Susan Worner Tours

Provence – Private Gardens of Leading Designers based in Hotel La Mirande, Avignon

18 – 23 September 2017

A particularly good selection of private gardens in Provence, created by leading local landscape designers, has been chosen for this tour. Those in the Luberon are influenced by Nicole de Vesian who created her personal garden, La Louve, in Bonnieux. An impressive Land Art garden near Eygalières at the foot of Les Alpilles was designed by Alain David Idoux, a pupil of de Vesian.

In addition we discover gardens created by Dominique Lafourcade, an influential designer from St Rémy de Provence.

Cypress trees, country roads lined with majestic plane trees, olive trees and vines, with the backdrop of craggy limestone hills or forested mountains are just part of the superb Provence landscape. The climate is a challenge with hot summers, the fierce Mistral blowing down the Rhone valley, lack of water, and even cold winters. The gardens are stunning.

We are based in Avignon in a most gracious, beautifully restored hotel just behind the Palais des Papes. Hotel La Mirande, originally built in the eighteenth century, is family owned and managed. Renowned for its gastronomic restaurant, seasonal local dishes are produced by the head chef, Florent Pietravalle, and team.




Travel by air to Marseille airport or by direct train from London St Pancras to Avignon TGV station where you will be met and transferred to Hotel La Mirande. Evening aperitif is served in the attractive garden with a short talk on the programme before enjoying a welcome dinner together.


We head up into the majestic Alpilles to visit Domaine de l’Abbaye de Pierredon. Off the beaten track amidst the garrigue, olive trees and vines, the ancient abbey and mas are surrounded by an enchanting garden restored by Dominique Lafourcade in her inimitable style. Delicious lunch under the plane trees in Eygalières. Afternoon visit to a garden designed by Alain David Idoux and tree sculpture specialist Marc Nucera in the foothills of the Alpilles. Their creation of a triangular lavender wedge, almond spiral and sculpted holm oaks are inspired by the Land Art movement. Free evening to explore Avignon.


We spend a full day in the Luberon visiting gardens influenced by the late Nicole de Vesian.We start in the hill village of Bonnieux with the garden created by Nicole at La Louve. Clipped shrubs with different textures, long views to the hills surround a typical village house. We continue to the perched village of Ménerbes. A fabulous private garden with terraces descend to an orchard, olive grove and potager, and we enjoy lunch in the garden. Our afternoon visit is to another terraced garden designed by Nicole on the hillside of Ménerbes which is quite stunning. Return to Avignon. Aperitif in the hotel’s wine cellar inspecting their fascinating range of wines which is then followed by dinner with the chef, tasting his specialities. The atmosphere in the original kitchen with its vaulted ceiling is convivial and memorable.


We travel to the western end of Les Alpilles to the superb garden of a former American ambassador. The designers, Rosemary Verey and Peter Coates, laid out the original garden and Tim Rees has added a woodland stream and Roman garden. Free lunchtime in St Rémy de Provence. Just above St Rémy is the garden of Pierre Bergé with an intimate series of garden rooms designed by Michel Semini. Columns and cypress, cloud-clipped shrubs and Anduze jars give this garden an air of elegance and serenity. Evening at leisure.


We return to St Rémy de Provence to visit a private garden designed by Dominique Lafourcade at the foot of the Alpilles. A long drive, lined with cypress through olive trees, approaches the villa shaded by an enormous plane tree. Mostly planted with typical garrigue – cistus, lavender, santolina and thyme – a path leads to an enchanting potager garden. We enjoy a delicious lunch nearby.Return to Avignon for some free time before enjoying our final evening in the hotel restaurant.


We leave north of Avignon for a morning’s visit to a chateau garden with Italian origins from the period when Avignon was the seat of the Pope. It features columns of cypress, flowing water and clipped hedges. We enjoy an aperitif and refreshments before leaving for the TGV station to return to London St Pancras via Lille or to Marseille airport for the return flights.

My dream… to restore the old Soubeyran orchard as it used to be in my father’s time… A thousand trees, and between the lines there will be rows of muscat grapes on wire; you’ll walk between the walls of bunches, you’ll see the sun through the grapes—and that, Galinette, will be a monument! It will be as beautiful as a church, and a true peasant won’t enter it without making the sign of the cross!
Marcel Pagnol, Jean de Florette, 1963

Map of Provence

Tour Costs

£2,650 per person sharing Single supplement £950


All flights or Eurostar/TGV train. Transport in modern, comfortable minibus.
Deluxe accommodation, delicious meals as indicated.
All garden visits.

Not included:

Alcoholic drinks at lunchtime.
items of a personal nature, tips.
Fully comprehensive travel insurance.


Hotel La Mirande, Avignon

Activity Level:

Terraced gardens with steps and undulating terrain.


The climate in September is balmy and warm.
The direct Eurostar train from London St Pancras to Avignon TGV station and return is available at the time of printing.
B – Breakfast
L – Lunch
D – Dinner