Artists Inspired by ProvenceInspireJulie Whitmarsh

SCAD Discovering Art and Design in Lacoste

From time to time, you see something that makes you reconsider some of the decisions you’ve made in life, and a recent visit to the SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) campus at Lacoste, was one of those moments.

It was the first stop on our day with the local Tourist Board, and although I had heard of SCAD, seen its signs and shop in Lacoste, and watched the new building construction below the village, I didn’t know any more about it. I suppose, if pushed, I would have said it was a place people could come and paint, but it would have been a guess, and in fact, it couldn’t have been much further from the truth. Continue reading here for Julie’s impressions of the most beautiful student campus she has ever seen and photos of La Maison Basse in Lacoste.

What is SCAD?

“The University for Creative Careers”

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has three campuses and an e-learning platform. Founded in 1978, the vision for SCAD was a university that, in providing a high-quality arts education, would prepare its students for creative careers. However, with established locations in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, SCAD, an international outpost, wasn’t considered until Bob Dickensheets received a phone call from Provence in 1999.

The 1st century Pont Julien in the Luberon Provence

@Paul Shawcross

Lacoste, a perched village in the Luberon Valley, is a world apart from Georgia, but the location steeped in history from prehistoric times tweaked the interest of the SCAD founders. What if the dilapidated structures could be transformed and modernized to suit the needs of art students? After a long and careful restoration project, La Maison Basse was ready for students in 2012. Today, some 300 students a year have access to the facility during their studies in Lacoste, a village once owned by the Marquis de Sade and Pierre Cardin much later.

“Every element of Maison Basse relates to the environment very directly, whether it’s protection from the mistral or exposure to the sun.” ~ Bob Dickensheets, SCAD historic preservationist

SCAD website

Exploring from Lacoste

One of Keith Van Sickles’ favourite biking routes is the Véloroute du Calavon in the Luberon Valley. This route is a voie verte (or “greenway”), a paved route for bikers, walkers, and rollerbladers. There is a network of these routes in France. Many cycling paths were built where railroad tracks used to be, making them nice and flat. The Véloroute du Calavon begins in Cavaillon and goes to Apt. They love Lacoste and the Café de France. It’s a simple place with a beautiful view, perched on the side of the hill.

La Via Domitia, a road established by the Romans for trade, linked Italy and Spain. This route passed directly through the Luberon Valley, crossing the Calavon River at Pont Julien. The Romans built the bridge with such precision that the limestone blocks, cut from the Luberon Mountains, needed no mortar. The portals between the arches allowed flood water through. After the centuries the continued existence of this beautiful structure is a testament to the genius of the Roman engineers.

Bonnieux is one of those magical places in Provence. In some cases, the village streets and alleyways climb steeply up the side of a hill. The benefit of this slopeside location is that many buildings have sweeping views of the pastoral Luberon Valley. Perhaps the walk up to the church, at the very top, might justify that extra glass of local rosé. The village also has a remarkable garden – La Louvre.

Near Roussillon, Le Colorado is an area of ochre-rich rock, mined for its pigments from 1871 late 20th century. Also known as the Colorado de Rustrel, one of 60 geosites protected under the Luberon Regional Nature Park, UNESCO Global Geopark. Walking trails meander through the forest and among the “fairy chimneys” (ochre towers). The Colorado Provençal is a magical natural site, with cliffs of varying hues from snow white to bright orange.

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Julie Whitmarsh

Julie Whitmarsh

Julie and her husband Andy started visiting the Vaucluse area 25 years ago & over the years have increased the amount of time they spend there with their growing family. She has a deep affection for the area, finding it is a great place to visit, where the whole family can relax and enjoy time together.

She longs for the day when she can ‘up-sticks’ from her home on Dartmoor & relocate to the Luberon and spend her days cycling, walking, visiting markets & brocante fairs and of course enjoying the local food and drink.

Her blog VaucluseDreamer gives her a space to highlight some of her favourite things about the area from places to visit to particular activities that she and her family all enjoy.

She hopes one day it will be a place where she can share the process of renovating a house in France, but at the moment that will have to wait.

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