April 14 to 19, 2023
Welcome fellow travelers
I would like you to be my special guests for a unique experience in my beloved Provence
My name is Mathieu Brousses, I have been hosting tailored journeys & painting workshops in Provence and all over France for the past 7 years, let me tell you all about your all-inclusive Experience
Upon your arrival, I will personally pick you up at the MRS airport or the Aix-en-Provence TGV (bullet train station) on Friday April 14, 2023. We will drive to your AirBnB in the old center of Aix-en-Provence. You will instantly feel at home in this very quiet and french atmosphere. Depending on your time of arrival we will have lunch together and discover the city and the surroundings of your home-away-from-home.
This first day is all about settling down, resting after a trip and getting to know each other.
In the following pages of this itinerary I will try and give you a taste of the villages and places I want to share with you. Just like this view of the garden in the castle of Lourmarin home town of the famous french writer Albert Camus.
The chronological order of the following itinerary is subject to change according to the weather, to the calendar of cultural and traditional events, to your specific desire and energy and to the incredible diversity of beauties Provence has to offer.
Les Baux de Provence, just breathtaking
(Saturday 15 afternoon)
Today we spend the day at les Baux! One of my favorite and one of the most beautiful villages in France set atop a rocky outcrop crowned with a medieval ruined castle overlooking the olive tree plains to the south. We will discover the amazing and unique «Carrières de lumières».
The monumental (click this link –>) « Carrières de Lumières » host extraordinary multimedia shows which are unique in the world. Like walking in a dream of lights nested in an ancient and mysterious temple. Shows are renewed every year!
Arles, its Roman history, Van Gogh and much more
(Saturday 15 in the morning for the street market)
Arles is surrounded by an environment of exceptional beauty: the banks of the Rhône river, the arid plains of Crau, the Alpilles and the untamed land of Camargue. The lights and colors you will find here are the reasons a famous Vincent made it its adoptive town.
Arles’s outdoor market is one of the biggest you will see with vendors selling delicious food (mediterranean, greek, spanish, etc), cheese and meats, ceramics, fabric, spices, cookies and sweets, etc. Some vendors give out samples. Make sure you come on an empty stomach!
The two-tiered Roman Amphitheatre (les Arènes) sits in the town center of Arles. It was used 2000 years ago for chariot races and gladiator battles; nowadays you can enjoy plays and summer concerts or bullfighting and bullraces. The site is most often called an Amphitheatre however we’re using the term Roman Arena, to reduce the confusion with the nearby Roman Theatre.
Aix en Provence, in the footsteps of Paul Cézanne
(Sunday 16 – Hike or City Stroll)
We will visit his graceful city, the delicate Hotel Caumont and the collection Planque. We are lucky yo have The David Hockey Exhibit at the Musée Granet at the moment. As a city of art and culture Aix possesses a wealth of superbe architecture that has been carefully preserved and restored. Aix was the capital of Provence in the 15th century, wealthy merchants and local dignitaries helped turn this city into the Florence of Provence as we know it today.
Protected by the Montagne Sainte Victoire which rises to 1,011m. Aix is surrounded by a countryside full of authentic Provencal houses and traditional French style gardens. Aix was the inspiration to many of the greatest writers and painters : Guigou, Stendhal, Mistral, Zola and Cézanne (these last 2 had a close and tempestuous friendship!). Known as is the city of a thousand fountains you will easily get why when you stroll its beautiful streets.
We could also hike the famous Montagne Sainte Victoire if the weather is with us! The scenery is breathtaking.
It’s a 1h30 to 2h hike. Not difficult, not dangerous and the reward at the top is the most incredible view on Aix-en-Provence and the entire area! I love it! We can picnic there.
A tour of Luberon (Monday 17)
Ménerbes, simple and very charming
A day in the magnificent village of Ménerbes. Nicolas de Staël and Picasso both owned houses in Ménerbes. This superb little village is considered one of the finest in France. Built on a hill, it is surrounded by magnificent countryside. When visiting Ménerbes you will notice that its rich historic and artistic past has been well-preserved.
Ménerbes was a Protestant stronghold during the Wars of Religion. The old castle bristling battlements proved an impregnable fortress. Now converted into a peaceful habitation, it has retained its corner towers.
The top of the village offers a beautiful view over the plains of the north and Calavon on the flank and southward the crest of the Petit Luberon.
Roussillon, spectacular ochres (Monday 17)
Situated at the heart of one of the biggest ochre deposits in the world, Roussillon is famous for its magnificent red cliffs and ochre quarries; just walking its streets is a stunning experience! Also I know a great place with a not-too-shabby view for our lunch today! In Roussillon a quirk of nature has set the landscape ablaze with ochre, a natural pigment in the rock ranging from soft gold to burnt orange, russet red and burnt sienna brown.
As you approach Roussillon you notice that the fields have turned reddish orange, as if you were wearing funky sunglasses!
Château Lacoste, Wine and Art in Provence
(as an option if we have the energy on the 17)
This is a vineyard where Wine, Art & Architecture live in harmony. Artists and architects were invited to visit the Domain and discover the beauty of Provence. In turn, they were encouraged to choose a place in the landscape that spoke directly to them and were given the freedom to create a work that would live there. Château La Coste will continue to evolve as new projects and installations are developed.
Tadao Ando conceived the Art Centre for Château La Coste. The building adopts many of the Japanese master’s signature elements to create an extraordinary experience of light and space in nature. A vast infinity pool of water hides an underground car park and provides a spectacular stage for an upper level that is laid out on a V-shaped plan. Flanked by entire elevations of glass, one wing of this ‘V’ houses our welcome desk and bookshop, while the other wing includes a restaurant which overlooks the water and vines.
Boat ride and/or hike in the Calanques of Cassis (Tuesday 18)
A day at the Calanques, dip our toes in the Mediterranean Sea and taste some wine?
The Calanques are a must-see natural wonder, a series of rocky cliffs and bays between the city of Marseille and the town of Cassis. They’re essentially inlets that have been formed in the limestone cliffs, leaving behind a series of beautiful little bays.
It’s an hour to an hour and a half from Luberon however it might be worth the ride! Today we could ride a boat to simply enjoy a gentle sea breeze along the coasts or just set our easels in the middle of the natural wonders of our beloved mediterranean.
The area has a very specific eco-system (with no soil – the plants live in the limestone) and has been a protected area since 2012, when the entire 20 mile stretch of Calanques was designated a national park.
Corsican music – Fiuminale band (15 or 18)
Either on Saturday 15 or Tuesday 18 – 8:30 pm for both option – we have the opportunity of attending to a concert of Corsican songs and music. This is a beautiful experience. They perform in small chapel or church so the accoustic is just perfect.
Wine tasting of course! Provence is a wine country
Provence has the longest winemaking history in France. The vineyards stretch out over ever-changing landscapes, around historic cities, along the Mediterranean coast, and into the mountainous plateaux.
A few of the restaurants you will discover
The Pigonnet – Aix-en-Provence
A delightful place with one of the most beautiful garden in the city.
La Reine Jeanne – Restaurant in Les Baux
The view… The view!!
Château de la Gaude – Aix-en-Provence countryside
The garden has nothing to envy to Versailles
A bit about me: Mathieu
your host, interpreter, guide, driver, jack-of-all-trades french friend!
I was born and raised in Arles, Provence. I studied biology and film making. After 10 years in Paris working for the movie industry and television networks I came back to Provence to enjoy life with my wife and son. I renovated and settled in a 200 years old house up in the hills of Aix en Provence. I know Provence and its people like the back of my hand. With Wendy Higbee Carando I co-founded the Provence Art Experience in 2015. Art is part of my everyday life. I will be doing everything so you have a memorable stay: a unique experience!
Ultimately the most appropriate persons to talk about the Provence Art Experience are the artists who experienced it:
You can read their enthusiasms and the extremely enthusiastic and sweet reviews they wrote on Facebook, they really are heartwarming for me:
The Experience is ALL INCLUSIVE
The pricing of our journeys – as you can easily compare with other offers – is more than reasonable for an all-inclusive private tailored journey in Provence.
We aim to offer you a memorable journey you will remember dearly – a unique artistic, cultural, gastronomic and immersive experience.
Your Provence Art Experience includes:
– your lodging in one of the carefully chosen beautiful apartment we work with (I am waiting on your green light to book it)
– 4 or 5 lunches (depending on your arrival on the 14) and 4 dinners in local restaurants (You have 1 dinner on your own)
– All airport transfers as well as everyday local transportation,
– The outdoor activities,
– The wine tastings,
– The tickets for the latest events, art museums and must-sees on the itinerary
– My attentive and considerate presence as your host, driver, interpret, guide and provider of all you might need!
It does not include:
– The airfare tickets
– Your travel insurance
– The breakfasts
Due to the variability in the dollar/euro exchange rate in the past years and to secure the higher level of services we are proud to offer for your Provence Art Experience – we now base the price on the Euro.