- Embark on a gastronomic adventure through Nice's markets
- Create your own custom perfume in Grasse
- Tour the wineries of Châteauneuf-du-Pape
- Drive through the lavender fields of Valensole
- Explore the hilltop villages of the Luberon by E-Bike
|Welcome to the South of France!
|Nice Gourmet Walking Tour
|Day Trip to Monaco, Monte Carlo & Eze
|Drive to Cannes, Grasse Perfume Workshop & Moustiers Saint Marie
|Drive to Avignon via the Lavender Fields of Valensole
|Discover Avignon, Rhône Valley Wine Tour
|Drive to Aix-en-Provence via Les Alpilles National Park
|E-Bike Tour of the Luberon Valley
|Drive to Marseille & Depart
Day 1: Welcome to the South of France!
Bienvenue à Nice! Upon arrival at Nice International Airport, collect your rental car and continue to your hotel.
Nice sits at the northern end of the French Riviera, near the border with Italy. Nicknamed Nissa La Bella ("Nice the Beautiful") for its artistic spirit, grand plazas, crescent-shaped pebble beaches, Nice is inarguably the French Riviera's most popular city. The narrow cobblestone streets of its colorful old town, Vieille Ville, are lined with pastel-colored buildings and a plethora of shops selling everything from soap to wine.
Get settled, then spend the rest of the day exploring the city on your own. As evening falls, an unforgettable gastronomic experience awaits with a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 2: Nice Gourmet Walking Tour
Savor the sights and sounds of Nice's open-air markets with a guided walking tour that embarks in the morning and culminates around noon. Your local expert guide will lead you through a gastronomic odyssey that will surprise and delight your palate with delicious flavors both familiar and exotic. Much of this adventure is an off-the-beaten-path tour that follows the narrow streets of Nice's colorful old town, Vieille Ville. All the while, your guide will introduce you to purveyors and market vendors who will treat you like a local while offering sweet and savory symbolic treats as they explain the history of Nice and its gastronomy.
The rest of the day is at your leisure. You could explore the city's ancient Greek Quarter, which dates back to around 350 BCE, or visit the remains of the Roman amphitheater in the historic Cimiez neighborhood. Nearby you'll find the opulent Excelsior Régina Palace, where Queen Victoria of England used to spend her summers, and the Musée Matisse, a museum showcasing the works of the expressionist master Henri Matisse. Head to the quays of Port Lympia to take in sweeping Mediterranean views, or end your day with a stop at the historic Negresco Hotel, where you can enjoy an aperitif in style and make a toast to your very own slice of the Belle Époque.
Day 3: Day Trip to Monaco, Monte Carlo & Eze
Today you'll journey 12 miles (20 km) along the coast to the city-state of Monaco, to explore one of the world's smallest countries at your own pace. Visit the famous Monte Carlo district with its legendary casino, then continue to the Rocher de Monaco (Rock of Monaco). This is the location of the town's oldest neighborhood, the medieval Old Town. From here, the views of the sunny coast are unparalleled.
Proceed to the medieval village of Eze, which perches high above the Mediterranean Sea. Thanks to its location and history, it's a popular destination with painters and artists. Explore the famous Chapelle Sainte-Croix and the ruins of the ancient castle, and get lost in the atmospheric alleys. After a stroll through the town's peaceful gardens, drive back to Nice for the evening.
Day 4: Drive to Cannes, Grasse Perfume Workshop & Moustiers Saint Marie
Bid Nice farewell this morning as you start the day with a 30-minute drive down the coast to glamorous Cannes. Although these days it's more well-known as the host of the International Cannes Film Festival, the famous city has surprisingly humble roots as a modest fishing village. Stroll along La Croisette and admire the palm trees, palaces, luxury boutiques, and elaborate art deco buildings, or head to Suquet, the oldest quarter and historic center of Cannes. Built on a hill, Suquet invites you for a stroll along its steep medieval streets as you take in panoramic views over the coast.
In the hills north of Cannes you'll find Grasse, a charming village that happens to be the perfume capital of the world. Visit its historic city center where shops and vendors deal in the region's culinary specialties like Provençal stew, aioli, anchoïade, herbes de Provence, olive oil, truffle, figs, honey, and more. And then there's all that great Provençal wine!
But the real art of Grasse is found in its perfume industry. This is the heritage of the town, a local legacy since the 18th century that's 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 evident in its many perfumeries.
You'll discover this seductive art on a visit to one of the premier perfumeries in town, Gallimard. Make your own fragrance, selecting the "notes" (scents) and combining them on a specialized perfumer's organ to create your perfect signature scent. Gallimard will then register your unique formula so you can order your perfume even after returning home.
After your workshop in Grasse, take the beautiful mountainous road towards Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. This scenic 2.5-hour drive leads you through a circuit traversing the crests of the spectacular Gorges du Verdon, Europe's largest canyon. The fairytale village of Moustiers is perched at the natural gateway to the gorge, and it's here that you'll settle into a charming B&B for the evening.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Drive to Avignon via the Lavender Fields of Valensole
After breakfast, set out into the countryside towards the Plateau de Valensole, the most famous area in all of France to see blooming lavender. Each year starting in June and peaking in early July, the fields in this part of Provence come alive with vivid displays of purple that stretch all along the countryside. As a pleasant contrast, many of these lavender fields sit alongside wide expanses of golden wheat.
Continue west to reach the beautiful city of Avignon in the heart of Provence—your base for the next two nights. After check-in, stretch your legs with a visit to Place de l'Horlog, the city's historic heart, to see the City Hall, the 15th-century belfry, the theater, and the still-functioning Belle Époque style carousel. During the 1st century BCE, the plaza was used as Avenio's (then-Avignon) by the Romans as a forum. It's a great place to sit at a cafe and spend the afternoon people watching and enjoying various street performers.
Day 6: Discover Avignon, Rhône Valley Wine Tour
Spend the morning exploring more of Avignon, this medieval city that housed the Pope in the 14th century. Visit the soaring Palais des Papes—the largest Gothic palace in history and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and the Pont Saint-Bénézet medieval bridge, which is the subject of the famous song Sur le Pont d’Avignon, composed back in the 15th century.
In the afternoon, you'll venture into the Rhône Valley wine country, just north of Avignon, and the region of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This is where, during the papal schism, the Avignon Popes encouraged the development of viticulture and promoted winemaking in the region. On a tour of the vineyards, your expert guide will lead you on a relaxed yet delicious tasting tour of the famous varietals produced here, such as grenache and syrah.
Day 7: Drive to Aix-en-Provence via Les Alpilles National Park
France abounds with protected nature parks, and Les Alpilles is one of the most stunning. Located at the western edge of the Provence region, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, it's home to the Alpilles, a limestone mountain range dotted with colorful Provençal villages. This is one of France's smallest national parks (just 196 square miles), yet it is the perfect place to come for rock climbing, hiking, and horseback riding through the pine and oak forests.
Spend today discovering the park and its surroundings, starting with Les-Baux-de-Provence. This stunning medieval village is carved into a limestone plateau and offers panoramic views of the surrounding Alpilles. From here it's a short trip north to the adjacent village of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, another gem nestled at the foot of the mountains. With the many boutiques, markets, and stone fountains among its winding streets, it's the perfect place to pull up a patio table, sit under the shade of a plane tree, and enjoy an afternoon refreshment and views of the surrounding olive groves and vineyards. After all, it's this Provençal village that inspired the works of Vincent van Gogh.
Other activities in the area include horse riding through the pine forests and olive plantations, visiting an olive oil mill, or joining a cooking session based on the use of olive oil with the famous chef Fabien Morréale.
At the end of the day, continue to the Aix-en-Provence for the evening.
Day 8: Explore Aix-en-Provence
"Aix," as it's commonly known, is a city set in an exceptional geographic location, amid the picturesque charm of the surrounding villages. The rural landscapes here, famous for their vineyards, lavender-blanketed fields, and limestone cliffs of Sainte Victoire Mountain, have been immortalized in the works of painters such as Cezanne, Picasso, and Kandinsky.
Spend today exploring the city's myriad charms at your own pace, starting with a visit to the Provençal food market to find plenty of local specialties such as macarons, calissons, goat’s cheeses, olive oil, honey, and fantastic local wines. Wander the narrow streets, go shopping in the fashion boutiques of this “mini-Paris," or relax with a luxurious spa or hammam.
Day 9: E-Bike Tour of the Luberon Valley
Head off-the-beaten-track today to discover the heart of authentic rural Provence on an E-Bike tour. The Luberon area of Provence is famous for rolling green hills dotted with vineyards and cherry orchards stretching as far as the eye can see. Perched atop many of these hills are postcard villages and little market towns where local farmers come to sell their produce. On your half-day cycling route, you'll visit charming villages like Bonnieux and Ménerbes, where tradition, heritage, and medieval history blend.
After the tour, you can continue to discover the Luberon by car, visiting different villages along the way. Stroll around in the cool air rising from the springs at Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, then head to Gordes, arguably the most beautiful of all the hilltop villages in the Luberon. Its fortified castle dominates the skyline, and from its winding cobbled streets, you can look out to wide views over the valley and surrounding hills. From here, it's just a short drive to the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Sénanque, a Cistercian abbey founded in the 12th century. Continue to Roussillon, located in the heart of the world's largest ochre deposits, whose pigments are used to color the village in its flamboyant pink and orange hues.
When you've had your fill of exploring, return to Aix for the evening, and enjoy a celebratory final dinner.
Day 10: Drive to Marseille & Depart
Your grand Provençal adventure comes to a close today, as you make your way to the airport in Marseille to return your rental car and catch your departing flight. Au revoir!
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