ART, PHOTOGRAPHY, DESIGN, DECOR & LANGUAGE
Painting in Provence
A note about painting workshops: If you're looking for a multi-day trips and tours, where you stay, eat and paint with the same group for a week (or however many days), you'll find a great selection of those in my annual round up HERE.
If you're looking for something less intensive--such as a half- or full-day painting session--I have a few to recommend to you here. Each of these artists is willing to travel a bit within the region but it's usually best to choose the artist living closest to where you'll be staying.
A Var-Roaming Experience
This talented watercolor artist, originally from London, has lived and taught in Provence since 1985. In addition to popular week-long watercolor workshops, she teaches day classes in a variety of locations. " I'm happy to travel to meet people," she says. "If they're in Aix for example, I can set us up with a place to paint...en pleine aire if the weather is good or inside if it's not. Most people want lessons in the spring/summer and fall. So if there are poppies we go to the poppy fields, if there's lavender we go to the lavender fields... and so on. And I have a beautiful studio at my home in Lorgues if it's raining. Painting is a joyful moment in time so I encourage students enjoy, laugh, have fun, create. It seems to work very well!" Prices: 330€ for a half-day session, 600€ for a full day...for up to six people. Meaning, whether you're one person or six people, the price is the same. For an extra €30 per person, the artist provides all supplies including high-quality paints, brushes, pencils and paper. Available: year round, although best to book well in advance in summer. Lorgues is 50 minutes from Cannes; one hour from Aix, Nice and Toulon; 1.5 hours from Marseille Airport. The closest train station is Les Arcs-Draguignan. Available: year-round.
Painting and Sketch Classes in St. Remy with "Kups"
Our clients love painting with this Dutch-born artist/instructor, who offers painting workshops in a number of lovely outdoor settings including the beautifully serene Clinique St. Paul de Mausole, where Van Gogh spent a year and painted more than 150 canvasses. For a three-hour class, Kups (real name: Denise) suggests 1/2 hour of sketch class followed by 2.5 hours of acrylic or oil painting. All materials are provided . Kups welcomes kids and adults at all levels, including beginners. Classes are available every day, year round, on demand. 2020 Prices: Half Day Classes. A three-hour class for one person: 135€. Three-hour class for two to five people: 125€ pp. Full Day Classes. These are typically 3 hours in the morning (10 am to 1 pm), with an hour break and another 3 hours in the afternoon (2 pm to 5 pm). Full Day Class for 1 person: 215€. Full day class for 2 to 5 people: 200€ pp. *Note: If you do paint at the Van Gogh Clinic, the entrance fee of 6€ pp is extra. But the bonus there is that Kups will happily lead you on a tour of the property, in French, English, German or Dutch. Note: Denise now teaches on the Cote d'Azur as well so feel free to inquire about classes in or near St. Tropez and Cannes.
Painting and Sketch Classes in St. Remy with Martyn
Provence is paradise for artists! And these painting and/or sketching classes for adults make it easy to brush up your skills because everything you need (acrylic paint, charcoal, brushes, canvas, easel, etc.) will be supplied. Your instructor is an award-winning English and French-speaking artist who exhibits in London's West End, with 30 years of teaching experience at all levels from beginners to university. Classes will be indoors or out, depending on the weather and the Mistral (the famous local wind). Appropriate for all levels, including beginners. Classes are a minimum of two hours and three hours is best. Be sure to wear sloppy clothes! 2020 Prices: 60€ per hour for one person. 85€ per hour (total) for two people. Groups are 30€ per person per hour for three or more people. Plus, all students must pay a one-time 15€ fee to join the local arts association. Available: year round, on demand.
Painting with Acrylics or Oils in Arles
Arles was made famous by Vincent Van Gogh who created almost 200 paintings here in just over one year; many consider this period to be the most creative of his career. “Come and discover why!” says our favorite local instructor, a UK-born painter, now happily settled in Arles after many years in the US. “My workshop will give you an insiders’ view of this beautiful and historic city.” Fully bilingual (English and French), she has 30 years of experience teaching and offers individual and group painting sessions for all levels. Classes are available year round, on demand, and all materials (for acrylics or oils) are included. She’s happy to paint with you in the city, in the surrounding countryside or in her studio, which is just next door to Van Gogh’s famous Cafe de La Nuit. A nice way to do it, she says, is outdoors in the morning, inside in the afternoon. And for students who book a full day, she's happy to weave in a one-hour city walking tour at no extra charge. “Our painting class was amazing," says my client who painted with her in May, 2019. "I had never really painted before, and she gave easy to follow instructions about how to get started, techniques, and what to look for when painting. Her years of experience as a professor and artist came through in her instruction and education about Van Gogh as well as other artists. I highly recommend this painting experience when in Arles and surrounding areas.” 2020 Fees: Half Day Classes. Three hours for one person: 150€. Two to five people: 125€ pp. Full Day Classes. Typically three hours in the morning (10 am to 1 pm), with an hour break and another three hours in the afternoon (2 pm to 5 pm). One person: 235€. Two to five people: 150€ pp. All materials included.
Painting, Watercolor and Drawing Workshops in Aix
In Aix we work with a wonderful Atlanta-born, French Impressionistic painter, who has been in France since 1980 and who taught painting and drawing at the American University of Provence for ten years. In addition to leading Cezanne and Van Gogh tours for American museums and art lovers (please inquire), she offers half and full- day “plein-air” painting workshops in the Provencal countryside for all ability levels. For those who share her passion for Cezanne and Van Gogh, arrangements can be made to paint on the very sites where they did. 2020 Prices: A 1/2 day workshop is 300€ pp, min 2 people. A full-day workshop is 550€ pp, min 2 people; the cost of lunch is extra. Group rates (for 4 to 6 people) are 1100€ (half day) and 2,100€ (full day). Add to these prices 15€ pp for supplies. Available: year-round.
Drawing and Watercolor in Jouques, 30 min north of Aix
Why not spend a day in the historical and beautiful village of Jouques, where this talented French-Australian artist runs his own fine-art gallery and atelier? An accredited visual-arts teacher (BA Fine Art) with over thirty years teaching experience, Jean-Louis's one-day workshops are suitable for all skill levels and take place in the village streets or in the nearby forest. You’ll receive expert drawing lessons during the morning, followed by a water-color session in the afternoon. 2020 Prices: Workshops cost €180 for one person and €155 pp for 2-5 people, for seven hours of tuition (9.30-12.30/2-6pm). All art materials are included. Lunch is not included so you can try a local restaurant or explore the village. Overnight stays are also possible at certain times of the year. Available: year-round.
Making Memories: Watercolor Workshop in the Heart of the Luberon
In this intimate watercolor painting course, the artist invites you to her home and studio, located in the center of Goult, a charming village considered the “hidden gem” of the Luberon. Also a graphic designer, she has more than 20 years of professional experience including expositions and commissioned portraiture. She works primarily in watercolor and oils. The village itself and the artist’s large garden offer ample opportunity to find the perfect spot to paint and be inspired by the beauty and light of Provence. All instructions will be tailored to your level, from beginners on up. Several themes are offered: Plein Air, Portraiture, The Nude, Still Life. The course is from 10 am to 2:30. A simple lunch and all supplies are included. 2020 Prices: €175 pp (min. 2 ppl) or €150 pp (for 3 or 4 ppl). Model fee is €25 pp, if needed. Available: year-round.
Sketch and Paint in the Luberon with Frederic
Based in Cavaillon this charming artist and graphic designer loves to lead clients up to the Medieval hilltowns of the nearby Luberon for half and full-day sketching/painting sessions. Choose between Oppède, Ménerbes or Lacoste; whichever village you choose you’ll find plenty to inspire you: charming old-stone houses, historic churches, fountains, castles, gardens and of course, the most splendid views! You’ll start with sketching and then complete your work with watercolors. Frederic supplies all materials including a sketchbook, pencils and watercolors. Available: Year Round. Prices: ½ day workshops are 350€ for up to six people; a full-day is 500€, plus lunch.
A Day Devoted to Ochre, Painting..and Stunning Scenery
Your guide/host for this day is the charming tourism expert who has worked in Luberon tourism for years and knows the area better than anyone. You'll rendezvous with her in the village of Robion (or wherever you're staying if it's not too far), then head out for a fantastic, full and very-artsy day! Your guide will either join you in your car...or you can go in her car (3 guests max)...or we'll use a van holding up to seven guests. Your first stop will be the historic Ochre Conservatory, where she will lead your English-language tour. It's an art center, art school and museum (of sorts) on the grounds of an old ochre-processing plant. Ochre is what gives the earth around Roussillon its distinctive orange color. It was mined and processed for many years around the Luberon—at one point there were 20 ochre plants in the region--but today there's just one left, near Apt. This particular factory closed in 1963 and was later converted to its present use. You'll see a lot of the old equipment, learn how the process worked and have time to poke around the charming shop. Then you'll head for Roussillon, to see the gorgeous ochre cliffs up close. After a casual bistro lunch, you'll rendezvous with a local artist for an afternoon of outdoor sketching and painting. (You'll start with sketching and then complete your work with watercolors.) Your instructor will supply all materials including a sketchbook, pencils, watercolors and chairs if needed. Timing is flexible but best is 9:30 am to 6 pm. Available: year round but of course spring, summer and fall are best. Price: Depends on # of people in your group. Expect to pay roughly 400€ (guide fee) and 350€ (artist's fee and supplies), plus 20€ to 25€ pp for lunch. Should you need/want the van for seven, add 400€ to the price.
Photography in Provence
We work with a number of terrific professional photographers in Provence and the Riviera. They can teach you, tour you, shoot with you or shoot you...whatever you and your group needs! What appears below will give you an idea of what's available and what it costs...but all offerings are fairly customizable...just ask.
Photographing the Famous White Horses of the Camargue
One of our most fantastic experiences is a day designed for people who want to photograph the famous white horses of the Camargue and the cowboys (gardians) who look after them. To do this, we’ve teamed up with a terrific photographer who knows the best ranches, best places to shoot and best time of day to capture the most-magical images. Not only will you improve your skills considerably but you'll get a glimpse of a Provence that many travelers miss. Shooting lasts roughly 90 minutes but there’s a 45-minute tutorial beforehand and travel time to the shooting site so plan to spend about three hours. Workshops are suited to all levels, from beginner to professional, using smart phones to DSLRs. The best time to shoot is around sunrise and sunset so the timing changes with the seasons. Two types of private workshop are available on your choice of dates. * A group of 7 to 10 horses running in the watery marshes is 825€ (for up to 8 people). *A group of 5 to 7 horses on the beach (and running in the sea) is 1650€ (for up to 10 people). The price is a flat fee for your group; each workshop includes gardians in traditional gardian garb! Public workshops are also available on certain dates, starting three hours before sunset: 2020 dates are April 4, April 18, June 13, July 1, July 8, July 15, Aug 5, Aug 12, Aug 19, Sept 5 and Oct 24. These alternate between the marsh (180€ pp) and the beach (235€ pp). On May 8 and 9, there will be two special public workshops, with new foals and mares...probably five of each. This shoot (180€ pp) will be held on a private ranch, in a typical Camargue landscape with marsh, birds, reeds, etc. Whether you sign up for a public or private shoot, you’ll meet the photographer in or near Aigues-Mortes. For the marsh shoots, be sure to wear water-proof boots to the knee. For beach shoots between May and October, bare feet or walking sandals and shorts are fine. The same photographer also offers workshops focused on the birds of the Camargue (flamingos and others); inquire for details. Available: year-round.
A Day Devoted to Photography
Available in Multiple Regions
Ever return from vacation disappointed with your photos? We all have! But we work with a wonderful local photographer with an international reputation (her work is published in magazines and books all over the world...and her first book just been published ) who can help in a number of ways. Let her spend a full or half day touring and shooting with you, giving you lots of wonderful tips and tricks along the way. She works with digital and film and is comfortable helping in both formats including phone cameras. These photo tours range within an hour of St. Remy so you could visit Les Baux, the Luberon, Avignon, Isle sur la Sorgue, the Wine Country around Chateauneuf du Pape, Aix, and more. 2020 prices: The fee of 400€ half day and 650€ full day for 1-4 people includes transportation in a 4x4 Dacia Duster with A/C. Lunch is not included. Or, hire her for a private portrait session. She'll help you choose a beautiful Provencal location—or a few of them—and then photograph you, your family and/or your friends to provide a precious, lasting souvenir of your time together in Provence. 2020 prices: A one-hour portrait session at your villa or hotel is 300€ and a two- to three-hour mini roadtrip for shooting your portrait in various locations around St. Remy is 600€. Portrait sessions include all post-production costs and a selection of high-resolution print-quality jpegs, available for download via WeTransfer /Dropbox. Available: year round.
Outdoor Market Photography
Available in Multiple Regions
Provence is known for its colorful outdoor markets where you'll find food, wine, flowers, clothing, jewelry, linens, decor, housewares, antiques and more. Just about every village has its own market, on the same day each week, with its regular vendors and its own specialties. But if you've ever tried to capture the beauty and energy of the market--the products and the people--you've probably found it harder than it looks. So we've asked an award-winning lifestyle photographer (who shoots for major publications) to help. She'll rendezvous with you at the market then stroll the stalls with you, offering great tips on composition, lighting, portraits, food shots, avoiding cliches and more. Then over coffee, you'll critique your photos and discuss "post production"--meaning how to enhance them further. Our photographer will also be happy to photograph you, if you'd like, with an extra charge for post-production and digital delivery. All types of cameras including phones are fine, as are all experience levels. Start to finish, expect to spend up to 3 hours. Pricing: 175 euros total for 1-2 people; 375 euros for 3-6 people. Kids welcome, with pricing on demand. If you'd like transportation, it's available at a small extra charge. Available: year round.
Half-or Full-Day Photo Walks and Workshops
With its beautiful light, rolling green landscapes, picturesque hill towns and colorful village markets, Provence is a photographers paradise! We work with a young, award-winning photographer, who apprenticed with world-renowned photojournalist Mary Ellen Mark and did editorial and portraiture work for well-known publications before making the move from his native Mexico to the city of Arles, home of the famous international photo festival known as the Rencontres d'Arles. He is fully tri-lingual (French, English, Spanish) and loves to share his tips and expertise via half- and full-day photo walks and workshops in Arles, St. Remy and neighboring areas. Any level of experience and all camera types (smart phones included) are welcome. After a bit of planning by email, he'll rendezvous with you in your chosen village and then head out on foot (or in your car) to shoot street scenes, portraits, landscapes and more. He'll also be happy to capture photos of you and your group, which he'll pass along digitally after the shoot. "My goal is to help you achieve great photos and get the best results possible!," he says. Pricing: Three-hour morning or afternoon sessions for one person are 200€; 2 to 6 people are 150€ pp. Full-day sessions (3 hours in the morning, lunch break, 3 hours in the afternoon) are 300€ for one person or 200€ pp for 2 to 6 people (lunch is extra). Available: year round.
A Perfectly Provencal Day to Remember
Tour starts from Aix or nearby
Why not return home from Provence with more than memories or the same souvenirs that everyone else can purchase? Why not return with stunning images of "La Belle" Provence? Spend the day with a skilled, professional portrait and fine art photographer...an American who lives and works full time in Provence...and he'll take you out for a full-on Photo Tour Adventure wrapped up with interesting chat with locals, beauty and tons of insights into the region. Not only will he guide you to some of the most visually stunning places in the area, but he'll also share with you some of his very-favorite off-the-beaten path sites. Your day could be spent rambling around charming and historic villages near Aix and throughout the Vaucluse...or you could do longer day trips to take in the lavender fields of the Valensole Plateau, the Gorges of Verdon, Marseille...or even a hike up Cezanne's favorite subject, Mont St. Victoire. (Note: lavender season is roughly June 10 to July 20.) Transport is in a comfortable, air-conditioned 4-door Peugeot 206 HDI. 2020 Prices: 1 or 2 people, 300€ (total, not per person) for a half day, 450€ euros for a full day. 3 or 4 people, 400€ half day, 550€ full day. Meals and any entry fees are extra. This photographer can also do a Private Portrait Session, photographing you, your friends and family in the location of your choice. He'll provide you with high-res jpeg files on a CD, send them to you via WeTransfer or post them on Picasa so your friends and family can view them. 2020 Prices: A 2-3 hour portrait session is 275€. The Photo Tour Adventure and Portrait Sessions are both available year round.
Shooting the Lavender Route and Gorges du Verdon
Tour starts from Aix or nearby
Provence produces nearly 80 percent of the world’s lavender and the famously alluring flower blankets the landscape every June and July. Lush rows stripe the countryside in pale-violet-to-inky-blue hues...and traffic slows to an escargot’s pace as travelers leap from rented Renaults to snap just one more photo. Given how everyone wants great lavender photos, we’ve put together a full day devoted to shooting lavender, aka the famous “Blue Gold.” No matter what type of camera you have, you’re guaranteed to come home with amazing shots…and beautiful memories. Your guide for the day will be an American photographer based in Aix, who specializes in portraiture, documentation and landscape photography, both digital and traditional. “Being based in Provence has given me opportunities to explore this astonishingly beautiful region,” he says. “A particular favorite is the lavender fields of the Valensole Plateau, a short hour’s drive from Aix, and the Gorges du Verdon, an hour or so further on.” (The Gorges du Verdon is the deepest canyon in Europe: 250m-750 meters deep but only 80 to 90 meters wide. The water flowing through it tends to be oddly, beautifully green, spilling into the lovely Lac Saint Croix. The Gorges is the #1 attraction in Provence.) This is a full-day guided tour--starting around 9 am and ending around sunset--visiting both locations, with photo tutorials throughout. Your guide will either pick you up (in Aix, near Aix or near Moustiers Saint Marie) or you can rendezvous with him in either place. Your first stop will be for breakfast in Moustiers, a village known for pottery and ceramics, with the designation “one of the most beautiful villages in France.” You’ll spend the late morning and early afternoon photographing the Gorges both from above and below. From there you’ll travel to the town of Valensole, gateway to the famous Plateau. Before continuing on to the lavender fields, you’ll take a short break for lunch…then spend the remains of the day exploring and shooting the fields, all the while immersed in the heady summery scent. Available: Roughly June 20 until July 20. 2020 Price: 450€ total for 1-4 people, plus meals.
Riviera Portrait Sessions, Photo Lessons and Mini Tours
Available up and down the Cote d'Azur
This talented American photographer has been living and working on the Riviera for five years. While weddings are his pain et buerre (his wedding portfolio is just fantastic) he also offers portrait sessions, photo tours and more. He's based in Nice but regularly zips up and down the coast, from St. Tropez to the Italian border. "Every corner of this place is filled with beauty and is waiting to be shared with you!" he says. Intrigued? Here are some ideas, all of them available year round. One Hour Photo Tours. A great way to explore some of the Riviera's most photogenic sites, such as Old Antibes, the Nice Flower Market, The Rock in Monaco and the fishing village of Villefranche-sur-Mer. Every tour is a mini-workshop, filled with an insider's perspective and lots of great photo tips. First, you'll learn some quick basics: how to use a camera in "Manual" mode; what F-stop, shutter speed and ISO mean; how to compose an image, etc. Then, James tells me, "we'll take test shots, stumble around getting the grip of things and share photos. While the clients are shooting, I'm taking photos of them. All the way, I'm throwing in fun art and city facts. We always have a great time." Each tour also includes a printed photo (of you) as a souvenir. Pricing: 1 person: 80€ per hour. 2 people: 150€ per hour. 3 people: 170€ per hour. 4 people:: 200€ per hour. Larger groups and longer day tours are available with price upon demand. Note: admission costs, transportation costs and meals are extra. Portrait Sessions. James will suggest some amazing locations such as villages, gardens, mountains, seaside, beaches or even a boat. This is perfect for family trips, couples, honeymoons, kids. Price: 350€ for a one-hour photo session, plus any transportation or admission costs. The Portrait Session includes 15 digital HD files sent directly to your inbox.
Visiting the Rencontres d'Arles Photography Festival
The large international photography festival known as Les Rencontres d'Arles was set to celebrate its 51st anniversary this year, from June 29 to Sept 20, 2020. In early May, it was announced the event would be cancelled. But we'll definitely be offering this tour when the Rencontres re-appears in 2021. In addition to photo exhibits in venues all over the city and beyond (most of which run for the duration of the fest), there will be panel discussions, evening talks, slide shows, workshops and pop ups (mostly during the first week). For visitors who want to partake, it can all be a bit daunting: how to get tickets, which are the best shows, how to map out the day, etc. But fear not, photo lover! I've lined up a few great local guides who know all the ins and outs, who are eager to help you and host you! On whatever day(s) you choose to come to Arles, your guide will meet you in an easy to find location, go over the exhibit schedule with you, help you get tickets to the shows you most want to see, alert you to any special events...and then escort you for the day, translating as needed. Please note your guide won't be touring you through the actual exhibits themselves unless he or she has already seen the show with the curator or artist (sometimes this happens during the first week of the Rencontres). What he or she will do is take care of everything else so you can focus on the photos...and in between, provide background about the city (Roman sites, Van Gogh sites, etc.) which will make your day even richer. If you prefer not to get yourself to Arles, the guide can also provide transport from wherever you're staying (within reason!). Prices range from 250€ for a half-day walking tour (if you meet the guide in Arles) to 565€ for a full day tour with transportation to Arles. This is a flat rate for up to four people; lunch and festival tickets are extra. For larger groups, just ask.
Other Activities for Art and Craft Lovers
Learn How to Weave a Lavender Wand
Born in Paris, this charming artist now lives in Les Baux de Provence where she makes fresh lavender wands every summer (along with other handmade lavender products such as relaxing pillows, scented candles, essential oil, etc.). You'll find her lovely products in local markets, in luxury hotels and in shops. But the beautiful lavender wands remain her mainstay and she offers popular workshops for people who want to make their own. The wands--known as fuseaux--are an 18th-century Provencal tradition still popular today. Used to perfume drawers and linens while keeping moths away, they were a popular part of the bridal trousseau, representing love and happiness. They're handmade with fresh lavender and keep their natural aroma for years. (Gently squeezing the wand from time to time releases more fragrance.) Lavandin is the preferred variety of lavender, because of its high essential-oil content. After harvest, the flowers must be worked quickly while they're still supple. The stems are folded back to make a protective case for the fragrant blossoms...and the weaving of the ribbons requires dexterity! Sign up for a workshop (roughly 2.5 hours) and she'll show up at your hotel or rental villa with her basket of freshly cut lavender and lots of colorful ribbons. "At the workshop's end," she says, "you'll have a souvenir of Provence which for many years will scent your home and revive your memories." Or, if you prefer, you can request your workshop outdoors overlooking the olive trees at her house, five minutes from Les Baux. 2020 Price: 55€ per person, 3 people minimum. Available: mid June to mid September.
Crafting Classes in a Historic Hilltop Home
Located in a 300-year old home in Goult– the village some call the “best kept secret in Luberon” – this new “crafting atelier” offers 2.5-hour workshops during which you’ll make a fully decorated object – wall clock, serving plate, wooden jewelry box or similar item – in the French rural or royal style. No previous experience is needed and success is guaranteed! Learn how to use distressing, crackling and decoupage – techniques popularized in France and Italy during the 17th century – while choosing from hundreds of images to make your one-of-a-kind creation. Your host is a charming artist who worked as a trainer/facilitator in 20 countries before landing in Provence with her family. Her interest in crafting began 10 years ago and she has since studied with experts all over the world. Groups are small (6 people max), workshops are 40€ pp and crafting parties can also be organized for kids and adults in the venue of your choice (15 people max). Workshops are held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 am to 12:30 although afternoon and weekend workshops are possible, on demand.
Learn the Ancient Art of Mosaic
Crillon le Brave
Having traveled the world and lived in large cities, our favorite mosaic artist found herself craving a more peaceful life, in a village where she could pursue and share her passion while her husband could devote time to his books (he’s an avid collector of rare editions). They fell in love with Crillon le Brave: for the quiet and beauty of the surroundings; the nearby vineyards, ancient olive groves and lavender fields; the mineral majesty of Mont Ventoux; and the warm welcome of the locals. Today visitors come from all over the world to learn mosaic making at the academy the couple set up in a charming old mas; classes can be in English, French or Spanish. “How to Make a Souvenir” is a ½ day class for all levels; 4 to 5 students max per class. It runs from 9:30 am to 1 pm and costs 72€ per person (25 € deposit). The price includes all materials, use of tools and your mosaic to take home. The full-day class is the “One day Discovery” and it costs 120€ per person (40€ deposit; 6 students max per class). It runs from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and 2 pm to 5:30 pm…and includes the same as above. Three- and five-day Master Classes are also available.
Tours for Art Lovers
Art and Artisan Tour
This half- or full-day tour will get you up close and personal with some of the finest artisans in the St. Remy/Les Baux/Eygalieres area. These might include painters, sculptors, glassblowers, a silversmith and the makers of traditional Provencale clay figurines known as Santons. Book the full day tour and we’ll have time for a visit to the famous Souleiado workshop, museum and shop in Tarascon where you’ll learn all about the famous printed Indienne fabrics so closely associated with the South of France. (They were first imported from the Great Indies to Marseille in the late 16th century and they’ve been made by this legendary Provencale company since 1939.) 2020 Prices: 450€ for a full day or 300€ for a half day for up to four people. For larger groups, please inquire. Available: Year Round.
In the Footsteps of Van Gogh
This full-day private tour, led by one of our most popular guides (an established Van Gogh expert), takes in St. Remy, Les Baux and Arles...with visits to the most-important sites where the Dutch artist lived and painted. We’ll make time for a visit to the art museum known as the Fondation Van Gogh, dedicated to Van Gogh’s work and legacy, which pays homage to his goal of establishing an international center of artistic creation and exchange in Arles. This private tour includes pick up and drop off at your lodging (within 15 km of St. Remy) or you can rendezvous with the guide in St. Remy. (Pick up in other locations available for a extra charge.) You’ll take in lots of gorgeous scenery, including a Roman site or two, and be treated to a delicious Provencal lunch with wine. Timing: 10 am to 6 pm. Pricing: 1-2 people: €550 total. 3-4 people: €750 total. Larger groups: pricing on demand. Available: year round.
The Art & Artists of Aix
This relaxed and very informal tour is led by an American photographer based in Aix, who loves to lead clients in and out of studios, galleries and the occasional museum, talking to local artists about their lives and work. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of Aix…and of course its most famous son, Paul Cezanne. The full day tour includes a visit to Cezanne’s studio, which looks just as it did when he died in 1906. (Of the studio, Marilyn Monroe wrote in the visitor's book in 1955: "a wonderful visit.”) 2020 Prices: Half day walking tour for up to four people: 150€. Full day walking tour: 275€ for up to four people. Not included: lunch and museum admissions if applicable. Available: Year Round.
In the Footsteps of Cezanne
A great day out, fully escorted, to explore the life and work of the painter Paul Cezanne (1839–1906), Aix’s beloved native son. You’ll rendezvous with your guide around 9 am, with pick up at your hotel or villa...or at a meeting point in Aix. On foot, you’ll set out to explore the famous “City of Fountains”: the historic center, the tree-shaded squares, the colorful market, the shops and galleries. You’ll definitely have time to pick up a few souvenirs: the famous Savon de Marseille, Provencal linens, art, lavender, olive oil or what have you. And we’ll want topop into the charming cafe La Brulerie, said to have the best hot chocolate in town. Next, you’ll visit the park surrounding Cezanne’s family home, the Jas de Bouffan, along with his studio and the church where his marriage was celebrated. Walking along the beautiful tree-lined Cours Mirabeau, we’ll visit the Deux Garçons, the legendary cafe where Cezanne would meet with his dear friend Emile Zola, and perhaps share a coffee...or a drink...or some delicious briney oysters. Then it’s time to head out into the countryside to discover Cezanne’s favorite subject, the monumental Mont Sainte Victoire. Together we’ll explore the area from the painter’s favorite vantage points: the quarry of Bibemus, Tholonet and Vauvenargues villages. If you want to hike, you can hike a bit. If you want to visit a vineyard, the guide knows the best ones to choose from. Lunch could be in town...or en route to Mont Saint Victoire...or at a stunning “starchitect” winery ten minutes from Aix. We’ll return to Aix...or drop you at your hotel or villa...around 6 pm. Price: 600€ total for the full-day tour, for up to 3 people; 720€ total for 4 to 7 people. The cost of lunch is extra. Available: Year Round.
Help with Learning French
In and around the Luberon
Véronique Bienfait has been teaching French to adults of all nationalities and levels for more than 20 years...first part time and now full time. For travellers, she offers classes on demand, in your rental villa, your hotel or a local cafe (60€ for 90 minutes). For those who live in the area full or part time, she offers group classes for six people max (200€ for 20 hours). She’s also happy to do classes via Skype (35€ for 60 minutes). Priority is given to oral communication “to help you feel more comfortable with understanding and expressing yourself in any daily situation,” she says. Available: throughout the Northern Luberon and the Bouches du Rhone. For info or to book: click here for Veronique's website or reach out by email or phone: , 06 70 34 74 22.
In and around St. Remy
With an American father and French mother, Celine Gail Carroll has lived in both countries and now makes her home in St. Remy, where she's a popular French teacher and translator. She leads private French classes for expats and travelers, offering tailor-made sessions designed to fit your schedule and level. You could study with her for an hour or two each day for a week...or for a half or full day...or for a weekend. One popular offering is a two-hour session which includes an hour of study followed by an hour of practice in town. Celine particularly loves to teach kids so think about leaving your little angels with her for a couple hours while you run off to do whatever. Prices for one or two people are: 30€ an hour, 50€ two hours, 90€ half day (four hours), 150€ full day (eight hours), 250€ weekend (two days). For info or to book: or call 06 72 48 55 32.
Your Personal Shopper for Design and Decor
My favorite decor-shopping maven Karen has more than 15 years experience doing residential interior design...and her taste is exquisite! She knows all the best shops, vendors, dealers antique shows and brocantes in the area...and loves to help clients find the most-perfect pieces for their own homes. You tell Karen what you need and she'll help you source antiques, modern pieces, smalls, lighting, fabrics, linens, art and more. She can also help arrange shipping. Even if you buy rien, you'll have a fun day out seeing beautiful things...and enjoy this charming Australian's tale of moving to Provence and renovating her own 14th-century apartment and 19th-century village house top to bottom. 2020 Price: 450€ for two shoppers in Karen's car. For larger groups or when a van is needed, please request price. Available: year round.
Do-It-Yourself Organic Perfumes and Cosmetics
At this boutique/workshop in the village of Sorgues, not far from Avignon, you can make your own perfume (along with a wide variety of cosmetics and body-care products such as lip balm, soap, body scrub, shampoo, cleansing milk, massage oil and lotion, eye care, etc.) from organic Provencal ingredients. The charming, English-speaking owner Julie is a chemist with years of experience in olfactotherapy and aromatherapy...and she’ll help you make your own unique roll-on perfume using organic essential oils. First you’ll learn the basics of essential oils and how to combine them, then create your own personal scent to take home...the perfect travel souvenir! Or, create a solid perfume, like a balm, which you’ll take home in a little jar. The perfume workshop lasts 60 to 90 minutes. 2020 Price: 36€ pp; minimum two people. Pricing for other workshops on demand; group discounts available. Please book ten days in advance, if possible. Note: Julie is also happy to lead workshops at your hotel, rental villa or other venues. In the boutique, you can buy floral waters, vegetable oils, organic cosmetics and other products from local producers. Available: year-round, except Sundays and Mondays.
Paintbrush photo courtesy of Corrine Korda