Chateau la Coste: I Dreamed a Dream

Chateau la Coste - Bob Dylan Sculpture

In 1963, about the time I picked up my first guitar, Bob Dylan wrote about riding on a train goin’ west. He titled the tune, ‘Bob Dylan’s Dream’. The song looks back to a time when he and his close friends would gather around an old wood stove to laugh and sing, and how he would give anything to recreate those days. It’s one of my favorites.

Chateau la Coste - Bob Dylan Sculpture

Dylan Sculpture at Château la Coste

When my wife, Kim, read that Dylan’s massive metal sculpture, ‘The Train’, would be arriving at the Château la Coste nearby in Aix en Provence, we made plans to visit. And not just because I’m a fan of his music. Kim, less enamored with either Dylan’s songs or my attempts to perform them, was more interested in his sculpture. Though on a much smaller scale, she’s also a metal artist, and her award-winning sculptures and assemblages have been bought by collectors from around the world.

David Hockney Exhibition

Our French friends, Jocelyne and Patrick, wanted to see the David Hockney exhibition before it closed at the Musée Granet in Aix. So, we decided to take a day trip together and do the Hockney retrospective in the morning and then seek out Dylan’s masterpiece after a nice meal in Aix. A couple of glasses of a good rosé during lunch would, I hoped, elevate everyone’s appreciation of Dylan the artist, after a morning of looking at a collection of one of the world’s most famous British painters (who now lives in Normandy).

On our way to Aix, the weather report on the radio called for a big change, with thunderstorms predicted in the afternoon. Jocelyne punched in the GPS coordinates for La Coste and we headed there. If it rained later, she announced, we’d be safe and dry indoors at the Granet with Hockney.

Château la Coste is only twenty minutes north of Aix. Rolling hills, lined with repetitive rows of vines, up to 10,000 per hectare, take the eye up to an intense blue sky and set the stage as you approach the Château’s front gate. I don’t want to spoil the surprise of anyone’s first trip to La Coste, so I’ll jump ahead to our promenade along their 2-hour Art Walk, in search of Dylan’s metal train.

Château la Coste: Architecture and Art

Jocelyne kept referring to her map, and we followed along where Romans had once walked until we arrived at Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Rogers’ final building – The Richard Rogers Drawing Gallery. The gallery cantilevers 90 feet out above the hillside, with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall at the end that provides an ever-changing landscape view of the vineyard below. The Gallery will host Jennifer Guidi’s ‘Mountain Range‘ exhibit this summer from June 20 to September 3. It is the perfect place to view Guidi’s complex yet meditative landscape paintings. Like the cantilevered building, her work is said to be somewhere between the spiritual and the hallucinatory.

As we marveled at Rogers’s now empty gallery suspended in thin air over the hillside, I reminded everyone why we’d come this far in the first place:
“What about Dylan?” Jocelyne pulled out her map, looked directly across the vines in front of us, and pointed. “ll est la bas.” And there it was, a life-sized box car created from welded bits of metal including an old haymaker like Kim had used several times in her work back in Maine. As we climbed up on the box car for a closer look, Jocelyne read on her phone that today was Dylan’s 81st birthday, and we joined together, up there on his train going west, to sing out: “Joyeux anniversaire, Bob !

And what about the Hockney exhibition? It was good. But with the hot afternoon thunderstorms, the museum was crowded and a bit too humid for us after our sunny open-air visit at La Coste.

Château La Coste: 2750 Route de La Cride, 13610 Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade
+33 4 42 61 89 98
You can enjoy a fine lunch without reservations at their outdoor restaurant, La Terrasse.
Guided tours are available at La Coste, but it’s best to book those ahead of time.

Have you been to Château la Coste? Were you previously aware of Bob Dylan’s sculpture? Please share in the comments below.

Your subscription (free or paid) will be gratefully received, and will help me continue to build ‘le Bulletin’ – the weekly newsletter of Magazine to be even more rich- Merci Mille Fois

Discover more about Patrick McKillen, the Irish businessman and discrete proprietor, whose life dream has been the creation of Château la Coste

Image credits:
1, 3, 4,Copyright Chateau la Coste website
2. Copyright Mark Jespersen
5. @ChateaulaCoste Instagram

About the Contributor

Mark & Kim Jespersen

Born in San Francisco and raised in Chicago, I fled Minnesota and landed on the coast of New England (as far as I could go at the time). There I met my wife, Kim, in a used bookshop. Fifteen years ago, we set sail for France. Creating – from music to writing to photography to art — keeps us busy.

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  1. Elisabeth Sauvage-Callaghan Jul 1, 2023 at 9:29 PM - Reply

    I have to get my husband to read this. He is a huge Dylan fan, plays his songs on his guitar too, and hails from Chicago, as you do. What a wonderful day that must have been!

  2. Judy MacMahon Jul 11, 2023 at 12:59 PM - Reply

    bonjour Mark, I really enjoyed this article and look forward to more from you soon.

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