Provence bucket list.
The top 5 Provencal experiences as picked by Guru editor Jamie Ivey
I’ve lived in Provence for ten years now, and the beauty of the place is there is still so much to do.
Here are five things I must tick off, before I tick off:
Hot air ballooning over the Luberon.
This has got to be majestic. Floating serenely over the soft folds of the hills, from ancient village to ancient village. Seeing the abandoned forts poking from rocky outcrops. I’d go in late June/early July when the lavender is in full bloom, and the countryside below would drift past like an immense impressionist painting.
Book through – Montgolfiere Luberon
Cycling-up Mont Ventoux
Not for everyone.
After all this is an ascent that has claimed lives and might bring a premature end to the rest of this bucket list.
Why do it? Bragging rights – possibly, but more to prove that everything is still possible in life. If I can climb the white giant of Provence what other mountain can I not climb? There would be months of training, sweating my way through the various gentler ascents of the region, Lourmarin to Bonnieux, Coustellet to Gordes etc…and then finally it would be the big one, Ventoux in early Spring when the blossom fills the valley below.
Details of the ride can be found at Climb by bike
A meal on the terrace at the Bastide du Gordes
Can there be a more beautiful inland view? Perched high on the hill looking across the broad sweep of the valley towards the villages of Bonnieux and Lacoste. I’d go in July when the nights are still long and watch the purple haze develop as the sun slowly drops over the Luberon. In addition there’s the bonus of the Michelin starred food and afterwards a room in the newly refurbished hotel.
Details Bastide du Gordes
Sailing to lunch at Le Chateau Calanque de Sormiou
It’s a warm day in early September. The summer crowds have gone and life is once again more leisurely. The trip starts with a strong black coffee portside in Cassis, watching the fishing boats return from their early morning forays.
Then a meander up the coast, bobbing at anchor in the Calanques before the tourist boats reach them. A mid-morning swim, and then lunch at Le Chateau.
The drive down to this restaurant is along a perilous dirt track with steep drops on either side, far better to arrive in style, on board a little dingy. A little seafood for lunch with the comforting vision of our boat floating in the distance on the aquamarine sea.
Details: Le Chateau
Tasting a flight of Domaine Trevallon
Nowhere is it easier to taste the terroir of a wine than in the heat baked rocky lands around Saint Remy de Provence. Red wines such as Domaine de Vallongue are rich and earthy and imbued with the pungent scents of the maquis.
But the undoubted king of the wines in this area is Domaine de Trevallon. Made famous by American wine critic Robert Parker these are wines that compete with the best in the world. I’d love to spend an afternoon visiting the domaine, walking through the fields, appreciating the history of the place, and then finally tasting, a decade or so of different wines.
Here’s a taster of the experience: