Tina Isaac
October 24, 2011

Many who love Provence are familiar with Château La Coste, which producessome of the region’s best-known rosé. But what many do not know (yet) is thatsince the vineyard was taken over by an Irish businessman, in 2002, not onlyhave the wines gone organic, the sprawling domain has become the most ambitiousart and architecture complex in France—and perhaps in all of Europe.

The idea: to bring together art, wine and architecture in a waythat is organic and site-specific, yet defies easy definition. Too vast to be asculpture garden and too diverse to be an art collection, this exceptionalcompilation opened without fanfare in June.

Once inside the gate, the visitor is greeted by a sprawling glassand concrete restaurant/bookshop/visitors’ pavillion surrounded by an eternitypool designed by architect Tadao Ando, guarded by a Louise Bourgeois crouchingspider and monumental works by Alexander Calder and Hiroshi Sugimoto. The winecellars are the work of Jean Nouvel; reconstructed Jean Prouvé houses are setto become a bookshop and wine kiosks; further along is a deconstructed music pavillion signed by FrankGehry. Meander up the paths toward the hilltop chapel, whose outer casing isalso by Ando, you’ll find folded into the landscape works by a who’s who ofcontemporary art, including Richard Serra, Jean Michel, Othoniel, MichaelStipe, Tom Shannon and Sean Scully, among others.

Indoor galleries and other installations by Renzo Piano, OscarNiemeyer and Ai Weiwei are in the works but part of the plan, organizers note,is that the site is designed never to be truly “finished.”

Fortunately, come next year art lovers will be able to sleep amongthese giants if they so choose: the owner has broken ground for a luxuryboutique hotel, with construction expected to be completed next year. In themeantime there’s a lot of ground to cover.

Here—to see it all would take at least an hour and a half—and it’shilly, so wear good walking shoes. Admission: 18 euros. Open year round.

Tina Isaac is Travel + Leisure’s Pariscorrespondent.

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