The Provence is much more than just the home of rosé wine. For centuries, the sun, the dry wind and optimal soils stand for varied wine growing in our area. perhaps one day you will visit our beautiful reigion. In which case you should definitely remember our following tips for nature lovers and for enthousiasts of regional culinary specialities.
Wine growing and the culture of pleasure
The history of wine growing in the south east of France goes back as far as the ancient
Greeks. The Phocaens, whose successors today are now settled in the Turkish province of Ismir, are the pioneers of French viticulture. In the 6th century BC they planted the first vines probably on the Hermitage Hill and on the Côte de Rôtie, thus anchoring the heritage of wine growing all around their colony of Massilia, today’s Marseille.
Since little of the method of maceration was known at this time, or at least was not widespread, it is thought that the wines were rather rosé coloured than red. Wines from Provence not onlyfounded the tradition of wine growing in France, the very first French wines were in fact most probably rosés.
At a later date, the Romans undertook intensive viticulture in Provence, the first Roman province outside Italy. And they exported the wine extensively to Rome.
The Roman emperor Domitian even issued a law in the year 96 AD to reduce the amount of Provencal wine, thus protecting the sales of Roman wines.
After Roman times, traces of viticulture and the wine trade in the south of France are lost. Only with the papal court in Avignon (1309-1423) does the wine of the South re-enter the stage of world history. However, only for a
short time, as the powers of Burgundy successfully withheld wines from the South from Paris by implementing custom barriers and thus closing them de facto from trade with England. After a first upswing at the end of the 17th Century, mildew and phylloxera - as later in other wine-producing regions – destroyed a large proportion of the vines in Provence in the mid 19th Century. The renewed upswing succeeded after effective pest control was carried out (grafting the tops of French grape varieties onto phylloxera-resistant American rootstocks), as well as with the introduction of legally protected areas of origin (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) as of 1936.
Côtes des Provence
The wine-growing region of Côtes de Provence, declared a region of “Appellation d’Origine Côntrolée “ on 24th October 1977, is by far the largest area of origin in southeast France. Approximately 20 000 hectares are entitled to an AOC label; the area extends throughout the Var, the Alpes-Maritimes and the Bouches-du-Rhône. The majority of the vineyards are to be found in the Var: on the Mediterranean coast and north of the Massif des Maures. Here, in the heart of the Provence near Vidauban, you will find Domaine des Féraud. Adjacent, in the West, you will find the Appellations of Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, Coteaux Varois en Provence and Palette; at the Mediterranean coast, east of Marseille, the small Appellations of Cassis and Bandol; near Nice, the Appellation of Bellet.
80% of the Côte de Provence production is rosé wine. With approximately 150 million bottles, Provence is by far the largest producer of rosé wines in France, accounting for 40% of French production and 6% of worldwide production. Good 10% of the wine production in the Provence is for red wines and about 5% for white wines.
Of a total of 24 high-quality classified wines (“Crus”) of Provence, 14 of them today are situated in the wine growing area of Côte de Provence (“Crus Côtes-de-Provence”).
Climate and Soil
Wine growing in the Côtes de Provence area directly benefits from the mild climate near the sea. The fierce mistral, which blows 150 days a year, regularly provides dry air coming from inland. The resulting low humidity favours good health of the vines and helps keep away diseases. The mistral also blows the clouds away thus allowing the sun to shine for more than 3,000 hours a year - that's a French record! The generally stony soils of the wine region are able to store this heat optimally.
The average monthly rainfall of 600 mm distributed over autumn and spring ensures for good recovery of the vineyards in winter and plant growth in the spring. The vines benefit from early flowering and the hot summer which ensures full ripening of the berries. This is why the harvest already starts in late August / early September. Chaptalisation (sugaring) the must is therefore not only forbidden, for the winemakers of Provence it is a foreign word.
The vines of the Appellation Côtes de Provence generally grow on very lean, well-drained, stony soils – by and large ideal conditions for good wines. Although that said, two fundamentally different soil types do occur in the Provence. Clay-limestone soils in the north and very old massifs of shale rock in the south, near the sea.
With regard to the geological and geographical conditions there are quite different types of areas within the Appellation Côtes de Provence. Calcareous soils on the slopes of the highlands and in the 'Bassin du Beausset'; red stone, clay and sandy soils from the Palaeozoic (80-60 million years ago) in the outback’s of the crystalline Massif des Maures; granite and slate ground from the rock massif “des Maures” up to the coast and rocky, clay soils in the production zone of the massif St. Victoire.
Appellation Côtes de Provence: Rules and Regulations
Rosé and red wines of Côtes de Provence - both subject to the same regulations - are in principle “Cuvées” (blends). This means that different grape varieties are either pressed or fermented together or that the final product from different varieties is blended together. The composition of the blends (“Cuve” = fermenter) is called “assemblage” in France. This relatively rare procedure in Germany, Austria and Switzerland is used in warm wine growing regions, blending varieties with different characteristics and properties to produce diverse and high quality wines. An optimal “Cuvée” will taste better than each individual variety on its own. Wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux, Tuscany or the Rioja region are, like wines from Provence, also usually blends or “Cuvées”. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape is even produced from up to 13 different grape varieties.
A wide variety of grape varieties are permitted for rosé and red wines of the “Appellation Côtes de Provence”. The so-called "cépages principaux" (main varieties) are Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Tibouren. At least two of these varieties must always be used. Since 2005, the share of the main varieties in the blend must be at least 70% and as of 2015 this must be at least 80%. The share of a single main variety should not be more than 90%. The following varieties approved for use as “cépages secondaires” (secondary varieties) with a maximum share in the blend of 40% are Barbaroux, Calitor, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon. The grape varieties Barbaroux and Calitor have, however, not been planted since 1995 and are gradually being replaced by superior varieties.
A further maximum 10% of white grape varieties are permitted in rosé and red wines and which are also used for the white wines of the Côtes de Provence: Clairette, Sémillion, Ugni Blanc and Rolle (Vermentino).
Yields are limited to a maximum of 55 hectoliters per hectare. Calculated from the area of land required per vine – maximum 2.5 square meters – there are a maximum of 4000 vines per hectare.
Wine House in Les Arcs
In the heart of the Appellation Côtes de Provence region you will find “La Maison des vins Côtes de Provence”, the restaurant “La Vigne à Table”, the “Conseil Interprofessionel des Vins de Provence” and a wine cellar with over 800 wines from the region sold at cellar price. Furthermore, courses in Oenology are offered as well as wine tasting sessions proposing different wines each week. In the gift shop you will not only find products on the theme of wine, such as decanters, corkscrews and hygrometers but also specialities from Provence such as oil, jam, marmalade and honey.
Address: RN 7, 83460 Les Arcs-sur-Argens, Tel. 0033 (0) 494 99 50 20
Opening times: July/August 10am -8pm; June, Sept. Oct. 10am -7pm; other months 10am-6pm.
Distance: Approx. 10 km or 15 minutes drive from Domaine des Féraud
Restaurant La Bastide de Magnans
Just a short distance from Domaine des Féraud you should stop and have a break at the excellent restaurant of Monsieur Boef, La Bastide de Magnans. It is worthwhile in any case. Enjoy one of the best Bouillabaisse of that region or spend your time savouring the menu “Aux Truffes” while sitting on the beautiful terrace under old big trees. You should complete your experiences with a glass of our Féraud wine. We recommend to make a reservation beforehand because the flair and the food is highly appreciated by the locals either.
Address: La Bastide de Magnans
32 avenue du Marechal Gallieni, 83550 Vidauban, Frankreich +33 4 94 99 43 91
Marmelade and Jam from Gassin
Well over 450 different delicious homemade jams and marmalades, ranging from classical apricot to more exotic specialities such as caramel, ginger or vanilla essence, can be found at “La Maison des Confitures on the Route de Bourrian near the hillside village of Gassin. - one of France’s most beautiful villages. The village, with its houses covered in Bougainvillea, narrow dreamy alleyways and a wonderful panorama across the nearby vineyards also make it a visit in its own right worthwhile.
Address: 825 Route du Bourrian, 83580 Gassin, Tel: 0033 (0) 494 43 41 58
Opening times: Mo-Sa. 9.30am to 7pm, Sun. 10am to 1pm all year round
Distance: approx. 35km or 45 minutes drive from Domaine des Féraud.
Honey from Draguignan
Not only can delicious honey be bought at the “Miellerie Manard”, one can also learn about beekeeping, making a beehive or harvesting honey. During a tasting session one can taste the variety and richness of the typical plants and flowers of the region. More than 10 different types of honey are available, ranging from chestnut to rosemary or from thyme to strawberry (Miel d’Arbousier). The lavender honey and the flower honey (Miel de Provence toutes fleurs) have both been awarded the “Label Rouge” (red label) guaranteeing excellent quality.
Address: Le Mas de Salles, Chemin de Saint-Michel, 83300 Draguignan
Tel: 0033 (0) 494 68 05 10. Appointments by telephone only.
Distance: approx. 20km or 35 minutes drive from Domaine des Féraud.
Chestnuts from Collobrière
In the 19th Century, chestnut trees and cork oak trees were extensively planted in the silica earth of the Massive des Maures. The capital of the Massive des Maures thus became an important centre for chestnut production. Delicacies such as chestnut cream, glazed chestnuts, chestnut liquor, chestnut jam and, in summer, chestnut ice cream can be found, for example, in the ‘Confiserie Azuréenne’.
Address: 83610 Collobrières.Tel: 0033 (0) 494 48 07 20
Open daily from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm and from 2 pm to 6.30 pm
Distance: approx. 40 km or 35 minutes drive from Domaine des Féraud.
Harvest Fruit and Vegetables in Roquebrune-sur-Argens
Equipped with gardening tools and a basket, harvesting one’s own fruit and veg can be quite fun. The produce varies seasonally and is of course organic. You decide which salad and which tomatoes you take home, weighed and paid for on the way out.
Address: La Cueillette du Rocher, avenue Gabriel-Péri-D7, 83520 Roquebrune-sur-Argens. Tel: 0033 (0) 494 45 57 90
Opening times: August, daily from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm and from 3.30 pm to 7 pm. September & October, Friday to Sunday only, opening hours as in August.
Distance: approx. 25 km or 30 minutes drive from Domaine des Féraud.
Goat Cheese from Barjols
Martine & André Luc maintain 40 to 50 goats on their 9 hectares of land and passionately produce different types of goat cheese. The animals live in idyllic natural surroundings and are kept humanely. For example, when the kids need their mothers’ milk during their first weeks this is of course not used for the production of cheese. Milking takes places twice a day at 7.30am and 6pm. The goats can be visited twice a day late morning and afternoon. Produce can be bought directly from the farm or at the nearby markets.
Address: La Chèvrerie des Garagaies, Route de Marseille, 83670 Barjols
Tel: 0033 (0) 494 77 18 92
Sale of products daily from March to December 8 am to 1 pm and 3 pm to 8 pm.
Distance: approx. 57 km or 55 minutes drive from Domaine des Féraud.
Truffle Market in Aups
A truffle market takes place every Thursday morning from November to February in Aups – the truffle capital of Le Var. On the fourth Sunday in January – the Day of the Black Diamond – the whole place smells of truffles. In every restaurant you will find truffle menus; there is a truffle exhibition where one can find out all about truffles or watch the seldom-used methods of pigs searching for truffles or truffle dog competitions.
Address: Place Frédéric Mistral and Foyer Romano, 83630 Aups
Market day from end November to beginning March: every Thursday 9.30-12.00
Distance: approx. 37 km or 50 minutes drive from Domaine des Féraud.
Tortoise Village in Gonfaron
The tortoise village was founded in 1988 and lies on the edge of the nature reserve “Plaine des Maures”. Its main aim is the survival and propagation of the only tortoise species native to France, the “Tortue d’Hermann” (the Greek land tortoise Testudo hermanni). As well as being the home to some 1500 tortoises of various species, the village also houses a tortoise clinic that cares for tortoises that have, for example, been injured by cars or dogs. For €30- per year one can sponsor a tortoise which then carries one’s name, or even become a volunteer for at least two weeks helping out in the village.
Address: Quartiers des Plaines, 83590 Gonfaron, Tel: 0033 (0) 494 78 26 41
Opening times: March-November, daily from 9 am to 7 pm
Distance: approx. 20 km or 25 minutes drive from Domaine des Féraud.
National nature reserve of the
Plaine des Maures
Our Domaine des Féraud is situated in the middle of the national nature reserve of the Plaine des Maures. The nature reserve was created in 2009 and covers an area of 5,276 ha. A territory of exceptional biodiversity in the Mediterranean region. The mosaic and the diversity of natural habitats present (oak groves, pine forests, lawns, temporary ponds, maquis, sandstone slabs, meadows ...) constitute favorable environments for a large number of remarkable and endangered species. The nature reserve is the most important habitat for turtles in Provencal.
Gorges du Verdon
The Gorges du Verdon or Grand canyon du Verdon is often considered to be one of Europe's most beautiful canyon. 30 kilometers long and formed by the Verdon River, the canyon is named for its startling turquoise-green color, one of the location's distinguishing characteristics. The most impressive part lies between the towns of Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, where the river has cut a ravine to a depth of 700 meters through the limestone mass. At the end of the canyon, the Verdon River flows into the artificial lake of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon. The Gorges du Verdon is just an hour drive (approx.70 km) north of Vidauban. Because of its proximity to the French Riviera, the canyon is very popular with tourists, who can drive around its rim, rent kayaks to travel on the river, or hike. The limestone walls, which are several hundreds of meters high, attract many rock climbers. You can visit the Verdon Gorge all year round. April to June and September/October are probably the most pleasant months to visit.
L’abbay du Thoronet - Cistercian abbey
Located just 20km from our Domaine, l’abbay du Thoronet is the "jewel" of Cistercian abbeys. Built between 1160 and 1230, Thoronet Abbey, together with Silvacane and Sénanque, is one of three Cistercian abbeys in Provence. In danger of falling into disrepair after the French Revolution, restoration work began on this masterpiece in 1841. An example for contemporary architecture. Generations of architects were inspired by the purity and simplicity of the internal space, dictated mainly by the organization of community life. Le Corbusier visited the site in 1953 and wrote: "In these days of ‘raw concrete’, however fêted, welcome and blessed it may be, this was such a marvelous encounter along the way."
Butterfly House in St. Tropez
More than 4500 butterflies and beetles are exhibited in the “Maison des Papillons” which have been collected by Dany Lartigue in France over the last few decades.
The variety and the presentation of the collection are impressive: many of the butterflies are exhibited on painted or artistically designed backgrounds showing their camouflage in their natural surroundings. Thus each exhibit becomes are piece of art in its own right, created with love and passion.
Address: 9 rue Etienne Berny, Saint-Tropez, Tel: 0033 (0) 494 97 63 45
Opening times: daily from 10 am to midday and from 2.30 pm to 7 pm, except on Sundays
Distance: approx. 38 km or 50 minutes drive from Domaine des Féraud.
Botanic Gardens in Rayol-Canadel
The large botanical gardens are beautifully situated on the coast just to the south east of Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer. A walk through the area – known as the “Domaine du Rayol” or “Le Jardin de la Méditerranée” leads through various gardens divided into different botanical regions of the world and featuring different vegetation from the Mediterranean Basin. It takes about one and a half hours to follow a 2km marked itinerary. Guided tours can be reserved or audio guides are available. A small open-air restaurant – “ Le Café des Jardiniers” - offers meals inspired by the gardens. A bookshop is available for botanical literature and gift items.
Address: Domaine du Rayol, Avenue des Belges, 83820 Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer, Tel: 00 33 498 04 44 00
Opening times: February to 15th November every day, except Sundays, from 9.30am to 6.30pm
Distance: approx. 50 km or a 1hour drive from Domaine des Féraud.
Chestnut Festival in La Garde-Freinet
In the days when the cork industry boomed, la Garde Freinet was one of the centres of production. Cork oak trees still line the streets today, but this village at the end of the pass of the “Massive des Maures” with its flowering gardens and steep alley ways now lives from its vineyards and chestnuts. The highlight of the autumn is the “Fête de la Chateigne”, the chestnut festival, on the 3rd and 4th Sundays in October.
Distance: approx. 17 km or 23 minutes drive from Domaine des Féraud.
Lavender Festival in Valensole
A somewhat longer excursion leads us to the Plateau de Valensole, located in the middle of a valley in the hilly Provence, surrounded by lavender fields, wheat fields and almond trees. When in flower these combine to become a unique sea of lilac and yellow colours. The highlight of the summer is the lavender festival on the third weekend in July. The buzzing of the bees in the middle of the lavender fields is also impressive as they collect their daily nectar. The lavender honey from Valonsole is most famous: a visit of the Museum of apiculture “Musée Vivant de l’Abeille” with its 50 bee colonies is highly recommended. A lavender distillery can also be visited on Jean-Paul Angelvin’s domaine.
Distance: approx. 95 km or 1h 40 minutes drive from Domaine des Féraud.
Mushroom Festival in Saint-Trinit
Once a year, this sleepy village of Provence at the foot of Mont Ventoux turns into the capital of the mushroom with its mushroom experts and collectors. Every October a big mushroom festival takes place here with an exhibition of over 100 species of mushroom and an extensive programme for both children and adults.
Nearby you will find Sault – one of six French places declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Here you can admire nature in all its beauty, particularly in summer, when the wheat and lavender are in blossom.
Distance: approx. 185 km or 2h 40 minutes drive from Domaine des Féraud