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With a varied topography that could be considered France‘s finest, Provence boasts golden beaches, valleys, and the fjord-like Calanques. This drive will make its way slowly along the region’s most beautiful roads,from the glitzy bling of Saint-Tropez to the rugged beauty of Cassis’s towering Calanques, passing resort towns that saw their heyday in the 1920’s and verdant countryside full of vineyards. Vines thrive and grapes ripen slowly in the truly nurturing Mediterranean climate- It is sunny most of the year, sea breeze keeps the air fresh, and what little rainfall there is makes for intense flavors.

Planning a drive . Saint-Tropez to Cassis.

Number of days. 4, allowing half a day to explore Saint-Tropez and a day on the Ile of Porquerolles.

The road conditions. are generally good with clear signs; some steep , narrow roads with high turns. In July and August traffic is much heavier. Would recommend to go between May & June before peak season is in full swing or between September and November, as the vineyards begin to harvest their grapes . The Fall is also a great time to visit Provence without the crowds .

Opening hours. Most businesses are open from 10am to 7pm. Museums and major sights often close on Mondays and/ or Tuesdays, while restaurants are often closed on Sundays and / or Mondays.

Main Market Days. Saint-Tropez: Tuesday, Sunday, Saturday; Ramatuelle: Thursday and Sunday; Bormes -Les-Mimosas: Wednesday; Hyeres: Tuesday and Saturday; Cassis : Wednesday and Friday.

Shopping.The boutique-lined streets of Saint-Tropez have designer bargains, while wholesale wine, direct from the vineyards, can be picked up from the fraction of its retail price.

Major Festivals. Saint-Tropez : Regatta, September-October; Ramatuelle: Jazz festival, August. Bormes-Les-Mimosas: Santo Coupo Food and Wine festival, September; Cassis : Quai des Artists, June-August; Traditional Wine Festival, September.

For outdoor enthusiasts.Enjoy hiking or kayaking through the Calanques, while wine lovers will enjoy visiting the vineyards around Ramatuelle, Gassin and Bormes-Les-Mimosas. Families can enjoy a day at the beaches of Ile de Porquerolles.

More Day Trips Options. If you vacation there you should stay between Cassis and Bandol ( great Roses), or in Saint-Tropez ( Fall is the best time),

Breathtaking coastline. Explore the cliffs and coves that surround Cassis. Get on one of the many boats departing from the port. On mornings from July to August, disembark at the Calanque En-Vau and hike back to town. If you are not into hiking you can opt for a clifftop drive from Cassis to La Ciotat along the route des Cretes , clearly marked from the center of Cassis.

Vineyard tour. Spend the morning driving through the vineyards around the village of Ramatuelle. Visit the the Chateau Minuty and the village and the little village of Gassin. With rolling vineyards on either side, to taste some of the wines of the region, spend the afternoon in the beautiful town of Bormes-Les-Mimosas and follow the Route de Leoube to sample some fine wines at The Chateau de Bregancon.

Resort town and beaches. Stroll around the streets of the resort of Hyeres, before heading to La Tour Fondue from where visitors can take a ferry ride to the Ile de Porquerolles and spend the rest of the day on its pristine beaches.

Ile de Prorquerolles , Var, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur. One of the three iles d’Or or golden islands was bought by the French State in 1971 in a move to protect the island from rampant industrial development. Since then it has remained a blissful haven. No driving, vehicles are banned, you can rent a bike or stroll the dirt paths to very secluded beaches, such as the pristine Plage de Notre Dame. The island also boosts several wine estates, including the one organic Domaine de-la courtade,  they  began their operations in 1986.

Cassis, Bouche du Rhone, Provence-Alpes ( Cote  D’Azur). Hemmed in by the white cliff of the Calanques to the west and the precipitous Route des Cretes to the east. Cassis is a very lively little port and a great tourist destination for families. A dozen domaines encircle the town, boasting renowned AOC Cassis whites, visit Le clos Saint-Magdeleine ( open Monday-Friday), where vineyards cling to the steep cliffs of Cap Canaille, and hike through the vineyards on the Vin et Terroir route. You can discover the town’s history at  the Musee Municipal Mediterraneen ( open Wednesday – Sunday), which has many interesting exhibits.

The Calanques. A great limestone cliff that spans the 12 miles ( 20km) between Marseille and Cassis, The Massif des Calanques forms one of France‘s most breathtaking stretches of coastline. Peaks rise over 1,640 ft. The Calanque is a protected area and may be closed on very hot summer days due to the high risk of forest fire. Be sure to check with the Cassis tourist office ( http://www.cassis.com) before setting off.

Eat and drink.

Ile de Porquerolles. L’Arche de Noe. Moderate-expensive mouth- watering Bouillabaisse and Bourride.( http://www.arche-de-noe.com)

La Cadiere d’Azur. Hostellerie Berard. Moderate-expensive father and son team Rene and Jean-Francois Berard pair seasonal ingredients with local wines. ( http://www.hotel-berard.com).

Join us this September 2014 and travel with us to Luberon. Provence-culinary roads

September 27, 2014 – October 4, 2014.

8 Days – 7 Nights ( 10 guests are invited) $ 4,300 per person visit us online at http://www.luxurytravelconsultant2.com ( Air fare not included)

For your information. In the summer time the best way to visit the riviera is to stay in small towns. For example Villefranche-sur-mer is just minutes by train from Nice; Antibes is minutes by train from Cannes. Both towns have amazing seaside cafes and restaurants. If you want to make it to a more expensive scene, just hop the frequent,easily accessible trains to the Riviera‘s bigger cities.