Day 1 – Avignon
After meeting at our Departure Office in London St Pancras, we
board the direct* Eurostar straight to Avignon. On arrival we check
into our boutique hotel in the heart of this ancient city, the
Cloitre Saint Louis. This evening, we celebrate the start of our
holiday with a group dinner at a local restaurant.
*Please note: our May 8 departure travels via
Day 2 – Discovering Avignon
Our morning starts with breakfast, followed by a guided walking
tour of Avignon. Escorted by a local guide, we learn the secrets of
Avignon’s fascinating history – starting with the Palais des Papes,
where entrance is included. The seat of the Papacy for 6 successive
Popes during the 14th century, Avignon become the centre of the
Roman Catholic Church after Pope Clement V fled the violent chaos
and corruption of Rome. Next, we enjoy included entrance to the
Rocher des Doms gardens, a lush hilltop garden set on a rocky bluff
overlooking the city. From here, we get a glorious panorama across
the terracotta roofs of the Old Town, as well as of the Rhne River
flowing peacefully below. In the afternoon there’s free time to
look around. Why not head to Les Halles, the city’s vibrant market
to savour the sights, smells and tastes of fresh Provenal produce?
From here, art-lovers can happily while away a few hours at the
wonderful Angladon Museum. Home to Van Gogh’s ‘Railway Carriages’,
other famous artists displayed here include Picasso, Manet and
Day 3 – The Pont du Gard and Lavender
One of France’s most recognisable landmarks, the impressive Pont
du Gard stands 161 feet above the Gardon River, spanning a width of
902 feet. This mighty aqueduct was built around 50 AD, using solid
blocks hewn from nearby but no mortar to hold them together.
Originally, the Pont du Gard was part of a 30-mile waterway used to
transport 4.4 million gallons of water from the River Eure to Nmes
every day. The mineral deposits still visible on the aqueduct,
indicate it was still being used in the 9th century, long after the
fall of the Roman Empire.
This afternoon we drive to nearby Coustellet for lunch. After
our meal, we walk the short distance to the town’s quaint lavender
museum. Here, we learn about the history, cultivation and
distilling process involved in making all the lavender products
available in the gift shop and caf.
We transfer back to Avignon for dinner this evening, served at
one of the city’s many popular restaurants.
Days 4-5 – The Cte d’Azur
We make our way to the station after breakfast this morning,
where we catch the train to Nice, on the famous French Riviera. On
arrival, we transfer to our hotel for the next 3 nights, the
art-deco style Villa Victoria. After time to settle in, we head out
for dinner at a local restaurant.
On Day 5 we meet our local guide for a
sightseeing tour. We drive up to Mont Boron, which offers terrific
views over the Bay of Angels. We continue to the hill-top quarter
of Cimiez, former home of the artist Matisse. The Roman remains at
Cimiez also offer an insight into the history of the region. After
a visit to the bustling Place de l’Opra and the narrow streets of
the Old Town, we conclude our tour at the market in Cours Saleya,
just in time for lunch. This afternoon, we make a visit to Villa
Ephrussi de Rothschild, the seaside holiday home of the wealthy
Rothschild family. We enjoy high tea here, indulging in some
traditional French patisserie.
Day 6 – Monaco
On arrival in the principality of Monaco this morning, we meet
our local guide for a tour. The second smallest country in the
world, Monaco is famous as a haven for the very wealthy, its
electrifying Grand Prix, and casino. It’s here we begin our
explorations, admiring the opulent high-rollers entrance before
making our way to the 13th-century Palais du Prince, home of
Monaco’s ruling family for over 700 years. Just before midday, we
see the enchanting ‘Changing of the Guard’ ceremony before free
time to look around at your own pace.
Back in Nice this evening, we sit down to a dinner of French
Day 7 – London
Following a final breakfast, we return to the train station in
time to catch the service to Paris. At the Gard Du Nord, we board
the Eurostar back to London St Pancras.