On Thursday 6 October 2011 the Provence branch of the MGS joined forces with the Languedoc branch to visit the Château de Beaulieu near Rognes. This privately owned wine domaine of 300 hectares, of which 140 are planted as with vines, has been undergoing major refurbishment of both house and garden. The estate, which is situated on an extinct volcano, has gardens which were originally laid out in the 18th century. Many changes have been made over the years, but during the last five, Atelier Alep, under the guidance of Philippe Deliau, has restored the area closest to the house into classic simple
garden rooms and created new axes which give long sweeping views from the house.
Philippe likes to use endemic plants in an
ornamental way, for example, he has created a long, mixed hedge using
green and white oaks, Viburnum tinus, Pistacia lentiscus and Buxus sempervirens.
Rebecca Engels had very generously offered her lovely garden above Aix-en-Provence for us to enjoy our shared lunch. This was followed by a visit to the tranquil and brooding Bibémus
quarries, last worked in the 18th century.
It was here that Paul Cézanne painted 14 masterpieces using the
oddly sculpted rocks, the amber sandstone, green pines and Provençal
blue sky as his inspiration.
The quarries have been sympathetically
landscaped by Philippe Deliau. He has created a circuit with paths,
wooden walkways and platforms in order for visitors to be able to
compare the landscape with reproductions of the paintings created there
by Cézanne. Intervention has been minimal, allowing trees and shrubs
to spring up at many levels and preserving the peaceful atmosphere of
Text by Nicola D’Annunzio
Photographs by Nicola D’Annunzio and Christine Daniels