Best of France Travels - Provence & the Riviera Tours

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Immerse yourself in the culture of the South of France!

Provence and the Riviera is perfect in any season whether it be early Spring, September, or in cooler Fall weather in November. In May and September, the weather is warm and sunny. School is in session, so it is not crowded with vacationers and tourists! The skies are clear and blue and there are lots of beautiful flowers. The vineyards dot the stunning landscape and the air is fresh. In November, the vineyards are changing color, truffle season is celebrated and the preparations in readiness for the festive season begin. Enjoy 10 days of fun, relaxation, authentic French cuisine, and regional wines in a luxurious setting.

Provence Rothschild view of Med
Provence Main photo tour page
Provence by Ed Winsper

Highlights of our Provence & the Riviera Tour

  • Six nights at the Number 1 rated hotel Mas des Carassins in St. Remy de Provence: Gardens, swimming pools, fountains, and charming rooms.
  • Three nights in Nice at our four star, centrally-located boutique hotel.
  • Six dinners at the Michelin restaurant, La Table d’Yvan at Le Mas des Carassins
  • Delicious buffet breakfast every morning at both hotels: homemade jams, local honeys, fruits, cheeses, meats, choices of different fresh squeezed juices,  trays of fresh baked breads and croissants, eggs, and more!
  • Bon Voyage dinner in Nice
  • Cooking School Lesson with Yvan Cadiou in his whimsical kitchen at a country estate. Learn how to prepare 5 different dishes.  Assist Yvan with picking fresh herbs and vegetables from his garden to complete the recipes.   Besides being an amazing  and creative chef, Yvan is highly entertaining.  Delightful lunch will be served in the garden with some very special regional wines.  You will never want to leave!
  • Visit  Roussillon on market day and take a walk through the Ochre Trails. This village is designated as one of the most beautiful villages in France.
  • Visit Gordes, also chosen as one of the most beautiful villages in France
  • Guided tour of the excavated Greek and Roman city of Glanum
  • Visit and tour of the Van Gogh Hospital and 13th C. Cloister at  St. Paul de Mausole
  • Visit the perched village of Les Baux de Provence with tour of the chateau ruins
  • Visit to Les Carrieres de Lumieres sound and light show
  • Visit the Camargue and the walled city of Aigues-Mortes with a tour of the ramparts surrounding the medieval city.
  • Wine tasting and visit at the Domaine Royal Jarras
  •  Tour of  Fragonard Perfumery
  • Visit Eze perched village and the Exotic Gardens
  • Tour of the Rothschild Villa d’Ephrussi and Nine Themed Gardens
  • Riviera Drive on the upper Corniche with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean
  • Transportation in luxury coach bus throughout the tour
  • Airport transfers in Nice the first and last day of the tour
  • All admissions, daily tours, tips, and excursions listed above
  • Owner, Shannan Carter, accompanies each tour.
  • All tips for guides and our luxury coach bus drivers are included.
  • Luggage assistance or delivery to your room
  • Pre-Travel Information Booklet to help prepare you for your travels.

Day by Day Program for our Provence & the Riviera Tour

Welcome to France!

Arrive in Nice. Meet your driver and transfer to the hotel. Enjoy the day exploring Nice at your own pace and have a good night’s rest before your Best of France Travels – Provence and the Riviera discovery begins tomorrow!

Day 1. Depart our hotel mid-morning.

Enjoy a beautiful, leisurely ride in our luxury coach bus past Mediterranean landscapes, through the hilly, rocky Var region into the heart of Provence. When we arrive at our hotel in St. Remy you will have time to settle in and unpack, take a walk around the gorgeous gardens, or have a refreshing dip in one of the two swimming pools on the grounds. This evening we will have a welcome gathering in the garden and our first five course dinner prepared by the fabulous chef at the Mas. First comes an “Amuse Bouche” which is always a surprise. Next is the “Entrée” or appetizer course. This course is based on a principal ingredient and includes three variations around the theme. It could be melon, or tomato, or zucchini in the form of a chilled soup, a sorbet and crème brulee. Next comes the ”plat principal” which is the main dish. Afterwards you will be served the cheese course, then dessert. It is an event each evening and most nights the weather is perfect for dining in the garden.

Day 2. After breakfast we will walk to the famous archeological site, the City of Glanum. Our very knowledgeable guide will explain the history of this fascinating site which was settled by Celtic Ligurians, Greeks, and then the Romans. After our visit of Glanum we will walk to St. Paul de Mausole, the hospital where Van Gogh admitted himself as a patient and stayed here for more than a year. This was a prolific phase of Van Gogh’s career.  He completed over 150 paintings and drawing, including several of his room and the hospital buildings, “Starry Night”, and many different views of the surrounding landscapes.  After our visit to St. Paul de Mausole you will have a free afternoon in St. Remy.  Enjoy lunch at one of the many cafes or restaurants in St. Remy, visit the Musee des Alpilles, browse the charming boutiques, and explore the town.


Day 3. – Today we will drive south through the Camargue region. Look for the famous black bulls and the beautiful white horses used by Camargue cowboys. Our destination is Aigues Mortes, a medieval walled city and site of the 13 th Century seaport constructed by King Louis IX for his departing crusaders. Walk around the ramparts to get the best view of the surrounding landscape, the ancient towers, and a panoramic view of the cité. We will visit the Domaine Royal Jarras vineyards followed by a tasting of their award winning wines. Mid-afternoon return to St. Remy and free time before dinner.

Day 4. – Market day in St. Remy! Start the day at the beautiful Provencal market in St. Remy de Provence. If you get up with the birds, you can watch the market setting up. It’s really quite a sight to see…and hear and smell! The artistry with which the vendors display their wares is amazing. You will find everything at this market from French music CDs, original paintings, clothes, lavender products, wine, honey, candy, toys, Provencal linens and crafts, as well as every conceivable food product of the region. There is live music to be enjoyed throughout the market place.  Enjoy your morning and explore the town. The market ends around 12h30, so don’t get there too late! Be sure and find the band “Gig Street” who play in the center of town. This is a group that is not to be missed!

Day 5. Today we will drive into the Luberon, land of Peter Mayle stories, to the hilltop village of Roussillon, which is listed as “one of the most beautiful villages of France”. A village of intense color! Over 17 different shades of ochre tint the buildings in colors ranging from golden yellow to deep red. We begin with a short walk of the Ochre Trails. Wear good shoes and white is not recommended unless you want to change the color of your shoes! Afterwards there is a small market in the village. This is a typical small village market, but has many interesting vendors and artisans. Enjoy lunch in one of the charming cafes in Roussillon. After lunch we will drive to Gordes, also designated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Enjoy the panorama of the valley and mountains of Luberon.  Afternoon return to St. Remy and free time before dinner.

Day 6 – Today is our cooking lesson located on a beautiful country estate. Our fabulously entertaining chef will welcome us in his home to teach us how to make 5 different dishes. Pick fresh herbs and vegetables in the garden and assist with the preparation of these delicious recipes. We will dine on Chef Yvan Cadiou’s creations (with our help!) in the garden under the shade of 3oo year old plane trees. With lunch you will have the opportunity to taste some very special wines from the region. Take your time and relax and soak up Provence! We will of course finish off with dessert, digestif and coffee…Our chef has produced many different cooking shows, cook books and continues to write a weekly column in the Marseille newspaper. You will be delighted with the lesson, the setting, the meal, and the hospitality!

Day 7. – After one last delicious breakfast in the garden of the Mas des Carassins, we will check out of our lovely inn and drive through the Alpilles mountains to visit Les Baux de Provence. Les Baux is an extraordinary village that blends with the jagged spur of rock on which it is perched. The dramatic scenery and historic ruins draw visitors from around the world. Les Baux was once the seat of the most powerful (and fearsome!) lords of this region. Some claimed to have descended from the Magi king, Balthazar. Tour the chateau and ramparts, participate in the catapult demonstration, shop in artist ateliers and specialty boutiques. Sit on a café terrace overlooking the sheer cliffs and twisted rocks of the Val d’Enfer (Valley of Hell) which was the inspiration for Dante’s description of the Inferno. This afternoon we will head back to Nice for three days on the Riviera! Check in at the hotel and orientation walk around old Nice. Free for dinner on your own this evening.

Day 8. This morning we will have a beautiful and exciting drive to Eze, the highest perched village on the Riviera at 1,407 feet above the sea. We will start with a visit to Fragonard, the famous perfume maker for centuries. After the visit of the perfumery, we will go to the village ofEze. Begin with the exotic garden at the top of the village with more spectacular views of the Mediterranean. At the top of the gardens you will find the ruins of the chateau that Louis XIV had dismantled in 1706. Take lots of pictures in Eze. It is very picturesque and you will be thrilled with the results. In the afternoon we will visit the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, the finest villa on the Riviera. Seventeen acres of gardens and fountains surround the Belle Époque villa, which houses the art and antique collection of the Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild. Late afternoon return to Nice and dinner on your own.

Day 9. Free Day in Nice! Start with the flea market in Old Nice. The colorful, sun-drenched Cours Saleya is filled with over 200 flea market vendors selling their wares. A huge variety of treasures can be found: silver, vintage linens and Hermes scarves, posters, ceramics, paintings, toys, jewelry, and more. Take advantage of the beautiful beaches or stroll Vieux Nice, a labyrinth of secret passageways and cobblestone streets. Finish up last minute shopping, visit the Villa Massena, the Matisse and Chagall museums, the many Baroque churches in old Nice, or sit in the square of Place Rossetti and wait for Edith Piaf to appear and sing to you. Bon Voyage dinner tonight.

Day 10. End of Tour today. We will arrange transportation to the airport for each traveler’s continuing journey. Transfers provided to accommodate YOUR SCHEDULE!

Customers' Appreciation

“The Best Vacation Ever! We both want to tell you again what a WONDERFUL time we had.  It was even better than our most optimistic projections. THE BEST VACATION EVER!  Your tour is the only way to go.  We’re afraid we’ll never find another tour that even comes close.  We appreciated that there is not a lot of changing hotels so you can really settle in.  When we arrived at the Mas des Carassins Hotel in St. Remy, it is exactly what you’d picture in your mind if you had to conjure up a charming inn in the French countryside.  The hotel manager seated us in the garden and handed each of us a cool washcloth scented with lavender and we were served a refreshing drink.  While we relaxed, our bags were being carried to our rooms. Before we went on this tour, we were a little nervous about the fact that we’d be eating dinner each night at this hotel, just in case we weren’t that impressed by the food.  Well, not to worry!  Not even the French kings were treated to food this delicious and bountiful.  Every night we ate a five-course meal outside in the garden, starting with an aperitif (a glass of wine) and ending with a scrumptious dessert (and cheese, of course). The food was all so good and was prepared by an amazingly young chef.  Between the food and the setting, dinner every night had a magical feel to it.  As far as the sights we saw, Carol’s tour offers a nice mix of history, culture, food/wine and shopping.  Marc and I took a tour to Italy last October, and although it was good, it was weighted too heavily towards visiting churches.  Carol’s tour has a better balance.  On our Italian tour, there were some days that were just packed too full of activities, leaving us too tired by the end of the day.  Carol knows just how to pace things.  We would generally arrive back at the hotel in mid-afternoon and have a few hours till dinner, during which time we relaxed by the pool or walked into town (ten minutes away) to shop. We hated leaving Mas des Carassins but did enjoy returning to Nice and being able to spend more time in that city.”  Marc and Susan W. – Boston, MA

View Photos From Our Provence & the Riviera Tour

Provence Cote d'Azur
Provence Gordes group
Provence eze large photo