Selected departures from April to October 2019
Sun-drenched beaches, chic resorts, timeless hilltop villages, a rich historic heritage and superb Mediterranean food – it’s easy to see why the Côte d’Azur casts such a powerful spell. In the 19th century this enchanting corner of France became a retreat for European royalty, aristocracy and artists attracted by its warm climate and the quality of its light. Renoir lived in Cagnes-sur-Mer, Matisse in Nice and Picasso in Antibes. Today in France only Paris has more museums and art galleries than this part of the French Riviera.
In its sophisticated resorts ‘being seen’ is part of life, and you’ll follow in famous footsteps on the Promenade des Anglais. This famed walkway on Nice’s seafront, lined with palm trees and fin-de-siècle, Art Deco and Italianate buildings, is the promenade after which all the world’s others are named.
The cuisine, especially the seafood, is as legendary as the sunshine, but there’s also an abundance of unforgettable experiences here, from regal palaces to opulent Monaco, the millionaires’ playground whose streets host the legendary Formula 1 race, to eclectic art collections at the Villa Ephrussi. Then there are ancient towns like Antibes and Saint-Paul de Vence mixing with bastide villages, exotic gardens, world-leading perfumeries, yacht-filled marinas and chic shops selling everything from local crafts to luxury brands.
Our tour allows you to enjoy selected highlights of the area, with plenty of free time to explore. Whether you’re passionate about art, food, perfumes or gardens – or you simply want to enjoy the good life – you’ll soon discover why the Côte d’Azur has become one of the world’s foremost holiday destinations.
You should arrive at the airport to take your flight to Nice from your selected airport. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your selected hotel, either the four star Mercure Notre Dame, or the fourstar superior Le Meridien, both centrally located, for seven nights. The rest of the day will be spent at leisure, allowing you time to settle into the hotel and start exploring if you wish.
This morning we discover Nice on a guided tour. Named after their goddess of victory, Nike, it was originally an ancient Greek settlement, then Roman and extensive remains are still visible. Famously arcing its way around the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) is the iconic palm-lined Promenade des Anglais, backed by fine buildings. One of the highlights is the legendary flower market and its stalls laden with Provençal delicacies. The Place Massena is the heart of old Nice and lined by Venetian-style arches highlighting the city’s Italian heritage.
This afternoon we visit the region's finest gardens and art collection, the extraordinary Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, with entrance fees inlcuded. It boasts a stupendous yet eclectic mix including medieval and Renaissance works of art, Sèvres porcelain, Fragonard drawings and exceptional carpets and tapestries plus exquisite pieces from the Far East with everything world-class standard.
Today we visit incomparable Monaco, home to many of the world’s rich and famous, but there’s so much more to it than that. Our journey takes us along the scenic Basse Corniche with its contrasting coastal landscape – sky-reaching cliffs of coloured volcanic rocks plunge into the emerald sea, lush green valleys, aristocratic villas from past centuries, and floating millionaire yachts. The principality comes into view, its juxtaposition of elegant palace buildings, belle-époque finery, rooftop pools and modern concrete structures, hemmed between the sharp azure waters and the dusky green and white of the mountainside.
Our guided tour gives you a real insight into its history, the story of its princely family, the Grimaldis, and the key features of its unrivalled Grand Prix circuit. First, we visit Monte Carlo, with a drive around the dazzling marina. We then tour the old town, Monaco Ville, a rocky promontory dominated by the magnificent Renaissance-style Prince's Palace, where Napoleon was a frequent guest. The old town is like an open-air museum with picturesque squares and the impressive St Nicholas Cathedral, where sovereigns including Prince Rainier and his wife Grace Kelly are laid to rest. Leaving Monaco via the stunning Moyenne Corniche, we call at Eze, an ancient village perched precariously atop a limestone outcrop, high above the clear blue waters.
Today is a free day to enjoy as you wish. Visit a museum, explore the flower market, have a leisurely lunch. Outdoor pool generally open May – September subject to weather conditions.
This morning we explore the spectacular mountain scenery of the ‘Gorges du Loup’, a series of gorges full of cascading rivers, stunning waterfalls and rapids twists from a high mountain plateau to the plains below.
Next, we make our way towards Grasse, the ‘Perfume Capital of the World’. We are guests of the historic Fragonard perfumery where we learn about this fascinating traditional art and its history. Heading back to Nice, we pass fields of violets, roses, lavender and a host of other aromatic flowers, the raw materials for the perfumes we have just experienced.
This morning brings us to another of the region’s delightful and historic coastal towns, Antibes, the former Greek Antipolis. Seafaring has always been a tradition here ever since ancient galleys sought refuge from the Ligurian hordes and Crusaders left for the Holy Land. There’s plenty more to interest the visitor here, especially inside the ancient walls of the Old Town, where Graham Greene once walked along the narrow cobbled lanes.
This afternoon we take the short drive to St Paul de Vence, a fortified medieval hilltop village where Chagall is buried. It has an artists’ community and a restaurant displaying works of art offered in payment by the then impoverished Picasso and Matisse amongst others. Further up the hillside, beyond the village is the Maeght Foundation, displaying modern art by Miro, Chagall and Leger under natural Mediterranean light.
Today you’ll discover one of the Riviera’s most delightful towns, a place where wonderful gardens abound amongst elegant boulevards and shambling medieval cottages. The journey is a scenic delight, showcasing magnificent Menton, nestling between the sheltering slopes of the Alpes Maritimes and the warming sea, half way between Paris and Rome. It is also blessed with one of Europe’s mildest climates. Its restorative effect seemingly worked miracles in the 19th century.
At lunchtime, enjoy superb fresh fish by the quayside, on the elegant arches of Quai Bonaparte, or perhaps dine al fresco in the cool of a shady square. The medieval town stands sentinel over the bay, centred on the baroque St Michel Basilica with its fine campanile towering above the terracotta roofs. See the old cemetery, visited not just for its superb views but for the fascinating, mainly English and Russian graves.
Today, at the appropriate time, you will be taken to the airport for your return flight home after a thoroughly enjoyable tour.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Airport||Hotel location||Transfer time|
|Nice Côte d'Azur Airport||Nice||45 mins|
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
John and Barbara Dixon
Recently returned from this very enjoyable week touring around Nice, Monaco and some local hilltop villages. Our Tour Guide, Diana, was very informative and efficient. Our driver, Jean-Jacques, was also excellent - apparently he w...
Thoroughly enjoyed this holiday. Our tour manager Jesse was excellent and our driver for the week - Jean-Jacques- was brilliant. They both had a great sense of humour and went the extra mile to make our holiday special. Can’t pr...