PÂQUES PROVENCE STYLE

Asparagus +Art + Antiques in the Luberon

Piled high on folding tables or spilling from the tailgate of the lyrically named “Berlingo” (the little white farm trucks ubiquitous to France), the first of 2019’s regional produce debuts the opening of artisanal farmers’s markets on Easter weekend. Entire stalls dedicated to asparagus, strawberries, melons or radishes will make your mouth and iPhone camera very happy. Picture creamy clouds of super fresh goat cheese, garden greens and free-range eggs, honey and chocolate for the Easter hunt and lunch, and fragrant branches of lilac or pastel tulips – 5 euro a bunch for the table. Winemakers from the Luberon and Côte Ventoux offer “tastes” as do the artisanal cheese and charcuterie producers. These are all fabulous products not available anywhere else in the world. I recommend Coustellet for your season opener and for sightings of colourful locals and elegant tourists from northern regions while you slip down oysters with a glass of chilled champagne and Provençal sun. New to the scene will be Le Gare bistrot under new management and chef. Sunday, April 21, Coustellet, Maubec 84660 from 8.30 to noonish.

Two not to be missed exhibitions will open in the gallery and in the cave of two grand dames of the Luberon art scene, Joanna Staniszkis in Bonnieux and Kamila Regent in Saignon.

Art Expo: “Sacre Bleu” Bonnieux

Artist Joanna Staniszkis’s “Sacré Blue” opens Monday April 22, 2019 at 4 p.m. The exhibition takes place in a troglodyte cave in Bonnieux, and, as its name suggests, it is an indigo-blue colour collaboration juxtaposing Joanna’s fluid textile works with Timothée Humbert’s stunning large scale ceramic works. It will be a showcased in the caverns of an ancient grotto. Canadian photographer Erik Von Muller’s photographic essay on the textures, shapes and shades of ochre, stone and zinc shot from his room on Rue Julien Levy elevate the banal to a remarkable photo essay. All Artists will be in attendence. Images below from “La Vie en Some”, Joanna Staniszkis May 2014 exhibition. http://www.joannastaniszkis.com

 

Art Expo: “Dimanche Pâques” 2019 Galerie Kamila Regent, Saignon

Galerie Kamila Regent, Saignon

On Easter Sunday Kamila Regent opens the doors of Galerie Kamila Regent, a gracious 18th century Maison-du-Maitre in the village of Saignon, for “Dimanche Pâques 2019”. The exhibition features the work of 15 Gallery artists, listed on the side bar, and Kamila’s remarkable baking of Polish Easter cakes – all from her Grandmother’s recipes. A feast for the eye and fork. https://www.kamilaregentgalerie.com

Feast of cakes at Kamila Regent Galerie “Pâque 2018” – dozens and dozens of eggs, kilos of nuts, sweet butter and Polish tradition grace the dining table at Galerie Kamila Regent, for Easter Sunday Open House from 4 p.m./16.00 hrs. Saignon
Below artworks in the gallery and artist Marcus Kriess with new work

Antiques: mid-century to 17th century … you can’t live without

International dealers gather in Isles-sur-la Sorgue for the 106th Easter weekend antique fair…three days, hundreds of dealers … and, on the same weekend the bi-annual Carpentras Brocante market gets big and moves to the Gare… for what you don’t need and can’t live without.

 

Visit the websites of my Brocanteophiles Corey Amaro https://www.frenchlavie.com and Ruth Ribeaucourt. Book a tour and learn how to find not necessarily what you need but always what you want … that authentic Barbizon painting, an Eames rocking chair, 19th century zinc watering can or perfectly preserved dowery linens etc etc…

photograph Deborah MacNeill

 

 

Magical Seasons in Provence – Mas Belle Source –

“Mas Belle Source is the perfect place for a luminous sojourn in the Luberon. The 18th century Mas has been converted with exquisite taste and comfort to a top rated property for a vacation in Provence. Surrounded by gardens, orchards, olive groves and vineyards it is a place to relax poolside or to set off from to discover the many famous and secret attractions of Provence”

Mas Belle Source, Hameau St. Véran, Provence

The pool

Living in Provence

It is mid March 2019, the mistral is blowing but the sky is brilliant blue and the bright sun silhouettes early blooming almonds. I am sitting in my light filled studio reading comments written in our guest book from the first summer in 2014 . It is hard to believe that it has been five years since our first guests stayed in the house, just one year after we purchased the property of our dreams here in the magical Luberon.

Originally named Villa Goult we re-christened it ‘Mas Belle Source’ for the many freshwater springs on the property that have been the source of our hamlet’s fountain for over 3 centuries. 

Traditional Provençal house with contemporary luxuries

The house and gardens have evolved as our dream of Provence has taken shape. We welcome guest rentals from June to September. My husband Arnold and I spend spring, fall and winter months in the house and have had the pleasure of improving the property, the gardens and décor with antiques and ideas we find in the treasure troves of Provence – its lively fairs, “brocante” markets and the ubiquitous “vide greniers” – empty the attics!

After two years of dust, rubble and jack hammers (the walls are half a metre thick) we have said au revoir to the plumbers, masons, electricians, blacksmiths, and the few scoundrels who worked on the project.

Surrounded by vineyards, olive, almond and cherry trees the 2-acre property is nestled on the boundary of a 17thcentury hamlet in the wine rich Parc Regional du Luberon and lies a short distance from eight famous hilltop villages. Enclosed within limestone walls the stone house and outbuildings are clustered around a central courtyard. Gardens and pool are elegantly separate from the main house.

Architecturally the house resembles the primitive stone “Mas” or farms ubiquitous to Provence that are protectively built around a shade tree. Ours happens to be attached to a charming small hamlet a few kilometres from the villages of Lacoste, Menerbes, Bonnieux and Gordes on the slopes of the Luberon mountains.

It was an unexpected surprise to discover an expansive light filled house with a two-story ceilinged  formal dining area and salon in what began as a 200-year-old farmhouse intact with original beams and monumental old stones. We had seen dozens of houses on our search and none with such elegant bright interior space.

The house had been rewired, upgraded with modern plumbing and stone floors refitted with under-floor heating. It presented a perfect canvas for our enthusiastic brush.

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Dining room with floating stairs to Rose Bedroom

The light filled Salon

TV lounge and study

Orchards, gardens and secluded garden rooms

At last count there are now 11 “outdoor rooms” on the property where one can choose to catch the sun, sit in the shade, lounge by the pool, have tea under the rose arbour, lunch under the shade of wisteria, share drinks in the evening in a covered alcove, take morning coffee enjoying the view of the orchard, or tuck your self out of the wind on a patio protected by a sloping garden of lavender and roses. We often take a picnic to the top and field and enjoy the view of Mt. Ventoux, the glittering villages of Roussillon, Gordes and Goult while we sit in the shade of the almond trees.

In 2015 we opened the inner courtyard to the east and a field that had been fallow for years. The soil was rich, deep and exposed to full sun. With the help of landscape designer Louise Boutin we planted the terroire with almond trees, an orchard of plum, cherry, quince, peach and apple trees and, closest to the house, the olives – eighteen trees including three 80-year old and fifteen 30-year old specimens.

One of the most pleasurable outcomes of improving the property has been the production of our own private-label olive oil – a sample of which is part of the Mas Belle Source welcome gift.

The oil is delicious and can be drizzled on just about anything. One foodie guest loved it on her ice cream. We have plain and a spicy version I make with a mixture of herbs, peppers and chilies from the Bonnieux market.

Accommodations

A floating limestone staircase leads to the Rose suite, completely renovated during our first year in Provence. Stone under floor heating, an en-suite bathroom and millwork closets were added. The room is named for the climbing rose that peeks over the wall of its private terrace. In the 18thand early 19thcenturies the high ceilinged room was used for silk production – the largest agricultural industry at the time.

The second bedroom is named Tilleuil for the Linden tree we planted outside its window – the first of dozens of trees and Provençal shrubs we have added to the grounds. The en-suite has a spacious bathroom and a claw-foot tub.

The Bergerie suite is located in the oldest part of the house and its charm is enhanced by the texture of the original plastered ceiling and stonewalls. It is the ground floor of the two-story “cabano” – the first building in the Mas that housed silk production on the top floor and a stable downstairs. It is spacious, has a private entrance and hallway and en-suite bathroom.

“La Rose” bedroom and ensuite bath

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Below, “Tilleuil” or Linden bedroom and ensuite bath

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Below “La Bergerie” suite

 

Visit our Guestbook

“Mas Belle Sources is the most perfect Provençal house we could ever have wished for.  It is so beautifully furnished and equipped, and the garden is glorious. We have had the most wonderful two-week celebration of my birthday. Hopefully we’ll return in the future. Thank you for letting us share this little piece of paradise.The Jensen family, Capetown South Africa

“An absolute dream, an idyll, a delight… Thank you for sharing this paradise.” Ewa Zebrowski, Shulim and Stefan Rubin, Montreal, Canada.

“This was the perfect romantic, well equipped and beautiful place to celebrate our honeymoon in private! A lovely atmosphere and gorgeous weather did the rest to allow us to fully enjoy the beautiful garden, the pool and the surrounding nature. Kind regards to the whole team who took great care of our every need.” A and W Paul, Friesach, Austria

“A beautiful piece of Provence. The house is lovely and well equipped. We really enjoyed the garden. It was as if we had a market in our own back yard!” We hope to return”K Sheffer, Kansas City, Missouri USA

Simply and most sincerely said, “Your home is a piece of heaven… We feel priviledged to have had a week to savour everything about it. Thank you” The McDermott’s, Santa Barbara, CA, USA

“Un Lieu magique … Deux semaines de privilege…On repart avee l’espoir de revenir… Un jour peur être… Merci”Famille Pinelli, Switzerland


Practical information

The house is fully equipped. There is twice weekly maid service.  Towels, linens and household necessities are included as are Wi-Fi and international phone service. Our management company have 18 years of experience and offer a full concierge service, including catering, chef service, drivers and tours.

Hameau St. Véran in the Luberon is part of the commune of Goult. It is 40 minutes from Avignon TGV, 1.5 hours from the Marseille airport, (Marigane), one hour from the city of Aix-en-Provence and 1.5 hours from the sea (Cassis, St’s Marie de la Mer, Arles) and literally hundreds of other marvels of PACA our region- Provence Alpes Côte d’Azure

PACA

Short film of the Seasons in the Luberon. Enjoy


And, please visit our rental website:                       https://www.villasduluberon.fr/location/maison-goult-mas-belle-source-219782.html 

Deborah MacNeill & Arnold Wicht

Deborah MacNeill – dmacneill.com

Arnold Wicht – arnoldwicht.com

 

 

 

 

 

The reds and pinks of Valentine’s

The universal symbols of St. Valentine’s are the heart and the colors red and pink.Valentine - graffityForgotten is the story of St. Valentine, imprisoned, tortured and killed under the Roman emperor Claudius for secretly marring couples in the Christian Church. And just as well! This time of year a little love and color is to be welcomed.

Valentine - laundryThe color red is the warmest color. Red, symbolizing spontaneity, courage, good luck, prosperity, fire, passion and appetite glow almost florescent in the gold light of Provence. Pink, the color of unconditional love, tenderness, hope, and passion is the power of red softened with the purity of white.

I used clippings of a beautiful bush that produces tiny red, pink and white together with flowering rosemary and olive branches to make my, “unfinished” heart wreath.

Valentine - heartThese bushes are prolific and are often pruned into topiaries and hedges.

Pink and red and rosemary mauve are everywhere in Provence in February and tonight, while Lovers everywhere open their Champagnes Rosé, the sky outside our cozy house in the Luboron is turning fiery red, pink, mauve and gold.

Happy Valentine

Valentine - bathtub