The Architecture Walk at Château La Coste, en Provence, France

North of Aix en Provence, you will find Château La Coste. A 600 acre vineyard and curated landscape. Filled with sculpture, installations, pavilions, flourishing gardens and a futuristic winery designed by Jean Nouvel.

Over the years, leading artists and architects of the world have been invited to visit Château La Coste, choose a location in the landscape that spoke directly to them, with the freedom to create a body of work that would live here. Tadao Ando, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Frank Gehry, Jean Novel, Richard Serra, Tracey Emin, Andy Goldsworthy and Paul Matisse are amongst a handful invited to contribute.

Arrive and you can’t miss the Louise Bourgeois Crouching Spider at the entrance to the Arts Centre. Its installation was a race against time in order to allow the artist see the outcome shortly before she died, aged 98, in 2010.

We visited on a dark Spring Sunday for lunch during a road trip through Provence. Château La Coste has been open to the paying public since 2011, for 15€ you can spend hours exploring the hilltops and woodland, exploring the architecture trail, alongside the vineyards and olive groves. With a dozen more installations on the drawing board still, Château La Coste will continue to evolve over the coming years, having already become a destination location for both locals and visitors to the region.

Begin with lunch in the magnificent Centre d’Art, designed by Tadao Ando. The walk from the underground carpark up to the restaurant is quite magnificent as the landscape is revealed climbing the stairs.

The Tadao Ando Art Centre restaurant is open daily. Enjoy lunch by the water’s edge accompanied by their house Château La Coste wines. The menu offers seasonal produce from the organic vegetable gardens, designed by Louis Benech.

You will notice the Hiroshi Sugimoto Mathematical Model 012 sculpture floating in the shallow waters.

The winery is as big a success as the art, and for owner, property developer Paddy McKinnen (who’s portfolio includes Claridge’s, The Berkeley and Connaught Hotels in London), his priority here is the biodynamic vineyard which achieved organic status in 2009. It’s home is a glistening aluminium structure designed by Jean Nouvel. Wine tours and tastings are conducted daily (in English also).

We began our tour, with an illustrated map in hand, beginning at Larry Neufeld’s Donegal bridges, created in 2013.

One of my favourite spaces is this Oak Room, completed by Andy Goldsworthy in 2009

La Grande Croix Rouge, Jean-Michel Othoniel 2007-2008 & La Chapelle, Tadao Ando 2011

A view from the top of the vineyards

Four Cubes to Contemplate our Environment, Tadao Ando 2008-2011

Foxes, Michael Stipe 2008

One of the most eerie installations by Tracey Emin. Walk to the end of this raised platform and dare to look into the barrel, but hold your breath so not to get a fright. Entitled Self-Portrait: Cat inside a Barrel 2013

Tom Shannon’s Drop 2009, mirrors distorted views of the surrounding landscape. A playful piece allowing you to manipulate the installation moving it on on it’s central axis.

Just as the heavens were about to open we missed seeing the kitchen gardens in the distance, and the Wartime prefabricated barracks by industrialist metal worker Jean Prouve. Reconstructed with the help of his grandson Nicholas Prouve, it’s not often you see these structures set into a landscape. Most only ever see Prouve’s work at auction or during design festivals when the installations are brought out by galleries.

You may recognise this Frank Gehry designed music pavilion, initially commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery as the Summer Pavilion commission for 2008. Transplanted and reconstructed with the help of Gehry’s son Samuel from it’s previous home in London’s Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park in 2008. The pavilion is used for musical evenings at Château La Coste during the summer months.

Alexander Calder’s Small Crinkly 1976 floats in the waters back at the Art Centre. As we made a sprint for shelter again (there are 25+ installations to discover), we missed so much, which leaves little excuse not to visit in the sunnier months.

Villa La Coste is due to open this year, 29 luxury Suites which I’m longing to see completed, the perfect reason to return. Perhaps we can fill the boot with some wine whilst we’re at it.

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Summer Period: 1st of March to 31st of October – Open every day from 10:00am to 7:00pm

Winter Period: 1st of November – 29th of February – Monday to Friday 10:00am to 5:00pm – Saturday and Sunday 10:00am to 7:00pm

Chateau La Coste
2750 Route de la Cride
13610 Le Puy Ste Réparade France

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