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South of France Luxury Travel Guide

South of France Luxury Travel Guide

 

France is the original luxury travel destination. Well-heeled travellers have flocked to the Côte d’Azur since the 19th century so this region really knows its stuff. For sophistication and discretion, French service is unbeatable. Add to this the timeless allure of the Mediterranean and the rolling hills of Provence and it’s clear to see why the South of France remains so popular.

Nice, France
Nice, France

Regions

 

The Southeast of France is can be divided into two parts, the Côte d’Azur, or French Riviera, and Provence. Officially the region is known as Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

 

Provence and Cote D'Azure MapProvence and Cote D’Azure Map

 

The sunny Rivera stretches roughly from Marseille in the west to Monaco in the east. Inland, a series of Natural Regional Parks form an arch that sweeps through Provence, including such beauties as the coastal Camargues and the Luberon with its hilltop villages. The northeast corner is dominated by the Alps and even more National Parks.

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Monte Carlo is a city devoted to the pursuit of pleasure. Its famous casinos vie with luxury yachts for the attentions of well-heeled visitors. Not the prettiest town on the coast, this is a place to let loose.

 

Saint Tropez has long enjoyed a reputation as a sexy, glamorous getaway. What was once a quiet fishing village will forever be the Riviera’s most gorgeous destination.

 

Saint Tropez

Saint Tropez

Cannes is the playground of the rich and famous, a place of glitz and glamour, supercars and designer boutiques. But Cannes has a natural beauty too, is set in a natural harbour looking out to a string of islands in the sea.

 

A stroll along the Promenade des Anglais is a rite of passage for visitors to Nice. Catering to the sophisticated traveller since the Belle Époque, Nice is a surprisingly charming town with a historic centre and classic French markets.

 

Eze achieves that magical combination of hilltop village and coastal setting, making it a very special place. The picturesque village has panoramic views over the dazzling Mediterranean Sea.

 

Les-Baux-de-Provence

Les-Baux-de-Provence

 

Aix-en-Provence is the stuff of dreams, the archetypal French town, an inspiration to Cezanne and a wonderful place to simply wander the streets and get lost. Visit the market for a flavour of local life.

 

A medieval fantasy of jumbled houses dangling perilously from sheer cliffs, Les-Baux-de-Provence is one of many hilltop villages in Provence to have inspired Van Gogh.

 

 

 

EXPERIENCES

 

Meet with a French aristocrat and dine at their château for an insight into the life of France’s upper class.

Perfumerie in Grasse

 

Attend the 24 heures du Mans on an exclusive VIP package for privileged viewpoints and helicopter transfers. If you fancy having a go yourself, why not hire a supercar or vintage car to explore the country roads at your leisure and do it in style.

Grasse has been a centre of perfumery for centuries and today this tradition continues to thrive. Go to a local workshop and create your own bespoke perfume.

 

Join a local guide on a lifestyle tour of Provence visiting antique markets, cheese producers, vineyards, charcutiers, chocolate makers – and perhaps top it off with a cooking class in a country farmhouse, or under the supervision of a Michelin star chef.

HOTELS

 

A picturesque jumble of ivy-clad buildings set within a Provencal landscape with views out to the sea, Château Saint-Martin & Spa is a charming hotel with an impressive spa to boot.

 

Belles Rives is the quintessential Riviera hotel. This Art Deco establishment still rings with the glamour and style of the 1920s.

 

Villa Gallici is an historic villa in Aix-en-Provence that marries traditional French style with the needs of the modern luxury traveller.

 

Château de la Chèvre d’Or

Château de la Chèvre d’Or

 

Perched on a hillside, the Château de la Chèvre d’Or is a characterful property that takes full advantage of its panoramic views of the Mediterranean.

 

Byblos Hotel Saint Tropez is the number one hotel in town. A staple on the jet-setting circuit, guests get to skip the line at local club Les Caves du Roy.

 

 

 

WHEN TO GO

 

Cannes Film Festival

One of the sunniest stretches of coast in Europe, the Côte d’Azur enjoys fair weather all year round. July and August are the hottest months so best for the beach, but crowding and congestion are a major problem.

 

May, June and September are also sunny and warm without the extremes of the high season.

 

You may, or may not, want to time your visit to coincide with headline events like the Cannes Film Festival and Grand Prix Monte Carlo.

 

Pack plenty of sunscreen, a sunhat and comfortable, loose clothing for travel between May and September.

Getting There

If you want to go all out and indulge in the ultimate French Riviera experience, I recommend booking a private jet through Vista Jets, who offer an exemplary service. Each of their cabin staff has been trained at the British Butler Institute and they offer bespoke catering.

 

If you are on the lookout for more competitive prices, here is a list of other private jet companies:

 

Citizens from the USA and Canada do not require a visa to enter France for stays of up to 90 days. EU citizens can also travel visa-free to France. Check with your local French Embassy for any changes.

 

Three hours from Paris on the TGV, 7 hours from London on the Eurostar, the Riviera is well-connected with other key destinations. Marseille and Nice both have international airports through travellers from North America may have to change in Paris or another hub.

LOCAL TRAVEL

 

Take helicopter transfers along the coast from St Tropez to Cannes to avoid the congestion on the roads. Inland, in Provence, a private chauffeur car and guide can navigate the country lanes to find the best villages and off-the-beaten track stops.

Monaco Luxury Yachts

Monaco Luxury Yachts

 

Monaco, Saint Tropez, Cap d’Antibes and Cannes are the best places for yachters and each combines luxury hotels, great restaurants, buzzing nightlife and a spot of culture.

 

Kingdom Limousines offer a fantastic concierge service as well as private chauffeur and limousine services, as well as luxury and sports car rental.

 

 

TRAVEL TIPS

 

French waiters take their profession very seriously and tipping is a common practice. 5% is customary in smart restaurants and up to 5 euros for a round of drinks in a bar.

 

A helpful tip is to say, “bonjour” to everyone in a shop when you walk in. It’s a polite habit that the French have and it’s really appreciated when visitors follow suit.

 

For touring it’s important to be comfortable so pack loose summer clothing but remember to take some dressy outfits for getting into smart clubs and restaurants.

 

France uses the Euro and most luxury establishments also accept major credit cards.

 

 

If you have any questions about this guide, please get in touch.