Endless secrets are hidden in the cellars of wine estates. As one pushes open the front doors, one falls into the bottomless pit of history. Some house the remains of former oppidum; others bear witness to some twenty generations and all their stories… The Domaine de la Bégude, with its Bandol appellation, is no exception. Meaning “a place for drinking” in Provençal, the location however long suffered from drought. No source of water could quench the thirst of pilgrims who would stop for rest along the old road connecting Marseille and Toulon. And, in the eighteenth century, many took refuge at La Bégude. The walls that encircle the building were then used to protect them from Gaspard de Besse, a bandit with a big heart. Known locally as the “Provençal Robin Hood”, the young man used to rob the richest for the benefit of the poor. According to the legend, his treasure remains carefully hidden somewhere in the vicinity.
An estate like an eagle’s nest
Many years later, the Domaine de la Bégude’s isolated location at the fringes of the Bandol appellation on a plateau 400 meters above sea level, its rocky barrenness, and its view that embraces the Mediterranean, seduced Soledad and Guillaume Tari, in 1996. Here, the couple of winemakers from the Médoc region cultivate 22 hectares of vines scattered in a mosaic of 55 plots dedicated to the production of high-class wines.
Four guest rooms at the bedside of the vineyard
In a building with flamboyant walls, a superposition of periods and customs, are four guest rooms. Simple and cosy, they offer a secret haven for true wine lovers—what makes a stay at Domaine de la Bégude so special is above all the close relationship guests can weave with the world of wine. A visit to the barrel cellar, an old 7th century chapel, offers nice glimpses into the vineyard’s activity and is followed by a tasting of the property’s silky wines, such as Brûlade, which is produced during the best vintage years.
What can I do at Domaine de la Bégude?
As soon as breakfast is over, the vineyard stands ready, with the garrigue extending into the distance. Five marked hiking trails form a fitness loop around the plots. After twenty minutes’ walking, for example, the Promethean circuit arrives at an astounding viewpoint. The farthest vine plots seem to plunge into the bay of Saint-Cyr, and onto Cassis and the Cap Canaille beyond. At this point, a stone table allows hikers to take advantage of the sun’s rays at the end of a summer’s day to gather round for a picnic.
Upon request, a wine grower’s picnic basket is given to you at the property’s reception! The rugged trails are not only available to walkers; you can also be taken in a complete tour of the vineyard by jeep. A hare bolts off up the road, a partridge rushes after it, while the raptor is never far away. La Begude, this “place for drinking”, quenches a thirst for possibilities.
Room: from 170 €, breakfast: 15 €/person (includes a guided tour by jeep of the vineyard, a visit to the cellar, wine and olive oil tasting). Picnic : saucisson, terrine, tapenade, sheep and goat’s cheese, Provençal biscuits, choice of wine, 49 € Domaine de la Bégude Route des Garrigues 83330 Le Camp du Castellet Tél. 04 42 08 92 34 www.domainedelabegude.fr