This itinerary covers a boggling number of must-see places and unique excursions for an authentic taste of French life. Over the course of 10 days, you'll enjoy the beauty of Paris with the help of a local guide before spending three nights in Aix-en-Provence. From here, tour the French Riviera's best seaside towns starting in Cassis and heading east to Nice where you'll complete the adventure.

Highlights

  • Experience Paris's famous monuments and lesser-known gems
  • Soak in the views with a three-hour train ride to Provence
  • Take a cooking class with locals outside of Aix-en-Provence
  • Walk the ancient streets of Marseille (and the cliffs of Cassis)
  • Let a private driver show you the best spots along the French Riviera

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paris Paris
Day 2 Classic Walking Tour of Paris Paris
Day 3 Covered Passageways of Paris Paris
Day 4 Train to Aix-en-Provence Aix-en-Provence
Day 5 Provence Cooking Class Aix-en-Provence
Day 6 Explore Calanques National Park & Marseille Aix-en-Provence
Day 7 Lunch in St. Tropez - Continue to Cannes Cannes
Day 8 Perfume Tour of Grasse Cannes
Day 9 Driving Tour of Nice Nice
Day 10 Depart France  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paris

Get a glimpse of Paris after dusk

Bienvenue! Your France trip begins in Paris, nicknamed Ville Lumière (City of Lights), the pulsing, yet elegant capital soaked in centuries of history, as well as art, fashion, and romance. 

Upon arrival, you'll be picked up from the airport and transferred to your hotel. Take some time to head out and explore the streets near your accommodations before dinner. Make sure to get a good night's rest before tomorrow's walking tour that covers some of the city's major monuments and museums.

Day 2: Classic Walking Tour of Paris

Hit the streets with a local guide

After breakfast at your hotel, get ready to explore the city with a private local guide. This full-day tour gives you plenty of time to experience the highlights starting with the Royal Palace, the Sainte Chapelle, and Notre Dame—all within the Île de la Cité. From here, you'll wander through the streets of the trendy Le Marais district and explore symbolic places within such as the Place des Vosges.

After a lunch break, it's time to explore Le Louvre (the largest museum in Europe), with skip-the-line-access, where you'll have time to get up close to Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. After this cultural visit, relax with some fresh air in the Tuileries Gardens, and then continue to the Champs Elysees and the majestic Arc de Triomphe. 

Finally, you'll visit the architectural wonder that is the Eiffel Tower. Enjoy the beauty of this monument before ending the epic tour with a boat cruise along the Seine.

Day 3: Covered Passageways of Paris

 Galerie Vivienne

Today, you'll have the chance to see a completely different side of Paris. Your private guide will take you some hidden gems focusing on the city's covered passageways during a two-hour walking tour. 

These passageways are a Parisian invention and they represent a link between the past and present. Your guide will share anecdotes of these tiny nooks, which were created in the 19th-century during the birth of Parisian shopping arcades. By the 1850s there were approximately 150 covered passages in Paris—and today, you'll see the ones that stood the test of time. 

Following the tour, you'll have the rest of the day to explore the city on your own. 

Day 4: Train to Aix-en-Provence 

The Old Town in Aix-en-Provence

This morning, after breakfast in Paris, you will take a direct TGV (high-speed train) from Paris to Provence. The journey to the south of France takes about three hours. Once you arrive at the station, you'll be picked up by a private driver and transferred to your hotel in the center of Aix-en-Provence

During your first moments in Provence, take notice of the city's rich heritage, art, and culture. "Aix" and its surrounding villages have an exceptional geographic location, and these picturesque landscapes have been immortalized by painters such as Cezanne, Picasso, and Kandinsky.

In the afternoon, you can discover the beauty of the city by taking a two-hour walking tour around its labyrinth of narrow streets and fountains with a private guide. You’ll visit the Cathedral, Hotel de Ville, Cours Mirabeau, and some hidden gems.

Make sure to ask your guide for the best restaurants in town before you explore the dining scene on your own.

Day 5: Provence Cooking Class

Lavender field in Provence

Today, you'll get a chance to experience Provence's rich way of life with a foodie tour and cooking class! 

This full-day adventure starts with a shopping trip in the food markets of Aix's Old Town. Along with your guide, you'll meet local purveyors and choose fresh regional produce and products like herbes de Provence, olive oil, truffles, figs, honey, and more.

Next, you'll bring these ingredients to your host's country estate, which follows a route that passes through the scenic Montaiguet Forest. You'll even stop at a local chateau to select some great Provençal wine to pair with your meal. 

Upon arriving at the country home, you can take a stroll around the property and search for wild aromatic herbs. Then it will be time to start the cooking class—this is where you and a group of culinary enthusiasts will actively participate in the preparation of various recipes. After two hours of cooking, everyone will sit down at the long communal table for a fun and rewarding meal. 

Return to your hotel in Aix-en-Provence in the late afternoon.

Day 6: Explore Calanques National Park & Marseille

Calanques National Park

Today will start with an early morning visit to the Provençal markets of Aix where you can find plenty of local specialties such as macarons, calissons, goat cheese, olive oil, honey, and fantastic local wines to take home as souvenirs—or, instead, shop for clothes in the city's stylish boutiques.

Then it's time for an exciting day-trip. Driven by a private guide, you will first head to the small port of Cassis (nicknamed the small Provençal Saint-Tropez) and its wonderful Calanques National Park—a UNESCO World Heritage Site with white cliffs and turquoise waters. You'll have some free time to either explore the town of Cassis, relax on the beach, or check out the scenic trails in the park (there's even kayak rentals). Make sure to check out the exceptional view of the bay from the highest cliff in Europe, called Cape Canaille, located 1312 feet (400 m) above sea level.

In the afternoon, your guide will introduce you to Marseille and its Vieux Port where you will visit Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde, Saint Victor Abbey, and a crypt that contains the 4th-century marble sarcophagi. Next, you'll have a little free time to walk around the Panier, the oldest neighborhood of Marseille, and the 17th century Vieille Charity museum and the Cathedral La Major to complete this afternoon of cultural sightseeing.

At the end of the day, you'll return to Aix-en-Provence for one last dinner in town before continuing to the French Riviera.

Day 7: Drive to St. Tropez - Continue to Cannes

Wander the streets of St. Tropez before lunch

This morning, you'll depart Aix-en-Provence with your private driver and make your way to Cannes. But first, take the time to discover the Mediterranean coast by driving through a series of narrow, scenic roads, with hidden creeks and wild beaches.

On your first stop, you discover the small town of Saint-Tropez. The place remains a must for celebrities, beach lovers, history buffs, art collectors, and boaters. Your guide will share the town's secret places and intimate beaches before you choose a spot for lunch at the main port where you can enjoy a view of the sea.

In the afternoon, you'll continue driving along the coast passing through of Port-Grimaud and Theoule sur Mer before landing at your hotel in Cannes in time to relax and enjoy the local dining scene. 

Day 8: Perfume Tour of Grasse

Pass through the countryside for small villages and their markets

Today, you'll head to the hills north of Cannes where you'll find Grasse, a charming village that happens to be the perfume capital of the world. With a private guide, you can visit its historic city center where shops and vendors sell the region's culinary specialties like Provencal stew, aioli, anchoïade, herbes de Provence, olive oil, truffle, figs, honey, and (of course) wine. 

But the real art of Grasse is found in its perfume industry. This local legacy since the 18th century is defined by luxury, refinement, and the supreme quality of ingredients used to make Grasse's famous fragrances. This artisanal trade has been passed down over generations and is revealed in its many perfumeries. You'll discover this seductive art on a visit to one of the premier perfumeries in town, Galimard. During the visit, you'll get to make your own fragrance, selecting the "notes" (scents) and combining them on a specialized perfumer's organ to create the perfect signature scent. Galimard will then register your unique formula so you can order your perfume even after returning home.

At the end of the tour, you'll return to Cannes for one more night on the town.

Day 9: Driving Tour of Nice 

Nissa La Bella

This morning, get ready to finish your French trip near the Italian border. Nicknamed Nissa La Bella ("Nice the Beautiful"), Nice is a historic city famous for its artistic spirit, grand plazas, crescent-shaped pebble beaches, and the narrow streets of its colorful old town, Vieille Ville. It is a densely populated coastal metropolis (the seventh most populous city in France), which means there are plenty of secrets to discover and adventures to be had around every corner.

You'll be able to enjoy one such adventure on a four-hour driving tour of the city led by an expert local guide. It's an immersive experience that reveals Nice's highlights, landmarks, and legends. Your guide will take you to must-visit sites like the Greek quarter (Nice was actually founded by the Ancient Greeks of the Massalia region in 350 BCE), and the Roman remains of an amphitheater and arena in the historic Cimiez neighborhood. This is also the location of two other notable landmarks: the opulent Excelsior Régina Palace, where Queen Victoria of England used to summer on the French Riviera, and the Musée Matisse, a museum showcasing the works of one of Nice's most famous residents, the expressionist master painter Henri Matisse.

Other highlights of the tour include stops at the Promenade des Anglais, Port Lympia, the aforementioned Vieille Ville, and the ornate St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral. The tour ends, fittingly, with a visit to one of the city's most famous landmarks, the Negresco Hotel, a throwback to France at the turn of the 20th century. Here you can enjoy an aperitif in style and make a toast to your very own slice of the Belle Époque. 

Day 10: Depart France

Sunrise in the French Riviera

It's time to say goodbye to France! In the morning, you'll be transferred to either Arles, Avignon, Marseille or Nice for your connecting train ride or departure flight home. Au revoir!

Map

Map of Paris, Provence & the French Riviera - 10 Days
Map of Paris, Provence & the French Riviera - 10 Days