An Essential Guide to France's Château La Coste

The crouching spider is the first thing you see upon arrival at Château La Coste | © Andrew Pattnam
The crouching spider is the first thing you see upon arrival at Château La Coste | © Andrew Pattnam
Photo of Alex Ledsom
17 March 2017

Very few vineyards offer as much as Château La Coste in France; this place is a destination in its own right – there simply aren’t enough superlatives to describe the place. It’s where you’ll be able to live the lifestyle you dream of, if only for a few hours. It’s easy to spend an entire day here, and we’ll show you how. Here’s our guide on how to make the most of your visit.

Château La Coste is close to the town of Aix en Provence, deep in the heart of southern France. The area is well known for its warm climate, amazing light (the region has attracted numerous painters), tasty food and wonderful wine, all of which this place represents. Here you’ll be able to enjoy great food, look at amazing architecture and view wonderful art – and of course go on one of the wine tours.

Take a guided tour of the architecture

When Château La Coste opened, renowned artists and architects were encouraged to come and design permanent installations in places around the grounds that they loved, and the results are spectacular. The tour is open every day and you can walk around the trail admiring the works of art. Wear comfortable footwear (be warned, the trail isn’t flat) and take lots of water in the summer. Louise Bourgeois’ ‘Crouching Spider‘ is the first thing you see upon arrival, and there are permanent works here by, among others, Tracey Emin, Tadao Ando and Frank Gehry.

‘Multiplied Resistance Screened,’ a playful installation by Liam Gillick (installed 2010) | © Andrew Pattman

There is now a new installation by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei called ‘Ruyi Path.’ Using stone from the Old Port in Marseille, a new pathway weaves through the trees connecting two ancient paths on the site.

The new installation, Ruyi Path, by artist Ai Weiwei, symbolizes power and good fortune | © Château La Coste

Eat at one of the amazing restaurants

The landscape designer, Louis Benech, has created an immense state-of-the-art kitchen garden, which grows fresh, seasonal, local vegetables for use in the restaurants. There are two places to eat. The more laid-back Terrace, which serves fresh salads, soups and home-made tarts, is outside and an ideal place to sit and marvel at the gardens. It also has live music in the summer.

Sit at the laid-back Terrace restaurant, enjoying the home-made food, fresh from the kitchen garden | © Château La Coste

The Tadao Ando restaurant, on the other hand, is more of a spectacle – an eating extravaganza. It manages to serve Provençal and Mediterranean dishes of outstanding quality without being overly stuffy or extremely overpriced, while still happily serving up pasta for the kids. Enjoy the fresh fish, divine pâté, or luscious beef and wash it all down with Château La Coste wines. Make sure to book in advance and go for a table on the terrace if the weather is good (they even bring you blankets or sun hats if necessary). Built by the architect Tadao Ando, it’s surrounded by water and interesting architecture, overlooking the vineyards beyond. Not to be missed. Check out the menu here.

The sumptuous Tadao Ando restaurant overlooks the infinity pool and stunning architecture | ©

Take a workshop on art and architecture

Château La Coste runs workshops for both adults and children. Grown-ups can learn how to sketch landscape or architecture, and kids can run around the amazing grounds collecting twigs and leaves to turn into beautifully designed living art – while parents can sit in the café appreciating the wine. There’s something for everyone here.

Visit the art gallery and shop

The Japanese architect Tadao Ando conceived the design of the main entrance and arts center. The car park is hidden underground by a large infinity pool (containing the ‘Crouching Spider’ sculpture). It’s a geometric masterpiece that houses the main restaurant and welcome center, complete with an art shop, full of wonderful gems for all ages – kids love the magnets and artistic coloring books, while adults appreciate the books on architecture and painting. An art gallery was recently opened on-site too and offers a chance to view new artists in temporary shows.

The Tadao Ando arts center is the main focus upon arrival, hiding the underground car park with a large infinity pool and housing the restaurant, welcome center and shop | © Andrew Pattman

Take a wine tour

It’s easy to forget that this place is beloved for its wine as much as everything else, and it takes its wine seriously and people love the results. Under the guidance of wine-maker Matthieu Cosse, the site has been completely redeveloped since 2006 and is now completely organic. Take a tour around the cutting-edge technology or, if that’s too much actions, take a wine course or a simple wine tasting, before you buy a bottle or two to take home. They even help you carry the wine to your car, and ship worldwide. The service is unpretentious, informative and very friendly.

Leave lots of time to tour the vineyards and taste the wine | © Andrew Pattman

Sleep at Villa La Coste

If you can’t bear to leave, the new Villa La Coste will let you stay. Opening in April, the villa has 28 suites, two new restaurants and a spa. This is luxury at its finest. They are open all year round, but hours change from summer to winter (at minimum, 10AM to 5PM), so check online or call first.

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