I am writing this report on an awesome US Airways flight back to Philadelphia (from a connection on Frankfurt). I got a bit behind in Aix due to fortuitous circumstances. You see, Aix en Provence is one of Philadelphia’s sister cities and – ever the ambassador for Philadelphia - I have been in contact with Jerome Imbert and his wife Kathleen via our City of Philadelphia Sister Cities Program. Jerome is the “Président des relations Aix en Provence-Philadelphie.” On the evening of the ELEKTRA performance, they invited me to their gallery for some cheer and to talk about the cultural scene in Philadelphia. As luck would have it, their gallery is just around the corner from my hotel. I recommend anyone to drop by - they have great contemporary art and let them know that I sent you.
It turns out, Kathleen is a fellow Canadian of Ojibwa ancestry and that they own property on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario. (Complete mostly unknown fact - I am avid wilderness canoe tripper and have paddled a lot of northern Ontario wilderness including ancient Ojibwa routes and have studied about their culture). An instant friendship was established with both of them - what are the odds of all three of us committed to the arts professionally and also to wilderness in Canada in the same area? Oh, and did I mention that she also practices yoga like c’est moi - seriously you can’t make stuff like this up. On the way to the opera, they kindly escorted me as I was pressed for time because we had lost track of time, Kathleen offered to take me to the Luberon and around the country side the next morning. Now remember the nice lady at Avis and the Alfa Romeo! Ingredients for a perfect road trip: a hot six speed Italian car, an Ojibwa Canadian gallery owner guide and twisty mountain roads through the countryside at the height of lavender season. Of course I said yes and we agreed to head out at 8 am the next morning. So after the magnificent performance of ELEKTRA (more on that in a minute) I ran home to bed so I could be up early for our adventure.
I was in heaven as we raced through the mountain road over the Luberon, stopping over every once in a while to see lavender. At our first perch town, Kathleen pointed out Marquis de Sade’s chateau on the next perch town. The chateau and the lower part of the town was recently purchased by Pierre Cardin and apparently there was lots of local chatter about this… of course we needed to investigate. When there we ran into Dan, a very gifted painter who does illustrations for The New Yorker (here is his latest). Btw, Pierre Cardin has restored/renovated the upper part of the chateau and could really use some better decorating ideas :)
More driving and more chatting led us to ChateauX. What an incredible surprise, as this organic and biodynamic winery is also a modern architecture and art marvel! Anyone who likes modern architecture needs to see this place (and taste the wine also). Highly recommended on all fronts- buildings, art, wine and amazing staff.
Photo: Frank Gehry Music Pavilion on Chateau La Coste property.
Kathleen, of course, knows the owner and she introduced me to the wine master. We do a bit of tasting of 2011 and 2012 Rosé along with a really nice white. It turns out that they have an American distributor and they happen to be in Pennsylvania.
We arrived back in Aix at 2 p.m. in time for me get some bread and cheese from the patisserie and get work done before Cavalli’s ELENA.