Pic: sunflowerCreative's at La Colle


The La Colle experience



Creative's at La Colle 

One week fully inclusive* Painting holiday, Photo Safari or Let's just rent. 

*Airport to Airport




Jasmin Howard was invited to La Colle in April prior to launching the photographic tours at La Colle she was asked to experience the adventure here and then write about what she honestly thought about it. Whether as a guest renting or as a photographer on a photo Safari or a Paint Provence guest.

Jasmin has worked for main stream Advertising Agencies in London and also for the BBC both as creative management and also as a creative writer. She is not afraid to say what she thinks and was not paid to write these words.

You are also welcome to read our comments page from previous guests here.

A year in Provence ?  Even a week there could make you feel human again! 

article by Jasmin Howard

Writers, artists and photographers need somewhere to replenish their creative juices and what better place could there be than the Alps de Haute Provence, a little-known part of the region of Provence .

  In La Colle you awake to panoramic views of the surrounding hills and can even get a glimpse of the snow-capped Alps in the far distance.  Getting away from it all has always been the point of having a holiday but this is really doing it in style. 

  In 1995, Rod Cook quit his Surrey home and career in the cut-throat world of advertising to restore a small-holding on a peaceful Provence hilltop, where he now runs two gîtes with two more en-route.  Although cut off from the rest of the world (access is via a country track so don’t bring any low-riding vehicles or sports cars but normal cars use it daily) the gîtes have all up-to-date facilities and there’s even a swimming pool for when the weather’s warm, which being the South of France, is a large proportion of the year.  In fact, even in early April when I was there, it was hot enough for a dip when things got too steamy.

  The 400-year-old buildings have been lovingly renovated to reveal original beams and honey-coloured tiled floors.  The upstairs gîte has large inter-connecting rooms and huge windows with breath-taking views, while downstairs is like entering a comfortable Aladdin’s cave, decorated in warm, rich tones and again boasting every-mod-con – even an open fireplace which, on these cool spring evenings, was wonderful to sit by, sipping some vin rouge and contemplating the meaning of life until late into the night.

  During the day we could spend time either sitting around in the vast grounds surrounding the gîtes talking, writing and of course eating (Rod’s speciality is his legendary cooked English breakfast and mixed French / Asian from his Chinese heritage) or we’d go on a photographic excursion to some of the most intriguing places that only Provence can provide – little villages with quaint chapels, the mystical Walk of Kings at Lurs and the medieval town of Sisteron, resting high on a cliff. 

  One day we travelled across Le plateau de Valensole, quite the most extraordinary sight in Spring with its vast bright green carpet of fields contrasting with the cool whiteness of the Alps stretching along the horizon and topped with a bright blue sky.  We reached the turquoise Lac de St Croix where we photographed the Gorge de Verdons, a mini version of the Grand Canyon before making our way into Moustiers, a jewel of a town set into the rock, offering unlimited photo opportunities. Other visits took in the Roman aqueduct at the Pont du Gard, the Palais de Papes at Avignon and the monastery at Lac Enbrun.

  One lunchtime we dined at the most wonderful restaurant in Apt, ten minutes from Minerve where Peter Mayle (the author of A Year in Provence) famously resided.  It was a family-run establishment called Aux Plaisirs Gormands and it certainly lived up to its translation.  We had a three-course meal – light salad followed by a superb steak with delicious vegetables and finished off with a mouth-watering homemade dessert – beautifully cooked, unpretentious and excellent value for money (even including the obligatory carafe of wine). Parfait!

  For something more lively there was Aix en Provence , a bustling city rivalling Paris in culture and elegance and on Monday mornings there was the market at Forcalquier, the nearest main town to La Colle, 14 kilometers away.  There you could buy anything from the local produce (cheese, sausages, bread) to clothes, hats and bags as well as taking the opportunity to photograph some typically French characters.

  Many of our ‘days off’ were spent downloading photos from the day before and comparing pictures – it’s amazing how people can be at the same place at exactly the same time but manage to come back with completely different photographs.

  It really was the most restful but at the same time inspiring week that I’ve spent in a long time and I came back promising to put myself on a strict diet and to lay off the wine for at least month!  So, if you are dying to take out that new digital camera to capture some really special shots, are looking for somewhere tranquil to finish that book, or if you just simply want to get away from the pressures of the rat-race for anything from a few days up to a month – this is the place to come.  Rod plays ‘mein host’ to perfection and ensures that each evening you’ll return to a tasty meal with all the wine you can drink.

  For more details look on the website at www.holiday-provence-gite.com or contact Rod Cook direct on 00447796486269 (or email see contacts page).  One-week photographic tours are run from mid-November to December and then again from April to May.  All other bookings are available for any other time of the year.

Jasmin Howard


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Note: Photos on this site! Have all been optimised for the internet and therefore have a massive quality drop to ensure readability by all different types of internet access. All of the shots published on this site unless otherwise stated are Copyright © 2023 by Rod Cook.


From the main holiday stay web site 

Gîte Galileo and The Main House La Colle; Holiday Property stay's in Provence France

30 Hectares / 75 Acres of Private Parkland, with Swimming Pool overlooking the Valley

Visit Forcalquier * Visit Lurs * Visit Sigonce

Picture gallery of local area

Discover Autumn in Provence - Nov to the end of Dec

Winters view - 30 Hours of a winters day

Discover Spring in Provence - April to end of June

What our guests have said about us

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