Carolyne Kauser-AbbottLifestyle: Art & Culture

Château La Coste Delivers Modern Art, Food and Wine

A friend and her husband arrived in Provence for three nights, but their work schedule only allowed for a tiny window of social time. We headed directly from l’Aéroport de Marseille Provence to Château La Coste for lunch and a vineyard walk to see the modern art sculptures.

Château la Coste Art Architecture Walk

Located just outside the agricultural village of Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, Château La Coste is about 35-minutes from the airport and only 16 kilometres from the old centre of Aix-en-Provence. Plan to spend at least half a day onsite to allow enough time to visit the installations, browse architectural book collection in the boutique, have a bite to eat, and sample some wine.

Château la Coste Bridges

Architecture and Art

The evolution of Château La Coste is ongoing, as its Irish-born owner Patrick McKillen has a grand vision for this 200-hectare (600 acres) estate. The Venetian-style bastide (manor house) dates from 1682, and the vineyard was established in the 18th century. However, Roman era vestiges unearthed on the property indicate that grapes were cultivated in the same vicinity long ago. Leveraging his successes in real estate development and luxury hotels, McKillen purchased the property in 2002. It was his sister Mara who first identified the neglected property, and she continues to collaborate on the concept.

Château la Coste Andy Goldsworthy

Fans of contemporary architecture will be impressed by this wine estate. McKillen hired French architect Jean Nouvel to master plan the vineyard and to design the wine cave. The polished aluminum structure could be mistaken for an aircraft hangar is, in fact, the wine cave. Japanese architect and artist Tadao Ando designed the central building, the Centre d’Art which houses the bookshop, Bistro restaurant and a covered parkade. The open-air music pavilion, conceived by Frank Gehry, is a jumbled combination of glass and wood. These world-renowned architects were challenged to work within the natural landscape and the existing agricultural buildings.

Château la Coste Frank Gehry Music Pavillion

Louise Bourgeois’ Crouching Spider awaits you as you drive into the property, this oversized metal creature may give anyone who has arachnophobia a bit of a fright. Sprinkled throughout McKillen’s property are 30-odd thought-provoking sculptures by Alexander Calder, Andy Goldsworthy, Ai Weiwei, Liam Gillick, Paul Matisse, Sean Sully, Tracy Emin, and others.

Château la Coste Crouching Spider

Château la Coste Ai Weiwei Ruyi Path

The self-guided Art & Architecture walk takes about two (2) hours to complete (you get a map and details when you buy tickets). The pathway involves rolling hills and stairs. It is possible to push a stroller most of the way, but anyone with mobility issues should consider a guided tour from the comfort of a golf cart.

Read: Chateau La Coste New Discoveries at the Vineyard by Anne-Marie Simons

Château la Coste Liam Gillick

Château la Coste Liam Gillick

Food and Wine

Although the Art & Architecture walk attracts visitors, McKillen is cognisant that a 15 Euro/pp tour will not improve the bottom line in that same way as food and wine purchases. His intent from the beginning was to produce a world-class location and equally notable wines. Guiding vineyard’s wine production is talented winemaker Matthieu Cosse (a biodynamic winemaker from Cahors in southwest France). Château La Coste received organic certification in 2009.

Tadao Ando-chapel(c) Photographe Andrew Pattman

Tadao Ando Chapel – See Photo Credits

When it comes to food at the vineyard, there is something for every taste and budget. Three Michelin star chef, Gérald Passedat oversees all the kitchens onsite. Located inside Villa la Coste (more detail on the hotel below) is Louison a one Michelin star restaurant and Passedat’s only location outside of Marseille. Restaurant Le Salon, in the hotel, offers a selection of fresh gastronomic choices in a casual bistro environment. Reservations required.

Restaurant menus
Tel: +33 (0)4 42 50 50 00

Château la Coste Tom Shannon Drop

Tom Shannon, Drop, 2009 © Tom Shannon and Château La Coste 2015. Photograph © Andrew Pattman 2015

Tom Shannon, Drop – See Photo Credits

If you have watched the Netflix series Chef’s Table, you will recognize Argentinian chef Francis Mallmann for his open fire cooking technique. The restaurant (his first in Europe) carries his name Francis Mallmann, and the menu follows his signature cooking-style. The restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and it’s best to consult the website for seasonal hours.

Château-La-Coste_Francis Mallmann-Portrait-4(c)RichardHaughton

Francis Mallmann – See photo credits

Château-La-Coste_Francis Mallmann-Restaurant-Extérieur

Francis Mallmann Restaurant Exterior – See photo credits

Taking the price down a notch is le Restaurant Tadao Ando in the Centre d’Art.  Here, the tables and service flow seamlessly from inside to the exterior. The modern architecture that invites you to soak up the view.

Tadao Ando, Restaurant, 2011 © Tadao Ando et Château La Coste 2016. Photograph © Andrew Pattman 2016

Tadao Ando, Restaurant – See Photo Credits

Tadao Ando Art Centre 2011© Tadao Ando Chateau La Coste 2016. photographe (c) Andrew Pattman 2017

Tadao Ando Art Centre – See Photo Credits

If the weather is favourable for al fresco dining la Terrasse gets my vote with its limited, seasonal menu. On our visit, we enjoyed fresh pea and mint soup, a caramelized onion tart with salad, and Scottish smoked salmon. They do not take reservations.

Jean Nouvel Cuverie 2008. © Jean Nouvel ADAGP Paris 2015 Photograph Andrew Pattman © 2015

Jean Nouvel Cuverie – See Photo Credits

Stay at the Vineyard

Five-star luxury hotel Villa La Coste was probably the most natural addition to the property given McKillen’s investments in high-end London hotels Connaught, Claridge’s and the Berkeley. Fitting a 28-suite hotel into a hillside was the job of Marseille-based Tangram Architectes. The rooms are like private cabins with discrete entries and expansive views of the Luberon Valley and Mont Ventoux. Top off your stay with a relaxing treatment in at the spa.

Tadao Ando. Gate(c)Chateau la Coste. Photographe Andrew Pattman 2017

Tadao Ando Gate Chateau la Coste – See Photo Credits

Visitor Information

Château La Coste (website)
2750 Route de la Cride
13610 Le Puy Sainte-Réparade (see map)
Tel: +33 (0)4 42 61 89 98

When you purchase your tickets you will get walking maps and details on the specific sculptures.

Image Credits: 
All captioned photos were provided by and published with the permission of Château La Coste.

Image details:

Tadao Ando Chapel. Photograph Andrew Pattman

Tom Shannon, Drop, 2009 © Tom Shannon and Château La Coste 2015. Photograph © Andrew Pattman 2015

Château La Coste Francis Mallmann Portrait 4(c). Richard Haughton

Château La Coste Francis Mallmann Restaurant Extérieur. Richard Haughton

Tadao Ando, Restaurant, 2011 © Tadao Ando et Château La Coste 2016. Photograph © Andrew Pattman 2016

Tadao Ando Art Centre 2011© Tadao Ando Château La Coste 2016. Photograph (c) Andrew Pattman 2017

Jean Nouvel Cuverie 2008. © Jean Nouvel ADAGP Paris 2015. Photograph Andrew Pattman © 2015

Tadao Ando Gate Château La Coste. Photograph Andrew Pattman 2017

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride was at six-months old, her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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