Your Wedding in the Bouches du Rhône
So Why Provence? :
Every part of Provence is as beautiful as it is diverse, and the Rhône Valley is no exception.
In the previous post, we explored the Var, the large area between Marseille and Cannes. This time we visit les Bouches du Rhône, or the Rhône Delta, the verdant valley alongside the river Rhône stretching from Marseille and the Camargue north almost to Avignon.
The Aix-en-Provence region
Continuing west from the Var along the A8 autoroute, our first stop is the magnificent Bastide de Puget, set in the heart of the countryside before you reach Aix en Provence.
There are several lovely spots to hold a wedding ceremony and the terrace provides an elegant area for your wedding banquet.
One of the many beautiful hotels in Aix-en-Provence is hidden away in a side street near the edge of town. Le Pigonnier is a haven from the admittedly enjoyable hustle and bustle of this university city, and the perfect place for a small and intimate wedding.
The ancient ruins and chapel provide a stunning setting for weddings in the parkland grounds of Château Grimaldi, just a few kms north of Aix at Puyricard. The adjacent bastide has 11 bedrooms available for the use of the wedding party.
Heading down to Marseille, and a small "surprise" family wedding for my couple from the US. They rented an apartment overlooking le Vieux Port in March. They'd asked both sets of parents to join them without explanation and despite the cold wind and rain outside the whole event was delightful.
Just fifteen minutes to the north west at the edge of the city lies an estate that attracts with its faded elegance, and which has been used many times in films. La Bastide de Toursainte lies in the centre of a vast parkland complete with chapel, ruins, a long, tree-lined driveway and a large, shallow pond with its fountain, the perfect backdrop for a wedding ceremony. Our couple chose a boho look with carpets and rugs adorning the "aisle", and dotted around the area were plenty of cushioned trunks and place to lie and relax.
The Camargue is an amazing area of natural beauty with its flamingoes and ponies however, as it's been covered widely elsewhere – and I've not yet conducted a wedding in the region – we shall leave the coast and continue north. The large Etang de Berre is a large inland waterway north-west of Marseille, and is breath-taking to behold. High in the hills above it lies another old mansion in its own parkland – La Bastide d'Astres near Lançon-Provence. This large, rambling mansion with its huge reception rooms is perfect for a wedding, although it is somewhat isolated in terms of getting there and back easily.
If you've driven in either direction on the A7 near Lançon-Provence you could hardly fail to notice the stunning chapel with its white spire perched on top of a cliff dominating the skyline on the western side of the motorway. La Chapelle de Notre Dame de Beauregard houses a wooden statue of Our Lady to which are attributed several miracles. Just below on a lower outcrop can be seen the ruins of the Château du Duc de Guise.
The village of Orgon lies at the foot of the rocks and hidden away at the southern side is the Auberge du Parc – an excellent small hotel with plenty of parking, a large courtyard between the main house and the accommodation, overlooking a tranquil parkland beyond a stream.
I've had the pleasure of dining and staying overnight in the hotel although I've yet to conduct a wedding there and look forward to the opportunity.
The Plan d'Orgon opens up to the west of the village, a large plain surrounded by the rocky outcrops of Les Alpilles, or Mini-Alps. Here you'll find the Mas de la Rose, a lovely, rambling farmhouse in its own parkland surrounded by lavender and olive groves.
About half-way between Arles and Avignon, on the banks of the Rhône river, is the small village of Vallabrègue, home to the ancient Maison de Maître, La Vieille Maison d'Art. Be aware that the narrow medieval lanes don't allow for any but the tiniest cars, parking is available alongside the Rhône and in the nearby square.
The Mansion is around 600 years old and has been lovingly and tastefully renovated, without losing any of its charm.
It provides 8 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms for the wedding party, and there is plenty of accommodation in the nearby river-side villages of Tarascon and Beaucaire.
Next time, we leave the lower Rhône Valley and head further north and east into the Vaucluse, that area surrounding and near to the ancient Papal city of Avignon. A Bientôt!