Château La Coste

· Art, Culture, Food, Travel

The month of September was for me under the sign of vacations with a stay in Brittany (which I will detail soon) but also of a short escapade in the south of France, slightly oriented by the desire to visit a particular place for a few years.

Indeed, since this 2018 exhibition, I have been fascinated by the work of Japanese architect Tadao Ando and my desire is to be able to admire as many of his creations in situ as possible. When I learned that he had participated in the redevelopment of the Château La Coste wine estate near Aix-en-Provence and its transformation into an exceptional place, I noted this idea of a visit in my list of “Places to see at least once in my life”. Since September 12th, I can check this name in my list as Completed!

 

The Art center by Tadao Ando at Château La Coste

 

So it is with an undisguised enthusiasm that I am going to share with you my visit in this place mixing art, nature and gastronomy, trying to give you as many advices as possible if you decide to go there. New works and exhibitions are added every year: I hope to have the opportunity to go back in the future because, as I expected, I was totally seduced by the place!

 

GETTING TO CHATEAU LA COSTE

Château La Coste winery is located about 20 minutes by car from Aix-en-Provence, in the commune of Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade. I’m not sure that the place is well served by bus, so if you don’t have a car, consider taking a cab… unless you have a helicopter, as the place has a landing zone ^^ !

By car (=our humble means of transportation), it is easy to park in the underground parking under the art center, the main building designed by Tadao Ando. Access to the art and architecture trail is subject to a fee (€15 per adult).

 

WHEN ART HARMONIZES WITH NATURE

“Aix” by Richard Serra

 

This communion of art and nature has a feeling of déjà vu? If you followed my 2019 road-trip to Japan, this philosophy was already present on the islands of Naoshima (where Tadao Ando also worked) and I pleasantly found it in France at Château La Coste.

“Foxes” by Michael Stipe and “The marriage of New-York and Athen” by Frank Gehry et Tony Berlant

 

Everything has been thought out so as not to distort the original place and to sublimate it. This beautiful idea comes from an Irish businessman Patrick McKillen, art collector, who during a visit to Provence in 2004 with his sister, decided to buy a vineyard (in all simplicity, isn’t it?). He fell in love with Chateau La Coste at first sight and then had the idea of making it a place where people would meet to share the love of art, nature and good food (=I was the ideal target).

 

Music pavilion by Frank Gehry and “Calix Meus Inebrians” by Guggi

 

He then called upon artists he admired and/or was close to (Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Louise Bourgeois…) to bring their personal touch, and in particular Tadao Ando to whom he entrusted the task of designing the main building intended to welcome the public. From then on, the estate was gradually filled with architectural touches, exhibitions and works of art, scattered among the vines and reliefs of the estate.

The incredible artwork by Andy Golsworthy “Oak room” made from intervowen oak trunks and branches

 

And here we are in 2022 with exhibition pavilions and more than 40 different pieces of artworks implanted within the vineyard.

 

THE ART & ARCHITECTURE TOUR

“Multiplied resistance screened” by Liam Gillick

 

A visit to Château La Coste is a real sensory journey (I could easily develop a Five senses article just talking about this place!) Even though you can go without planning, I think it is still useful to know a few things before scheduling this visit that involves the head, the legs as well as the stomach.

 

PREPARE THE VISIT :

  • Keep an eye on the weather on the day of your visit : I admit I was shaky a few days before our visit since the weather forecast predicted showers and thunderstorms, but in the end, the day couldn’t have been more ideal for visiting this place: Sunshine and mild summer temperature. I don’t recommend a visit in rainy weather, unless you are really equipped, but it might be slippery in places and it might not be the best conditions to admire the outdoor installations.
  • Dress appropriately : The route includes rough and stony paths through the vineyards: go for comfort. I noticed that the dress code on site is rather “casual chic” or “Styled-casual” so take care of your outfit by putting on comfortable shoes adapted to a moderate hike (we walked 13 km that day) while being presentable for a lunch on site (I did not see anyone picnicking and I’m not sure if it is allowed).
  • The whole tour is supposed to last 2 hours “in theory”: We stayed there the whole day from 10am to 7pm (opening hours) (knowing that we take pictures and that I spend a lot of time thinking/dreaming/analyzing/admiring in front of a work of art and even more when it is located in this natural setting). Roughly, it takes 2 hours if you walk over the works without taking pictures. I would recommend splitting the tour in two (one half in the morning and the other in the afternoon) with a lunch break in a restaurant on the estate.
  • There are no toilets or water supply points on the course: so remember to make arrangements when you arrive at the Tadao Ando Art Center (which is equipped with toilets) and bring a water bottle.
  • Remember to reserve your restaurant in advance(for lunch and/or dinner): I will detail more below in the “restaurants” section.
  • The route includes more or less shaded areas: : Bring sunscreen and a hat just in case.
  • For people with reduced mobility (or not very athletic), you can book a tour that is done on small carts.

 

THE WORKS OF TADAO ANDO :

  • THE ART CENTER : The main building or Art Center is impossible to miss when you arrive at the site.

“Mathematical model 012” by Hiroshi Sujimoto in the art center designed by Tadao Ando

 

One immediately recognizes the style of the Japanese architect who had the genius to install the parking lot under the water, which, on the one hand, does not distort the visual aesthetics of the place by hiding the cars from the scenery, but on the other hand, allows an immersive entry into the place, when one climbs the stairs of the parking lot to access the upper level.

“Small Crinkly”de Alexander Calder

 

This art center includes a store (well stocked with art and architecture books), toilets, a restaurant and 3 artworks integrated into the place: “Crouching Spider” by Louise Bourgeois, “Small crinkly” by Alexander Calder and “Mathematical model 012” by Hiroshi Sujimoto) You can recognize the signature elements of Tadao Ando: large concrete walls, openings that let the light through and the notion of infinity. I’m still a fan.

 

  • THE CHAPEL : It overlooks the valley and requires some effort to get there. The ruins of an old chapel have been restored and Tadao Ando decided to enclose them in a glass and metal case, highlighting this witness of the past as well as the surrounding landscape. When you close the door of the stone chapel, natural light streams over it like a fascinating divine halo. Outside the chapel, a large red cross by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel contrasts with the austerity of the concrete.

The Tadao Ando chapel and La Grande croix rouge by Jean-Michel Othoniel

 

  • PAVILION “FOUR CUBES TO CONTEMPLATE OUR ENVIRONMENT” : For once, Tadao Ando has designed this wooden work: it contains 4 glass cubes underlining the environmental problems and allowing to push its reflection on the future of Man on Earth. Powerful and effective.

“Four cubes to contemplate our environment” by Tadao Ando

 

  • ORIGAMI BENCHES : 2 benches inspired by origami folding are located on the course, at strategic places to admire the view or a work. The play with light and nature is once again part of the game.

Banc origami by Tadao Ando

 

THE OTHER ARTISTS :

“Drop” by Tom Shannon

 

I won’t go into detail about each work admired since, as I said above, there are more than 40 of them, but I will insist on a few that I found particularly interesting, that made me react or pushed me to think, but overall, I appreciated everything. It is worth noting that each artist had the freedom to choose the location of the domain where to set up his work, which makes the interpretation of each creation even more personal.

I was very pleased to find a spider “Crouching spider” by Louise Bourgeois (a specimen I also admired in the 2017 Women house exhibition). This maternal metaphor, both protective and frightening, takes on another dimension, reflected in this water body, cleverly imagined by Tadao Ando.

“Crouching spider” de Louise Bourgeois

 

I was also able to find another work by another Japanese architect on the tour: Kengo Kuma (whose work I also like but who had disappointed me a little at the Albert Kahn museum). He is renowned for his very graphic constructions based on wood. Here, he wanted to reinterpret the notion of Komorebi, a Japanese term that poetically designates the light that passes between the trees.

“Komorebi” by Kengo Kuma

 

Sophie Calle, known for her interactive and personal artworks, has deliberately installed a burial ground at the end of an isolated path, between the trees. We will appreciate the word play of the name of the work: “Dead end”

“Dead end” by Sophie Calle

 

It invites you to leave a paper containing an unspoken secret. So I did it and slipped my secret into the crack of the grave: “Here lie the secrets of the walkers”. She had already experimented with this enclosure of secrets in previous performances, in Brittany, Geneva and New York.

I also particularly appreciated the architecture of the different exhibition galleries: the curved pavilion by Oscar Niemeyer (housing an exhibition by the artist Anna Morris)…

Oscar Niemeyer pavilion hosting the Anna Morris exhibition

 

…the high pavilion by Richard Rogers (which reminds the architecture of the Centre Pompidou, which he also designed with Renzo Piano) perfect for admiring the view (housing a colorful exhibition by Idris Khan)

Idris Khan exhibition in Frank Rogers gallery

 

…as well as the pavilion by Renzo Piano (where the exhibition of Bob Dylan was located)

Bob Dylan artwork for his  “Drawn black in Provence” exhibition stands alonde with Henri Matisse, Claude Monet,
Camille Pissarro et Marc Chagall artworks

 

 Renzo Piano pavilion

 

I also really liked the photo exhibition “Moment of affection” of Mary Mc Cartney (Paul and Linda Mc Cartney’s daughter) full of sensitivity and sweetness.

L’exposition “Moment of affection” de Mary Mc Cartney

 

Here is a small selection of the installations present on the site to give you an idea of the variety of works.

“Wall of light cubed” by Sean Scully

“Rail car” by Bob Dylan

“Labyrinth”by Per Kirkeby

“House of air” by Lee ufan (the shadow in the front of the rock is a trompe-l’oeil)

 

THE RESTAURANTS OF CHÂTEAU LA COSTE

Restaurant Tadao Ando

 

Feeding your mind is good, but satisfying your taste buds is even better. When I learned that this domain was not only dedicated to art but also to gastronomy, I wanted to make the most of this day. The place has 5 restaurants (4 in the Chateau la Coste estate and the last one, located at Villa La coste, the hotel complex on the edge).

Since we had to make a choice for our day of visit, we turned to the Tadao Ando restaurant (for lunch) and wanted to indulge ourselves with the chef Hélène Darroze‘s restaurant in the evening. Having said that, all the restaurants are appealing! Here are the main characteristics of each one, which will help you make your choice:

  • The TADAO ANDO restaurant :(from 10am to 7pm with lunch service) The ideal place to admire the architecture of the art center and to taste simple but refined dishes, respecting the seasonal products (as you can see below on my pictures)
  • LA TERRASSE :(from 10am to 7:30pm : no reservation required) offers typical Provencal dishes (onion tart, plates to share…)
  • The FRANCIS MALLMAN restaurant : (Dinner every night and lunch only on weekends) A cuisine offering grilled meats, empanadas and other Argentine specialties.
  • The VANINA restaurant :(Lunch and dinner every day) Pizza, antipasti, pasta are made with fresh and organic products.
  • The HÉLÈNE DARROZE’s restaurant : (3 or 5 course menus at lunch and 5 or 7 course menus at dinner) Gastronomic meals in a sophisticated and warm setting.

The lunch at restaurant Tadao Ando The lunch at the Tadao Ando restaurant was quite simple. The products are fresh, it’s pretty good but not exceptional (the Pavlova was missing a little detail to be perfect hehe).

But the setting was really nice and soothing, facing the watering hole and the Alexander Calder mobile. That said, the olive oil that accompanied us throughout the meal was delicious, which prompted me to buy a bottle as a souvenir.

 

 

As for the dinner at Hélène Darroze restaurant, it was amazing from start o finish.

I chose the 7-course menu and my SO wasmore reasonable with 5-course. We enjoyed these multiple variations on the theme of local vegetables and fruits. Big crush on the field tomatoes.

 

Carrot from the garden of Château La Coste preserved with citrus fruits, roasted San Remo gamberoni with tandoori spices, spring onion and fresh coriander

 

Amuse-bouche and Tomate Plein Champs from Cabanon San Peyre in Peyrolles, candied datterino coulis, verbena pesto, fresh goat cheese, thin slices of muge from Grau-du-roi, fermented tomato water jelly

 

As a dessert the baba à l’Armagnac, signature dish from the chef was light and tasty : Absolutely divine. During the meal, a wild fox came to say hello a few meters from our table : Wonderful from start to finish !

Patrick Blancon’s fig in Solliès cooked in its own juice and baba with Armagnac, Hélène Darroze’s signature dessert

 

In any case, I advise you to reserve your table in advance in the restaurant of your choice. If I have the opportunity to come back one day, I would try the Argentinian and Italian restaurants which look warm and appetizing.

 

STAYING AT VILLA LA COSTE

I can’t give you any more information about this, knowing that the price of a night is roughly equivalent to that of a return flight from Paris to Tokyo, but having been able to enter the residence (the restaurant of the chef Hélène Darroze is located in the heart of the Villa La Coste, on the edge of the art trail), we can notice that refinement and design are an integral part of the Villa, not to mention the service, which must be very neat (well, I hope so!)

It must be a fabulous experience to stay in this exceptional hotel complex (the light and the design of the suites, with their refined but warm design, look sumptuous). We’ll see if I decide to invest in a stay at Villa La Coste one day (by selling one or two kidneys^^) but for now, I’m fully satisfied with my visit to the estate as well as the exceptional dinner I was able to enjoy!

 

IN SUMMARY

“Schism” by Conrad Shawcross

 

This day spent at Château La Coste was one of the richest and most enjoyable of my vacation. I really felt like I was in an amusement park dedicated to beauty and art in all its forms. Ending the day with a wonderful meal was the icing on the cake.

Wine and olive oil Château La Coste

 

I thought to bring back some souvenirs of my visit: Bottles of wine from the estate (to share with future guests rather than for myself, as I have a low tolerance for alcohol), a bottle of olive oil produced in Le Puy Sainte Réparade and a book on the work of Tadao Ando at Château La Coste (I highly recommend it if you want to know more about the construction process, his intentions for each work with drawings and explanatory models: just really nice! )

Magazine “Beaux Arts” and book“Tadao Ando Château La Coste” (Ed.Actes Sud)

 

A new artwork “Mater earth” by Prune Nourry was under construction at the time of my visit and promises to be impressive since it will represent a giant pregnant woman emerging from the ground. Apparently, we will be able to access the inside of her womb made of wood and unfired clay.

“Mater earth” by Prune Nourry in WIP

 

Other exhibitions are scheduled for the next few months. So many good reasons to come back! (English translation by Quiterie)

My summer discoveries

· Art, Fashion, Food, Illustration

As I stayed in Paris during July and August, I didn’t escape in terms of location but through reading, going out, discovering fashion or catching up on movies in the capital.

So before I leave for vacation, I wanted to share with you some of my summer discoveries, which may inspire you, whether you are still on vacation or back to prepare for September.

 

Some new fashion items

My 2022 fashion review is coming up in a few months: I’m still paying attention to my consumption of clothes and accessories, but I’m not insensitive to new discoveries, as long as they remain relatively thoughtful and qualitative. This was the case during this summer with 2 purchases.

 

ISSEY MIYAKE SUNGLASSES : I wanted to invest in a pair of quality sunglasses for a while. I already own these Carlina by Chloé but I wanted something a little less massive but fun, sleek and modern.

Sunnies EL-2 Round Issey Miyake

I took the plunge with these round glasses with translucent white frames by Issey Miyake (sad coincidence, I learned of the designer’s death 2 days after I invested in this pair). I already love pairing them with a minimalist outfit. I hope to keep them for a long time.

 

BASTILLE TEE-SHIRT :A tee from Bastille, one of my favorite bands that I’ve been following diligently since 2012.

 “Club 57” Tee-shirt from Bastille

 

I fell in love with this Keith Haring-influenced pattern, related to the song “Club 57” (featured on Bastille’s excellent latest album: Give me the future). I’m thinking of pairing it with different styles of outfits and plan to wear it to their next show in November, hopefully.

 

My gourmet discoveries

I must admit I’m a bit disappointed with the quality of Parisian restaurants (even my favorites!) since the pandemic but these two places managed to surprise me. Here is an overview of these addresses that managed to make me travel gustatively.

 

PASSIONNÉ (17 rue bergère 75009 PARIS) : I fell in love with this new gourmet restaurant that opened last June

A sneakpeek of the 7 course surprise menu by Satoshi Horiuchi

 

My SO and I tried the 7-course surprise menu (you have to tell from the start what you don’t want to eat if you have a special diet etc).

You can feel the passion of the Japanese chef Satoshi Horiuchi through his cooking (hence the name of the restaurant) and the service is attentive, neat but not stuffy. Every visual or gustatory detail is not left to chance and the fact of not knowing the menu adds to the pleasure of the surprise. I won’t show you all the dishes tasted that day so as not to spoil you if you decide to go there but everything was really delicious.

 

LE PATIO D’ÉTÉ AT HÔTEL PRINCE DE GALLES : (33 avenue George V 75008 PARIS) (until september 8) Escape to Provence in the Patio d’été of the Prince de Galles Hotel. Even the sound of cicadas gently titillates our ears!

“Free esterel” mocktail with kombucha and the Prince’s Tropézienne

 

The place is ideal for a shady and gourmet stopover tinged with Provencal inspiration. I particularly liked these typical southern dishes revisited by the chef Gérald Poirier as well as the delicious desserts of the chef Tristan Rousselot (that I already appreciated, having already experienced the teatime formula of the hotel).

Sea Bream Ceviche and Fresh Blueberries,Grilled Swordfish, Summer Vegetables, Aioli
then Sweet Pissaladière Candied, Apricot Verbena and Vanilla Flavored Olives, Raw Cream Ice Cream

 

Parks and museums

LA BOURSE DE COMMERCE : The discovery of the new exhibition “Une seconde d’éternité” (until January 2, 2023) at the Bourse de Commerce was also a privileged moment since I had the chance to discover it during the hours when the museum was closed to the public.

Philippe Parreno Echo 2

 

This new exhibition questions our perception of temporality and infinity. It is always a pleasure to go to this museum redesigned by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, whose work I particularly like.

Larry Bell Standing Walls II

 

AVENGERS CAMPUS À DISNEYLAND PARIS : I started the summer in the best way possible with this preview visit of Avengers Campus, the new world of the Walt Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris. I was able to discover the new attractions of this 100% Marvel universe.

W.E.B (World Engeneering Brigade) and QG AVENGERS Flight Force

 

Meeting Ant-Man was my highlight of the day (as if Paul Rudd was hiding under the costume haha!)

 

All the characters we met were really into their roles, which made the experience even more enjoyable!

Meeting Doctor Strange et Thor…

 

My favorite attraction is W.E.B (Worldwide Engineering Brigade) : Inside, you have to destroy spider bots all along a 3D path, using spider webs that you make appear with your own hands: Very ingenious and so much fun (watch out for arm aches the next day!).

 

MUSEUM and GARDEN ALBERT KAHN : Remember my visit to the Albert Kahn Japanese Garden last summer? The renovation of the museum by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma was not yet finished.

So I wanted to go back this year and even if I’m happy to have been able to appreciate the architecture in real life, I admit I was a bit disappointed by the whole thing.

 

The exhibition within the museum seemed a bit poor (even if some points remain interesting: The questioning around the notion of travel, the period photos of Albert Kahn’s world tour) and the maintenance of the museum already seems a bit neglected in some places.

 

 “Autour du monde” exhibition

 

I still immortalized my visit with a few pictures but I expected better, knowing that Kengo Kuma’s creations are usually quite impressive.

I’m still happy to have been able to wander through this architecture but I’d be curious to hear your opinion if you’ve been there recently.

JARDIN D’ACCLIMATATION : Cela faisait un moment que je n’étais pas venue dans ce jardin et j’ai trouvé le lieu et les attractions très agréables.

 

My summer readings

I’m still into Japanese literature, I’m still a bit sectarian about my reading but I always find as much pleasure in it and that’s the main thing.

 

A ZOO IN WINTER by JIRO TANIGUCHI : Not a seasonal title at all but I finally took the time to read this comic book I had in my library. Still a fan of the precision and technicality of the illustrations of master Jiro. Not as striking as “A Distant Neighborhood” but it allowed me to immerse myself in the Japanese atmosphere and to discover the sensitivity and evolution of Hamiguchi, a young mangaka whose life is described in this book.

THE MEMORY POLICE by YOKO OGAWA (not to be confused with Ito): A novel about an imaginary island where objects disappear little by little while fading from the memories of its inhabitants. Secret police, clandestine refugees are present in this metaphor of totalitarian regimes which sometimes becomes oppressive but gives food for thought. This story will obviously be adapted into a feature film soon and I understand why. While reading, I had the impression of being embarked in a movie.

LE POIDS DES SECRETS by AKI SHIMAZAKI : This pentalogy includes 5 novels to read in a row: Tsubaki, Hamaguchi, Tsubame, Wasurenagusa, Hotaru. The first one, Tsubaki sets the basis of this tormented family story and the 4 others describe a narrative point of view of 4 other characters, allowing to discover new secrets. Even if the sequence of the 5 works is sometimes redundant, I still enjoyed reading these books that reveal the underbelly of a Japanese family during the 2nd World War, while highlighting the social pressure and intolerance that can result from it.

LE GOÛTER DU LION by ITO OGAWA : Fan of his previous novels, I was waiting for the release of his 6th opus translated in French with impatience. I’m reading it now, and I’ll be sure to give you a feedback here or on instagram. But for the moment, a cosy atmosphere and tempting delicacies are on the programme.

 

 

Summer melodies

Summer is always synonymous for me with beautiful musical discoveries, especially during my traditional appointment at the Lollapalooza festival or through other concerts (like Lady Gaga‘s at the Stade de France). So I share the playlist of my summer 2022 (as I did in 2020 in this article): Some tracks are recent, others less, but all have the merit of reminding me the good moments of my summer.

 

1. LIZZO 2 Be loved (Am I ready) A track full of energy that makes me want to sweat during an aerobics class.
2. RINA SAWAYAMA Catch me in the air Melodious, catchy and light as a summer breeze.
3. TOVE LO No One dies from Love I love everything about this song from the Swedish artist.
4. PURPLE DISCO MACHINE, SOPHIE AND THE GIANTS In the dark This German track seems to have been created to seduce the nostalgic of the Italo disco songs of the 80’s : No surprise, I am part of the target.
6. FAOUZIA Hero I loved the performance of this Canadian-Moroccan singer at the Lollapalooza festival. The mix of pop sounds and her oriental voice hit the spot.
7. BASTILLE Revolution No need to explain why I like this song since I like all of Bastille’s songs. This song is no exception (Dan’s voice, the rhythm, the video : I like everything)
8. SIGRID Strangers After this concert in June, I listened again the setlist over and over again this summer, especially this song which is my favorite from this young Norwegian artist.
9. IMAGINE DRAGONS Whatever it takes I’ve loved them since their debut without knowing their repertoire in detail. Their perfect concert in Lolla made me like more tracks, including this one, from their 3rd album Evolve.
10. KATE BUSH Running up that hill (A deal with god) Even if we listened to it in all the sauces since its revival in the series Stranger things, I do not tire of listening to it again.
11. ELLIE GOULDING, BIG SEAN Easy lover Ellie Goulding’s light voice is perfect in this track that smells like summer.
12. BEYONCÉ Break my soul The essential of the summer, discovered the day of the music festival. Bonus nostalgia with this sample of the 1993 song “Give me love” of Robin S.
13. RINA SAWAYAMA This hell I rediscovered Rina Sawayama just before the summer (her universe was darker a few years ago) and this lighter pop turn could only seduce me : I’m looking forward to the release of her album.
14. HARRY STYLES As it was Not sick of this song yet despite the overdose on social networks.
15. FAOUZIA RIP, Love A 2nd track of Faouzia because it’s nice to listen to her a second time in this summer playlist.
16. THE KILLERS Boy We return a little to the first sounds of the group, for my biggest pleasure.
17. TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB Lucky The Irish group remains faithful to its style with this new very catchy song.
18. ROBBIE WILLIAMS Lost (XXV) This new single is released on the occasion of his album celebrating the 25th anniversary of his solo career (to be released in September). I like it more each time I listen to it. I also like his classics (Angel, Eternity, The road to Mandalay, No regrets) that he reorchestrated for the occasion.
19. LADY GAGA Alice Her concert at the Stade de France may not have been as great as I thought it would be, but I enjoyed rediscovering the songs from her album Chromatica (like this one), which I didn’t listen much when it was initially released.
20. ASGEIR Snowblind A bit of Icelandic freshness while waiting for the release of his new album in October.

 

My summer viewings

An illustration inspired by Bullet Train

 

I spent quite a bit of time catching up on a few cinematographic gaps (some 30 years later!), discovered a few more or less successful movies / series and continued my movie marathon with Paul Rudd (which doesn’t contain only really good things, far from it, but the devotion is TO-TAL 🙂 !)

THELMA & LOUISE : Seduced by the modernity of the subject matter and the visual aesthetics, even 31 years later. I understand that it could have confused some people at the time by its feminist avant-garde. Susan Sarandon is perfect (and special mention to young Brad Pitt)

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN : I was completely moved by this forbidden but powerful love story in a conservative America. The performance of Jake Gyllenhaall, Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams totally carried me away.

USUAL SUSPECTS : The final twist surprised me but not that much. I liked it but I suppose I would have been more blown away by the whole thing if I hadn’t waited so long to see it.

HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU : A light romantic comedy from 2005 that I discovered one afternoon when it was broadcast on M6 channel. The cast includes some big names (Bradley Cooper, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Connelly, Ben Affleck, Jenifer Aniston) which made me stay in front of the screen out of curiosity because I had never heard of this movie. And rightly so, since it turned out to be quite average. A few scenes were funny despite everything but it remains more in the register of an afternoon TV movie than a more accomplished film.

THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION : To honor my Paul Rudd marathon, I watched this romantic comedy from 1998 with a poorly worked out script, which nevertheless highlights a certain complicity between Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd. An impossible love story between Nina and her gay best friend (met 2 days ago?) George. Some sparkling exchanges but we don’t believe for a second in this somewhat botched story.

OUR IDIOT BROTHER : A rather average film in which Paul Rudd plays a goofy and stupid brother, but not that much. From this very flat scenario, Paul Rudd comes out with a character that is nevertheless quite touching because of his candor and goodness (but am I really objective?).

BULLET TRAIN : The summer blockbuster seen on the big screen. A chase in a shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto with a cool Brad Pitt and some funny secondary characters. Violent, offbeat and entertaining in the manner of a Tarantino, but less impactful and less accomplished.

ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING :The Disney+ series that was on my list to see for a while because I really appreciate what Selena Gomez does (in all areas). So I jumped in and I don’t regret it! I love it ! It took me one or two episodes to get into the atmosphere but then I loved the offbeat, humorous side of the characters and the plot. Paul Rudd will be present in season 3: I couldn’t dream better! (English translation by Quiterie)

Relaxing in Sumoto

· Food, Illustration, Travel


After 3 years almost to the day, I am FINALLY closing the story of our Japanese road-trip to Shikoku. I would not have thought to take so much time to tell you all this but the main thing is that, this is it! We are at the end of the trip!

Last step of the story: The city of Sumoto on the island of Awaji (that you already know a little bit since we already visited a part of it here). Indeed, we went back on our steps to reach Osaka at the end of our stay (see itinerary here) and return our rental car.

For this step, my darling found this very nice hotel facing the sea. To tell you the truth, we didn’t leave the hotel to visit the city of Sumoto but the fact that we were able to rest without doing anything was a great moment of exception and serenity. Let me gather all my memories and tell you all about it: Here we go!

 

THE NEW AWAJI RESORT

This big hotel complex NEW AWAJI connects 5 hotels between them, in which one can circulate freely and benefit from the internal hot springs of each hotel. It is perhaps difficult to understand how it is organized but one can compare this big Resort to a kind of Las Vegas of the onsen (hot spring), the bling bling side in less and the rest in more.

3 hotels (and their spa/onsen) are located side by side following the same corridor along the seaside: NAGISA NO SHOU HANAGOYOMI (ours), followed by NEW AWAJI hotel, and YUMEKENSEI hotel. We can join another hotel SHIMAHANA by boat/shuttle to have a new point of view (and a new relaxation pool). A 5th hotel of the group, YUMEKAIYU AWAJISHIMA is also accessible, 5mn away by bus/shuttle.

 

We didn’t have time to experience everything since we only stayed one night but it might be nice to book at least 2 nights (in any hotel of the resort) to enjoy the whole place.

 

OUR NIGHT AT NAGISA NO SHOU HANAGAYOMI HOTEL

In the hotel lobby

 

Arrived in Sumoto in the early afternoon at the hotel reception, we were invited to choose a yukata (summer kimono) for our stay (as it is usual in ryokan in general) : I chose the pink cherry blossom print while my SO opted for a vegetal pale-green shade.

As in Kinosaki, once the yukata is on, the relaxation can begin. It’s so nice to walk around freely as if you were wearing a bathrobe but lighter… and more chic!

We slept in this room on a futon placed on tatami mats at bedtime.

The “futon on tatami” version of our room

 

What happiness to wake up with this view on the sea! Magical!

 

MOVING FROM BATH TO BATH

As I wrote above, we were free to move from hotel to hotel and test each of their spa/onsen. For the uninitiated, I let you read the protocol (that I wrote for my article in Kinosaki) to enjoy a Japanese onsen and not to offend people around you.

 

“Kaze-no-oto Nami-no-oto” public bath from our Hanagoyomi hotel

 

Going to a Japanese public bath is an atypical experience for westerners but so relaxing!

Onsen with a view

 

I was able to take some pictures in one of the onsen because I was alone in the baths. But otherwise, be aware that photos are forbidden.

 

MEAL WITH A VIEW

The breakfast

 

We had chosen to have dinner on the spot the day of our arrival and we were lucky!

The menu was copious and refined, with appetizers, chawan-mushi (Japanese flan), sashimi, fish (sea bream and vegetables in an earthenware pot), shabu shabu fondue, Awaji rice, pickles and miso soup to finish with a slice of fresh melon and a scoop of ice cream.

The endless dinner (yes, we ate it all!)

 

The next day, at breakfast, a complete meal based on fish was waiting for us… always with this view on the sea!

Bye bye my beloved travel diary !

 

So it is with this relaxing stage that I end my account of this fabulous road-trip of 2019: The most varied, exotic and inspiring trip I’ve ever taken in Japan. The season chosen (May-June) was perfect for this trip (although I think all seasons are worth it in Japan).

I don’t know yet when we will go back there because I’m waiting for the conditions to become normal and optimal again but my head is still filled with wonderful images and memories: I will be patient <3.

It was a real chance to be able to live all these good moments of escape, change of scenery, nature and warm human meetings. I thank you for having followed everything of this trip for 3 years and hope that my reports will be useful for a future trip! (Don’t hesitate to ask your questions in the comments, I will answer them with pleasure!)

Here are all the reports of my trips to Japan (I went there in 2007 too but I didn’t make a precise report) :

SPRING 2014

FALL 2015

WINTER 2018

MAY JUNE ROAD-TRIP 2019

Thanks for escaping with me and see you soon for new adventures! (English translation by Quiterie)

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