Sunday, July 22, 2018

Return to the film locations for "A Good Year" movie starring Rusell Crowe and Marion Cotillard

I told you in a previous post that "A Good Year" starring Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard is my favorite American/British-made movie set in the South of France. The movie is directed by Ridley Scott who himself lives in the Luberon and is based on a Peter Mayle novel.

The movie tells the story of Max (Russell Crowe) who inherits a rundown house and vineyard in Provence from his Uncle Henry played by Albert Finney who Max visited during summers as a boy. Rather than being excited about his good fortune, Max wants to quickly sell the property and return to his life in London where he is a ruthless securities trader and loner.

Instead, things get a little complicated and he stays around and soon falls head-over-heels for a beautiful café owner named Fanny Chenal played by the very pretty, perfectly French, Marion Cotillard. I know it didn't win any Oscar awards but I love romantic stories and the movie is set in one of our favorite parts of Provence.

A few months back, our Windsor neighbors Fred and Linda paid us a visit in Sablet. Like us, they are fans of the movie, so one of our day trips was a tour of the locations where "A Good Year" was filmed during 9 weeks in the fall of 2005 in the Luberon region of Provence. In this post, I will share some of the sights we saw that day.

The first scene in Provence after Max learns Uncle Max passed away is a plane flying over Gordes on its way to the Marseille Provence airport. Gordes is a beautiful hilltop village, one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France...which means "Most beautiful villages of France", seen below.

Early scene in movie shows this view of Gordes as Max's plane passes overhead on the way to Marseille Airport

Château la Canorgue, the location used for the house and vineyard that Max inherits is really a working winery owned by Jean-Pierre Margan. The Chateau is about 1 mile outside of Bonnieux on the road to the Pont Julien. Château la Canorgue is a family-owned wine estate that thanks to the hard work and dedication of successive generations has remained in the family for more than 200 years.

In the 1970s, Jean-Pierre Margan, a pioneer in organic farming started tending the vineyard and producing wines. He passed on his passion and experience to his daughter, Nathalie, who is the 5th generation of winegrowers. If you visit the winery, you can taste their wine, including a bottle of "Le Coin Perdu" which has a very significant part in the movie.

Entrance to Château la Canorgue

The movie was filmed inside the house, and outside in the garden and vineyards. As you stand by the vineyards and look up at the house, it looks just like it did in the film warm, inviting, and "aged to a soft patina".

The house at Château la Canorgue

For the movie, Château la Canorgue's name was changed to Château la Siroque. Several scenes in the movie were filmed in front of the house, including a final scene with Max and Fanny on the terrace.

Pool at Château la Canorgue and view toward current tasting room

Back in Gordes for his appointment with the Notaire, Max circles this roundabout several times with a war memorial in the center as he tries to figure out which direction to take. The best thing about roundabouts in Provence is that many are beautifully designed or some type of art form and reflect something important about the town or village where they are located.

Roundabout in center of Gordes which Max circles several times in his little yellow car before meeting the Notaire

La Renaissance Restaurant in the heart of Gordes is the place where scenes of Fanny's bistro were filmed in the 'A Good Year' movie.

Fanny's bistro was filmed at Hotel le Renaissance in Gordes

It is hard to pass the restaurant and fountain on Place du Château in Gordes without thinking about Max and Fanny and the movie scenes shot in this location.

Fountain in front of Fanny's café where Max waited for Fanny to ask her out on a date

Uncle Henry's longtime winemaker in the movie is Francis Duflot (Didier Bourbon)and his wife is Ludivine (Isabelle Candelier) who cared for the place when Max was a boy. One night Max is invited to dinner at their home.

Château Les Eydins which was the location for Francis Duflot's home

Cucuron is where Max and Fanny have their first date, watching a black and white movie in the square by the basin under the plane trees. Max brings a bottle of "Le Coin Perdu" wine.

Place de l'Étang in Cucuron

Bonnieux is the village seen in this panoramic shot from the Chateau. There is a very similar shot in the movie.

Bonnieux as seen from Chateau la Canorgue

Cafe de France in Lacoste is where Max finds Christie to return her book and give her a letter he forged from Uncle Henry acknowledging that Christie is his child and asked Max to please share La Siroque with her.

Café de France terrace

The bus stop where Max finds Christie was shot in front of Café de France in Lacoste.

Café de France in Lacoste

We were saddened by the passing of Peter Mayle a few months back. My love of Provence truly began with reading "A Year in Provence," a 1989 best-selling memoir by Peter Mayle about his first year in Provence, and the local events and customs.