French Riviera & Provence through the eyes of painters

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Day 1:  Villefranche sur Mer for 5 nights

Pick up car rental in Nice and explore on own

Explore Nice and its dense pedestrian alleys, narrow buildings and pastel, Italianate churches.  Also discover its beautiful Belle Epoque buildings along the Promenade des Anglais

1 superior double sea view, breakfast & taxes included at Hotel Welcome****

This property is 6 minutes walk from the beach. The Welcome Hotel is situated in Villefranche-sur-Mer between Nice and Monte-Carlo. It offers air-conditioned rooms with a balcony overlooking Cap Ferrat Bay. Le Wine Pier, the Welcome’s wine bar, has a terrace with panoramic sea views and an extensive selection of local wines and cocktails. Additional services include a 24-hour reception and free daily international newspapers. The Welcome Hotel is 1,313 feet from the beaches, and there is a diving club in front of the hotel.

 

Day 2:

Day at leisure to explore

Monte Carlo, Tour of the old town of Monaco.  Time to visit the Palace, the cathedral, the Oceanographic Museum and see the changing of the guards.

Return via Eze – perched medieval village with its artisan shops and breath taking views: guided tour of perfumery and visit of village.

In the afternoon, visit the Matisse Museum in Nice.

 

Day 3:

Day at leisure to explore

Saint Cap Ferrat, chosen holiday home of the rich and famous – of kings, film stars, business magnates. Visit the Renaissance style Rothschild Villa with its impeccably laid out French gardens. Admire the priceless treasures accumulated by Ephrussi de Rothschild during her lifetime. Continue to Beaulieu (Beautiful place) to visit the reconstituted 5th Century B.C. Greek Villa Kerylos. Marvel at the simplicity and classical beauty of its conception, its light, its furnishings and other decorative objects. Return to Nice by Middle Corniche road with panoramic view from Mt. Alban.

In the afternoon, visit the Chagall Museum.

 

Day 4:

Day at leisure to explore

Matisse Chapel du Rosaire in Vence.

Guided visit of St Paul de Vence: stepped streets, ramparts and art galleries

Visit of the Maeght Foundation:  modern art Museum.

Biot:  picturesque village famous for its bubble-flecked glassware.

Musée Fernand Léger.

 

Day 5:

Day at leisure to explore

Vallauris:  pottery capital where Picasso spent a lot of time.  Visit the famous chapel where he painted “War & Peace”.

Cagnes sur Mer:  Musée Renoir :  Les Collettes is almost exactly as it was when the artist died.  In the house are ten of Renoir’s paintings, as well as works by his friend Bonnard & Dufy.  Visitors can also explore his beloved olive groves.

 

Day 6: Moustiers St Marie for 2 nights

Day at leisure to explore

Antibes:  Museum Nicolas de Stael.  He bought a house in Lubéron for his wife, but choose to live with his mistress in Antibes.  His “Paysage Méditéranéen” was painted in 1953.

Cotignac:  Cotignac is situated in the interior of Var in the center ot Provence at 230m. altitude, This is a city of character. With a waterfall in the background, Cotignac stands at the foot of a majestic great rock. Visitors to the old quarter, set next to the cliff, can see houses of the l6th and 17th centuries, stone or wrought iron decorations and narrow streets, all witnesses to the long and interesting past of Cotignac. There are many fountains, some quite curious looking, that bubble with cool clear water.  The “Cours” (court), sheltered from the heat by plane trees and cooled by the everflowing fountain is a lively place full of restaurants, cafés, hotel and shops.

Entrecasteaux:  Located in the green valley of Bresque and surrounded by wooded hills, this typical Provençal village has kept its original charm that goes all the way back to the 11th century.  History lovers will be gratified by the remnants of these times. The most important, without a doubt, is the castle in the center of the village. It was built in the 16thc. on the ruins of an 11thc. fort and was transformed in the 17th and 18th centuries. It has been perfectly kept and restored. It was the residence of many Provençal nobles and boasts a garden designed by Le Notre. The whole village has been classified a historical monument, with its ancient houses and the fortified church St. Sauveur. Entrecasteaux is one of the prettiest towns of the region. There are lovely 16thc. houses, decorated lintels, vaulted passages and mounting streets. These old paved streets, lined with tall and narrow facades complete the picture of a medieval village.

1 double room, breakfast & taxes included at Hotel La Bastide de Moustiers****

La Bastide de Moustiers is a country house nestled in the Provence village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. It has a restaurant and an outdoor swimming pool. Free Wi-Fi is available. Each air-conditioned room is uniquely decorated and equipped with satellite TV, a DVD player and en suite bathroom. La Bastide de Moustiers’s restaurant serves provençal cuisine. The menu changes daily according to the products available in the hotel’s vegetable garden or at the market. Guests are invited to relax in Bastide de Moustiers’ garden, which surrounds the house and is full of olive trees and fragrant lavender.

 

Day 7:

Day at leisure to explore

Moustiers Sainte Marie:  Moustiers-Ste-Marie sits below a narrow notch at the base of rocky cliffs. Above the village, the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir chapel sits high in the notch, behind the ruins of the ancient defensive walls, and hidden in the shadows for most of the day.  It is a lovely village, in a gorgeous setting.  The purpose of Moustiers is to sell the, admittedly beautiful, “faïence” ceramics, and the village is packed full of Faïenceries shops. The village sits astride a rushing mountain stream that divides the two halves with a narrow rocky canyon. The view of this mini-gorge, with small waterfalls down inside and medieval houses above, is beautiful. The sound of the river, and the running fountains all over the village, give Moustiers the feeling of an Alpine village. The village has narrow medieval streets and vaulted passages, and becomes more “natural” when you get up above the ceramics shops.  The “crown” of the village is the star, suspended high across the Rioul valley by a forged-iron chain. The golden star hangs above the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir chapel, with the chain fastened into solid rock on each side of the gorge. The chain and star project was done as a promise by Sir Blacas, a knight who returned from a long captivity during the crusades.

Georges du Verdon:  The Grand Canyon du Verdon, also called the Gorges du Verdon, is a spectacular canyon that forms a border between the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Var. Up to 700 m deep, the 21-km-long canyon varies in width between 6 and 100 m at the bottom and 200 to 1500 m at its rim.   Although it’s much smaller than Arizona’s Grand Canyon, the Grand Canyon du Verdon is deep, compact, wild and beautiful. From Castellane to the village of Rougons, the Verdon river flows clear and swift, and the road follows along the banks. At Rougons, by the Point Sublime, the river plunges into the narrow rock walls, and there’s no escape until it comes out the western end before flowing into Lac de Ste Croix.

 

Day 8:  Cassis for 2 nights

St Tropez:  Paul Signac came to St Tropez in 1892, painting it in his palette of rainbow dots.

 1 double sea view, breakfast & taxes included at Hotel de la Plage Mahogany***

This property is 1 minute walk from the beach. With views of the highest cliff in Europe and over the Mediterranean Sea, Hotel De La Plage is set on the beachfront in Cassis. Guests have access to a private beach. Free WiFi is available throughout. The contemporary air-conditioned rooms at Hotel De La Plage are equipped a flat-screen TV and a safety deposit box. Each room has a private bathroom with a bath or shower, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Some rooms have a private terrace with a sea view. Hotel De La Plage has a restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine, tapas and brunch. There is an lounge bar and a sun deck facing the sea. A continental breakfast is available for an extra charge and includes pastries, pancakes, fruit, meat, cheese and omelettes. Hotel De La Plage is just a 5-minute walk from the Port of Cassis and Marseille is 14.9 miles away. The nearest airport is Marseille Marignane, 33.9 miles away. A private car park is available at a surcharge and upon availability.

 

Day 9:

Cassis:  favorite summer resort of such artists such as Derain, Dufy, and Matisse, Cassis is a lovely little port.

Hick in Les Calanques:  enticing fjordlike inlets lying between vertical white cliffs.  Enjoy the blue water beaches in Sormiou or Morgiou, or take a boat trip to En Vau.

1 triple room at Hotel Cassitel**, in Cassis, breakfast & taxes included

 

Day 10: Les Baux de Provence for 4 nights

Day at leisure to explore

Aix en Provence:  Cezanne Museum and Montagne Sainte Victoire.

St Remy:  Saint Remy de Provence has an exceptional historical and cultural heritage. You will be enchanted by the beauty of the monuments and the living traditions.  Visit the Provencal market.  The house in which Nostradamus was born, or the one where Van Gogh lived.  Discover Glanum: Roman remains.

Les Baux de Provence:  Travel through the celebrated colorful countryside over the Crau plain to arrive in Les Baux de Provence. Survey the valley from this bastion of medieval fortification rising from sheer rock. Time to stroll along the winding streets and admire or buy paintings and crafts. A wealth of architectural and historical sites/museums to choose from – 16th C. castle, Olive Oil Museum, Churches of St. Blaise, St Vincent and White Penitents

Maussane les Alpilles:  At 10 km to the south of Saint Remy, foremost French olive oil producer. Don’t miss the traditional village square in the shade of plane trees, the olive oil mills, the old oratories, the Chapel, the Château de Monblan and the fountains (including the four seasons fountain).

The animated Santon Museum on the road from Saint Remy to Les Baux is also worth a visit.

L’Isle sur la Sorgue, famous for its river and antiques stores.  See the ruins of the 14th C Bishop’s Castle and the Roman canal along the river banks

1 double deluxe with terrace, breakfast & taxes included at Hotel Oustau de Baumaniere*****

This hotel is located in les Baux de Provence and offers 56 guest rooms split between 5 buildings. There are 2 restaurants and one of them has 2 Michelin stars. The property also features a bar and many terraces at guests’ disposal. Baumanière – La Cabro d’Or features 3 outdoor pools, a tennis court and a spa including an indoor pool. Each air-conditioned room is decorated with a combination of Provençal and modern style. They are non smoking and equipped with satellite TV. In the summer months, guests can enjoy their meals looking out over the beautiful French formal gardens from the terrace. A library and chic lounge area is provided for guests to enjoy and relax. Baumanière – La Cabro d’Or boutique sells fine regional products. Bicycle and car rental is also available for guests to explore the region. Many activities can be booked on site.

 

Day 11:

Visit of the Lubéron villages:  “on the traces of Peter Mayle”. Provencal villages and its countryside:  medieval village of Gordes. Then visit the Cistercian Abbey of Senanque.  Cross the vine planted plains to arrive at the ochre tinted rock village of Roussillon, continue on to Bonnieux “les portes du Luberon”. Marvel at the breath taking views from the village.  Fountaine of Vaucluse. View the emerald green water springs of the river Sorgue.

 

Day 12: 

Day at leisure to explore

Arles to visit the roman Arena and  Amphitheatre.  Wander in Arles’ streets to discover its typical Provencal stores and the magnificent St Trophime Roman church.

Drive through the marsh area of Camargue and admire the famous white wild horses of the Guardian cowboys.  Visit the sea side resort, Les Saintes Marie de la Mer, craddle of many European gypsies.

Aigues-Morte:  medieval walled city by the sea

 

Day 13: Avignon

Day at leisure to explore

Avignon, and the Palais des Papes, followed by the Roman Aqueduct of Pont du Gard

 

Day 14: Departure

Drop off car at Marseille airport

 

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