Provence & Riviera
The South of France has been one of the most fashionable tourist destinations for more than a century. This tour has it all, from quiet provincial towns to glamorous cities where you can enjoy local wines, delectable food and discerning culture.
The South of France has been one of the most fashionable tourist destinations for more than a century. This tour has it all, from quiet provincial towns to glamorous cities where you can enjoy local wines, delectable food and discerning culture. From the attractions of Nice, Cannes and the mountain villages that overlook the azure Mediterranean to Monaco, with its famed gambling capital Monte Carlo. Then there is Provence, the inspiration of a thousand artists and writers from bygone to contemporary times including Van Gogh and CÃ©zanne. Even the shortest stay illustrates the magnetic pull of this region; its history, unspoilt towns and villages, chic Riviera resorts, gastronomic delights and scenic diversity. Lunch and wine tasting at a private vineyard, see Van Gogh Starlit Cafe, try a bouillabaisse lunch at the old port in Marseille, enjoy the ravishing countryside.
Day 1: Nice
Tuesday - We leave Nice and drive to Monaco, the playground of the rich and famous. We spend time exploring Monte Carlo, known for its dazzling harbour and lively entertainment. Stroll through the narrow streets of the old town, packed with boutique shops and galleries, sit in a street café and watch the world go by or wander around Port Hercule, famous for its superb yachts, its glamorous lifestyle and the Grand Prix that takes place every year in May. In the afternoon we drive back to Nice passing the ancient village of Èze before stopping at the stunning Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild to explore its beautiful palazzo, its gardens and impressive art collection. (D) Overnight accommodation: Hotel Westminster, Nice or similar.
Day 2: Nice | Vence | Cap d’Antibes
Wednesday - Our first visit today is to the beautiful village of St Paul de Vence, famous for its herbs, perfumes and picturesque narrow streets. Explore the many boutique shops and contemporary art galleries lining the alleyways before we make our way to the neighbouring town of Vence for lunch. Known as the ‘city of art’ this lovely medieval town is home to numerous painters and sculptors, who live and work here. Wander through its small streets and squares which date from the 12th century or admire the 11th century cathedral of St Véran with its mosaic by Marc Chagall, and Chagall’s chapel. (B,D) Overnight accommodation: Hotel La Garoupe-Gardiole or similar
Day 3: Cap d’Antibes | Cannes | Cap d’Antibes
Thursday - Today we spend some time in Cannes, the jewel of the Riviera and world-famous for its film festival, glitzy hotels, shopping, beaches and old port. Walk down the famous 'Croisette' or down the Rue d'Antibes. After lunch we wind our way through the narrow and hilly roads to the delightful old town of Antibes with its pretty squares, narrow streets, wonderful beaches and outdoor cafes before returning to our hotel. (B) Overnight accommodation: HÃ´tel La Garoupe-Gardiole or similar
Day 4: Cap d'Antibes | Aix-en-Provence
Friday - Today we travel to the cultural town of Aix-en-Provence, once the home of the artist Paul Cézanne. This morning we visit his studio where dozens of works by the great painter were conceived, including his famous Bathers. The old town of Aix has an amazing network of narrow streets lined with a number of shops, restaurants and cafes and is famous for its superb architecture and magnificent monuments. This afternoon we discover the sites of Aix as we wonder through the old town, seeing Saint Sauveur Cathedral and the site of the ancient Roman town. (B,D) Overnight accommodation: Hotel Des Augustins or similar
Day 5: Aix-en-Provence
Saturday - Today we relax in the yellow-stoned town of Aix-en-Provence. A walking tour takes us in the footsteps of Cézanne, passing the hot thermal springs, the Pavillon de Vendôme and the Musée des Tapisseries. This afternoon relax and enjoy the town at your own pace. There is so much to absorb in this charming city; perhaps visit one of the many museums, stroll through the Old Town, visit the thermal baths or just sit in a café in the lovely Cours Mirabeau. (B) Overnight accommodation: Hotel Des Augustins or similar
Day 6: Aix-en-Provence | Avignon | Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Sunday - Today we traverse through spectacular landscapes, timelessly animated by Peter Mayle in A Year in Provence. The highlight today is our stop in the 14th century city of Avignon, once home to Catholic Popes. The imposing Palais des Papes dominates the old historic centre and the St Bénézet Bridge is a must-see. (B) Overnight accommodation: Hotel Gounod, Saint-RÃ©my-de-Provence or similar
Day 7: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Monday - Today we meander through the vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône, one of the most famous wine producing regions in France. Our first stop is the magnificent Roman Theatre at Orange, dating from the reign of the Emperor Augustus. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is extraordinarily well-preserved and its Roman arch is particularly beautiful. We then make our way to a very special private vineyard, where we sit on the terrace and enjoy a tasty Provençal lunch, complemented beautifully by the local wines. (B,L) Overnight accommodation: Hotel Gounod, Saint-Remy-de-Provence or similar
Day 8: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence | Aigues-Mortes | Arles
Tuesday - We start the day with another stunning classical icon – the mighty Pont du Gard Aqueduct. Built by the Romans in the 1st century to carry water to the citizens of Nîmes, it is one of the region's most famous landmarks. We head to the Camargue area, one of France’s most important areas of natural history. Our first stop is the fortified village of Aigues-Mortes, famous for its striking, walled medieval town. We then travel to Van Gogh’s Arles, whose narrow winding streets inspired paintings and drawings by both Van Gogh and Picasso. Arles has over 2000 years of history to discover and is noted for the wealth of its Roman and Romanesque heritage. (B,D) Overnight accommodation: Hotel du Forum, Arles or similar
Day 9: Arles
Wednesday - This morning enjoy the local sights as we walk through the narrow streets of Arles, seeing scenes painted by Van Gogh himself, including the famous 'Starlit Café'. The local market and the Roman amphitheatre are not to be missed. The afternoon is yours to spend as you wish. (B) Overnight accommodation: Hotel du Forum, Arles or similar
Day 10: Arles – the ‘Little Alps’ - Arles
Thursday - Heading into the 'Little Alps', we explore the Huguenot stronghold of Les Baux-de-Provence. The town rewards us with remarkable views and has been painstakingly restored, boasting over 22 historical listed buildings including its medieval castle and the Romanesque and Renaissance Saint Vincent's Church. Discover this remarkable town before we make our way back to Arles for our last evening together. (B,D) Overnight accommodation: Hotel du Forum, Arles or similar
Day 11: Arles – Marseille - Nice
Friday - On our way back to Nice, we pay a visit to the bustling city of Marseille. We take in the spectacular views from the basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde before we make our way to the Old Port. We have time to soak up the atmosphere and to enjoy a leisurely lunch before we make our way back to Nice where our tour comes to an end. (B) (B)
Departs set Tuesdays:
2013: May 7 & 21; June 4 & 18; July & 30; August 20; September 3 & 17 plus October 1.