Luberon is my little bit of paradise. Weekends here begin at 10.30am as my wife and I leave Marseille airport in a convertible Mini, a fun car to drive up the mountain roads. I’ve been renovating a 200-year-old barn in Goult since 2007 and we take sojourns here to oversee the project. Until it’s ready, we’ll stay at La Bastide de Capelongue, a hotel run by chef Edouard Loubet above the village of Bonnieux.
En route we’ll stop at Mizso in Lourmarin – its silver and ribbon jewellery pieces are like lucky charms – and then celebrate our arrival at La Bastide with champagne with black truffle syrup on the terrace. The views are beautiful – you can see the cedars in Bonnieux, which is nice as they, like me, are originally from Lebanon. Then we’ll go across to La Bergerie for thin truffle pizza and burgers that melt in your mouth.
After lunch we’ll laze by the hotel pool for a while. Rested, we set off for the barn. My wife says I’m scared of finishing it and she’s right – a part of me doesn’t want the dream to end – but furnishing it is a good pretext for shopping expeditions. We love Edith Mézard’s embroidery atelier, hidden away in the Château de l’Ange in Lumières, which is only open a few hours each day; there’s always some new linen to discover. Au Détour d’une Promenade, a shop specialising in Provençal furniture in Bonnieux, is another favourite.
From there we go to the Café de la Poste in Goult to read the papers over a glass of Querelle de Famille, a white wine produced by Chasson in nearby Roussillon. We always drink local wines – it’s considered a bit of an insult not to – and there are some great producers now.
Dinner at La Bastide is like a pilgrimage for us. It has two Michelin stars but should have three in my opinion; the food is divine. I usually start with gazpacho de melon as an aperitif, followed by the menu aux quatre vents.
I wake before dawn here and will go for an early walk to the newsagent and watch the sunrise. Having picked up a copy of Le Journal du Dimanche, I’ll power-walk back up the 108 steps to the hotel; the exertion gives me an appetite for a breakfast of melon, cherries, raspberry tart, brioche aux pralines and coffee, sadly decaffeinated these days.
Sunday is all about antiques, but first I like to pop into Eglise Louise Bourgeois in Bonnieux, a little-known renovated monastery containing four site-specific Bourgeois works. I’m fortunate to know the manager so we can visit when it’s closed to the public.
Then it’s off to the market at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Thibaud Ayasse from Design 6070 is our favourite dealer because, unlike most people here, he specialises in furniture from the 1960s and 1970s.
We’ll have lunch at Le Jardin du Quai, where the chef claims to catch the fish of the day with his bare hands. That may not be true, but it tastes delicious eaten out in the peaceful, shady garden.
After lunch we’ll drive to the most poetic place on earth, the Abbaye de Sénanque. It’s one of the oldest abbeys in France, and looking at it, you can’t help but be silenced. I like to stop on the narrow road down so I can see it from above, surrounded by lavender fields.
Our senses restored, we’ll head for Jean Chabaud and the inspirational paradise of architectural salvage. We recently picked up a 14th-century metal grille there for the gate at the house, and a fountain for my daughter’s fish tank. Then we’ll make a quick trip to Le Havane in downtown Apt for a Partagás Serie D No 4 cigar before heading back to the airport past the Roman bridge Pont Julien, where we’ll stop to take a selfie. If I’m lucky, there’s just time to smoke my cigar in the evening sun before take-off.