Sunday, November 11, 2012

Russell Crowe at Château la Canorgue

After our picnic at the top of Bonnieux, the ladies and I headed down the hill toward the village of Gordes. On the way, we were going to Château la Canorgue, the site for the run-down château and vineyard in the movie "A Good Year." In case you haven't seen the movie, Russell Crowe plays Max, a successful London banker who inherits the château after the death of Uncle Henry played by Albert Finney.

The movie is based on the book "A Good Year" by Peter Mayle and set in the Luberon. The movie was mostly shot on location during 9 weeks in the fall of 2005. Shirley and I love the movie especially the outstanding cinematography and know the movie's locations in Gordes, Lacoste, the Marseille airport and rental car area and vineyards between Oppede and Menerbes where Max gets lost in his little yellow car.

Château la Canorgue, the château and vineyard that Max inherits is the main location for the movie. The winery is really owned by Jean-Pierre Margan, the winemaker, his wife, Martine, and their daughter, Nathalie and is located about 1 mile outside of the village of Bonnieux. The view below from Château la Canorgue to Bonnieux and the Petit Luberon is shown several times in the movie.

The movie which was directed by Ridley Scott who himself owns a house in Provence and is a friend of Peter Mayle includes scenes inside the château and outside in the vineyards and garden. Several scenes in the movie were filmed in front of the house, including a final scene with Max and Fanny who is played by the beautiful Marion Cottiard, on the terrace.

You can imagine how this beautiful old house set among huge shade trees with its manicured garden and well tended vineyards could seduce a busy London banker like Max Skinner with dreams of a happier life with with sweet Fanny.

A close up of the terrace in front of the house with the adjoining chapel to the right. If you look closely, you can see a little table and chairs where you can imagine Max and Fanny sitting while they sip on a glass of wine from the domaine and look out over the vineyards.

There are a total of 30 hectares (74 acres) planted in vineyards all organically grown. In the movie, the vineyards are tended by Francis Duflot played by French Algeria-born actor Didier Bourdon while his wife Ludivine Duflot played by French actress Isabelle Candelier does cooking and cleaning at the house for Max.

The Coin Perdue is the "illegal" red wine made by Max's uncle Henry and Francis Duflot from grapes grown on the estate. The wine was illegal because it was made from grapes that were not permitted in the Luberon AOC. The wine was well known and sought by collectors but its origins were a secret according to the movie. Unfortunately, the winery was sold out of the Coin Perdue and their rosé wine when we were there last month so we will have to return so we can try them.

We watch the movie often and enjoy seeing the scenery and locations that we know so well. It makes us yearn to be back in Provence. If you have not seen the movie, download it and watch it now. Let me know what you think.

Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt. Have a great week.


  1. I haven't seen the movie, but I have read and loved all of Peter Mayle's books. My Dad sent me my first one when we moved to Provence. And I'm pretty sure Peter was on a TGV train to Paris with me once many years ago. But I was too shy to say hi or ask...

  2. Funny, I was just thinking about downloading it yesterday!!! And I am reading A Year In Provence right you have convinced me!!! Thank you for the insider's view!!!

  3. I watched the movie when I first moved here, I'm going to have to watch it again now and try and spot the familiar spots :)

  4. Meredith - You should try to watch the movie if you can. I had the chance to meet Peter Mayle at a signing for his book he wrote about bread. He was very friendly so if your paths cross again, don't hesitate to say hi.

    Kassandra - Thanks for stopping in to check out my blog and especially for leaving a comment. I appreciate this very much. I hope you enjoy the movie.

    Sara - I believe the movie is most interesting for those of us who have been to the places filmed in the movie. So you should definitely watch it again as you will recognize many of the places where scenes were shot.

  5. I have not seen the film or read the book but I will be looking for the book on the internet tomorrow. Love this post and the great photos. Keep well Diane

  6. Diane - I also think you should try to download a copy of the movie so you can see it for yourself. The book is vintage Peter Mayle but the movie is very cute too and you will get a nice tour of the Luberon.

  7. I enjoyed the book and the movie. Nice to know where it was filmed.

  8. labergerebasque - Me too! I guess that is why I have made an effort to see the locations where the film was shot.

    Megan - Yes, it is fun to go see the locations and then watch the movie and see how it was changed for the movie scene.

  9. Michel, this is my boyfriend's favorite film - we are traveling to Southern France at the end of June...can we visit the Chateau in the film near Bonnieux?

  10. Pippa - Thanks for stopping in to visit my blog and for leaving a comment. Funny, you should ask about the Chateau. We were there earlier this week again. You can taste wine in the Tasting Room and walk around the grounds and take pictures but the Chateau is not open for visits. We also visited Cucuron and took pictures of the etang (lake) in the village where Max and Fanny have their first date.

  11. Michael,

    I was watching the movie and dreaming of France (j'adore France). I looked up where the chataeu was and came across your blog. What a small world it is as I currently live in northern Italy but we spend as much time as possible in the south of France and I grew up in Santa Rosa, CA, a stone's throw from Windsor. What lovely places you have chosen to live. You are inspiring me to start a blog of my own Italian adventures. Bon nuit!

  12. Every few months or so we watch "A Good Year" it is one of our favorites. The music and timing of the scene changes are masterful. The scenes of Chateau La Canorgue are simply amazing. Albert Finny is the best of uncles. Great acting all around.
    We would love to take a tour of this winery.

  13. The film is a masterpiece. Unsurpassed acting, directing, music and location make it a truly uplifting experience to watch, which I do regularly. It lifts my spirits and enhances my mental health.
    I lived in southern France for a year in the 70s and will be re visiting Provence this summer with my family to re live the beauty.