The cliff spans the 12 miles between Marseille & Cassis.
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.
Provence is an excellent destination for golfers, Provence has many courses for all budgets and all levels of play. If you are interested in multiple courses, buy a Golf Pass Provence, which will allow you to play 16 golf courses. The packages can vary from 135 to 275 Euros for 3 or 5 green passes, are pretty much reserved to golfers outside of France and are used in all clubs mentioned in this article. For more information go to http://www.golfpass-provence.com
Garden Golf d’Avignon
The course is challenging and has gentle curves, 30 bunkers, small greens ( the 6th, 14th, and 15th holes are perched on embankment) and lots of water-in ditches, ponds and reservoirs, and a series of interconnected lakes. They serve a hearty Provencal fare at lunchtime.
The golf course is located 10 minutes from Avignon‘s centre ville. 1596 rte. de Chateaublanc, 84310 Morieres les Avignons http://www.gardengolfavignon.com ( 9 and 18 holes)
This prestigious golf course near Brignoles is one of Europe’s top 50 golf clubs. Eighteen holes unfold over 87 hectares ( 215 acres) of beautiful pine-covered hills, it encompasses the biggest green in Europe. The golf course was created by Pete and PB Dye,two of America’s most renowned golf architects. There is a pro shop sells all the golf merchandise. You can enjoy dining in the Club house, with two restaurants that serve excellent French cuisine. The hotel is not pretentious with 24 rooms and 5 apartments, an independent terrace, a swimming pool and tennis courts. http://www.barbaroux.com . 18 holes
This golf course was designed by an American architect Ronald Fream and is located near Toulon and is one of the prettiest golf courses in Europe. You will have amazing sea views, vineyards, pines and rock gardens and aromatic shrubbery. The 18 holes accommodate players of all levels. The clubhouse is located next to a modern hotel, often reserved for weddings & private events. There are three restaurants including the Gastronomic, Le Mas des Vignes. http://www.dolce-fregate-hotel.com. 18 holes
Between Marseille and Aix, this golf course stands out from the other ones by virtue of its views. Every hole has a truly majestic view of Mount Sainte Victoire, the mountain prized by the painter Cezanne. In the center of the grounds stands the beautiful 17th-century Ocher chateau de L’arc that used to belong to the painter Bernard Buffet.Today it’s a four- star hotel with two restaurants. http://www.saintevictoiregolfclub.com. 18 holes
The soil in Provence always bakes in sunshine and sprinkled with just the right amount of rain along the coast, Provence’s climate has all the right ingredients for great harvests of wine grapes, olives, tomatoes, zucchinis, garlic, peppers, fresh herbs, truffles , melons and more. And locals know what to do with their harvests. Centuries old traditions have a great influence with every Provencal kitchen, where age -old specialties and contemporary creations are based on of the world’s finest olive oils and produce picked every morning. The Mediterranean sea always brings fresh seafood on the tables. On top of it, great local wine – Cotes du Rhone, including Chateauneuf –du-Pape and wonderful as well as crisp Cotes de Provence Roses.
On the coast.
Menton. Wedged between the sea and surrounded by mountains and situated between Monaco and Italy, Menton is blessed with the mildest weather on the French Riviera. Its micro climate has made it a center for citrus-fruit cultivation since the 1500s. During the annual Fete du Citron ( lemon festival), from mid-February to early March, the town turns to a rolling Mass of yellow, as local decorate floats, windows, streets and themselves with lemons. Try the famous Tarte au Citron, a Menton specialty.
Menton Tourist office, 8 Avenue Boyer 06500 http://www.menton.fr
In 1388 Nice chose to belong to the counts of Savoy. The city did not become Frenchuntil 1860, when tourism was just taking hold. Cosmopolitan and eclectic, Nice boasts some fine arts museums ( including ones devoted to Chagall and Matisse).Tall, white, modern blocks hide the Baroque churches and other facades of the old town, while Roman remains and Belle Epoque houses coexist up at Cimiez, the hill above the city. The promenades des Anglais, built for sea loving English tourists, has been given up to rollerbladders.
As in Italy, many traditional dishes start with superb Olive oil. Socca is a very thin crusted, pizzalike bread, made from chickpea flour and olive oil; Another delicious one is La Pissadiere – Socca topped with anchovies and caramelized onions. Both are sold at Chez Theresa ( in the boutique and on the market stall in the Cours Saleya and Chez Rene Socca, 2 rue Miralheti.
Want to find great olive oil? go to Oliviera, this restaurant-shop sells what may be the Mediterranean best oils. The owner Nadim runs blind taste tests and is very passionate about his products as well as knowledgeable. Other Nicoise specialties include the Pan-Bagnat, bread dipped in olive oil and filled with tuna, eggs, and salad- It was once the prized meal of fishermen. Salad Nicoise is Nice‘s most exported dish. The traditional version is a toss , rather than an arrangement, of salad leaves, tuna, eggs, anchovies, tomatoes, onion and black olives. Omelette de Poutine, a delicious local omelet made with parsley, olive oil & lemon juice and poutines ( small sardines, caught over a 30- day period in February & March. Another specialty is Beignets de fleurs de courgette- batter -coated zucchini flowers, deep-fried and served in a tomato sauce. Soupe au pistou is a hearty bean, tomato and zucchini broth, flavored to taste with pesto. Bakeries in the old town sell Tourte aux blettes– a sugar-coated pie made with cabbage ( blette), raisins and pine nuts. A savory swap is made rice and parmesan cheese.
Les petits farcis are delicious round zucchinis, tomatoes and onions stuffed with pork mince called petits farcis.
Cote de Provence Wine Minitour. Amid quite steep hills and sea views, the Var region is the land of rose wine par excellence. this Minitour takes you into the diverse and very dramatic landscape of the Haut Pays ( inlands), where well-drained soils; abundant sunshine ; and winter showers yield some of France‘s best Roses. All the wineries are premier cru.
An 18th-century bastide once owned by the counts of Provence, the Chateau de Selle in Taradeau ; http://www.domaines-ott.com, they make world-famous roses, blending Cabernet-sauvignon, grenache, and cinsaux grapes. Chateau de ST-martin; http://www.chateaudesaintmartin.com. The vineyard has a ruined 2nd-centuryb.c. Roman villa and a Gallo-Roman grape press on- site. Love fruity wines visit Chateau Roubine‘s wines ; http://www.chateauroubine.com
Le Jas d’Esclans is an award-winning organic wines, route de Callas La Motte en Provence; http://www.jasdesclans.com – If you decide to go west along the coast you will find the Chateau de Bregancon in beautiful Borme-les-Mimosas is a beautiful 17th-century chateau on 350 hectares ( 864 acres) of vines. The Rose blends cinsault, syrah, and grenache grapes. In Hyeres, the chateau de Mauvanne ;www.mauvanne.com has been making wine since the 1600’s. The current owner Bassim Rahal produces some of the region greatest roses.
The river and the sea have created an almost lunar landscape over which the huge Tour de Constance of Aigues Mortes stands guard. Before flowing into the sea after Arles, the Rhone forms the delta where gipsies believed two saints named Mary were washed ashore. Caravans and trailers parked along the sea wall, while high spirited bulls wait for the feria in their enclosures. A single main road runs past rice fields, peaceful pools where you can find pink flamingoes and across the salt marshes, crisscrossed by narrow paths. At Salin-de-Giraud a quite bumpy coastal track leads to the isolated Beauduc beach. The only way to return to the land is via ferry.
Visit l’Abbaye de Montmajour
In AD 948 a community of hermits was founded in the middle of the marshes. The abbey became steadily wealthier and added on a cellar, a church, a refectory and chapels.The extent of the ruins gives us some idea of its final enormous size. But for all its wealth, starkness was de rigeur in the abbey: only the capitals in the cloister were adorned.
This the port King Louis lX ( St Louis) built in 1248 as a base from which his ships could set sail for the crusades. Washed by an arm of the sea, ramparts just over a mile long enclose this rectangular city. At roof level is a walkway along the walls to the Constance Tower, once a prison for Templars and Huguenots. Now it is the vantage point from which there are breathtaking views of this beautiful area.
The legend tells how a boat carrying Mary Jacobe , sister of the Virgin Mary, and many Salome, mother of the apostles James and John, were washed ashore at this seaside village between the Rhone and the Mediterranean. Their statues in the 12th- century Romanesque church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer recall the event.In the crypt, dressed in sequined robes, is a third statue; that of their maid servant, Sara, venerated by the gipsies. The three Saints are carried in procession to the sea on May 24 and 25 of each year.
Digue a la Mer
The digue ( sea wall) is closed to motor vehicles. It runs along the coast for 12 miles to Salin. On the way, walkers can admire the gray sand dunes, samphire fields broken by saltwater lagoons and flocks of seabirds.
Arles gives a little forecast of Spain, with its blend Roman, Romanesque and Baroque. In the first century, the amphitheater was similar in size to its rival in Nimes. In the Middle Ages, it suffered serious damage when it was turned into a slum containing 200 homes, but in 1830 it reverted to its original function, and corridas were staged here. At the same time , the remains of the Roman theater ( 27 -25BC) – What was also rescued were two marble columns, tiers of stone benches and the Cipolin marble paving of an orchestra pit. Right in the city of Arles center is the fabulous 12th century cathedral of St-Trophime whose somptuous portal and cloister – The most richly carved in – recount Bible stories and local legends.
Traveling to Provence , a few tips and recommendations.
Car rental. renting a car on arrival can be much cheaper than driving your own car. If the one you rent breaks down you can get a replacement car. Packages combining flights, car rental and accommodation can be very good value, or you can rent a vehicle for part of your stay from major rental companies at airports or in main towns and resorts.Most car companies require that you are over 21 and that you have a clean driving record.
By car. Using your own car can have its own advantages : you can bring more luggage and see more of France and take home more souvenirs and gifts. Emergency breakdown insurance is also advisable: consult your insurer or motoring organization.
Taxis are reliable and use meters but are not flagged down on the street – you have to find one at a taxi rank, book by phone, or ask your hotel or restaurant to call one for you.
France has the best public transport in Europe and getting around the region’s major cities by bus, tram or (in Marseille) metro presents few problems. Fares are integrated , so a single ticket can be used on any combination of transport for one hour. Day passes and books of tickets are also available.
From Marseille, rail lines run west to Arles and Nimes, north to Aix and Avignon and east to Monaco and Nice. TER ( regional express trains) , they operate an inland route from Nice to Dignes-les-Bains.
Inter- city Bus.
Inter-city buses supplement trains between major cities. Quite a few companies operate from long-distance bus stations ( gares routieres) in cities or larger towns.Smaller villages and rural towns are not well served by buses, many villages have no service at all.
The best way to explore Provence. Mountainous regions may be only for the super- fit but there are easier rides in the lowlands, along the coast and in the Camargue. Mountain bikes ( velos tous terrains or VTT) can be hired in all major towns and resorts ( tourist offices have lists) and marked cycle trail ranging from demanding to totally relaxed. Eco- friendly free cycle schemes, like velo in Marseille are springing up in towns across the all region.
Provence is a beautiful walking country, offering guided or marked walks through historic cities and coastal paths, sentiers balises (local trails) and sentiers de grande randonnee ( long -distance hiking tracks),part of a network that crosses France. Maps and guides are available from tourist offices.
Horses can be hired by the day or for longer, with or without a guide, on gentle or more demanding trails. The Camargue is ideal if you want to visit it on a horse.
Yachts and cruisers.
The Riviera is prime sailing country and every kind of vessels, from small yachts and catamarans to fully crewed motor cruisers, can be chartered out of marinas including Nice, Cannes, St-Tropez, Antibes and St-Jean.
At the foot of the mysterious Alpilles hills, elegant St-Remy is the archetypal Provencal town, with tree-lined boulevards, fountains,lively squares, atmospheric alleys, and chic residents who have made an art of posing in cafes. Nostradamus , the physician and astrologer was born here in 1503. Now it is more associated with Dutchman Vincent Van Gogh, who committed himself to the asylum just outside town in 1889. South of the center, do not miss the ancient ruins of the city of Glanum, which actually dates back to the 1st century. Saint-Remy is 13 miles south of Avignon and 47 mile northwest of Aix- en- Provence.
Where to Stay.
Hotel des Ateliers de l’Image
The rooms strike an ideal balance between comfort and concept- The tree-house suite,has its own private tree-house. The gardens are beautifully landscaped, with pool and a sushi bar. ( 36 bd Victor Hugo ). http://www.hotelphoto.com
Le Mas des Carassins
This converted 19th-century farmhouse is an oasis of calm, with striking views onto the Alpilles ; A magnificent , lavender garden, shaded by century -old-olive trees; a pool; an excellent restaurant; and individually decorated rustic rooms that leave you feeling pampered. ( 1 Chemin Gaulois) http://www.masdescarassins.com
Chateau de Roussan
Our photo is on our blog.
Beautiful property with lots of history; you will be pressed to find more breathtakingly romantic lodgings than this Chateau. Nostradamus‘s home, just outside Saint-Remy, it’s set in 15 acres of parkland , where you can see swans swim in the lake and streams everywhere gurgling over rounded pebbles. The rooms are furnished with antiques and are plush and extremely romantic. ( Route de Tarascon) http://www.chateauderoussan.com