July 3-9, 2016
We will meet you at Avignon TGV station in the early afternoon and transport you to our Villa and home for the week centrally located outside Caseneuve and an excellent point from which to begin our daily Adventures. Caseneuve is dominated by its castle, which looks outsized considering the rest of the village, and indicates the ambition of the ruling family that built it in the 970’s AD. This family, the Agoults, then moved on to other strongholds and took their wealth and connections with them, so the village never grew to catch up with the size of the castle. All that is left of them is their enigmatic motto: “Lilia sustentant turres” (the towers sustain the lilies).
After settling in, enjoy a meet-and-greet with homemade hors d’oeuvres and locally produced wines. Then relax by the by the outdoor pool or explore the tranquil mountain-side estate and enjoy the view of the Luberon Mountains until it is time for a homemade welcome dinner. (Dinner by “chef” Walter)
After breakfast at our Villa, we will visit nearby Apt for morning painting session, sightseeing and a little shopping. Apt was at one time destroyed by the Romans in about 125 BC and restored by Julius Caesar. It is the principal town of the Luberon Mountains. After lunch on your own in Apt, we will visit a local wine producer. Afternoon painting session then home to relax and then dinner at the Villa prepared by Artistic Gourmet Adventures. (Breakfast/Home Cooked Dinner)
Morning breakfast at our Villa. We then drive through the mountain Forest of the Vaucluse via the immense lavender fields of the region. We will stop for a late morning painting session and a homemade picnic half the way up the mountain. We then continue on to our destination of Sault, a small town spread out along a low rocky promontory above the lavender fields 750 metres above sea level, with one side of the village winding around the top of a cliff. You will have the opportunity to explore the village on your own for an afternoon painting session. Highlights include great fine 16th century stone houses, shopping, eateries, and the beautiful panoramas, lavender honey and the very delicious local macaroons. Dinner on your own in Sault. (Breakfast/Gourmet Picnic Lunch)
Awake rested and ready to go. We will enjoy breakfast at the Villa and head to a local lavender oil producer. Here we will see how lavender is farmed and the production of the lavender oils, followed by a drive up to the beautiful hilltop village of Bonnieux, filming site of the movie, A Good Year by Peter Mayle. Bonnieux is one of the most impressive Luberon villages in size and amenities and for a beautiful painting session, with plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from for lunch on your own. There is a very good market, even a bakery museum! If time allows, our next destination will be Lourmarin. If your idea of a perfect Provence village includes fantastic art galleries, amazing shopping and cafes and restaurants spilling out onto the cobbled streets, Lourmarin is the place for you. The tiny streets of Lourmarin meander round, past fountains and tightly-packed houses, and you get the impression that they are circling around the impressive belfry (Castelas) at the highest point of the village. The belfry is built on the vestiges of the medieval moated castle that once defined Lourmarin. (Breakfast/Home Cooked Dinner)
How about a dip in the Mediterranean Sea? Breakfast at our Villa, then we head south through Aix en Provence and onto our picnic spot and painting session. After a filling homemade picnic, we will continue our drive to Cassis, east of Marseille, an amazing small fishing village located in a protected cove on the Mediterranean. It is a curve of pink, yellow and eggshell-blue houses. The port is bobbing with colorful wooden fishing boats and sailboats. Cassis remains a miraculously friendly, unspoiled spot. Perfect for a painting session. Great beach, shopping and sightseeing without the pretentiousness of other popular towns on the Cote D’Azur. Dinner on your own overlooking the harbor in one of the seaside restaurants. (Breakfast/Gourmet Picnic Lunch)
After breakfast at our Villa we will visit the Apt market. This is the biggest market of the Luberon weekly markets. It takes place every Saturday morning for the last 900 years. The market sprawls and slithers through several alleys and squares in the heart of old Apt, like a long conga line of vitality and color. There is a real buzz in the air as you stroll from stall to stall. Apt market covers food, local products, clothes, Provencal fabrics, bedspreads and table cloths, flowers, herbs, toiletries, perfume, and many other things you probably didn’t know you needed. After a morning painting session, the market and lunch on your own in Apt, we will visit the famous hill top town of Roussillon and if time allows, Gordes. It’s hard to do justice to the unique splendour of Roussillon. You can say that there are 17 shades of ochre daubed across the houses of the village. Roussillon’s ochre quarry was one of the most significant ochre deposits in the world. If the Luberon were a country, Gordes would be its capital. This is the Parthenon of Provence, an imposing edifice born of stone that has always attracted its share of attention because it is just so picturesque. Inevitably, Gordes is officially one of The Most Beautiful Villages in France. Dinner at a local restaurant. (Breakfast)