This is our fourth visit to the splendiferous Villa du Soleil. This year our hosts JB&C invite our other chums R&C with a brief to come armed with Brexit parodies to the tune of Gilbert & Sullivan…(these can be seen on my Instagram account). As well as a garish shirt competition, it is a tradition to play musical games and quizzes to counteract the effects of copious amounts of rosé.
As Ross is in Switzerland we decide to take the slow route down, by car. I am scooped up from Geneva airport and we tootle down to Lyons, where we have reserved a table at the 3-Michelin star Paul Bocuse. From the time we arrive to the garish and kitsch exterior to the moment we leave we are embraced by the very finest of traditional French cooking and service. The two-course menu has amuse bouche, pre-starter, our two courses, followed by cheese, dessert and petit fours. Good value despite the price, if you know what I mean!
Thence to Aix for a night, with a mission to visit the Atelier Cezanne. Despite being thwarted at every corner by pedestrianisation, we love our petit sojourn and wander round in the 30 C heat. Cezanne’s studio is exactly as he left it, and we see many of the objects and macquettes for his still-life painting, including the wooden puppet he used to model his nude bathers (for respectability’s sake!). The Chapelle section of the Musee Granet is a gem – the collection of Beyeler’s Jean Planque of the works of his chums including Picasso, Dubuffet, Bonnard, Degas and Klee.
Finally we arrive at the glorious VdS. George, the owner, and his family are there to greet us with champagne, and soon we are rehearsing our Brexit songs for the grand performance. Sam the chef – his company is Folk & Fare – arrives and the days unfold slowly with early morning swims – yes dear reader, I swam in the sea at least twice a day, a record, despite not being able to get my head wet due to my recent surgery – visits to the markets, wine estates and lots of eating drinking and party games.
Half way through our week, it’s all change as R&C leave and the energetic Topman family arrive, plus other cousins R&D. The routine continues with more rosé, some local degustations…
and more fine meals cooked by Sam (the Topmans manage to fit in a lot of walking and swimming while the sun-lounger lizards rest). Luckily for us the weather remains constant until the last day when the storms set in, and we are forced to retreat from the terrace.
We simply love the VdS and Sam’s cooking, we are spoiled rotten; sad to say we were too woozy with the boozy to take many photos of his scrumptious meals. Between us we have memories of many happy holidays there with various offspring cavorting in fancy dress, quizzes and games far into the night. All offset by lazing by its glorious pool, reading books and exchanging desultory conversations. We all look forward to the next time!