In May 2022 I was commissioned by Travel + Leisure magazine to shoot a story about a luxury driving tour starting in Provence and ending in Monaco for the Grand Prix.
I met the organizers of the tour and the enthusiastic drivers at their first overnight stop at Chateau La Gaude in Aix-en-Provence. As I got there I immediately saw the line of cars. Red, yellow, blue, black, grey… Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche… all shiny clean and ready to go!
I am not crazy about cars but couldn’t help get excited to take pictures of such amazing specimens!
I took plenty of pictures of the line up of cars in the beautiful setting of the luxury hotel and then set out to explore the grounds and buildings of Château la Gaude.
And what an amazing venue to photograph. Beautiful gardens, mazes, agapanthes everywhere, cosy sitting areas dotted around the grounds, stunning restaurant with classical features and a modern touch… I was not surprise that this location had been chosen for such an exclusive organized tour. “Château de La Gaude is the ultimate Provençal bastide. Its various leisure and production functions have been perfectly preserved, and the estate offers remarkable balance in proportions and rigour in its construction. The sublime French garden, classified as a historic monument, is ideal for long walks. The alley - haven for butterfly hunting - adds yet another dimension to this place of character. A pleasure for the eyes and an ode to the city of Paul Cézanne.”
The next morning, bright and early, one by one the cars set of to take the road less travelled between Aix-en-Provence and Grasse. I was driving with the in house photographer of the tour (enjoying the view as he was driving) and we would set up ahead of the drivers, finding beautiful spots as backgrounds for our pictures as we were driving.
The scenery changed fast between the rolling lavender covered hills of Provence and the cliffs and gorges of the Verdon and the back country of Grasse. I could picture what a thrill it must be to be driving these amazing cars through this breath-taking scenery.
Each time we would find a good location and stop the luxury cars would catch up on us quickly and we only had a few seconds of shooting time as they were zooming in front of our lenses! I used my canon R6 with a 24-105mm lens along with my 5Ds with a 14mm lens to get a variety of shots.
After three shoots, the group stopped at the Golf de Taulane next to Castellane in the Verdon area for a typically niçois lunch. A time for them to let the adrenaline die down before setting off again.
The afternoon was very similar as the backdrop of my pictures became more mountainous and we all arrived in Grasse by the end of the day.
The next day the guests set off to Monaco to watch the Grand Prix on a Yacht. They were taxied from Fontvieille to the Port Hercule on a tender giving them a good glimpse of Monaco by sea.
Once on the Yacht they got to enjoy the atmosphere in luxury with all day round drinks and nibbles.
I was asked to go on the boat to take shots of the day. Yachts are always such a photogenic subject. Everything is ordered and beautiful and the guests were having a fantastic time.
But it would not have been a wrap without a few pictures of the Monaco Grand Prix itself. I did not have a pass to access the bleachers and over the years the organizers of the race have become experts at hiding every single bit of the Grand Prix from the bystanders. I got extremely lucky and came across a very understanding security guard who let me in for “1 minute” (I swear I think he timed me). Success! I got a couple of shots!!!!!
I finished the day driving up to the best spot to get a view of Monaco, la Tête de Chien and wrapped up my shoot nicely. What a great assignment!