Day 1: Bienvenue! Whether you arrive in Marseille by train or plane, you will be greeted personally upon arrival. Head into the département of the Var nestled between vineyards and the Mediterranean Sea for a 3-night's stay in Cassis. Unwind and settle into your bed & breakfast; enjoy the rest of the day and evening on your own pace. A casual early dinner will be prepared for us by our hostess, Corinne. Overnight Cassis. (D)
Day 2: Calanques & Cassis. Discover the breathtaking Calanques, the series of wild fjords and rocky limestone cliffs following the coastline, during a late-morning 1.5-hour private boat excursion along the coast of Cassis. Savor a light lunch aboard while anchored in one of the magnificent coves. Spend the afternoon as you wish ~ explore the village, shop, swim in the sea, or relax poolside at the villa. Overnight Cassis. (B, L)
Day 3: Vineyards & villages of the Var. Enjoy a scenic drive to discover to wander and lunch in the authentic and picturesque villages of the Var, seaside St. Cyr sur Mer and hilltop La
Cadière d'Azur & Le Castellet. Stroll amid the vines and delight in wine tasting and an art show at a breathtakingly beautiful winery within the Bandol appellation, Les Domaines Bunan, owned and operated by friends of friends. View the countryside surrounding the domaine and hear the famous Provencal cicadas in a 2-minute video. Overnight Cassis. (B)
Day 4: Lunch and wine on the beach; home of Bardot. Drive along the scenic coastal route to the Gulf of St. Tropez. Delight in lunch with wine tasting on the vineyard beach at Domaine de la Tourraque, known for AOC Côtes de Provence wine as well as olive oil. Afternoon at your leisure. Enjoy a early-evening stroll in St. Tropez and dinner in nearby Ramatuelle. (B, L)
Day 5: Medieval castle and the Venice of Provence. Stroll the waterways of Port-Grimaud, Provence's "little Venice"; lunch in the hilltop village of Gassin, declared one of France's Most Beautiful Villages and explore the narrow alleyways and medieval stone structures. (B, L)
Day 6: Provençal outdoor market. Visit the morning market in Ramatuelle and become immersed in the colors & smells of one of Provence's most charming markets. Enjoy free time at the market to shop for locally-made goods, and/or buy delicacies for a snack or picnic lunch, to be enjoyed on our shady terrace. (B)
Day 7: La Trophée des Alpes, La Grande Corniche, Eze-le-Village. It's time to depart the Var and head to the Alpes Maritime. Passing through Nice, we drive along the breathtaking Middle Corniche to the village of Eze, and the scenic drive up to the Grande Corniche to the historically-rich medieval village of La Turbie ~ less frequented by tourists. Explore the ancient Roman roads and Gallo-Roman dwellings in the village, and behold the immense Roman monument La Trophée des Alpes, one of the region's most evocative historic sights with dramatic views over the entire country of Monaco. Take pleasure in a terrace lunch with spectacular panaromic views of the Riviera. Settle into our B&B in the hills above Eze-le-Village, and enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at your leisure. You have the option to explore the walking trails in the nearby state park, as well as the scenic trail leading down to the sea, or relax by the swimming pool. This evening, relish fine-dining at our hotel Hermitage restaurant (optional late-night swim, if desired).
Overnight Eze - La Grande Corniche (B, L, D)
Day 8: Monaco! Prince's Palace, Princess Grace, Formula 1 & Monte Carlo Casino. Enjoy the morning on your own ~ take a walk, or read by the pool after breakfast. Adorn yourself in comfortable, walkable evening wear as we set off on a short drive along the scenic Moyenne Corniche to the tiny country of Monaco. Dejeuner at Le Grille, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the world-famous Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo. Discover the history of Monaco, the Grimaldi dynasty & Princess Grace, the Formula One race circuit and the Monte Carlo Grand Casino during a privately guided 4-hour walking tour & visit ~ the tour includes being escorted into the legendary casino, where you will have free time to try you luck at the tables, if you wish. Head back to Eze for a unique dining experience at a medieval-esque pizzeria tucked inside the castle. Overnight Eze - La Grande Corniche (B, L)
Day 9: St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Villas Rothschild & Kérylos, Villefranche-sur-Mer. Explore the beautiful and charming old town of seaside Villefranche-sur-Mer . Lunch at Le Cosmo, a water-side café known for simple, yet tasty dishes, including classic moules et frites so popular among Azurians, and enjoy the view of one of the world's most beautiful bays. After lunch, discover the wealthiest property in France, and take a 1.5-hour walk on the scenic trail around Cap Ferrat featuring the St-Jean port, Cap Ferrat lighthouse, and the stunning Villefranche Bay. Behold the exquisite Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa & Gardens which, some say, outshine even those at Versailles ~ this haven of peace, beauty and wealth echoes the quintessential Riviera lifestyle. Time permitting, we will visit the Grecian Villa of Kérylos in nearby Beaulieu-sur-Mer. Overnight Eze - La Grande Corniche (B, L)
Day 10: NICE! Matisse, French language course, Port & Old Town of Nice. After breakfast, drive to the capital of the Côte d'Azur to visit the intimate Matisse museum, set in an olive grove amid the ruins of the Roman city of Cemenelum. In the Roman park, practice your conversational French during a private introductory French language course with our niece, native Niçoise and linquiste, Elise. Dejeuner in an authentic wine bar where simple French dishes are served alongside cheese and charcuterie plates, and most of the wines are “natural” or organic. Following lunch, visit the Port of Nice and walk along to coastline to the Promenade des Anglais. Settle this evening into your bed & breakfast tucked away in the hills above Nice in the charming hilltown of La-Colle-sur-Loup. A casual dinner will be lovingly prepared for us by our hostess, Anne. Overnight La Colle sur Loup (B, D)
Day 11: Antibes, Picasso and the Cap d'Antibes. Relish a private walking tour with a local guide of Old Antibes, a quaint medieval Mediterranean town created by the Greeks and extended by the Romans, its ramparts along the sea, and its Provençal market, to stock up on goodies for a picnic. We will then delight in a tasting at the nearby Absinthe bar ~ the perfect “aperitif” to lunch. Following a picnic, visit the Picasso museum, housed inside the 12th-century Château Grimaldi. Spend the afternoon out along the stunning Cap d'Antibes, the peninsula where Mediterranean vegetation hides sumptuous villas owned by the rich and famous. We will stop at the Garoupe lighthouse where spectacular panoramic views are promised. Stroll along the "Smuggler's trail, one of the lovely coastal walking paths of the area, to discover secret beaches, beautiful views, and the magnificent Eilenroc Villa & Gardens - former home of Aristotle Onassis built by Charles Garnier during the "Belle Epoque". Dine in nearby St. Paul de Vence. Overnight La Colle sur Loup (B, D)
Day 12: Fragonard perfumerie, Matisse Chapel, St. Paul de Vence.
Delight in a 30-minute tour at the Fragonard Perfume factory where perfume, soaps, and cosmetics are manufactured in the historic village Grasse. Behold Matisse's finest masterpiece, the Rosary chapel of Vence ~ Matisse's final work of art in the hill village of Vence. Amble through cobblestone village, and visit to the Fondation Maeght, the intriguing private museum with a world-class modern-art collection, featuring such works as Léger, Miro, Braque, and Chagall. During the afternoon, discover the most famous Riviera hill town, Saint Paul de Vence and revel in a game of pétanque (or boules) with locals. Dine at the hippest spot in the hills, La Colombe d'Or, St. Paul's most celebrated restaurant, known for its remarkable art collection (dine among original Miros, Picassos, Klees, Dufys, Utrillos, and Calders), and elegant Provençal terrace with crisp white linens. Overnight La Colle sur Loup (B, D)
Day 13: "Au Revoir" Sad, but true; alas, it's time to head home. Check-out time is 10AM; you will be driven to the Nice airport to catch your departing flight.
"Bon retour & MERCI!"