Luxe Provence Lifestyle, Luxe Provence Travel Guides

36 Hours in Porquerolles

July 25, 2019

I was late to discover this incredible gem of an island in Provence and have hesitated to post too much to preserve its secrets, but alas, this wild beauty will not stay guarded from anglophone visitors for too long. And with the recent addition of a world-class art museum, this tiny island hideaway off the coast of Hyères, is quickly becoming a Mediterranean hotspot.

The island of Porquerolles, is a total paradise complete with stunning beaches, bike trails and underwater shipwrecks that French and tourists in-the-know, flock to for an exotic weekend getaway. Accessible only by boat, yacht or ferry, the tiny island of Porquerolles is comprised of beautiful wild beaches, world-class modern art museum and a small quaint town center with a handful of hotels, bars and restaurants overlooking the harbor. The French government took over Porquerolles in the 1970s to protect it from overdevelopment and granted it national park status, which is why the island’s Mediterranean flora resembles the French Riviera of centuries past. Discover paths lined with oaks, olives, figs, junipers, wild lavender, rosemary, rock rose, myrtle and more.

What To Do

In addition to relaxing at the island’s stunning turquoise clear water beaches, the island also boasts a handful of vineyards and a fantastic modern art museum. The Villa Carmignac opened in 2018 with its first exhibition, filled with an impressive collection of artists, from: Basquiat, Botticelli, Picasso and Warhol and is located in the heart of this protected island. This year’s exhibition opened April 13, 2019 and is titled, The Source (images below courtesy of the Carmignac Fondation). 

“For the Villa Carmignac’s second year of existence, the Fondation Carmignac has invited Chiara Parisi as a guest curator. Both the architecture of the Villa and the island itself have provided inspiration for La Source (The Source), the resulting show. Emerging from the woods, visitors are invited to take off their shoes before plunging beneath the surface of the Provençal farmhouse, where they can discover over sixty artworks from the collection, as well as important loans and new productions.”Source, Fondation Cramming

Book your tickets online in advance and slip your shoes off for the Fondation Carmignac experience. There’s a lovely outdoor bistrot outside the museum for a cafe, glass of wine or healthy lunch under the pine trees. Then, reserve an hour-long wine tasting in advance to enjoy a selection of red, white and rosés made from Rolle, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsault varieties at the Domaine La Courtade, an organic winery on the island open from 11am – 4pm during the summer months.

Getting Around The Island: Biking 

Several bike rental agencies are available on the island from the village port, most with pricing from 13 euros for a half-day for basic VTTs to electric bikes around 30 euros. Biking the island takes roughly 30 minutes from one side to the other, so is a great family activity with mostly shaded paths, when the temperatures are not too scorching.


Our Favorite Beaches
A lazy day swimming and hanging out by the water is a must. The crystal clear, turquoise waters are extraordinary. Plage Notre Dame is the largest of the island, and one of the most beautiful beaches of Europe with plenty of space for swimming in it’s wide sandy bay.  It’s definitely a must-visit, although the most popular spot in the high summer months. Plage d’Argent, is a beautiful smaller inlet, and ideal to discover by boat. Each beach offers clear turquoise waters and golden sand. Explore and bike the island to experience its many inlets, creeks and beaches that are ideal for swimming and lazy all-day picnics.

Where to Eat

After a full day in the water, start your evening with a sunset apéro and tapas at L’Escale (2, rue de la Ferme – 83400 – Porquerolles – France) complete with lovely port views.

For a great quality dinner (and recommended by the locals), reserve a table at Villa Sainte Anne (24, place d’Armes – 83400).  Located on the main plaza, discover a small but lovely selection of fresh fish and local cuisine served in an unpretentious setting overlooking the pétanque area. L’Etal du Boucher was also a great second spot for a family or more casual dinner right on the plaza, with a friendly staff and fresh asian-inspired Thai cuisine. Bonus for a a great boucherie and rare special attention to those with food allergies/intolerances.

When to Go

The island awakes from its winter hibernation a bit late, in mid-April to October each year. Throngs of locals and visitors arrive from Hyères by ferry every 15-30 minutes during the weekends. Our favorite time to visit is either June or even better September, when the waters remain warm and tourists have faded away. Swimming is best from July to September when the Mediterranean water warms.

How to Get There

Our ideal way to access Porquerolles is by yacht with mooring available by advance reservation in the port (space is very limited in the summer months), or in one of the beautiful bays. Alternatively, arrive by ferry, navette or water taxi which is a mere 20 minutes ride from Hyères for a daytrip. During the busy summer months, ferries arrive every 15 minutes into the tiny island. Ferry tickets are available to purchase in advance and recommended, especially in the summer months of July and August.

Author & Photographer: Tarik Koivisto, Founder, Luxe Provence.  Pictured wearing the Porquerolle-inspired, Camille Jumpsuit (left), perfect for biking and Mediterranean beach strolls made in lightweight, OEKO-Tex striped linen, and the Bianca Halter Dress (right) coming to our Mediterranean Gold Subscribers this September.

Luxe Provence Travel Guides

Learn Herbalism in Provence: June 23 – 26th

June 11, 2019

I am so thrilled to head off to one of Provence’s most beautiful regions to learn more about the healing power of plants and herbs in Sault among the lavender fields of Provence. We will spend our days surrounded by the healing fragrances of aromatic plants and learn the fundamentals of herbalism. Any plant-lovers out there, who want to join us?

Sacred Nature is holding a 4 Day Herbal Workshop in Provence June 23-26th and there are just a few spots left! This immersive workshop is in the heart of Provence, the center of aromatic plant medicine. The healing power of plants and aromatherapy have been something I have been learning about over the past few years with my own health, so am thrilled to delve deeper. And, best of all, I will be attending along side my herbalist sister @risingrootswellness as she expands her expertise to the plants from Provence!

Here’s more about the workshop and what to expect:

“During this workshop you will be submersed into the world of herbalism; from learning the fundamentals of herbal medicine making, to diving deep into the plant spirit realm. You will learn all about local medicinal plants, how to identify, make medicine and build an intimate relationship with them. Discover the basics of herbal alchemical spagyric preparations, embark on shamanic journeys and learn about the properties of local plants and herbs that have been used as medicine for hundreds of years.  This will be a fun interactive workshop and a unique opportunity to connect with like-minded people, and friends from the green realms.”

This first summer workshop will run for four full days, from 10 am – 6 pm from June 23-26th, 2019.

Here’s more about the founders of Sacred Nature:

“At Sacred Nature, we specialise in high-quality, intimate tours where we delve into the most remarkable medicinal plant sanctuaries on earth.

From tropical rainforests, high and wild mountains, to the poetic and rich landscapes of Provence, you will have an authentic experience connecting with mystical cultures who maintain a deep connection with nature and spirit alike and who still possess ancient wisdom that so many have forgotten.

More than a tour, what we offer are sacred journeys, where you will not only discover the healing power of medicinal herbs, ancient healing practices and different cultural traditions, but rediscover your own sacred nature. We are sure you will live a transformative and authentic adventure where you will deepen your connection with nature and with yourself. “

 

The workshop will be held on private land, in a charming old farmhouse situated next to a beautiful forest, just outside the magical medieval village of Sault.  Sault is famous for its lavender fields and proximity to the legendary Mont Ventoux.

Discover Sault:
Sault is an exceptionally attractive village, even if just to sit quietly on a cafe terrace for a while, both because of the historical centre and the beauty of the surrounding landscapes, a visit is highly recommended.

Among the streets and squares in the centre of Sault, there are some fine 16th century stone houses to admire, often with decorative and ornate doors and windows and first floor balconies.

The location of Sault to the east of Mont Ventoux, a popular Tour de France cycling challenge, make it a popular destination with cyclists. It is also an important centre of the Provence lavender industry, and a centre for those wishing to see the magnificent lavender fields in flower – it is part of the popular route de la Lavande which passes through several towns and villages in the lavender growing region.

Sault is also an excellent base for exploring the region, with numerous small villages waiting to be discovered within a 20-kilometre radius. Among those, we have visited our favourites include Simiane la Rotonde, the little villages of Reilhanette, Aurel and Brantes, and the thermal station at Montbrun-les-Bains.

Scenic destinations close to Sault include the Gorges de la Nesque and the Montagne de Lure. There is an attractive pathway that follows below the cliffs in the Gorges de la Nesque, while the Montagne de Lure is a barren mountain area which is also home to a small ski station.

 

Learn more:
Sacred Nature

Four day herbal workshop in Provence, South of France
23rd June –  26 June 2019
Workshops will run for 4 full days, from 10am – 6pm.

Space is limited, only a few spots left. Reserve today!

Scents of Provence

Iris Growers of Provence

May 4, 2019

Iris is of prime importance in perfumery. Some describe the iris note as “the smell of cash” as it is expensive to produce. Or perhaps that’s said because the iris note has a papery facet?

In either case it is found in many many perfumes and Chanel particularly are known for their use of this high quality ingredient. It lends a velvety texture to a composition, for example in Chanel no 5. In Trets there is a producer called COPAMIVAR, they are one of the biggest iris growers in the world. They kindly allowed me to take photos and gave me a private tour of their factory (which smelled sublime I might add).

These beautiful purple flowers bloom for two to three weeks or so depending on the weather. It is not the blooms that are used in perfume however, it is the rhizomes. They must be grown for at least three years before harvesting. Once gathered the rhizomes are carefully washed and then spread out to dry for several days after which, further drying takes place for several years, so that the inimitable iris smell develops. When the rhizome is mature it’s ground to a fine powder then processed in a special steam distillery. The next stage is a product known as iris butter or orris butter. The iris butter is gently heated to liquefy it and then it’s separated out into various fractions. Experts re-assemble the fractions to make a high quality iris absolute. It takes 40,000 tons of rhizomes to make 1 kg of iris absolute.

artisans of provence iris growers

In terms of smell, I would describe iris as cool, elegant, earthy, rooty, powdery, papery… depending what is paired with it the effect will be different. Here is a little round up of what is one of my most very favourite notes in perfume. I am an unashamed iris worshipper.

iris-perfumes

  • Vampy iris – Tom Ford’s Violet Blonde, a really fun and lively violet iris. It always perks me up.
  • Glamourous iris – Frederic Malle’s Iris Poudre * this one is at the very top of my personal “to buy” list.
  • Cool headed iris – Prada’s Infusion d’Iris, please wear this for magical powers of concentration and cool calm collectedness.
  • Sexy man’s iris – Dior’s l’Homme it can also definitely be worn by a woman, one of the best masculines of all time in my opinion.
  • Romantic iris – Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger’s Rose Irisee, completely enchanting, it takes you on a gentle journey from iris to rose.
  • Dark and dangerous iris – Serge Lutens’ Iris Silver Mist – a complete iris overdose. Not easy to wear and has that carrot vibe going on.
  • Leathery light iris – Anne Gerard’s Cuir de Nacre, I could drown myself in this one.
  • Power iris – Hermes’ Hiris. Great quality and wearability. Not too powdery nor too rooty. Just right.
  • Bargain iris – Yardley’s Iris, which you can buy online easily; it’s great for hot days and for layering with other perfumes.
  • Luxurious and easy to wear iris – Aqua di Parma Iris Nobile, it has a gentle creamy quality to it. Totally Luxe.

 

My iris list goes on and on but there I will stop for today. Enjoy those pretty blooms and now you know: it’s the rhizomes that are precious.

– Rebecca

 

Guest blog post courtesy of Rebecca Amer a talented Perfume Consultant offering Fragrance Discovery Tours in Aix-en-Provence. Contact Rebecca for more info.

Irises in Provence photography by: Tarik Koivisto, Founder, Luxe Provence featured in our Athena Dress in Blush, Shop this limited edition linen dress here.

Artisans of Provence, Luxe Provence Travel Guides

36 Hours in Arles… Art Capital of Provence

May 1, 2019
travel guide to arles by luxe provence

Arles is truly experiencing a renaissance. The first, visual clue is the rising height of famed architect, Frank Gehry’s latest metal-clad museum masterpiece, that is in the works at the site of LUMA Arles.

Luma Arles is a grand project driven by art patron and cultural maven, Maja Hoffman, the mastermind re-shaping the city’s landscape, culture and art scene of this ancient roman city of Provence. I felt the exciting energy everywhere, from the construction sites throughout the city, to the local artisan ateliers and chic boutiques where everyone I met with is talking about the renaissance of Arles… finally arriving.

Maja Hoffman (pictured above left) is an avid Swiss art collector, art patron, filmmaker and visionary entrepreneur passionate about Arles, who brings with her a rich family heritage for preserving and collecting the world’s finest artists. Her grandmother, for example, Maja Stehlin (1896–1989), collected Pablo Picasso, Jean Arp, Fernand Léger, Jean Tinguely and Georges Braque. The city of  Vincent Van Gogh is officially blossoming into the art capital of Provence grâce à elle.

As part of this major initiative to transform Arles into an art city, Hoffmann founded LUMA Arles in 2014, breaking ground on the cultural complex designed by Frank Gehry for the production of: art exhibitions, research, education and archives, scheduled for completion later this year. Architect Annabelle Selldorf is currently renovating five 19th century industrial train stations, two of which are currently open for visitors, into working atelier spaces. The Luma Ateliers are focused on making and showing art, which includes the Le Réflectoire des Ateliers, a lovely cantine and bookstore space at the entry within the foundation.

The Atelier Luma is a think tank, a production workshop and a learning network of the Luma Foundation. Atelier Luma wants to co-develop new ways of producing and caring for a city and a bioregion, using design as a tool for transition. Since its foundation in 2016, Atelier Luma conducts projects connected to six strategic themes: Waste Matters, Producing (in) the City, Healthy Mobility, Next Hospitality, Food Circle, Circular Education.

The exhibition I visited upon opening, breaks from its buildings’ past to a sustainable future, by selectively showcasing its designers-in-residence creations featuring innovative use of natural materials within the presented themes. From converting algae into a viable 3-D printed form for beautiful household objects, to transforming seashells to sturdy beautiful countertops; I found the atelier experience to be a welcome modern “makerlab” space with something for the whole family to enjoy. These converted industrial spaces were also designed to house photography as part of the city’s annual international photography festival, Rencontres d’Arles (which takes over the city each summer).  In addition, Hoffman recently purchased Martin Parr’s 12,000-strong photobook collection, in partnership with Tate London, plus the archives of celebrated photographer, Annie Leibovitz (one of my all-time favorite American photographers) which will be available to view in Arles. 

Ms. Hoffmann is also behind many cultural projects in the area, including the Michelin-starred organic restaurant, La Chassagnette (more info below). This organic, farm-to-table restaurant concept is in the Camargue, just outside of Arles, and has quickly become a must-visit gastronomic destination. She is also behind the recently completed renovations and expansion of  L’Arlatan, a former hôtel particulier located in the center’s oldest neighborhood, which is an exciting new luxury hotel and restaurant experience.

arlatan luxury 5 star hotel arles maja hoffman

A stay at the hotel, cocktail or meal at the restaurant is a visual feast for those design-lovers. I had a fantastic lunch with an extremely attentive staff, who was very accommodating to my complicated gluten-free, dairy-free diet which was quite a treat. The restaurant proposes a seasonal menu of simple dishes, and offers you a chance to discover a selection of Provencal and Mediterranean flavours.

So, if Arles didn’t already impress you with its Vincent Van Gogh history, impressive list of museums, Roman Amphitheatre and Saint-Trophime, Camargue personality or classic 18th century architecture… perhaps it’s time to give it a second look. To help you discover the new Art Capital of Provence, we have prepared a guide over the last few months featuring our own insider’s travel tips to the city of Arles.

 

36 Hours in Arles – Luxe Provence Insider’s Travel Guide

Friday: Visit the new Atelier Arles at Luma and check out the Frank Gehry designed museum underway, followed by a fabulous dinner and wine pairings at the hip restaurant, Chardon. Be sure to reserve in advance and communicate any food allergies, or restrictions via their website.

chardon arles restaurant guide to arles

Chardon is a hip spot featuring an exciting concept of pop-in, chefs-in-residence from around the globe who create innovative menus featuring Arles’ organic, local ingredients. Our travel team dined here in April and were very pleased with each dish that brought together unique and innovative flavor combinations. Choose from either the a la carte options (from 2 to 20 euros), or the discovery ‘Feed Me’ Menu (at 39 euros) designed to be shared.

Saturday: Start your day at Arles’ Saturday market.  It is one of Provence’s finest and known for its organically grown Camargue rice and vegetables, local cheeses, taureau saucisson, olives and anchoaïade. Pick up some colorful ‘les indiennes’, the traditional Provence fabric for your table, and walk the pretty shaded stall-lined city streets for a variety of color and endless photo options. Lunch at the charming Le Galoubet (16 to 35 euros plates; 18 Rue du Dr Fanton) with its gorgeous, vine-covered terrace for fresh, Mediterranean dishes to experience the local produce sourced from the market. It’s located just down the street from the Foundation Van Gogh, if you fancy to add in a visit.

After lunch, try a bit of local artisanal shopping, or simple cafe life in Arles’ historic, old town (see our recommendations below), then reserve your dinner with Jean Luc Rabanel, the 2-star Michelin chef who runs two restaurant experiences here.  Choose between the more formal restaurant, L’Atelier (55 to 145 euro menus of 7, 9 or 12 courses) for a surprise sensorial experience you won’t forget, or sample his Le Bistro À Coté located nearby for your first foray (32 euro retour de la marché menu).

Or for a more chic, night out, pop in for a cocktail or dine at the new Arlatan Restaurant for fresh Mediterranean and Provencal cuisine in a visually stunning setting. I was delighted by their gluten-free guidance, flavorful dishes and friendly staff.

Sunday: Visit to the Camargue’s charming citadel Aigues Mortes (pictured above, Camargue guide coming next!) in the morning for a glipse at the pink hued salines and charming village. Then stop off at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for a long, Michelin-star organic lunch at the charming, Chassagnette.

arles restaurant guide michelin star restaurants chassagnette

Alternatively, if you prefer staying in town, be sure to try Le Gibolin (13 rue des porcelets) a lovely locals’ favorite for delicious, fresh and simple, organic dishes and an excellent cave à vin (28 to 50 euros). Find traditional local dishes from pieds et paquets à la Provençale, and calf’s liver with persillade paired with market fresh vegetables.

 

Where to Stay

tarik koivisto luxe provence founder hotel particulier arles

Hôtel Particulier: This stunning néo-classique manor and les ecuries (a stunning converted stable) is one of the last remaining architecture gems of Baron de Chartrouse. The Hôtel Particulier Arles has been converted into a 5-star luxury hotel perfectly located in the center of Arles on a quiet street. The architecture of the property and suites are very beautifully designed, tastefully mixing its classic eighteenth century bones and high ceilings with a soft, modern touch. Unfortunately, we had a difficult time actually confirming our reservation with the staff and were a bit disappointed by the spa services and general amenities that are normally associated with a 5-star property, but the private retreat aspect and décor are divine.

hotel particulier 5 star luxury hotel provenceThe garden, terrace and heated pool are delightful offering a picturesque place to cool off and relax. Or, simply enjoy the charming setting for a private breakfast or lunch during your stay.

Suites from 245 – 425 euros; 4 rue de la monnaie, 13200 Arles. Tel. +33 4 90 52 51 40 

Hôtel du Cloître: This is a charming, small boutique hotel with modern touches just near the arena and antique theater featuring its own market-fresh restaurant, L’Ouvre Boite, set in a lovely side street courtyard in the warm summer months. A great value option and dining during warm summer nights under the twinkling lights of the bistro is perfectly charming.

8 Rue du Cloître, 13200 Arles, Tel: 04 88 09 10 00

arlatan luxury 5 star hotel arles maja hoffman

L’hôtel d’Arlatan: A must-stay selection for the design-lover, this exciting new hotel has been meticulously renovated from a former, Hotel Particulier and is located in the centre ville. The overall design is stunning, a visual feast for the senses, combining classical architectural elements from the existing building with bold, colourful arlésienne style delivered in a completely, modern chic way. This hotel has been created within several adjoining buildings and the restaurant is a lovely place for a cocktail, or modern Mediterranean-style meal.

Where to Shop – Artisanal & Boutiques

While you’re in the city, here are a few of our personal favorite boutiques, artisans, ateliers and local concept shops to visit.

Stop into Atelier Sophie Lassagne  (12 Rue de la Liberté) to purchase one of her beautiful matte ceramic vases (picture above left), or sign-up for one of her hands-on classes or workshops to experience the artists life in Arles, if even for a few hours.

For textile lovers, visit the workshop and atelier of Marie Hélène Desort, Le Métier d’Art (6,rue Docteur Fanton), to discover her handwoven wool creations. Marie-Hélène weaves her pieces on a large antique loom and creates her own original, colorful range of clothing and accessories made from natural materials. All creations are unique pieces. Also, I discovered some beautiful wool scarves from another textile artist, Cécile Tabet, also present in the boutique, who fashions felt for her creations from the Cévennes into beautiful, dyed organic colors and forms.

delhi ka by sabine

Or stop by the showroom and artist’s collective,  Delhi Ka (52 bis rue du 4 septembre) for hand-block printed indiennes made in the traditional Provence spirit by a women’s collective in India using only plant-based dyes from Sabine Laugier. These beautiful, sustainably printed indienne textiles are available by the meter, or as beautiful cotton plaids, tablecloths and women’s tunics. Her tablecloths and bed linens make a great souvenir and beautiful gift item sure to inject a touch of that Provence spirit into your home.

Be sure to visit Fabienne Brando at the Arlesienne Perfumer (26 rue de la liberté), who has exquisite taste and creates her own niche line of perfumes. The fragrances are unique and fantastically Arles, presented in gorgeous artistic packaging. Bring home her latest home fragrance release, A Cloud of Flamingos as a wonderful olfactive souvenir of your trip.

Stop in to Dou Bochi (16 rue Réattu) for a mix of global and locally created artisanal objects chosen by founders, Eric Bergère et Antoine Rambourg. The boutique carries Eric’s private label clothing line produced in high quality natural, fabrics and has worked for such luxury fashion houses as, Lanvin and Inès de la Fressange.

Moustique Arles (2 rue Jouvène) is a lovely concept store where we found this fun, Arles tray (pictured above left) and offers an excellent selection of housewares, artisanal pieces, jewelry and gift items.

We hope you enjoyed our well-researched selections and you may just need more than 36-hours to visit. Let us know what your favorite places are below!

 

On-location photography and article by: Tarik Koivisto, Founder & Creative Director, Luxe Provence. Shop the Looks featured in Arles, both the Bianca striped linen dress and Eva Linen Wrap top in our boutique, ethically created in Provence: www.luxe-provence.shop

 

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Luxe Provence Travel Guides

Our Favorite Beaches of Provence

April 21, 2019
calanque morigou

We are often asked of our favorite swimming escapes and beach recommendations, so we’re sharing our top spots and hidden gems for a glorious day spent at the the finest beaches of Provence. We’ve also included our favorite off the beaten path spots for a seaside lunch to make your daytrip escape complete… cherry on top.

Newly updated with our most recent discoveries, now is the ideal time to head to the beach and enjoy the gorgeous turquoise waters of the Calanques by boat or well-deserved swim following a hike-in. If easier access is required, the breathtaking beauty of the Lac Sainte-Croix awaits along with it’s famous Gorge du Verdon with several access points to discover. Or just simply dive right in and enjoy. With all of our selections, you can expect heavenly turquoise waters and swimmable bliss.

Île Verte, La Ciotat

For the more adventurous, this tiny island is accessible only by boat. This gem features a handful of calanques and amazing swimming away from the crowds.  Located just 1.5 kilometers, or a 15-minute ride by navette, from La Ciotat’s Vieux Port. The navette leaves every hour in the summer months, but be sure to arrive early to secure your place. To make the escape complete, reserve a table (a few days in advance) at the island’s chilled restaurant for a perfect day trip escape for a simple but delicious grilled seafood lunch with friendly service and only the sound of the cicadas, rosé glasses clanking and waves at your feet.

Pros: Due to the limited accessibility you can truly escape the crowds and spend the day relaxing. The island is a nature sanctuary for birds and offers excellent diving, fishing and snorkelling, along with bird watching.

Cons: Don’t forget your (french) checkbook or cash, there are no credit cards accepted here, nor for the navette over.  And also no public toilets which contributes to making this island slightly less accessible. Due to the island’s status as a protected nature reserve all water is brought over and there are no toilets on the island.

Plage Sauvage de Morgiou, (Feature Image)

Not for the faint of heart, but plan to be rewarded sweetly after a vertical climb up and 30-40 minute hike in via the entrance parking lot of Luminy to the Plage Sauvage of Morgiou. This tiny crescent turquoise gem of a beach is situated between the Calanques of Morgiou and Surgiton. Be sure to bring plenty of water and a picnic and enjoy the dramatic, stunning scenery.

calanque en vau

Calanque en Vau (pictured above), Between Cassis / Marseille

Arrive in style by yacht, or take the more rigorous, yet rewarding, 2-hour hike via Port Pin to one of the most breathtaking places we’ve ever seen. This calanque features some of the highest cliffs in the area and dazzling waters, situated between La Ciotat and Marseille. The Calanque En Vau is stunning when reached by foot, which is a relatively steep hike in. The views from the hike and vantage points above are spectacular. If you depart from Cassis near Port Miou, you will arrive at the Calanque Port Pin first, a gorgeous destination itself. However, if you want to be royally treated for your efforts, continue 45 minutes further to En Vau. Try to arrive on the off-season in June or September, or in the early morning hours before the larger masses of tourists arrive during the busy summer months.calanque la ciotat mugel provence beach

Mugel & Petit Mugel Calanques and Botanic Park, La Ciotat

Warm, clear waters with little waves, ideal for an early morning snorkel or reserve a table in advance at Le Mugel Restaurant for a spectacular end of day sunset reflected on the Ile Verte (Green Island – listed above) under the sweetly scented fig trees. The quaint, no-frills beachside restaurant offers simple plates such as delicious grilled fish and seafood kebabs, or the “Salad Mugel” always a favorite, with a changing daily menu.  Mugel and it’s Petit Mugel are real local treasures, lesser-known than the other calanques in the region, and neatly tucked away in the recently re-birthed yachting town of La Ciotat, complete with its own protected natural tropical gardens. The park, twelve hectares in size and is at the foot of a massive rock, Le Bec d’Aigle (Eng: The Eagle’s Beak), 155 meters high, which shelters the site from the wind, while the Mediterranean warms it in the winter, and keeps the temperature down in the summer. The tropical gardens contain thirty different species of palm trees, as well as mimosa, bougainvillia, bamboo, banana, and other tropical plants. It also features a garden of aromatic plants. A garden of lavender is planted just below the main house.

Porquerolles – Plage Notre Dame

Escape to the Island of Porquerolles and discover one of the finest beaches of Europe. One of our all-time favorite places, you can discover our complete guide to this area here.

lake saint croix provence

Saint Croix du Verdon

A must-see destination on any tourist’s list and incredible place to spend the day in Provence. The Lac de Saint Croix and it’s Gorge du Verdon is a river canyon that is often considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful. It is about 25 kilometres long and up to 700 meters deep. Rent either small electric boats or kayaks from the ville of Saint Croix and cruise slowly around the man-made lake. The lake color is almost unbelievable and was created by damming off the Verdon and sinking the original village of St Croix de Verdon. You may also choose to rent kayaks at the mouth of the Gorge du Verdon itself or Quinson to experience the beauty of the gorge. Prepare for a splendid natural journey through tall white limestone cliffs and turquoise waters. You may be treated with views of visiting goats along the way. Be sure to visit one of the area’s charming villages of either Saint-Croix (a personal favorite) for a relaxed visit with views over the lake or nearby Moustier-Saint-Marie for it’s dramatic cliff setting on the western entrance to the Gorges du Verdon. For the art-lovers, the village of Moustier has been a center of the pottery trade, especially faïence, for centuries and a must-stop for ceramic-lovers. A spring flows out of the cliff and creates a waterfall in town, providing water power. At twilight when the sun on a clear day strikes the south-facing cliff, a diffuse pink light glows across the village.

sormiou calanque travel guide provence

Calanque de Sormiou (Marseille)

A hike-in is required, however, we learned the local’s secret to drive in (thank you Laura) if you arrive to gate before 8am you may have simpler access even in the bustling summer months.  Access is restricted in summer due to the risk of fire, so check ahead to be sure access is available. It’s definitely worth an early start to arrive before the masses regardless and enjoy a peaceful moment in such an authentic setting just minutes from the bustling streets of Marseille. Be sure to hike in bit further to the left of the beach, to discover its tiny inlets with bobbing small fishing boats surrounded by pine trees.

moustier-sainte-marie

Les Lecques in Saint Cyr sur Mer

A great family-friendly beach, Les Lecques offers a wider span than most of the narrow beaches in the region and is ideal for small children. The large sandy open beach offers public parking lots and simple, little snack shops and basic, beach front restaurants. Spots fill up early.

travel guide to provence

Blog Author and Photography by: Founder/Creative Director, Tarik Koivisto

 

Luxe Provence Lifestyle

Our Spring Collection – An Artist’s Life

April 17, 2019

Why hello!? Spring is just around the corner here in Provence, and well, haven’t we been off hibernating for quite some time? As a few of you may have caught via my social media posts, I have been battling some pretty serious health issues, which have hit me hard over the past few months and slowed me considerably… so I thank you for your patience. The good news is, I am breaking through the hardest moments and coming back from hibernation along with the blooms of spring, ready to celebrate my favorite season. I am very excited to present our new collection, An Artist’s Life, featuring limited edition pieces for both the creator… and muse in you.

Inspired by Cézanne’s city of Aix-en-Provence, its muses and artists, I bring you a beautiful, classical collection of chic spring pieces. Discover fresh linen dresses, versatile tuniques and pinstriped linen jumpsuits, along with a new silk classic, the Lou Dress (featured below) to take you from relaxed daydreaming, to nighttime musings…

 

 

 

 

Shop the limited edition collection here, while it lasts, with new Provence inspired style added each month.

 

Be sure to follow us on Instagram, or subscribe to our mailing list for upcoming limited edition releases. We will be posting lots of new fresh content, including: Provence travel and wine guides featuring our favorite secret places and insider’s guide to the finest rosés and vineyards, so stay tuned!

 

bisous bisous,

Tarik Koivisto
Founder & Creative Director

 


Credits:

Photography & Styling by: Tarik Koivisto
Couture: Laure Paihlon
Model: Axelle Gendre
Hair & Natural Styling Products by: Végétalement Provence / Vanessa Lamperin
Make-up Artist: Elodie Sellito
Venue: La Maison d’Aix, Boutique Hotel & Spa, Voted most romantic hotel in the world 2019

Artisans of Provence, Scents of Provence

Introducing our Artisanal Candle Line

March 6, 2019

For those in the know (a.k.a. our subscribers), you have already discovered our newly launched Luxe Provence Artisanal Candle collection. We are working with the finest Artisans of Provence each season, from perfumer to ceramicist, to design heirloom quality porcelain candles featuring the finest fragrances available from Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. Our Artisanal Candle Subscribers are the first to discover our fragrances and new candle designs each season featuring handmade porcelain vessels created exclusively by one of our favorite ceramicists, Valérie Casado of Isle sur la Sorgue.

For our first fragrance collaboration, we teamed up with Grasse perfumer, Stéphanie Bakouche of Sensaba. Stéphanie, an active member of Versaille’s Osmothèque and Accords & Parfums, is the talented young nose behind luxury niche fragrances: Rose Privée by L’Artisan Parfumeur; Jul et Mad’s Fugit Amor and Mon Seul Desir; and Cloon Keen Atelier’s Bataille de Fleurs.

Stéphanie spent seven years in fragrance development for brand, l’Artisan Parfumer, and as a student and colleague of nose, Bertrand Duchaufour. She is an independent member of Accords & Parfums, the acclaimed perfume center located on the historic Domaine Sainte Blanche, with direct access to the highest quality fragrance ingredients and latest technology innovations in the world of perfumery. The prestigious center was founded by Olivier Maure, well-known for passionately protecting Grasse’s perfume heritage for decades, alongside Edmond Roudnitska at Art & Parfum, the first independent nose and French Master Perfumer. Roudnitska is behind many of today’s bestselling fragrances of all-time which were created on the property, such as, as Dior’s Eau Sauvage, Diorissimo, and Rochas’s Femme.

We are thrilled to collaborate on our first Luxe Provence fragrances with such a rising talent who perfectly embodies our brand values working as a passionate artisan while also protecting and advancing the high quality perfume heritage here in Grasse. Our premiere Luxe Provence fragrance release is Mediterranean Fig, inspired by Luxe Provence founder’s fond memories of her family’s first summer spent in Provence’s magical calanques.

We will be releasing new Provence inspired fragrances this year for individual purchase on the site later this year. Be sure to discover our first release, Mediterranean Fig available as a single luxury candle, or subscribe to be the first to discover each new fragrance with 6 seasonal deliveries from Provence to your doorstep throughout the year.

Learn more…

 

Luxe Provence Lifestyle

Jamie Beck for Luxe Provence AW18

October 26, 2018
luxeprovence jamie beck linen skirt silk

The Jamie Chemise has Arrived… Pre-Sales are ON NOW for our second design collaboration piece with Jamie Beck for Luxe Provence.

Designed to float effortlessly through the olive orchards of Provence… to the streets of Paris or New York. The Jamie Chemise is made of voluminous, Italian silk/cotton voile, available in feather. 

UPDATE: Our first release has just shipped, so be sure to place your Pre-order now for our next delivery shipping on December 5th…in time for the holidays. It’s the perfect gift idea, but only while limited supplies last!

UPDATE: The linen skirt is a sneak peek and will be featured as part of Jamie Beck for Luxe Provence SS19 collection coming this spring. Collect each piece to have a complete capsule wardrobe, proudly designed and ethically Made in Provence.

Artisans of Provence

Jamie Beck for Luxe Provence – Coming Up Next

October 26, 2018

We are thrilled to show you a sneak peek on our upcoming second release from our highly anticipated collaboration with Artisan of Provence, Jamie Beck, set to arrive this autumn.

Last season, we collaborated with photographer, Beck of Ann Street Studio, to realize her ultimate Provence dress, the Marianne (pictured below and available here in stone or pure white), which sold-out within a few short hours of its online release this past June.

This season, we are collaborating on a silk piece designed for both city and country wear… from New York, Paris to Provence. Designed by Beck, the Jamie Chemise, will be released in a gorgeous feather white silk / cotton voile with pre-sales starting Friday, October 26th at 7pm Paris time available in limited edition at www.luxe-provence.shop. Her second release is designed to be flattering to a wide variety of body shapes, and is ideal for injecting a bit of french, chic style into your autumn and holiday attire. This versatile piece is certain to be a much-coveted holiday gift, so be sure you’re on our mailing list, or following us on Instagram, as we announce the pre-sale countdown in the coming weeks.

About the Luxe Provence Lifestyle Collection

The Luxe Provence Lifestyle Collection celebrates the region’s effortlessly, chic style with a range  OEKO-TEX® certified linen, European silks and high quality french cotton in timeless, classic cuts. We strive to create long-lasting classic pieces using sustainable materials which are proudly made locally in our Provence ateliers. “Each of our Luxe Provence Lifestyle pieces is designed to be worn barefoot in the Provence countryside by day, and then out with a pair of heels to an elegant bastide, or seaside dinner, by night” says, Founder & Creative Director, Tarik Koivisto.

luxe provence jamie beck dress linen

About Jamie Beck

Jamie Beck, is the high-profile photographer and artistic talent, behind Ann Street Studio who has shot campaigns with iconic brands including: Chanel, CartierOscar de la Renta, Tiffany, Donna Karan, Armani, and Saks Fifth Avenue.  She’s often spotted sitting front row during New York Fashion Week with camera in hand, and has a beloved 170,000 followers of her #ProvenceSelfPortait series on Instagram. Jamie and her videographer partner and husband, Kevin Burg, invented the Cinemagraph, a patented process to combine Jamie’s breathtaking, timeless images with social media-ready video targeted to one part of the image. Despite the duo’s immense, creative success in New York, Jamie longed for a slower, more meaningful life to delve deeper into her artistic talents.

jamie beck for luxe provence

Since moving to her 18th century apartment in Provence’s charming Apt, from their Tribeca loft in New York, Jamie has grown a cult-like following of Americans who look to her daily Instagram feed for a brief escape into the good life and artistic wonderment she creates.

Learn more about our featured Artisan, Jamie Beck with our earlier feature here, or follow along in Instagram Stories for more sneak peeks from the atelier and behind-the-design coverage at (luxeprovence).

All photos are self-portraits by Jamie Beck in our Marianne Linen Dress.

 

 

 

Artisans of Provence, Behind The Curation

Aurélie Alvarez and The French Muses of Provence

October 26, 2018

This season, we’re excited to collaborate with a guest curator for a special, limited edition French Curiosities Holiday Gift Curation, the perfect gift for the French antique and art-lover on your list. We’ve asked Ruth Ribeaucourt, founder of The French Muse who offers amazing travel and events here in Provence, to guest curate this magical, bespoke collection featuring her favorite antique treasures, combined with unique limited edition pieces from local Provence Artisans.

ABOUT OUR GUEST CURATOR – MEET RUTH RIBEAUCOURT, The French Muse

ruth Ribeaucourt French muse provence holiday box

Ruth Ribeaucourt is Irish born, but definitely French at heart and is passionate about antiques, vintage textiles and artisanal creations. As a jewellery designerantique textile dealer, European contributor to Where Women Create and travel guide (whew!), Ruth finds beauty at the French flea markets and shares her treasures with admirers across the globe. Ruth also serves as communications director for her family company, Julien Faure, a celebrated haute couture ribbon maker in St. Etienne, which creates ribbons today for Chanel, Hermes, Dior, Valentino, Gucci, Rochas and Dolce & Gabbana. We met with Ruth this past summer in Aix-en-Provence to discover her family’s ribbons and in search for French antique lace and vintage detailing inspiration for our lifestyle line creations. We are thrilled to have her share some of her luxury silk collectibles, antique expertise and favorite artisans in this special edition curation arriving this holiday season, designed just for you.

IN THE ATELIER with ARTISAN OF PROVENCE, AURÉLIE ALVAREZ

Aurélie Alvarez is a visual artist from the celebrated French town of Isle sur la Sorgue in Provence.  I discovered the work of Aurélie a few years ago, in the concept store, La Caravane des Créateurs, in Saint Rémy de Provence. Her beautiful artwork was presented alongside one of my favorite local textile artisans, Aurore Pelisson, and turns out,  of course they are also friends. From her atelier in the rafters of a 16th Century hotel particulier, Aurélie, a graduate of fine arts, paints decorative and contemporary works. We’ve had our eye on Aurelie’s work for some time now and are pleased to learn that she is also one of Ruth’s selections for this special curation. We are thrilled to share that she is creating a special limited edition painting featuring original gold foil bird for this curation (valued at over $150 USD alone). Her decorative work focuses on lightness, simplicity and the poetic, and includes a colourful universe of plants and animals. All of her work explores the duality between science and spirituality, her personal journey to the heart of matter and colour.

Ruth is also working closely with Severine Chauvet of Inecha Design, on a special surprise piece that is handcrafted in her 17th century house-turned-atelier in the ancient Provençal city of Avignon. Severine is a French artist with a bohemian soul who creates one-of-a-kind fashion and home accessories. Her work is inspired by nature and the beautiful antique fabrics she finds at the brocante. Each box will feature a uniquely created piece for this curation, handmade by the artist.silk

We cannot wait to share this special curation with you. Please be sure to reserve yours today, these are available only in limited quantities… while supplies last and feature original work and unique, antique silk and vintage finds by Ruth. Each curation will contain a handwritten gift note, by request (please include your note upon check-out), and will be shipped from Provence by DHL International Priority prior to December 15th, 2018.

 

Photo credits for all these beautiful artisan and atelier images by © Ruth Ribeaucourt. Merci, Ruth!