Gastronomy & Wine, Provence Travel

36 Hours of Wine Tasting in Les Alpilles

March 7, 2018
travel wineguide provence les baux de provence

(Hotel Château des Alpilles in Saint Remy)

There is a spot of mystique and natural beauty that must be experienced to be understood: the Provençal wine region of Les Baux-de-Provence Appellation d’origine controlee (AOP).

The Alpilles Mountains run a ridge through the north-western corner of the Bouches du Rhône department of Provence. Alpilles means little Alps, but visitors to the area are moved by the largess of the wildly rugged, authentic and mysterious setting. It’s here that a small group of winemakers produce red, rosé and white wines in the shadow of Les Baux-de-Provence village, a 13th century fortification that lends its name to this AOP.

Vineyards can be found on either side of the Alpilles Mountains, cresting into the quite dry, fascinatingly hot oven where the grapes thrive and the Mistral wind blows. This region is unique for production of a larger percent (over 50%) of red wine, rather than the traditionally Provençal output of primarily rosé. Most estates also grow olives and mill olive oil, established under an agricultural AOP as well.

While the AOP is young (celebrating 21 years this summer), the practice of making wine is ancient, often conducted as part of general family farming in recent history, but dating back to Roman times when this area of Provence was on the road from Rome to Spain. Roman and Greek ruins can still be viewed in the area. The AOP leans heavily on biodynamique and organic farming and movements are in process to include these practices as an AOP mandate. It is also a small settlement of only twelve estates; a unique opportunity to taste and purchase a full portfolio from the area.

provence wine chateau estoublon

36 Hours in Les Baux de-Provence AOP

Locals and visitors can enjoy a summer exploration of each of these estates. Many of them do not export greatly, or at all, outside of Provence. Les Baux-de-Provence wines are found in local hotels, restaurants and for sale on site, with a small portion available for export. Taking time to explore and discover the region is the best and perhaps only way to experience the richness of this distinct space.

 

Friday

cheese-ofprovenceStart out early on Friday morning with a visit to the Eygalières market. Here you’ll find gorgeous produce (and a scarf or dress in colors to match), plump roasted chickens, aromatic herbs, colorful baskets and lots of families out doing their shopping. Local vignerons are often at the market, increasing one’s chances of getting an inside conversation with a local winemaker. Gather picnic essentials: cheese, a couple of baguettes, a chicken and some tomatoes. These can be eaten on a sunny stone wall, or under a tree along the summit, where château ruins offer a view of the Alpilles. After lunch, pace the afternoon around time at these neighboring wine estates.

Domaine de la Vallongue

domaine de la vallongue provence aopThe name means Domaine of the Long Valley, signifying the estate’s location on the ancient Roman roadway connecting Rome and Spain. Enjoy a tasting of the domaine’s red, white and rosé wines as well as the AOC olive oils, for sale on premises.

Domaine Lauzières

Taste both estate wine and olive oil in the domaine’s carnotzet, a Swiss word depicting a cellar bar or room where people gather to taste wine in a lively and welcoming setting. Purchase wines in 750ml bottles or an impressive magnum bottle for entertaining.

domaine de la lauzieres provence wine

Mas de Gourgonnier

This family-run estate welcomes visitors to their bio-dynamically farmed estate. They’ve been certified by European and American governing bodies for sustainable growing methods. Guests can taste and purchase wine and olive oil and perhaps meet one of the estate family members.

Mas de la Dame

Vincent Van Gogh once painted Mas de la Dame, in a work once featured at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The likeness now appears on certain bottles of Mas de la Dame wine. Visit and taste wine and olive oil in this family-run, historic cellar.

Chateau d’Estoublonaop-les-baux-de-provence-wines

Pop into the Chateau’s boutique to purchase wine and tasty gourmet and local treats. A family friendly self-guided walking tour leads through the native habitat as well as the grape and olive growing culture. Enjoy an exquisite dinner at Bistro Mogador (weekday dinner July and August only), the on-site restaurant.

After dinner, spend the evening in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, a town rich with stone, light and history that leaps back many years to Gallo-Roman times. The layout of the town still bears the shape of a protective circle, and the remains of a 14th century wall (including distinctive portes) still welcome residents as they stroll through town. Plane (platane in French) trees line routes leading into town, many planted by Romans to distinguish travel lines.

plane trees of provence

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is inviting for luxury and appeals to ancient artistic urges. Vincent Van Gogh still lives through nearby environs which exhibit the colors, nature strokes, sky and stone that he painted until the end of his life.

luxe provence hotel de tourrel

Luxury hotels in and around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence are a curated delight. Consider booking at Hotel de Tourrel (recently featured), l’Oustau Baumanière les Baux de Provence, Domaine de Manville or our favorite, Chateau des Alpilles (below). Discover quintessential “Luxe Provence” from its storybook chateau, luxury appointed rooms… to the welcoming staff (read more about my love affair with this fabulous place here) for a truly restful and pampering overnight between vineyard visits. If you cannot nab a room at the chateau, you can also opt for a lovely relaxed lunch poolside featuring fresh fish, grilled local meats and Mediterranean cuisine during the summer months.

chateau-des-alpilles-saint-remy

Saturday

Linger over breakfast at your hotel before packing up the car to head to the village of Les Baux de-Provence. This village welcomes many visitors each year because it is absolutely unique in natural setting as well as its history as a Provençal stronghold dating back to the 10th century. Carved and re-carved out of the bauxite hills, the village is visually stunning and presents a glorious view of the surrounding vineyards and Alpilles Mountains. A stop at the nearby Les Carriere des Lumieres is a stirring and imaginative distinction set aside exclusively for visitors to this area. Nothing else like it exists! Continue the day by tasting wine from the vineyards just observed from above.
les baux de provence wine tasting

Domaine Guilbert

Located on the road out of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Domaine Guilbert is the smallest domaine in the appellation. The domaine’s mas (the southern French term for a country house, typically made of stone) and cellar is situated around lavender, cypress and olive trees; a natural expression of the region.

Château Dalmeran

Château Dalmeran offers cooking and wine tasting classes at their château where olive groves and vineyards grow. Take home your own bottle of Château Dalmeran Red, a cellar-worthy blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet-Sauvignon aged in oak for 24 months and sold 5 years after harvest.

Mas Sainte Berthe

The stony vineyards and welcoming tasting room of Mas Sainte Berthe rest at the foot of Les Baux de-Provence village. After tasting or purchasing from their set of red, white and rosé wines, Mas Sainte Berte invites visitors for a walk through the property. Get cameras ready for a unique view of the village from the vines.

Domaine des Terres Blanches

Domaine de Terres Blanches is located along a gravel road, which eventually leads to vines and onward to the tasting room. The estate offers promenades around the property, which is directly in the shadow of the Alpilles Mountains. The estate utilizes “BioActive” farming methods, thus leaving much of the surrounding natural, an excellent spot to connect with the native essence of the area. The wines here are lovely, from bright and delightful whites and rosés to fragrant reds.

Château Romanin

Recently completed, the estate’s chai is exquisitely modeled after a cathedral, carved into the native rock. The tasting room is just as beautiful, with soothing wood and metals in custom décor. Taste or buy from their lineup of wines in a luxurious setting.

After a day of walks, wine and sightseeing spend and evening in the hotel’s piscine followed by a late dinner in town. Maison Drouot, Bistrot du Paradou and L’Estagnol make lovely choices for gastronomique, locally-sourced menus. (see earlier article here for more)

Baumanière les Baux-de-Provence

baumeniere

This luxury hotel dramatically set in the valley of Les Baux de Provence embodies the region’s artisanal and gastronomic traditions, which have been passed down from generation to generation for over seven decades. Founded more than 70 years ago by Raymond Thuilier, l‘Oustau de Baumanière has maintained its iconic status as an authentic Provence institution for both dining and luxury relaxation retreats in the area.

The Baumaniere integrates two local wine estates to its gastronomic restaurants and boutique, Domaine Hauvette and L’Affectif, the creation of Jean-André Charial, current founder of l’Oustau Baumanière. Jean-André’s vineyard is located at Domaine de Lauzières where he produces 8 000 bottles of L’Affectif, his own delicious biodynamic wine. This Michelin-starred chef also offers personable cooking classes on Saturday mornings throughout the season and their newly redesigned bistro serves up delightful, fresh seafood each day, combined with local ingredients from the hotel’s own organic gardens.

Another estate of note, Domaine de Trevallon, is an important part of the regional winemaking story. Founder Eloi Dürrbach planted his first vineyard in the Alpilles in 1973. Since then he’s been a groundbreaker for authentic, sustainable and innovative Alpilles winemaking. To preserve his estate’s ability to make wine without appellation restrictions, the estate is not a member of the AOP. Still, these wines reflect the region through landmark methods and flavors and play a significant role Alpilles winemaking.

5 Les Baux de-Provence AOP Wines for Summer Meal Pairings

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With so much lovely wine to choose from, it could be a hard decision when it comes to purchasing wine to enjoy during a Provençal summer. May we suggest a few bottles?

Domaine de Lauziers Equinoxe 2015 Rosé

Powder pink in color, this wine opens with “basil-scented strawberry notes” leading into citrus aromas. Balanced in profile and acidity, the winemaker suggests pairing with Mediterranean Bluefin tuna, small meat-stuffed vegetables or a strawberry, citrus fruit and herb soup. 90% Grenache Noir, 5% Counoise and 5% Mourvèdre.

Chateau Romanin AOP Les Baux-de-Provence 2015 Rosé

Pale pink and delicate, this wine offers a balanced and complex profile to accompany the flavors of meal. The winemaker recommends pairing with mixed summer salads, seafood and fruit salads. Grenache, Counoise, Syrah and Mourvèdre.

Domaine des Terres Blanches Les Baux-de-Provence AOP Blanc 2014

Intense yet clean, crisp and “slightly effervescent” this wine can be enjoyed now or cellared for up to eight years. Pascal Leonetti, Best Sommelier in France 2006, sommelier at the Auberge de l’ill (three Michelin stars) offers the following pairing suggestions: “salad of scampi fried in olive oil, or Japanese cuisine, smoked salmon maki. Provençal goat’s cheeses, such as matured Banon, are also a good match.” Rolle, Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Marsanne, Ugni Blanc, Roussane and Viognier.

Château d’Estoublon 2015 Rosé

Aromatic and expressive of the region, this well-rounded wine with candy jar flavors is perfect to sip by the pool or with a meal. Pair with a plate of almonds, goat cheese and a baguette or with a summer meal of greens and a lightly seasoned roast chicken. 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre.

Domaine de la Vallounge Cuvée Garrigues 2015 AOP Baux de Provence

Lively and fresh, this well-balanced bottle exhibits citrus and white fruit flavors. Lovely as a pre-meal drink or with a menu of grilled fish and vegetables or salads dressed in a local olive oil. 60% Grenache, 40% Cinsault.

 

 

Guest Post written by: Jill Barth

jillbarth

We are very excited to introduce guest author, blogger and Provence wine expert, Jill Barth. Jill is a wine writer and journalist based in the US who frequently travels to Provence. She blogs at L’occasion and is a certified Provence Wine Master. 

Visit her on Instagram and twitter as @jillbarth and on Facebook as L’occasion. (Originally posted June 10, 2016 with updates August 8, 2017.)

Made In Provence, Slow Fashion

Luxe Provence SS18

March 1, 2018

We are pleased to present a first look at the Luxe Provence SS18 Lifestyle collection we have been working so hard on. Our spring and summer collection features casual, chic and sophisticated linen dresses and high quality French cotton easy-to-wear pieces inspired by our vision of the South of France Lifestyle.  Each piece is designed to flatter a variety of body shapes and be worn in elegance from day to night… barefoot to heels… simple, chic and elegant. Our first pieces are being released now in the boutique here, and ‘sur mesure’ to our members inside our V4: Mediterranean Gold Subscription in limited edition only.

luxe provence vichy gingham linen dress made in france artisans of provence

About Our Lifestyle Collection: Proudly Made in Provence

Our Lifestyle Collection is proudly designed and produced just outside of Aix-en-Provence in the heart of Provence. Creative Director/Founder, Tarik Koivisto, leads the design and production of each piece and works directly with a talented local couturist.  We are proud to collaborate with the talented Artisan of Provence to create our collections Made in Provence each season, using high quality European linens, luxury French cottons and silk. Each collection is a limited edition series available in 2-3 patterns or prints, so that are collections remain fresh and exclusive. Our Luxe Provence Lifestyle Collection is available online in our boutique, and select pieces ‘sur mesure’ in our Mediterranean Gold Subscription.

Mediterranean Gold Subscription

The Mediterranean Gold Subscription is a tailored, or ‘sur mesure’ experience with the opportunity to experience the style and lifestyle of the Mediterranean. Within this subscription, we feature select pieces from our Luxe Provence Lifestyle collection, along with upcoming Mediterranean designers, luxury and artisanal brands from Italy, Spain, and Morocco. Our team works with each of our clients 1:1 via email correspondence and personalized style questionnaires throughout the subscription experience to develop curations that are custom to each client, yet careful and thoughtful to include an element of surprise. We generally offer a choice between 2-3 design options from our Luxe Provence Lifestyle pieces and members receive these pieces in advance of their online boutique release. For example, the salopette short combi pictured above is only one of three options available for our current, V4: Mediterranean Queen curation. Each subscriber has their owns dossier with measurements, style and color preferences so that the pieces are truly created for you.

This Just In – The Ultimate Provence Collaboration Coming Soon

And we are thrilled to announce that we are collaborating with the multi-talented and brilliantly creative, Jamie Beck (of Ann Street Studio) on her first and limited edition linen dress design for our SS18 Collection. We’ve been inspired by Jamie’s work and creative talents since her move to Provence and are ecstatic to collaborate with her!

Watch this space and be sure to follow her on Instagram to catch behind the scenes footage of our design process as this dream collaboration comes to life… direct from our atelier just outside of Aix-en-Provence. More details coming very soon! 

For now, enjoy this first look… and get ready. We will release only a limited edition collection of this first piece coming this May, you do not want to miss it. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest release dates for this upcoming collaboration.

Artists of Provence, Behind The Design

Artisans of Provence: Valérie Casado

January 29, 2018

Each season, we select an Artisan of Provence™ to collaborate with for our Luxe Provence curations and boutique collections. In the spirit of spring and the much-anticipated return of blooms, we have chosen the delicate and beautiful ceramics of Valérie Casado. I had the pleasure of visiting Valérie’s atelier recently just outside the charming Provence village of Isle sur la Sorgue.

Each of Valérie’s pieces is formed organically by hand, working with vintage objects, lace, parsley, buttercups and wildflowers to form beautiful, unique patterns. Created from either unglazed baked porcelain or terre rouge, each of Valérie Casado’s pieces bring a touch of modern whimsy and French charm into your home.

We wanted to take each piece home and her layered blooming place settings are to die for. The thinness she achieves in her small plates and platters, which remain strong and durable, are really quite incredible. Her art de la table brings a balance of tradition and modernity, texture and delicacy to any tablesetting.

Valérie Casado’s ceramic works are lead by instinct and intuition allowing her hands to guide her through the artistic creation of each piece.  Originally from Bordeaux, Valérie studied ceramics at the cultural centre in Pernes-les-Fontaines and now enjoys Provence life from her atelier in the heart of the Vaucluse. Her unique porcelain stamped serving pieces fetch upwards of $495 for a single piece, due to their fine, handcrafted nature.

Her work is appreciated around the world, from Paris, Madrid, London, New York, Tokyo and Hamburg.. and now to the USA inside this season’s Luxe Provence V11: Art de la Table spring curation shipping mid- March, and also in our sold-out Valentine’s Day Mediterranean Gold box.

luxe provence artisans of provence

Don’t miss our limited edition Spring V11: Art de la Table curation, by reserving yours today… we only have a few left. Shipping begins the first day of Spring to your doorstep from Provence.

luxe provence gifts artisans of provence slow luxury

 

Article and Photography by Founder/Creative Director: Tarik Koivisto. All rights reserved. Learn more about the villages of Provence here.

Gastronomy & Wine

Luxe Provence Holiday Wine Guide

December 10, 2017

Provence is known for luminosity, of genuine warmth is a setting of rich contrast. The Christmas season is an enveloping time of year when the light changes, the air is chilly, and traditions find a most sacred space in the homes of Provençal families.

This is the season of celebration, the Saison des Fêtes, highlighted by the Christmas markets that pop up in villages large and small as early as the end of November. Fill your shopping basket with delightful gifts and delicacies to enjoy with family and friends. Or take a ride throughout some of the most beautiful vineyard properties in Provence, in a vintage carriage to both taste and enjoy the scenery, such delicious wine tours are offered at the Var’s Château Fontableau.

Foie gras, shellfish, fresh poultry, and pastries fill shop windows drawing a playful hunger and excitement for the Christmas feast or Le Gros Souper. Le Gros Souper (the big supper) is a decadent, meatless meal enjoyed by families on Christmas Eve, often before Midnight Mass.

Sweet treats such as the Bouche de Noel and Thirteen Desserts (an array of dried fruit, nougats, melon, bread, calissons, pain d’epices, and other regional bites) which represent Christ and the twelve apostles cap Le Gros Souper. Vin cuit, a traditional cooked wine commonly crafted in the wine-producing region around Mont Sainte Victoire. To make vin cuit, pressed juice from the recent harvest is heated to just-under-boiling over a wood fire. After ten days, this reduced juice undergoes a fermentation, resulting in a sweet dessert wine.

Vin cuit follows the Thirteen Desserts as does a choice of local wines. Luxe Provence presents a selection of local wines to pair with your holiday traditions, to evoke the essence of the South of France in December in your home.

Château Coussin Sainte Victoire Côtes de Provence 2015

Château Coussin’s beautiful red wine from Sainte Victoire Côtes de Provence is composed of 70% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from vines of an average age of 30 years. Ripe black fruit and silky tannins balance with a bite of pepper on the finish. We particularly enjoy their Cuvée César à Sumeire Rouge 2015 composed of a slightly more complex blend of 70% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Grenache. The perfect accompaniment to wild game, or venison Christmas lunch. This region is famous for the images of Mont Sainte Victoire immortalized in Cezanne’s paintings. It is also a bastion of ancient Roman and Greek vineyards, settlements, and agriculture.

Château de Chausse Côtes de Provence Rubis 2013

Château de Chausse is nestled on the St. Tropez Peninsula, several kilometers from the city of the same name. The estate’s Rubis is a Côtes de Provence AOP red made primarily of Syrah. Vines are all hand-harvested with minimal intervention. Château de Chausse focuses on high-quality wines, including red wines that can age beautifully. Rubis would be excellent for gift-giving, to adorn the cellar of your favorite collector.

Domaine de Trevallon Rouge and Blanc 2014

Domaine de Trevallon, near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, is located in Saint-Etienne-du-Grès on the north ridge of the Alpilles range. Eloi Dürrbach envisioned vines planted in these nooks of scrubland that supported olive trees. The olives still thrive alongside the vines, all treated with the most natural of methods. The domaine crafts a red and white, each expressive of the Alpilles limestone and garrigue. Their 2014 Domaine de Trevallon Rouge receives very high marks for its unique nez of cassis, wood, mushrooms and leather, pairing perfectly with a truffle-based dish.

Le Grand Clos La Maîtresse Rosé Brut NV

Le Grand Clos La Maîtresse Rosé Brut is a delicate sparkling rosé, one intended for special gatherings. Hand-picked Grenache, Syrah, and Chardonnay express a balanced acidity, thanks to the maritime climate in which they grow in the foothills of the Massif des Maures. Dry stone, olives, and scrub herbs dress this setting, where the proprietors utilize the latest technology in an old-world environment.

Château Simone Palette Blanc 2013

Château Simone (top photo) produces about half of the wine from the tiny appellation of Palette, one of the most prestigious wine regions of Provence. The average age of the vines used in their Blanc is over 50 years – some ancient vines reach back as far as 100 years. This blend is a classic frame of the region: Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Bourboulenc, and Muscat Blanc. This is a structured white wine, having spent 18 months in French Oak and harvested by hand. This white is a spectacular blend and may be paired beautifully with shellfish, crab and lobster for the perfect Christmas, or New Year’s Eve celebration.

luxe provence wine guide

 

 

 

 

Enjoy your holidays and we hope we have helped you to discover a new Provence wine selection for your special celebration. 

#Celebratingthegoodlife …

 

Blog Written by: Jill Barth from L’Occasion – A Reason for Wine and Provence Wine Master with special notations by Tarik Koivisto for Luxe Provence.  

French Beauty & Fragrance

Luxe Provence Natural Beauty Guide

December 4, 2017

With the season of giving approaching, we are excited to share our Luxe Provence Natural Beauty Guide featuring our top selections Made in Provence and not widely available abroad. All of these items make for lovely and thoughtful gifts this season, with a few of our top selections tucked inside our V10: Coquine Collection.

We have tested a variety of Provence beauty brands extensively over the past two years and our selections focus on products made locally with the highest percentage of natural ingredients, authenticity and high ethical standards.

To start things off, we are pleased to introduce a relatively new brand that we adore, Végétalement Provence. We were instantly smitten with both their formulations, featuring only natural ingredients and perfectly balanced fragrances, and their professional, passionate and talented team behind this award-winning haircare and natural organic beauty brand. The team at VP treated me to their full diagnostic and hair spa experience a few months back and it was an amazing. The products are formulated by a team of veteran luxury industry experts, including leading haircare brands, Wella and Sebastian. For my visit, my hair’s condition was assessed and then treated with the perfect spa-sensorial prescription. I left my visit with my hair noticeably silky soft, possessing lots of natural shine. I was treated to a styling and blow-out by celebrity hair artist, David, who gave me the perfect balanced style of edge and finesse. My favorite products are their Brume Hydratante leave-in conditioner and their Potion Magique, one of which will be featured inside our V10: Coquine Collection shipping next week. The brand has won numerous innovation awards for it’s haircare and men’s “Barbe” line, which is 100% organic.

VP has created a comprehensive professional and consumer line of haircare featuring all the benefits of natural vegetable and essential oils from the Mediterranean to create a revolutionary natural line derived from ancestral know-how. The arid lands of Provence contain a wide variety of “wild” plants whose aromatic and medicinal properties have been known since ancient times. This is why we have chosen to feature this authentic Provence brand with high product standards.

Our next favorite natural and vegan-friendly beauty brand is, Concept Provence. A long-time favorite of ours founded by a lovely local couple, Jean-Paul and Renata Negroni, with offices just a hop, skip and jump away from ours. We love this brand for its authentic, yet modern and clean approach to creating natural beauty products. Our favorites are the masculine-leaning fragrances of their body milks, liquid handsoaps and candle lines (which we featured in last year’s holiday curation). We have selected one of our favorite fragranced body milks as a surprise in this season’s V10 curation as well, designed to deliver a Provence spa experience to your doorstep.

Our next Luxe Provence natural beauty brand selection, is Source de Provence. This Provence beauty brand offers up 99% natural formulations for their product lines. Their fragranced fig products are completely sensual and unique in the market. We adore their Fig Sap fragranced Creme de Jour Ressourcante and their gorgeous Huile Seche, or Dry Oils, perfect for both body and hair. This brand continues to deliver ethically made natural skincare from Provence of high quality.gifts from provence

And last but not least, we always keep a hand cream of either Melon Basil or Vin Rosé from Rose et Marius in our purse (delivered last season in our Blush curation), and adore the Olive Oil Body Butter from brand, Panier des Sens, for extra moisturizing with its lovely subtle fragrance. (This one is widely available in the USA, hence not in our boutique…). Shop our natural beauty favorites in our holiday gift collections or receive a sampling inside our next Blush curation shipping next week, but hurry we have only a handful left!

 

Article written by Tarik Koivisto, Founder of Luxe Provence. Photo Credits: By Tarik Koivisto except photo of Renata Negroni by LIGHT STUDIO – Daniel Chavey www.danielchavey.com

Mediterranean Design, Provence Travel

Mediterranean Gold – A Voyage to Morocco

November 17, 2017

While I truly feel lucky to live the dream here in beautiful Provence, it is also quite special to be transported off on a long weekend escape to many of the vibrant and diverse regions of the Mediterranean. We Provençal are truly fortunate to be able to easily hop a plane from the South of France and within a few hours flight, discover a myriad of interesting and completely different Mediterranean cultures brimming with artisanal talent.

The idea behind our new Mediterranean Gold Subscription, was to create an opportunity to voyage together… share some of our favorite Mediterranean rich regions and bring our subscribers new artisanal talent that continues to represent the Mediterranean Lifestyle.

The South of France, particularly Marseille, is highly influenced by a variety of Mediterranean cultures. From the woven baskets and hats in every market, colorful ceramics, savon noir and spices, these Moroccan cultural influences are very strong. The exotic allure of Morocco has been a draw to many creative types throughout the years, namely Yves Saint Laurent, who spent a majority of his design years, from the mid 60s onward, being inspired by Marrakech and it’s famous Majorelle Gardens. The new YSL museum just opened up in Marrakech last month, and is completely devoted to the iconic designer.

yves saint laurent museum fashion design

Like many design-lovers I know who move to the area, Morocco is one of the first exciting destinations chosen to visit from Provence for escaping to a luxury riad, exotic landscapes and artisanal design. Therefore, we thought we’d start our journey to design-rich Morocco, as our first destination of our Mediterranean Gold Subscription.

I have visited this dynamic country several times over the past few years to discover its rich history, traditional craftsmanship and its budding, design culture. Actually, there are many French designers who have moved to Morocco to be closer to the craftspeople, ateliers, culture and leather working traditions the country is known for. I have visited fine leather and weaving ateliers, and met many talented upcoming female French designers producing amazing luxury items.

Our Morocco Collection features one such designer, Virginie Darling. We chose this upcoming charismatic designer of vibrant and high-quality boho-chic leather bags and travel accessories as our featured brand this season. Virginie works passionately to integrate the most supple, beautiful leathers into her emotionally inspired, fun and creative designs.

This luxury handmade leather travel collection will be paired with beautifully patterned ceramics handcrafted by the artisans of Morocco. We went behind the scenes with Virginie and asked her about her inspiration behind her creations and begged her to share some priceless travel tips for us all. Read on…

EN: When did you start working as a designer? What were you doing prior?

In 2014 I left the island of Reunion (a beautiful little French island in the Indian Ocean where I am from) leaving behind my career as a prominent TV host and actress to live a new adventure with my family in Montreal in Quebec, where I studied design. Then, we traveled to Morocco in 2016 and fell in love with this incredible country. I created Virginie Darling to share Moroccan know-how with women around the world according to my vision of elegance.

EN: What was your inspiration behind your line of leather bags and accessories?

I’m a bit like a sponge, since always I work like this! I find my inspiration in the women around me, who touch my heart. For example, the Elena cover was inspired by a talented Russian photographer whose personality fascinates me: rare elegance, intriguing discretion and modest sensuality … for each of my designs, I close my eyes and listen to the emotions that it creates inside of me… Annie, Josephine, Emma, ​​Zoe … bags all inspired by these women whose personality touch me in some way.

EN: What is your favorite aspect of your work?

I like every step! To dream up the design first then to imagine it in a more pragmatic way. Then to draw it and find just the right leather and fabrics. Finally to follow, with a lot of attention, the production in the atelier thanks to the know-how of the leather craftsmen! I spend a lot of time there.

EN: What are you inspired by?

My biggest source of inspiration is emotion … created by the beauty of a landscape, the kindness of a look, the chaos of a souk, the tone of a voice, the intelligence of the nature. Yes, EMOTION, is for me the imprint of life ..

EN: What is your favorite local beauty product?

I love the body oil with the orange blossom from Sens de Marrakech, it’s the scent of the south! I love the smell of incense, musk and patchouli by Berber Heritage perfumes and candles. I like solid perfumes, the smell of black soap (savon noir) with eucalyptus and the virtues of the fig oil of barbarism, which you can find in the souk spice stores. Euphorbia honey, which is derived from the cactus, is also very good for your health.

EN: What is your favorite Moroccan escape, (hotel, spa, places to see, visit, weekend travel…) that you would recommend visiting?

There are so many!

The Kasbah Beldi near Lake Lalla Takerkoust is a haven of peace! Lunch, sitting on cushions in Kilim beneath the tamarind of the 300-year-old Atlas with the sound of water is a rare luxury. In contrast, the souk of Marrakech, its tumult, its colors fascinate me!

The “Garden” restaurant at Emerald Zellig in the heart of the Medina and an inspiring place … and of course, above all, the breathtaking scenery of the Imsouane mountain side road in southern Morocco to the mountains of the Atlas … The landscapes of Morocco reminds me of my island … Intense! There is so much to see, and so much to live here!

—- Interview in French:

FR: Quand avez-vous commencé à travailler en tant que designer? Que faisiez-vous avant?

2014 j’ai quitté l’île de la Reunion ( magnifique petite île française dans l’océan indien dont je suis originaire) laissant derrière moi ma carrière d’animatrice TV et comédienne pour aller vivre une nouvelle aventure avec  ma petite famille  à Montreal au Québec et c’est là que j’ai commencé mes études de design. Puis nous avons voyagé jusqu’ au Maroc en 2016 et  j’ai eu le coup de foudre pour ce pays incroyable. J’ai créé Virginie Darling pour partager avec les femmes du monde entier le savoir faire Marocain selon ma vision de l’élégance.

FR: Quelle a été votre inspiration derrière votre ligne de sacs en cuir et d’accessoires?

Je suis un peu comme une éponge, depuis toujours je fonctionne comme ça !  Je puise mon inspiration dans les femmes qui m’entourent, qui me touchent. Par exemple, la pochette Elena m’a été inspirée par une amie russe photographe talentueuse dont la personnalité me fascine: élégance rare, discrétion intrigante et sensualité pudique… pour chacun de mes modèles, je ferme les yeux et je pense à l’émotion que cela crée en moi…Annie , Josephine, Emma, Zoé mes modèles portent des noms de femmes!

FR: Quel est ton aspect préféré de ton travail?

J’aime chaque étape!  Rêver le modèle d’abord puis l’imaginer de façon plus pragmatique puis  le dessiner puis aller chercher le cuir et les tissus et enfin suivre, avec beaucoup d’attention, la réalisation en atelier grâce au savoir faire des artisans maroquiniers! J’y passe beaucoup de temps.

FR: De quoi es-tu inspiré?

Ma plus grande source d’inspiration est l’émotion… Celle créée par la beauté d’un paysage, la gentillesse d’un regard, le chaos d’un souk, le timbre d’une voix, l’intelligence de la nature.. Oui l’EMOTION c’est pour moi l’empreinte de la vie.

FR: Quel est votre produit de beauté préféré?

J’aime l’huile pour le corps à la fleur d’oranger de Sens de Marrakech, c’est la senteur du Sud! J’aime l’odeur d’encens, de musc et de patchouli des parfums et des bougies d’héritage berbère. J’aime les parfums solides, l’odeur du savon noir à l’eucalyptus et les vertus de l’huile de figue de barbarie et trouve la place des épices dans le souk. Le miel d’euphorbe qui est un miel de cactus est très bon pour la santé.

FR: Quelle est votre escapade marocaine préférée, (hôtel, spa, lieux à visiter, visite, week-end …) que vous recommanderiez de visiter?

Il y en a tellement! 

La kasbah Beldi près du lac lalla takerkoust est un havre de paix! Déjeuner, assis sur des coussins en Kilim sous le tamarinier de l’Atlas  vieux de 300 ans avec le bruit de l’eau est d’un luxe rare . A l’opposé, le souk de Marrakech, son tumulte, ses couleurs me fascinent!

Le restaurant « Le jardin »en zellig émeraude en plein centre de la Medina et un endroit inspirant… et puis bien sûr, surtout, les paysages époustouflants de la route à flanc de montagne d’Imsouane dans le sud du Maroc au montagnes de l’Atlas …Les paysages du Maroc me rappelle mon île…Intense! Il y a tant à voir, tant à vivre! 

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Slow Fashion

This Just In…Our Cassis Linen Dress

August 4, 2017
luxe provence resort wear

Celebrate the Good Life and wrap yourself up in our elegant, chic Cassis Linen Dress in Crisp White… Now available in our boutique for a limited time, while supplies last.

The first release from our Luxe Provence Resort Wear collection, which features high-quality natural fabrics designed in Provence. Each collection reflects the relaxed, elegant chic South of France Lifestyle. Members of our new luxury Mediterranean Gold Subscription will receive avant-première pieces made “sur mesure” from upcoming collections paired with luxury accessories and artisanal objects curated throughout the Mediterranean, along with special VIP discounts to the Luxe Provence Lifestyle line all-year long.

Shop the Dress or Subscribe to our new Mediterranean Gold Subscription today to receive the Luxe Provence Lifestyle delivered to your doorstep.

 

Mediterranean Gold – Keeping Romance Alive

July 20, 2017

We are pleased to announce that we have expanded our Good Life celebration beyond the Provencal borders with a new ultra-luxury Mediterranean Gold subscription experience.  Discover the SlowLuxe Mediterranean lifestyle through highly-curated collections featuring the artisanal beauty and luxuries of the South of France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Morocco. Each limited-edition luxury collection features modern heirloom pieces, chic style and sustainable high-design from select artisan-rich Mediterranean regions. Subscribers will also receive exclusive designer collaborations, along with avantpremière pieces from our Luxe Provence Lifestyle line, beginning with our SS/18 Resort Wear collection!

This new luxury gifting service compliments the brand’s original Luxe Provence Blush Subscription, which features curations sourced exclusively in Provence. The Mediterranean Gold Subscription offers the opportunity to travel to exciting new regions. Our highly-regarded curations continue to be guided by our original mission: to elevate and promote regional artisans, while also sourcing the finest talent, collaborators and quality materials for our Luxe Provence Lifestyle collection.  “I wanted to offer our clients the opportunity to experience new artisans and luxury brands throughout the Mediterranean to keep our curations fresh, high-quality and unique for seasons to come, while continuing to share the stories, passion, and inspiration behind each curation.”

Keeping Romance Alive – The Ultimate Luxury Gift For Her

This ultimate luxury gift subscription will be delivered around life’s key moments, including a holiday, valentine and mother’s day curation. This ideal luxury gift is tailored to each subscriber by our team of stylists to best personalize sizing, style and regional travel preferences.

Our new Mediterranean Gold Subscription may be purchased as either a two gift trial curation or Annual Subscription of four gift deliveries.

Happy weekend… Keep the Romance Alive!

Gastronomy & Wine

Fontcreuse Côtes de Provence

July 4, 2017
best provence rosé wine

I had the true privilege to meet the charming family winemakers behind the highly regarded Château Fontcreuse (The Brando Family pictured below right) recently, as they opened up their château and tasting room in Cassis to us, to learn about an exciting new wine collaboration they are set to release.

The Brando Family of Fontcreuse

Jean-François Brando is the winemaker and proprietor of Château Fontcreuse, a highly regarded “vigneron” producing some of Cassis’ finest wines at his historic and mystical site, right at the foot of the Couronne de Charlemagne. The Fontcreuse name is synonymous for producing excellent, high-quality white wines in Cassis following traditional, local methods since the 1920s. The château also has a rich history of attracting affluent international guests to its stunning location, including British author, Virginia Woolf, who penned a number of her novels in 1925 and 1929, on the stunning grounds in a charming bergère still located on the property today.

Oliver Sumeire and Jean-Francois Brando

Jean-François called upon Olivier Sumeire (pictured above left), an eighth generation Provence wine producer and proprietor of three estates in the AOP Côtes de Provence, to produce a premium Côtes de Provence rosé and white, worthy of the name Fontcreuse. The Sumeire Family’s three Châteaux: Coussin, Afrique, and Maupage produce excellent, award-winning rosés each year. Most notably, their César Cuvée l’Afrique Rosé 2016, was recently selected as one of the 8 Best Rosé wines in the world! No small feat, as it was prestigiously selected from 18,000 rosés tasted at the annual International Wine Challenge (IWC) in London this year. Lucky for us, we were one of the first invited to taste their collaboration.

wines of provence rosé best

The Fontcreuse Côtes de Provence rosé is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah possessing a pale yet brilliant, pink hue with a fragrant nose of peach and strawberry, along with a touch of aniseed. The mouth is expressive and bright with a crisp, dry and citrusy finish. It paired beautifully with our quintessential Provencal apéritif, yet also perfectly compliments more sophisticated Mediterranean, Californian and Asian cuisine. A true haut de gamme collaboration between two distinguished winemakers in Provence, this rosé collaboration is certainly worth seeking out.

For more information, contact annabelle@sumeire.com

 

 

Photography taken on-location by Tarik Koivisto. 

 

Artists of Provence, Behind The Design

In the Atelier: AnneLaure Humblot’s Dreamy Creations

June 12, 2017
artisans of provence

I am pleased to offer the latest in our series “Behind the Artisans of Provence” featuring our second talented creator in this season’s SOLDOUT V8: Midsummer Dream curation. Each season, we bring you behind the scenes of a talented artisan or designer working here in Provence. It brings us much pleasure to discover and spotlight the talented people that are inspired daily by the beauty of living here in Provence. And even more, that we are able to deliver their stunning creations to your doorstep.

artisans of provence luxeprovencebox

A few short months ago, I discovered AnneLaure Humblot’s whimsical and highly artistic work. I was both inspired and excited as soon as I walked through the charming doors of her Gasoline Atelier in Salernes, a beautiful Provencal village in the Var. Salernes is famous for their authentic terracotta tiles and lively artisanal community based around years of history in creating fine, traditional ceramics. The village is steeped in ceramics and terracotta tile work due to the discovery of the region’s iron rich red clay dating back to the 1800s.

annelaure-humblot-gasoline-creations-ceramics-salernes

Today, 15 ceramists and 4 potters continue with the tradition in Salernes, including the notable Alain Vagh, a colorful artist and well-reputed producer of beautiful floor and wall tiles in vibrant colors, shapes and sizes.  Alain’s daughter-in-law, Vero Vagh, also creates her own, lovely ceramic designs in a variety of styles at her boutique, Pause Ceramics, in the center of the village that I recommend visiting.

artisans of provence salernes ceramics

AnneLaure is registered as a working artisan in the prestigious Ateliers d’Art de France, which represents more than 6,000 craftsworkers, artists and craft companies here in France. Their objectives are to enhance, represent, safeguard and support the economic development of craft professionals. Their organization is deeply committed to the educational, cultural and social aspect of developing artisans of France. They offer support with high-profile activities that contribute to building the international and national reputation of the craft sector in the country.

We asked AnneLaure to share a bit behind her inspiration and favorite aspects of being a working Artisan of Provence.

En: When did you first start as a working artisan?

I have been working as a ceramacist since 2003.

En: What was your inspiration behind this line of plates we are featuring this season in our V8 Collection?

The portraits are inspired by essentially by the paintings of Klimt and Bernard Buffet.

En: What is your favorite aspect of your work?

What I like most about my work is the moment when I put the brush, for the first stroke, on the dried clay.

En: What is your favorite part of your day?

I love the morning. A few minutes after awakening .. everything is quiet and new ….

En: What is your favorite part of living in Provence?

I love the whole of Provence: the sun that floods us with its rays, the songs of the cicadas in the summer, the frogs and the locusts in the evening, the dry grass of our garrigues crackling under our feet. And vertiginous cypresses, this atmosphere of the afternoons of summer, where the heat is at its height and where nobody moves … the silence canicular!

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Fr: Quand commencez-vous à pratiquer en tant qu’artisan ?

Je travaille en tant que céramiste depuis 2003.

Fr: Quelle est votre inspiration pour votre assiettes ? 

Les portraits sont essentiellement inspirés des tableaux de Klimt et de Bernard Buffet.

Fr: Quel est votre aspect préféré de votre travail ?

Ce que j’aime le plus, dans mon travail, c’est le moment où je pose le pinceau, pour le premier trait, sur l’objet en terre sèche.

Fr: Quelle est votre partie préférée de votre journée ?

J’adore le matin. Quelques minutes après le réveil .. tout est calme et neuf ….

Fr: Quelle est votre part préférée de vivre en Provence ?

J’aime la Provence toute entière: le soleil qui nous inonde de ses rayons, les chants des cigales l’été, celui des grenouilles et des criquets le soir, l’herbe sèche de nos garrigues qui crépite sous nos pas, les cimes hautes et vertigineuses des cyprès, cette ambiance  des après midis d’été, où la chaleur est à son comble et où plus personne ne bouge… le silence caniculaire !….

Be sure to Subscribe to our Luxe Provence Box to receive the likes of AnneLaure’s work and other talented Artisans of Provence delivered to your doorstep each season. This artisanal limited edition curation sold-out very quickly, but we look forward to working with AnneLaure again soon.

For those in the area, be sure to check out AnneLaure’s beautiful work and atelier at:

Gasoline Creation (a former service station, transformed into fabulous creative atelier)
54 rue Edouard Basset
83690 Salernes

 

 

Article and Photography by: Tarik Koivisto, Founder & Curator of Luxe Provence