanksgiving or sharing in the food prep, I've provided three sources for ingredients such as fresh cranberries and cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes, stuffing mix and more. When it comes to the big juicy bird, the Paris shop called The Real McCoy sells them both fresh and already roasted; more info about that is below. Elsewhere in France, most butchers will be happy to order a delicious dinde, if given enough notice, and some might even roast it for you. Just remember that the turkeys here in France are smaller than in the US...and don't forget leftovers!

If you're hosting or know of a Thanksgiving celebration that's not listed here, email me the info (provenceblog@aol.com) and I'll happily add it. 

And finally, while we're on the subject, I'm sending a very heartfelt thank you to all of you: for reading and supporting my blog...for sharing it with your friends....for commenting on the stories you particularly enjoy. I wish you all the most joyous and delicious Merci Donnant, wherever you plan to spend it!

THANKSGIVING ON THE COTE D'AZUR

The American Club of the Riviera's Thanksgiving is a gala, annual affair...large, elegant and extremely popular. This year it's in the Salon Belle Epoque at the Hôtel Hermitage in Monte Carlo on Thursday Nov. 22, starting with a 12:30 Champagne reception, followed by a luncheon feast of butternut squash velouté, stuffed turkey, apple and pumpkin tart. Book quickly as this event always sells out; 150 people are expected and it's first come, first served with priority going to member families. Last call for reservation payments is November 13th so you’ll have to hustle. All the info is on the ACR website here

MonacoUSA will host its annual Thanksgiving dinner in a private room at StarsNBars (Monaco) on Thursday Nov. 22, with the bar opening at 6:00 pm and dinner service starting at 7 pm. Seating is family style at communal tables. The menu: Stuffed turkey with cranberry sauce, peas, creamed onions, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob and cornbread. Desserts will be apple tart, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and brownies. Also included: a glass of wine, beer or soft drink, bottled water and espresso. On the large screen, you can see the Macy’s Parade, American football and a special JFK tribute. Cost: 50€ members, 55€ non members, 25€ for kids under 12. Space is limited, you must reserve through MonacoUSA and payment in advance is required; no payment at the door and no walk-ins allowed, sorry! All details are on the website here.

The MonacoUSA party just above is open to everyone but for those who don’t want to join the group, the all-you can-eat Thanksgiving buffet will be available at StarsNBars starting at 7 pm. Pricing is 45€ for adults and 20€ for kids, excluding drinks. The restaurant will also be serving its regular menu that evening. And turkey will be available as the plat du jour at lunch, starting at noon, for 18€ including a drink and dessert. To book: + 377 9797 9595. Questions: info@starsnbars.com.

The Riviera Chapter of Democrats Abroad invites you to a festive Thanksgiving pot luck at Holy Trinity Church Hall, at 11 rue de la Buffa in Nice, on Nov. 22 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. It’s open to members, Americans in the region and accompanying guests. Due to the size of the hall they can welcome just 35 people so you must RSVP. DA will provide the turkey and asks all guests to bring a prepared salad, vegetable or dessert to be shared. (Sorry, no cooking facilities available on-site). The closest parking is Palais de la Méditerranée or Grimaldi and there are several bus stops in walking distance. For a map and details, click here. For more info, to RSVP or questions: dafrance.riviera@gmail.com.

THANKSGIVING IN PROVENCE

Once again my friend Jon Chiri, an American chef with 20+ years experience working in Provence, will offer a Thanksgiving lunch at Cuisine Centr'Halles, his cafe and cooking school at Les Halles, the wonderful indoor food market in Avignon. On Thursday Nov. 22, Jon invites you to join his family for a special holiday lunch from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. (The market officially closes at 1:30 pm so be sure to seated by 1 pm latest.) The Thanksgiving Plat du Jour (turkey with Jon's version of accoutrements) will be 24€ ...or 32€ with pumpkin pie. Wine and soft drinks are extra. To reserve: contact@jonathanchiri.com or +33 (0)6 46 89 85 33.

The Anglo-American Group of Provence welcomes the community to its annual family-oriented  Thanksgiving in Aix "with a spirit of appreciation for all that we share."  The party is Sunday, Nov. 25 at 4 pm (aperitif) and 5 pm (dinner) at Restaurant Le Verguetier, 7 chemin d'Eguilles in Celony (Aix), across from the Maison de Ste-Victoire. They'll have all the traditional foods: turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Cost: Members are 29€ adults, 10€ (age 6 to 12) and 6€ (under 5).  Non members are 37€ adults and 18€ kids under 12. To book: Please specify number of adults and kids (with ages) and send check payable to AAGP to: Mari-Luz Saboui, 25 Chemin de Masse, 13710 Fuveau. Checks must be received by Nov 19. Questions? Email to: bobkeltz@aol.com

Biocoop - La Coumpagnie in Aix will host two Thanksgivings on Thursday Nov. 22. The first is a lunch which owner Rick Harrison says is "mostly for our curious French clientele - and it's always our biggest lunch turnout of the year!" The lunch will be less than 20€ pp.  (To reserve, see below.) Then comes the main event: a dinner starting at 7:30 pm. "We have a wide diversity of Americans, French and English people excited to attend," Rick says. As they did last year, the Marseille Chapter of Democrats Abroad will have their own space at the event and 40 to 50 of their members are likely to attend.  The meal will be 100% organic, 0% GMOs and 100% homemade from American family recipes! The evening starts with spiced wine and appetizers (stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs), then moves on to turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green bean casserole (with cream of mushroom soup...yes!), pumpkin and pecan pies and a classic cheesecake. Prices are 29€ adults and 19€ kids under 12; wine and beer are available for purchase. Reservations required for both lunch and dinner: +33 (0)6 81 34 85 74, rick@biocoop-lacoumpagnie.fr. 

Near Forcalquier, the restaurant Le Bistrot de Pierrerue in Pierrerue celebrates its annual Thanksgiving on Friday Nov. 23 at 8 pm. On the menu: an amuse bouche, brined and roasted turkey with dressing (made from bio sausage and chestnuts), homemade gravy and cranberry chutney, mashed potatoes, roasted local Brussels sprouts,  pumpkin pie and chocolate pumpkin-seed torte with vanilla ice cream. Price is 25€ per person, without drinks. To book: +33 (0)4 92 75 33 00, maryvonne.kutsch@orange.fr.

At the restaurant L'Epicerie de Cecile in Beaucaire, chef/owner Cécile Guillo is all fired up to host her annual Thanksgiving fête, Thursday Nov. 22 at 8 pm. Seating is communal at large tables for 12. The price isn’t quite confirmed but expect to pay 25 to 30€ for dinner (with a couple glasses of wine) and live music (a pianist and a singer performing American hits from the 70s and 80s). Cecile is also happy to offer her traditional Thanksgiving meal on another day for any group that wants to book it, for a minimum of 15 people. To reserve: +33 (0)7 85 40 38 20.

THANKSGIVING IN PARIS

There seem to be more and more Thanksgiving celebrations in Paris restaurants each year, ranging from the very-casual one at the Hard Rock Cafe (11:30 am to 11:30 pm on Nov. 22, 36€ pp, click here to book) to the very-posh one at Ralph's in Ralph Lauren's elaborately appointed store on the Blvd. St.-Germain (dinner Nov 22, with a set menu at 135€, reservations +33 (0)1 44 77 76 00). 

This year, the restaurant Sunday in Soho (at 7 rue Saint Marc in the 2nd arrondissement) will offer Thanksgiving for three nights (Nov. 22, 23, 24), with seatings at 7 pm and 9 pm. The 45€ price includes a glass of Champagne or the house cocktail. Reservations are online only and the owners say “Make sure to bring your appetite (and maybe some stretch pants) because our Thanksgiving feast is no joke!!”

For a few more Paris restaurants, hotels and wine bars serving Thanksgiving, click here and here.

If you want to join a group rather than do your own thing in a Parisian restaurant, sign up for Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday Nov. 20 with the American University Clubs of France. For the 3rd (and probably last) year, they're partnering with the famous Ladurée, known for elegant sweets since 1862, and will be dining in one of Maison Ladurée’s private salons with views on the Champs Elysées. You can have a drink there before, and the dinner officially starts at 7:30 in the restaurant, which is privatized for the occasion. Everyone gets a small gift to take home. Prices range from €72 to €94 pp and all the info is on the website here. Questions? contact@aucfrance.com.

Another club,  The American Club of Paris will hold its annual Thanksgiving at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Paris 3ème) on Thursday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 pmThe evening includes pre-dinner Champagne, an elegant Thanksgiving dinner, a private visit to the Museum's collections and temporary exhibit (including Country Life: Masterpieces from the Mellon Collection) and after-dinner drinks in the Club Room. The dress code is evening attire/black tie optional and roughly 50 people are expected. Members 150€; non-members and guests 175€. All the info is hereQuestions? contact@americanclubparis.org.

The popular Thanksgiving cooking classes at the cooking school La Cuisine Paris have already sold out...but they have another option for foodie fun that day. Called a Festive Food Tour this “class” explores not American but rather French holiday classics with a guided walk and tastings of wine, cheese and foie gras. All the info is here. The timing is 3 to 5:30 pm Thursday Nov. 22 (leaving you time for Thanksgiving dinner elsewhere) and the price is 110€ pp. For more info or to reserve: +33 (0)1 40 51 78 18, contact@lacuisineparis.com.

WHERE TO BUY SUPPLIES

MyAmericanMarket.com sells lots of things you’ll likely need to prepare your holiday feast: cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin, cornbread mix, stuffing, gravy, corn syrup and more. They also have ingredients and treats for other holidays, too, such as eggnog and candy canes. They are 100% online and will deliver anywhere in Europe. The company uses various couriers but plan to order by Nov. 14 to get your goodies in time. Specific Thanksgiving foods are on a special page here. For info: contact@myamericanmarket.com.

The Franco-American owners of My Little America, Todd and Anthony, hail from Ohio and Brittany and launched their mail-order business “to make it possible for Americans and French people who have lived in the US to find their favorite foods easily, wherever they might live....and to help French people discover these ‘new’ and ‘exotic’ products." Today they import a wide range of American foods and ship them throughout Europe; mailing is free within metropolitan France for orders over 99€ and under 10 kilos. For Thanksgiving they sell cranberry sauce (whole berry and jellied), stuffing mix, turkey gravy, corn muffin mix, corn syrup (light and dark), graham crackers, canned pumpkin, cut sweet potatoes and more. See their Thanksgiving selection here. They also sell classics such as Kraft Mac & Cheese, Toll-House Chocolate Chips, A-1 Steak Sauce, Jif Peanut Butter, A&W Root Beer and much more. Questions: contact@mylittleamerica.com.

In Paris, The Real McCoy is the Parisian go-to for American foods, particularly at holiday time.  In their shop (no mail order) they’re selling fresh farm-bred turkeys...or they’ll even roast and package it for you with stuffing and roasting juices. (Be sure to order at least a few days ahead.) Their roast turkeys average 5 kilos each; they request a 30€ deposit and then charge 11.50€ per kilo, bringing the total to around 80€. The Real McCoy also sells pecan and pumpkin pies, carrot cakes and cheesecakes...plus a wide selection of Thanksgiving products such as fresh cranberries and canned cranberry sauce, stuffing mix, pie fillings, yams, turkey bags, basters and more. They’re located at:  194 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris, +33 (0)1 45 56 00, us.food@wanadoo.fr. No website but find them on Facebook here

Above: The much-loved, often-parodied painting is Norman Rockwell's "Freedom from Want" from 1942. Everyone in it was a Rockwell family member or friend; they were photographed individually and painted into the scene. Learn more about the painting and artist here

Monday, October 29, 2018

What's Happening at Château La Coste?


For anyone interested in wine, design, sculpture or architecture--or simply experiencing very unusual and beautiful places--a visit to Château La Coste is a must.
On the 600-acre property you’ll find organic grapevines spread out in lush sun-baked rows and a shimmering olive grove, a gorgeous hotel and spa, restaurants (from casual to Michelin starred), a state-of-the-art winery, a wine shop, a book shop and a world-class Art & Architecture Park.  You need at least three hours to do it justice but you could easily spend a whole day.

If you haven't been to La Coste in a few years, there are plenty of new things to discover. It's definitely a work in progress!
While the newest incarnation of Chateau La Coste is roughly 20 years old, there's been agriculture and winemaking here as far back as Roman times. On the property are cobbled Gallo-Roman pathways, dry stone walls, bridges, underground wells...and the vestiges of an intricate watering system currently undergoing restoration. A lovely Venetian-style villa in a rosy pink hue has stood here since 1682.
It was in 2002 that the current owner (the Irish art collector, real-estate developer and hotel investor Patrick “Paddy” McKillen) bought the property and decided to transform what was a fairly nondescript wine domaine into a world-class destination where art, architecture and agriculture would blend seamlessly. The idea had already been successful in the Basque city of Álava, headquarters of Vinos del Marqués de Riscal, where Frank Gehry had been commissioned to build a hotel. Here in France, McKillen and his family expanded on that idea, inviting artists and architects from all over the world to “visit, explore and find a place...that inspired them to create.” 
Today this "starchitect winery," roughly 20 minutes north of Aix, has a large visitors' center designed by world-famous architect Tadao Ando, plus numerous installations and buildings crafted by other luminaries such as Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry. Viewed from the country road that winds into the agricultural village of Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, the rounded aluminum Jean Nouvel winery glints silver in the distance and is joined by a Frank Gehry-designed music pavilion, two more buildings by Ando and sculptures by Richard Serra, Louise Bourgeois and many others.
The list of artists with work on view here grows every year and currently includes sought-after names such as Alexander Calder, Michael Stipe, Andy Goldsworthy, Paul Matisse, Tracy Emin, Ai Weiwei and many others.  A Renzo Piano-designed gallery opened in 2017; 2018 welcomed a permanent piece (“Dead End”) by Sophie Calle and a permanent installation (“Komorebi”) by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. See the full list of current artists and architects here.
Ongoing and future projects include a piece by Tony Berlant and Frank Gehry, a sculpture by Per Kirkeby and a “massive” project by Louise Bourgeois and Jean Nouvel.  A Richard Rogers pavilion is also being planned.
To see the major features of the Art & Architecture Park, plan for a two-hour stroll with some gravel and gentle hills. To do it on your own, you'll be given a map of the 30-some installations. Guided tours are also available and can be public or private; more info on that is below.
A gorgeous five-star hotel called Villa La Coste was completed in 2017 by the Marseille architecture firm Tangram. It has 28 "villa suites," spectacular views, an elegant spa, art by Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol (among others), a tapestry by Fernand Léger… and not one but two restaurants from Michelin three-star chefs. An ornate 19th-century tea pavilion was shipped over from Vietnam.
If the timing is right, you should definitely start or cap your visit to Château La Coste with a meal. Be sure to check the website or phone ahead for winter hours and reservations.
The one-star restaurant Louison from Marseille-based chef Gérald Passedat currently serves lunch (during the weekends) and dinner (every day); expect to pay 100€ or more for lunch or dinner, beverages excluded.
The second restaurant is the Salon, which they describe as "bistronomic" (blending gastronomic and bistro). The Salon is open every day for lunch and dinner; expect to pay from 38€ per person for lunch and from 50€ for dinner, without wine.
In 2017, Château La Coste also opened the first Francis Mallmann restaurant in Europe. Serving  "New Argentinian" cuisine, it's open for lunch (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and dinner (every day); expect to pay roughly 80€ per person for lunch or dinner, beverages excluded.
For more dining options, Le Restaurant de Tadao Ando in the main reception center is open every day for lunch (but again, check the site for seasonal hours). Menus start at 34€; seating is indoors and out.  My friends and I loved everything about our lunch here last November: the sunshine on the terrace, the soothing calm of the reflecting pool, the excellent food and wine and the gracious warmth of our server.  
La Terrace, open from 10 am to 9:30 pm every day in summer and on weekends in winter, serves a lighter menu of fresh salads, chilled soups, home-made tarts, farmers cheeses and organic charcuterie, accompanied of course by Château La Coste wines. The Terrace often has live music.
When you plan your visit, make sure to also leave time for wine tasting in the pretty wine shop...or a tour of the winery ("chai"), available by appointment only. And definitely save time for perusing all the art and architecture titles in the bookshop.
And what about those wines after all? Château La Coste makes wine using biodynamic principals which strive to preserve the fertility of the soil and the terroir in general. The first harvest was in 2008 and the wines earned the organic "AB" distinction the following year. Today they make a wide range of extremely popular reds, roses and whites (from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache, Vermentino, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cinsault grapes) which range in price from roughly 11€ to 120€. Learn about the wines here and see the wine tasting schedule here.
Château La Coste hosts a number of open-to-the-public events each year including outdoor movie screenings, art exhibits, workshops and classes for kids and adults, concerts, evening visits, wine workshops and more. For the schedule, click here and see the current art exhibits here. You can also sign up to receive a newsletter with alerts about upcoming events.
The Art & Architecture Park is open for self-guided visits year round (you'll be provided with a map; current entry price is 15€ full price and 12€ for students, job seekers, seniors and groups, free for kids under 10 years old).
Guided visits are available in French and English, on a set schedule, seven days a week. In Winter, tours are offered in both French and English at 10:30 and 2:30. In July and August, tours are offered in both French and English at 10:30 and 4:30. Private tours are also available by reservation and groups are welcomed. Seasonal opening times, admission prices, directions and more can all be found on the bi-lingual website.
Chateau La Coste
2750 Route de la Cride
13610 Le Puy Sainte Reparade
France
chateau-la-coste.com
contact@chateau-la-coste.com
+33 (0)4 42 61 89 98

Photos: (1) You've arrived! The entry gate by architect Tadao Ando. (2) Working the vines. (3) The restaurant Louison, from chef Gérald Passedat, who has held three Michelin stars at his restaurant Le Petit Nice in Marseille since 2008.  (4) Restaurant Francis Mallmann. The Michelin-three-star Argentinian chef has restaurants around the world and is known for cooking over live flame.  (5) The hotel surrounded by grape vines. (6) A dish from the restaurant called The Salon. (7) In the hotel, a Pavillon Suite with views of the Luberon Mountains. (8) The hotel spa. (9) Jean Nouvel designed the corrugated-aluminum winery buildings, each 10 meters high. Together they're known as the Cuverie or Chai. (10) New this year: a sculpture called ''Komorebi” by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. (11) The Music Pavillon by Frank Gehry. (12) An installation by Liam Gillick. (13) The sculpture "Drop" by Tom Shannon. (14) An art gallery called Bastide opened this year.  (15) A section of Ai Weiwei's ''Ruyi Path.'' (16, 17). Sculptures by Hiroshi Sugimoto and Louise Bourgeois have become iconic images of Chateau La Coste.

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