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Paris is not France
France has more to offer
“It is at a time like this, when crisis threatens the stomach, that the French display the most sympathetic side of their nature. Tell them stories of physical injury or financial ruin and they will either laugh or commiserate politely. But tell them you are facing gastronomic hardship, and they will move heaven and earth and even restaurant tables to help you.”Their love for food is genuine and care not much in the materialistic gains of life. Yes france is not the haute couture of the metropolitan Paris nor ever-elusive je ne sais quoi: a complicated mix of style and confidence. Dont let your feelings for Paris colour your views for the rest of France.The flavour of France lies in the pulsating port city of Marseilles, soaking along the French Riviera, enjoying the rich and fabulous life in Nice, taking a delightful back-country tour of the French Riviera stopping at scenic villages among gorges, vintage vineyards and perfume making regions of Grasse, towns of Mediterranean flair and splendour following the lavender routes through Provence, a landscape that inspired Van Gaugh into painting ‘The starry Night’
Cote d'Azur or French Riviera
The blue hue of the waters in the south-east corner of France bears testimony for the aptness of the very coinage of Cote'd'Azure. After pulling out oneself from the chic-city life of Paris landing to Nice gives you the first introduction to the region of Côte d'Azur.
Think of the South of France and Nice comes squarely into mind. With its broad avenues, wide sweeping bay and golden beach it is not difficult to see why some 3 million people flock to Nice every year. It is said the first impression is the last impression. At a first glance you see wide boulevards and a row of wedding-cake building. Before going for any sightseeing tours a visit to Mt. Boron is a must and enjoy the views of overlooking the Bay of Angels and Nice old town. You'll see Castle Hill, site of the trading town founded by the Greeks 2,500 years ago.
Strolling along the Promenade des Anglais passing its famous landmarks and "Belle Epoque" buildings makes one think Nice has real substance as a major urban city steeped in history.A visit to the flower market in the old townis mandatory in your Nice tour.It is more than a flower market.It looks like a gala fair of meats,cheese,fresh local produce and every Monday is the antique and flee market.For all the bargain kings and queens is certainly a treat.Silver sets, fine linens, nick-nacks by the stand-full and all the French-ness your eyes can handle.
Pin the highlights of Nice
Fjords of the French Riviera
The next French stop has to be the ancient port city of Marseilles. If you are one of those who run far from the maddening crowd then this sea-port city gives you a right balance of tradition, modernity, culture and also bounty of nature. Explore the delightful coves, cliff, those sleepy villages arund Marseille.
Take a road trip to along the beautiful Route des Crêtes, stopping to enjoy views over the Côte d'Azur from Cape Canailles. Explore the village of Cassis with your guide and hop aboard a sightseeing cruise to the fjords of the French Riviera or Calanques.
Casis is a charming harbour lined with provincial colourful houses lining the waterfront. Professional kayaking experts paddle along the Mediterranean coastline lined with Calanques. They are stunning limestone rock formations known locally as the 'fjords of the French Riviera'.
Beneath the towering, sun-bleached cliffs the sea is deep aquamarine, crystal clear and fabulous for swimming and snorkelling: towards the end of the calanque a few boats always bob at anchor off a narrow strip of beach where people still picnic in style. One can’t leave France without seeing such overpowering cliffs formed by granite and limestone.
Bring on the Adventure
- Boat or Cruse trips
- Hiking tails
Boat trips/Hiking trails
Plethora of Provence
After experiencing the azure water of the glamorous stretch of this Mediterranean playground head inland to discover the beauty of the region’s much-applauded landscape – The Provencal France.
Passing rocky promontories sitting alongside lush vineyards and seeing flower-drenched hamlets at every twist and turn one must visit Grasse, the perfume capital of France. Touring its famous Fragonard Perfumery, and then explore the towns of Valbonne and Gourdon you will realise this is a fantastic history-woven quarter; a mishmash of sloping streets and lanes flanked terracotta terraced houses.
A clutch of artisan shops sell traditional products such as scented soaps, olive-wood carvings, homemade biscuits and chocolates – not to mention pastis, the quintessential Provencal drink. Arrive in the majestic village of Gourdon, perched high on a rocky ridge, and head to a viewpoint for sweeping views of the Cote d’Azur’s dazzling coastline. This is France for me!!
Start dreaming and telling people about your plans for holidaying in Provence. Wonderful as it sounds things get better in real life.Walking tour or cycling tours are the best possible way to explore the dreamy picture post card sceneries of this region.
The base should be in Avignon,it takes 25 minutes to arive in the classic southern France town of St.Remy following the Van Gogh trail lined with reproductions of his paintings facing the very scenes that inspired him.The brother of Vincent van Gogh lived in St Remy and the painter was treated here in the psychiatric Center after he had cut his ear off. He painted Starry Night whilst he was in Saint Remy. Saint-Remy-de-Provence is a very pleasant place to spend a week in the country vacation home stays.
From there follow a botanical stretch up gradual trail arriving at the crest of Alpilles mountains.You will certainly get distracted by the aromatic herbs and wildflower carpet dominating demanding a perfect setting for a picnic lunch.On returning back to St.Remy explore the Roman ruins of Glanum or the former monastry where Van Gogh spent the rest of his life.
Go to Luberon and set your foot to the mountain top vallage of Gorges classified as the most beautiful village of the Provence.The path of Gordes are marked by old stone walls,lone farm houses,centuries old round shepherd huts made of dry stone.Following the path into a valley and soon the sight of 12th century Senanque Abbey ushers situated among the violet cupcake shapes scrubs of lavender fields.The main lavender blooming seasons are july and August.
If you don’t experience Provence then you have not seen France. The opulence of Provence is seen in the lavender fields during the full summer’s bloom, mainly in the villages of sault and Roussillon. The picture perfect village of Gordes seems to have come from a fairytale book. Wander the town by foot and browse the lavender shops full of flowers, fragrant essential oils and local honey. Stop for photography in the pretty little villages of St.Jean and Lioux and St.Remy.
Must visit villages of Provence
- Les Beaux de Provence
- L’Isle sur la Sorgue
- Saint Rémy de Provence
Market finds of Provence
What is the essence of France ?
What is France without its wines. Explore the Rhone valley from Avignon and sample galore one of best wine of this region. A tour of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine estate and sampling this world-famous wine is essential as you savour the complex fruity flavours that characterize Châteauneuf-du-Papes, you’ll realize why this beautiful wine remains virtually unmatched around the world.
France is the patch work of orchards, canals, farmhouses, ancient ruins, hidden medieval high perched villages, lavender fields, the lively weekend markets, the rich wine producing valleys and the turquoise waters of French Riviera allowing us to sip a glass of Champaign with world’s best goat cheese. A travel to France according to me comprises all the earthy pleasures of country life in return it lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.