Château La Coste: a secret place in Provence
I’d wanted to go to Château La Coste, a 20-minute drive from Aix-en-Provence, for several weeks, but the weather had other ideas.
Winter was endlessly grey. It rained; one day merged into another, forcing me to postpone my visit. I cursed the showers, which are so rare in these parts.Cliquez ici pour lire cet article en français.
But last Saturday the sun finally returned, shining and unpleasantly warm, as if it were trying to avenge itself against the bad weather. The opportunity was too good to miss, and I made lunch reservations: “A table in the sun, please.”
I know what is awaiting me, I know the place – but every time I’m surprised by its beauty; its natural refinement.
Château La Coste: a special, secret place
A country location as sophisticated as any capital city; a manicured landscape, groomed like a racehorse. This place is worlds apart; so prized, and so secret.
An open-air museum of contemporary art
Nestled amongst the greenery, vines and scrubland, the world’s greatest artists and architects have taken over the premises. They were given the freedom to conceive a work of art for the estate and to choose the spot where it would be placed.
A walk through the vines is strewn with unique installations. I’m moved from surprise to astonishment, from reverie to experimentation: the art is to be played with and experienced.
An Irish businessman’s crazy dream
When I first heard about the art I thought it was an exaggeration. How could such a thing be possible when nothing on this scale exists throughout the world? Why here – in the middle of the countryside ?
Is it another story of Southern French charm? The appeal of Cézanne country; the dream of a fantasised Provence, where it would be good to live?
Who was this mysterious foreigner who invested colossal sums in this ancient estate? An Irishman, a businessman, and mad about modern art, his life’s ambition? Culminating in a masterpiece?
The discrete proprietor, Patrick McKillen, was looking for a wine-producing estate. When he discovered the place in 2000, he fell in love with it. He quickly had to the idea to transform this ancient Roman vineyard into a centre for art, thereby fusing his passions for ‘art, architecture and wine.’
I like the idea, so beloved of the 19th Century Dandys, of making one’s life a work of art. I imagine a modern-day aristocrat in love with a mad dream, a modern utopia; a place to visit dedicated to wine the world’s greatest contemporary artists.
An estate that produces excellent vintages
My mind wanders while we order a bottle of the marvellous ‘rosé d’une nuit’, an organic wine made on the estate. The sun casts its rays on Calder’s mobile. A breeze makes it move gently backwards and forwards, making the piece seem alive.
The peace and quiet, the grandiose architecture and the breathtaking beauty of the surrounds give this moment a particular sweetness. It’s one of those which will be etched on our memory, because we know that perfection doesn’t often look us in the face. We still want this moment to last.Château La Coste is located at 2750 Route de la Cride, 13610 Le Puy Sainte Réparade, Provence. The château, café, and wine shop are open throughout the year and visits in French or English are available by reservation.
Have you had the chance to visit the magnificent vineyards of Provence? Share your experience with us in the comments below.Images © Julie Guégan