Nice, Monaco & the Cote d'Azur

Nice, Monaco & the Cote d’Azur

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No French region fires the imagination like the Cote d’Azur, with its unique blend of natural beauty, hilltop medieval villages and sophisticated resorts. The Mediterranean coast is at its most magnificent, with blood-red rocky coves and sweeping bays of shimmering azure blue water. Originally Greek, then Roman, Bourbon and Italian, but only French since 1860, all have left outstanding legacies. It became a retreat for 19th century European aristocracy and royalty and attracted many leading composers and artists of the era. Renoir lived in Cagnes; Cocteau in Menton; Chagall and Matisse in Nice; Picasso moved to Antibes. Today, only Paris has more museums than the Côte d’Azur.

Highlights

  • Return flights
  • Seven nights in four-star or four-star superior accommodation with breakfast
  • Two dinners in your selected hotel plus two in carefully selected local restaurants
  • Guided walk of Nice with: its fine art; Italianate, fin de siècle buildings and rabbit warren of atmospheric medieval streets and alleys
  • Visit and tour of Monaco and Monte Carlo
  • Tour of some of France’s most outstanding mountain scenery, the remote Gorges du Loup
  • Guided tour of the spectacular Villa Ephrussi, once home to the Rothschild banking dynasty, crammed with amazing art works and surrounded by nine pristine gardens
  • Tour of Menton, with its honey-coloured shuttered buildings, Cocteau museum and grave of William Webb Ellis – the ‘inventor’ of Rugby
  • Tour the traditional perfumeries in Grasse discovering how some of the world’s finest fragrances are blended
  • Visit the delightful medieval harbour town of Antibes, once home to Picasso
  • Learn how fruit confit is made, a traditional, still handcrafted local delicacy
  • Visit to the charming artists village of St Paul de Vence, final resting place of Marc Chagall
  • Services of an experienced tour manager

Inclusions

  • The price of this holiday is based on two people sharing a standard twin room. Single, city view and sea/garden view rooms are available at the relevant supplement. The price includes return flights, departure taxes and transfers, seven nights accommodation with breakfast daily and four dinners. All tours as mentioned, a guided walk of Nice and tour of Monaco, entrance and guided tour of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and the services of a Riviera Tour Manager. Where the hotel features a swimming pool, pools are open May – Sept weather permitting.

Itinerary

Day 1

Fly to Nice, ‘capital’ of the Côte d’Azur. You will be met and transferred to your selected hotel, either the four star Mercure Notre Dame, or the fourstar superior Le Meridien, both centrally located, for seven nights. Dinner is included on 2 evenings, if you are staying in the Mercure dinner will be taken at a nearby external restaurant or in the hotel if staying at the Le Meridien. Plus you dine for two additional nights in specially selected local restaurants.

Day 2

This morning we discover Nice on a guided tour. Named after their goddess of victory, Nike, it was originally an ancient Greek settlement, then Roman and extensive remains are still visible. Famously arcing its way around the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) is the iconic palm-lined Promenade des Anglais, backed by fine buildings. One of the highlights is the legendary flower market and its stalls laden with Provençal delicacies. The Place Massena is the heart of old Nice and lined by Venetian-style arches highlighting the city’s Italian heritage.   This afternoon we visit the region's finest gardens and art collection, the extraordinary Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. It boasts a stupendous yet eclectic mix including medieval and Renaissance works of art, Sèvres porcelain, Fragonard drawings and exceptional carpets and tapestries plus exquisite pieces from the Far East with everything world-class standard.

Day 3

Today we visit incomparable Monaco, home to many of the world’s rich and famous, but there’s so much more to it than that. Our short journey takes us along the stunning Moyenne Corniche with steep cliffs of astonishingly coloured volcanic rocks plunging into the azure waters below and the setting of countless car commercials. We call at Eze, an ancient village perched precariously atop a limestone outcrop, high above the clear blue waters. Wander through medieval streets, hidden courtyards, archways, tiny boutiques and the beautiful Jardin Exotique. Monaco comes into view, its juxtaposition of elegant palace buildings, Belle Epoque finery, rooftop pools and modern concrete structures hemmed between the sharp blue waters and the dusky green and white of the mountainside. Our guided tour gives you a real insight into its history, the story of its royal family – the Grimaldis - and the key features of its unrivalled Grand Prix circuit. We tour the old town – Monaco Ville – a rocky promontory dominated by the magnificent Renaissance-style Royal Palace, which regularly hosted Napoleon. The old town is like an open-air museum with picturesque squares and the impressive St. Nicholas cathedral where royalty including Prince Rainier and his wife Grace Kelly are laid to rest. Leaving its royal quarter your tour continues into Monte Carlo, with a drive around the dazzling marina. You may want to visit the glorious ‘Belle Epoque’ Casino, the location for several James Bond films. There’s time to explore some of Monaco’s charming, hidden corners too or to enjoy a drink in the art nouveau Café de Paris right outside the Casino – where the rich and famous come to be seen.

Day 4

Today is a free day to enjoy as you wish. Visit a museum, explore the flower market, have a leisurely lunch, catch up on some reading beside the roof top swimming pool plus, of course, take a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais like countless others before you. Outdoor pool generally open May - October subject to weather conditions.

Day 5

This morning we head inland to delightful Vence, another fortified hilltop settlement, offering astonishing views of the surrounding countryside. Next  we explore the spectacular mountain scenery of the ‘Gorges du Loup’,  a series of gorges full of cascading rivers, stunning waterfalls and rapids twists from a high mountain plateau to the plains below.   Finally, we make our way towards Grasse, the ‘Perfume Capital of the World’. We are guests of the historic Fragonard perfumery where we learn about this fascinating traditional art and its history. Heading back to Nice, we pass fields of violets, roses, lavender and a host of other aromatic flowers, the raw materials for the perfumes we have just experienced.

Day 6

This morning brings us to another of the region’s delightful and historic coastal towns, Antibes, the former Greek Antipolis. Seafaring has always been a tradition here ever since ancient galleys sought refuge from the Ligurian hordes and Crusaders left for the Holy Land. There’s plenty more to interest the visitor here, especially inside the ancient walls of the Old Town, where Graham Greene once walked along the narrow cobbled lanes.   This afternoon we take the short drive to  St Paul de Vence, a fortified  medieval hilltop village where Chagall is buried. It has an artists’ community and a restaurant displaying works of art offered in payment by the then impoverished Picasso and Matisse amongst others.  Further up the hillside, beyond the village is the Maeght Foundation, displaying modern art by Miro, Chagall and Leger under natural Mediterranean light.

Day 7

Today you’ll discover one of the Riviera’s most delightful towns, a place where wonderful gardens abound amongst elegant boulevards and shambling medieval cottages. The journey is a scenic delight, showcasing magnificent Menton, nestling between the sheltering slopes of the Alpes Maritimes and the warming sea, half way between Paris and Rome. It is also blessed with one of Europe’s mildest climates. Its restorative effect seemingly worked miracles in the 19th century.   At lunchtime, enjoy superb fresh fish by the quayside, on the elegant arches of Quai Bonaparte, or perhaps dine al fresco in the cool of a shady square. The medieval town stands sentinel over the bay, centred on the baroque St Michel Basilica with its fine campanile towering above the terracotta roofs. See the old cemetery, visited not just for its superb views but for the fascinating, mainly English and Russian graves.

Day 8

Today at the appropriate time you will be taken to the airport for your return flight.

Accommodation

  Cost per person: €1,289pp
  Number of nights: 7

Tour supplied in Partnership with:

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