Italian Idyll


It is 11 a.m., and the unmistakable beat of a helicopter announces itself overhead. In short order, another arrives directly from the airport at Monaco and settles onto the helipad at La Bastide de Moustiers. An arrival on this scale ought not to be a surprise, because this property is owned by Alain Ducasse, the grand fromage of French chefs.

The story of this place began in 1994 with Ducasse riding a motorcycle through the Verdon Gorge (Gorges du Verdun), a destination in southeastern France often considered the Grand Canyon of Europe, with its 2,100-foot jagged limestone cliffs that form a river canyon. This area of France is one of the most spectacular, drawing tourists like moths to a flame (or, perhaps, like lemmings to the edge, should you decide to drive the road that rims the gorge).

Ducasse, however, was not so much drawn to the landscape as he was to a 17th-century farmhouse he spotted on the edge of the town of Moustiers-Sainte- Marie. The lavender and the numerous olive trees excited his attention. With his motorcycle still ticking from the ride, Ducasse took out his checkbook and bought the property. It was to be his own home—admittedly, one of many. But with world-girdling commitments to his many businesses, he thought it wise to turn the dwelling from house to hotel. And lucky for us—because it is an extraordinary place any one of us would want as a home.

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This story appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of MILIEU