9 nights and 10 daysTake advantage of great rail links to southern France and relax on your journey until you reach Nice. From here, enjoy the freedom and independence of a self-drive tour, exploring the southern regions of France at will. Warm weather, coastal beaches and proximity to the Italian border make this a fascinating and indulgent touring holiday.Click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested French touring holidays.Utilising the efficient connections provided by Eurostar, take the train to Lille Europe and then change for the TGV to Nice. By taking a 7am train from London, you reach Nice by about 7pm the same evening. During your four night stay at Hôtel la Pérouse in Nice, enjoy the fragrant flower market, art museums and the fish restaurants before driving inland to discover the delightful villages of the arrière-pays, including the artists’ colony of Saint-Paul-de-Vence and the perfume town of Grasse. Before heading west, perhaps spend a day to the east of Nice, soaking up the sophistication of the resorts of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and, of course, Monaco. The next part of your journey takes you west along the French Riviera, passing opulent Antibes, Cannes, Fréjus and into Saint-Tropez, arriving at the tranquil luxury of your second hotel, Villa Belrose. Enjoy the chic serenity of your surroundings before heading back inland to La Bastide de Tourtour, located in a hilltop village which is formally recognised as one of France’s most beautiful villages, with its sweeping views across Cézanne’s beloved St Victoire Mountain, Provence, and all the way to the Mediterranean. Stay here for a couple of nights before returning to Nice, where you’ll depart by TGV to Lille, connecting with the Eurostar to London.PRICESPrices for this holiday from £1710 per personWhat's included:- Four nights’ bed and breakfast the Hôtel la Pérouse in Nice - Three nights’ bed and breakfast at Villa Belrose in Saint-Tropez- Two nights’ bed and breakfast at La Bastide de Tourtour- Eurostar 2nd class London to Lille return, then TGV Lille to Nice return, 2nd class - Group A hire-car for 9 daysClick the tabs above to view our suggested day-by-day touring itinerary and to find out more about the hotels featured. Click here to find out more about how our self-drive touring holidays work, or click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested French touring holidays.
Day-by-Day ItineraryDAYS ONE TO FOUR:Travel from London to Nice, where you will stay for four nightsOn the coast of the Cote d’Azur, better known as the French Riviera, your first touring destination is the Mediterranean resort of Nice. Your hotel, the Hotel la Perouse, is a golden-hued building set into the rock face of the Pointe de Rabau-Capeu that overlooks the Opéra Plage. Just seconds from the golden sand and turquoise water, this hotel is perfect for a relaxing break under the Mediterranean sun. Spend an afternoon walking along the Promenade des Anglais, which runs parallel to one of the most beautiful beaches in France, the Baie des Anges. Well-known for its artistic and cultural connections, Nice has over 20 museums and galleries, such as the Musée Matisse, the Palais Lascaris, and several archaeological and historical museums. For something more modern, take a tour of the city’s 13 examples of street art, painted by internationally-renowned artists, or simply tour the architecture and atmosphere of the town to the soundtrack of the street jazz music. The Cours Saleya is the site of some of Nice’s best markets, selling flowers, fruit, and vegetables, as well as other local delicacies. Be sure to seek out and try some Socca, a pancake or crêpe made from chickpea flower, or Pissaladière, a kind of pizza topped with onions, olive, garlic, and anchovies. Of an evening, wander round the Marché Artisanal Nocturne, lit atmospherically by the buildings around it, which runs from 18:30 to 12:30 every night apart from Monday, and displays the work of Nice’s local artists. A self-guided tour of the city will bring you to Queen Victoria’s Ancien Hôtel Régina, the Basilique Notre Dame, Le Cadran Solaire (a sundial which you operate using your own shadow), and the piazzettas of the Old City. Take lunch on one of the café terraces. Voted the Green City of the Mediterranean, Nice has many hidden gardens ready to be explored; large or small, they are all perfectly maintained. For those looking for a more active experience of the Nice landscape, climb the Colline du Château, or head outside the city on one of the many trails that take you along the hillside, through oak woods and olive groves, to the hamlets and neighbourhoods of Bellet, the origin of Nice’s famous Bellet wine. Embark on a canoe treasure-hunt to the Lérins Islands, where the wine is still produced by monks; scuba-dive in Villefranche, see the Dolphins of the Mediterranean on a boat trip, or tour the rock-paintings of the Vallée des Merveilles. Other possible day excursions include trips to Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, Monaco, the luxurious self-contained state famous for its connections with A-list stars and the Grand Prix, the seaside village of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, and the exclusive peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. With so much on offer in the city itself and in the surrounding area, it will be hard to draw yourself away on the fifth day of this holiday. DAYS FIVE TO SEVEN:Drive from Nice to Saint-Tropez, where you will stay for three nightsAnother fashionable port-of-call on the French Riviera is Saint-Tropez, situated southwest along the coast from Nice. Your hotel, the Villa Belrose, is set back up into the hillside of Saint-Tropez, affording its pool terrace the most beautiful views across the bay below and the sea. A chic destination that plays host to many prestigious visitors throughout the year, Saint-Tropez is abundant in designer and custom fashion boutiques, and Michelin-star restaurants. The cuisine specialises in locally-sourced seafood (including lobster) and beef from Southern France, such as the Salers beef. Many of Saint-Tropez’s best restaurants are graced with views over the bays and water. At the centre of town, the Place des Lices embodies the laid-back French lifestyle, being the favourite site for residents to play the traditional game of Pétanque, the French version of Boules. Also in the centre of town is one of the two main casinos, the Casino de Cavalaire; in perfect contrast, the Casino Barriere de Saint Maxime is on the beach. For a taste of Saint-Tropez history, walk up to the 17th century citadel, which houses the town’s maritime museum and a detailed history of the Saint-Tropez way of life. The Vieux Port, or Old Port, is the point from which the ancient fishing village began growing and developing. It remains a hub for local artists, and its Café Senequier has recently gathered fame. Also in the old town, or ‘La Ponche,’ the Place aux Herbes is the site of the ancient marketplace, while the Halle aux Poissons still holds a daily fish market, selling the local fishermen’s fresh catch. From La Ponche, you can take the Sentier du Littoral, a scenic seaside path that takes you along the Saint-Tropez peninsula. Local businesses in the area offer a wide range of water sports and boat trips, including speed boating, fishing trips, and scuba diving. Les Nuits du Château de la Moutte is a concert set up in 1975 in the castle’s surrounding park and gardens. An event often captured by artists, the music is played on a platform that extends out across the water. For wine-tasting opportunities, perhaps visit Saint-Tropez’s only independent wine domain, La Fermes des Lices, or venture out into one of the many surrounding vineyards. A trip to Saint-Tropez would not be complete without a visit to the Maison des Papillons, sometimes believed to be the most unique attraction in this seaside town, and certainly a worthwhile experience. Once you have sampled the very best of Saint-Tropez culture, consider driving out to the small villages of Gassin or Ramatuelle, set back in the rocky hillside of the peninsula and originally built to aid locals in their escape from pirates; the baroque villas of La Croix-Valmer on the Maures Massif; or, the small old fishing town of Sainte-Maxime. Port Grimaud, only four kilometres from Saint-Tropez is only accessible by foot or by boat, making its streets, designed by François Spoerry, some of the most exclusive in Southern France. Spend the evenings relaxing in the two times Michelin-starred restaurant back at the Villa Belrose.DAYS EIGHT TO NINE:Drive north to Tourtour, where you will stay for two nightsThe third stop on this touring holiday takes you away from the chic coastal resorts of the Mediterranean and into the quaint and picturesque hilltop villages so quintessential of rural Provence. Encircled by extensive grasslands and meadows, the village of Tourtour sits in an area of outstanding natural beauty. On the doorstep of the Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon and all its lakes and mountains, it is the perfect point from which to wander out into nature. La Bastide de Tourtour, your hotel for the next two nights, is a formidable building from the outside, with rounded turrets and high golden stone walls, but is decorated with typical French finesse and charm inside. The village of Tourtour itself is comprised of winding streets, small squares, and limestone houses with terracotta roofs. Along its medieval streets, you will find eight village fountains, the austere 11th century Church of Saint Denis, a clock tower, and two castles. Tourtour’s olive oil mill is one of the few in France that still operates in the traditional fashion. It is open in the winter months to visitors for tasting sessions, but its products can be bought all year round. The crowning glory of Tourtour may be the fossil museum, founded by Victor Zaneboni, a carpenter from Corsica who took up archaeological pursuits when he moved to Tourtour. The exhibits in the museum are mostly Zaneboni’s and all are local, some dating back to 65 million years ago. Break up your days of exploration with lunch in one of the small cafés, before browsing the galleries owned by local artists. On a Saturday or Wednesday, take the short drive south to Draguignan for the town market, and track down some final souvenirs and delicacies. Perhaps drive north to Digne-les-Bains for the lavender festival, or stop off at Forcalquier to see the fragrant Provençal lavender fields from the sky in a hot air balloon ride. On your excursions into the Côtes-de-Provence area, stop off at a local wine estate, perhaps in Draguignan, to try some of the Rosé wines that the area is known for. Have dinner at Les Chênes Vertes, famous for being Tourtour’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, to finish off your day in luxury.DAY TEN:Drive back to Nice for your return train journeyLeave Tourtour after one final walk along the winding village streets, before returning to Nice for your train back to London.Driving times for this touring holiday:Nice to Saint-Tropez: 1 hour 45 minutesSaint-Tropez to Tourtour: 1 hour 30 minutesTourtour to Nice: 1 hour 30 minutes
Below is some information regarding each of the hotels featured in this touring itinerary. Alternative hotels are available in some destinations - please contact us for full details.Hôtel la PérouseNiceThe Hôtel La Pérouse is a beautiful boutique property with, arguably, the best location in Nice, named after the great French navigator Jean François Galaup, Count of La Pérouse. Set at the eastern end of the Promenade des Anglais, the hotel boasts panoramic views over the Baie des Anges. Tucked into the hillside beneath le Château, all rooms are sheltered from the hurly-burly of passing traffic, yet the hotel is less than a three-minute stroll from the old town, with its markets, museums, galleries, shops and restaurants. The 56 air-conditioned rooms at Hôtel La Pérouse are individually and immaculately decorated in a fresh, Mediterranean style, have a small balcony and most enjoy unrivalled sea views. In addition to a spa and fitness centre, there is also an extensive rooftop solarium, where the delicate aroma from fragrant lemon trees drifts across with the gentle sea breeze. Here, set against the dramatic limestone cliff, you’ll find the heated outdoor swimming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi. You can also enjoy an al fresco lunch and dinner at Le Patio restaurant, which serves a menu rich in Provençal, French and Italian flavours, not forgetting the renowned lemon pie, made from fruit picked from the hotel’s own trees. You’ll also have access to the most beautiful private beach in Nice, situated at the foot of the hotel. Today part of the Small Luxury Hotels collection, Hotel La Pérouse in Nice is a hotel of real character, with a loyal following of celebrity guests thanks to its refined yet cosy ambience.Find out more here.Villa BelroseSaint-TropezVilla Belrose commands exquisite views over the port and town of Saint-Tropez from its exclusive position in the hills above the Mediterranean. The graceful pale yellow hotel is a Relais and Châteaux property and exudes a classic beauty throughout. The interiors draw upon an elegant period Provençal style and the wide windows throughout the Villa Belrose allow for appreciation of the breath-taking vistas that its position affords. Many of the 37 bedrooms have been renovated in muted tones of chocolate, grey and sand, perfectly complementing the natural light of Saint-Tropez's sea and sun. Sweeping staircases lead down from the Villa Belrose to the swimming pool, where ample space is provided for relaxation or for a drink at the poolside bar. A range of Niance treatments can be also be enjoyed at the luxurious beauty centre. The bar and Michelin-star restaurant have also been refurbished in a similar contemporary and understated style, providing elegant surroundings in which to enjoy the Mediterranean cuisine, and there is also a terrace for al fresco dining. The Villa Belrose is a luxurious hotel in an exclusive position that allows for exceptional views of the coast.Find out more here.La Bastide de TourtourTourtourLa Bastide de Tourtour is set amidst oleander, lavender, pine and olive trees in a tranquil and serene four-hectare parc at 650 metres above sea level, allowing for unrivalled panoramic views stretching some 180km over the picturesque hills and villages of Provence in one direction and the seaside resorts of the Côte d’Azur in the other. This stunning setting makes for the most heavenly and atmospheric culinary experiences, featuring the very best of Provençal cuisine. Dinner is served on the vast terrace in the cooling shade of mulberry and plane trees during the warmer months, or in the intimate vaulted restaurant if you prefer. La Bastide de Tourtour offers 25 beautifully appointed rooms, each with pre-requisite stunning views. Individual in style and decoration, the rooms have a comfort, elegance and sophistication that lends them naturally to longer stays, with a wide range of amenities including complimentary WiFi, flat screen television, mini-bar and safe. Superior and Prestige Luxe rooms at La Bastide de Tourtour are more spacious, the latter also boasting a panoramic terrace from which to take in the magnificent vistas.Find out more here.
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