ARLES & LE LUBERON
In the South of France, Arles and Le Luberon region not only offer Provencal villages' charm and beautiful landscapes, but also plenty of cultural experiences for art lovers.
Arles is famous for its Roman buildings, the Feria and of course, its photography festival (July to September).
If you fancy simple and chic retreats fraught with history Grand Hotel Nord Pinus alone makes Arles worth a visit.
Whilst in Arles, visit the Fondation Van Gogh (the painter lived in Arles from 1888 to 1889) and Actes Sud book shop which houses the cinema Le Mejane and boasts a nice terrace for lunch.
An art site designed by Franck Gehry is currently under construction (due to be completed in 2018).
Food & drinks: go to Mon Bar for aperitif or coffee on the square in front of Nord Pinus, to L'ouvre-boite (check the opening times before going as they can be a bit funny) and Chez Caro for lunch or dinner.
A short drive from downtown is the massive and beautiful Abbaye de Montmajour which regularly hosts art exhibitions.
Stay at Domaine Les Roullets in Oppede. Drive around and make sure to make a stop at the lovely villages: Menerbes, Bonnieux, Lacoste and Oppede le Vieux. Further is Apt where Cafe de la Poste is a lovely picturesque spot for aperitif.
I find Gordes too touristy but still beautiful and pleasant out of peak season. If you are staying in the area, book at Le Mas de la Tannerie with delightful hosts, beautiful swimming pool and delicious breakfast. Make your morning run to l'Abbaye de Senanque and get rewarded with lunch or dinner at La Trinquette or Le Gordes-Manger.
Make sure you try Chateau la Canorgue red wine during your stay. It is available at most restaurants and you can buy it by the case at La Maison de la Truffe et du Vin in Menerbes.
Wine & Art
Amongst the highlights of the region is Chateau La Coste, a wine estate that also happens to be an art & architecture center and park.
The main building has been designed by Tadao Ando and the sculpture park features pieces by very eclectic artists from Louise Bourgeois to REM's Michael Stipe.
Go for lunch as there is a very good restaurant which features the delightful wines of the property. Take a tour of the sculpture park and finish at the wine shop where they offer complimentary wine tastings.
An on-site luxury hotel 'Villa La Coste' just opened this summer 2016. It comprises of 28 suites, 10 of which dispose of their private swimming pool.