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.
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.