The South of France and Provence has many beautiful and historical attractions. Enjoy the services of one of our international tour guides to discover the treasures and history of local towns or we can just help you plan your visit.
Marvel at the art, culture, museums and churches or discover and explore some of the spectacular old castles in our area.
There are many options that we can discuss with you. An itinerary can be tailor-made to suit your requirements but a few ideas and facts are listed below.
NICE OLD TOWN & PROMENADE DES ANGLAIS
Discover the Old Town with a maze of shady streets surrounding the world famous flower and food market. Tour the Baroque churches, such as Santa Reparata-Cathedrale, Jesuites church, Santa Rita and “Palais Lascaris”. Visit the Modern and Contemporary Museum of Nice, including local artists such as Ben, Cesar, Arman, Bernard Venet, Yves Klein, Nikki de St Phalle, Sosno and Christo, as well Andy Warhol, Rauschenberg and Ernest Pignon Ernest masterpieces. Visit the “Musée Matisse”, which is surrounded by a field of olive trees.
ANTIBES & ST PAUL WITH THE FRENCH IMPRESSIONISTS
Enjoy a day out in the area of Antibes and its old town with a visit to the Musée Picasso d’Antibes, located in the former Grimaldi castle in the old city. This is where the curator, Mr Dor de la Souchere, offered Picasso a studio during the autumn and winter of 1946. The artist worked a lot here and donated a total of 50 paintings, sculptures and ceramics - plates and vases adorned with animal figures.
Following this, a 30-minute drive will bring you out to the countryside to visit the famous medieval village of St Paul and to the amazing Maeght Foundation in St Paul de Vence with a large and extraordinary private collection belonging to the Maeght family from the 1930's. Maeght was a printer, art dealer, collector and art lover. This unusual, quiet and mystical place, nestled in the pines and green oak forest was opened in 1964 with artists such as Miro, Braque, Chagall, Bonnard, Tal Coat, Giacometti etc...The architect Juan Luis Sert worked with Aimé Maeght and Miro to create a special building surrounded with a garden adorned with Miro sculptures with Provençal sceneries, flora and different materials.
Tour the town with visits to the new National Museum of Monaco Grand Principality, Jacques Cousteau Oceanographical museum and the State apartments of Prince Palazzo located on the Rock; take in the atmosphere of the 17th Century old town with its maze of narrow streets and vaulted passageways.
ST JEAN CAP FERRAT
Visiting the beautiful Villa and Garden Ephrussi of Rothschild is very interesting for both the location and architecture of the house and garden. The view is amazing as it overlooks the Mediterranean Sea; following this, you can be taken on to Beaulieu sur Mer where you can visit Villa Kerilos - a replica of an ancient Greek villa from Delos Island.
Discover the town of Cézanne and travel back in time. Its architectural and cultural heritage is accessible to everyone, with treasures that you will find simply by walking around the town. The Aix region is unforgettable and holds hidden gems for you to discover off the beaten track.
CHATEAU LA COSTE
Chateau La Coste is an extraordinary place, as far removed from a typical Provence winery as it is possible to be. This is somewhere you can come for a good lunch, buy some high-quality wine, and also spend a couple of hours walking around the series of art works and sculptures studded around the land. In 2004, artists and architects from around the world were invited to come to the landscape of Chateau La Coste and choose a place that ‘spoke to them’, then to create something that would take up residence there. The result is a series of intriguing art objects linked by a walking trail around the vineyards of La Coste. Some are interactive, some are fun, some just thought-provoking. Children love it, following the map from one art piece to the next. The walk is 1-2 hours depending on how long you stop each time, the terrain is gentle hills and woods. The centre of all this is the impressive glass and concrete cafe which itself is a work by Tadao Ando. This serves up simple but decent lunches and wines of the domaine, in a very modern setting. There are also 2 more restaurants “La Terrasse” (an outdoor café situated in the heart of the old domain, using ingredients from the kitchen garden and with live music throughout the summer) and the new “Francis Mallmann” - A new way of cooking from Argentina arrives at Château la Coste. Mediterranean fish roasted in a clay oven. Charolais beef, dome-hung and cooked over fires. Fresh vegetables and herbs from Provence cooked “Rescoldo” style – buried in ashes. A long roll up of vegetables marinated and seared to perfection on the plancha. Charred summer fruits with homemade ice cream and dulce de leche pancakes will show you our love for desserts. Chateau La Coste is positioned between the Luberon and Aix en Provence.
CULTURAL FESTIVALS There are many festivals of the course of the year, to name but a few, we can help you with your arrangements:
Opera at Orange
Piano at Roque d'Antheron
Every village in the Luberon was built around a castle and today the remains of these castles vary from a few stones to complete preservation. The castles of the Luberon date back as far as the 10th century, with a mix of architectures due to later additions. They tend to be high up, offering wonderful views. Some are in private hands, others can be visited. Below are the most interesting chateaux of the Luberon and surrounding areas that can be visited. Some can only be visited from the outside but are still worth it.
Lourmarin was the first Renaissance castle built in Provence. Unlike other castles here it is outside the village, across a field, surrounded by olive trees, and very picturesque. Lourmarin Castle can be visited and is used for exhibitions and concerts. www.chateau-de-lourmarin.com
Preserved and standing tall in the middle of the village, Gordes Castle was started in the 11th century and combines medieval and Renaissance architecture in its imposing structure. It has a massive fireplace which is a historical monument by itself. Gordes Castle hosts art expos and other exhibitions on its top three floors.
For years the Marquis de Sade’s haunting castle at the top of Lacoste was abandoned. In the 20th century a local man spent 40 years singlehandedly restoring it, and now it is owned by the fashion designer Pierre Cardin. You can’t go inside but you can walk around it and take in the inspiring view over the valley to Bonnieux. Cardin has also planted a couple of contemporary, large-scale sculptures outside.
LA TOUR D’AIGUES
Among the most spectacular ruins in Provence is the chateau at La Tour d’Aigues. The structure looks like a theatre set, much of the facade at the front is standing on its own, with the central dungeon tower also intact. One can see this was probably the most beautiful Renaissance chateau in Provence. Today it is used for cultural events and markets. www.chateaulatourdaigues.com
Not to be confused with the Chateau de Buoux, which is closed to the public, the Fort of Buoux is a walk up to what feels like the top of the world, with distant views to the Mont Ventoux. Louis XIV demanded it be destroyed but intriguing vestiges of the fort remain and blend in with the rock they sit on. Come at sunset to get the feeling of centuries of history concentrated in one spot. There are steep, unguarded drops here so children need to be closely supervised. www.buoux-village.com/tourisme
Oppede-le-vieux is still like a medieval village, with its old village walls, cobbled paths, homes hewn into the mountain rock, and then the spectacular castle and church above the village - a 10-minute walk up a stone path. The castle is perched on a spur, and although many of its stones can be seen in the old houses of the village, there is enough standing to get your bearings and scrabble about. The castle is visited at your own risk, there are no safety barriers and children must be kept on a tight rein.
This is one of the least present chateaux in the region, just a few bits of wall and outlines of the fortifications remain, but the ridge they are laid out on offers wonderful views of the Luberon and is topped by an 11th century chapel that did survive.
FONTAINE DE VAUCLUSE
This little, ruined 14th century castle is balanced on a sharp hill above the spectacular Fontaine de Vaucluse. It is where the Bishops of Cavaillon used to come to put their feet up. You can get there up a steep path, following in the footsteps of the poet Petrarch who used to come and chat to the bishop.
CASTLES BEYOND THE LUBERON...
The vast Palais des Papes, part defensive castle, part palace, was built when the Popes were temporarily residing here in the 1300s. It is in the centre of town and a must-see when visiting Avignon.www.palais-des-papes.com/anglais/index.html
One of the great forts of France, started by Louis I in 1380, Tarascon Castle sits on the bank of the Rhone, like a castle should look in storybooks – with turrets, crenellations and a moat. Its rooms have grand dimensions and are empty except for some tapestries and the graffiti of English sailors imprisoned here in the 1770s. There is an inner courtyard garden and various exhibitions through the year. http://chateau.tarascon.fr
The village of Le Barroux in the Ventoux area is dominated by its Renaissance castle, which was originally built in the 1100s to defend against the Saracen hordes. Parts of Le Barroux castle can be visited, and it hosts various cultural events. At this highest point of the village you get fabulous views over the rooftops to the Monts de Vaucluse, the Dentelles de Montmirail and the Mont Ventoux. www.chateau-du-barroux.com
LES BAUX DE PROVENCE
Les Baux is on a spectacular rock plateau 900 feet up in the sky with views south over the Alpilles, and to Arles and the Camargue. Les Baux is so rich in remains that in this small village there are no fewer than 22 classified historic monuments. Note that most of the world comes to Les Baux in July-August so if that is when you are here, come early. www.lesbauxdeprovence.com/home.html