Please join us on what will be a delectable and luxurious art and architecture tour in the South of France October 9 through 18, including museums featuring works by such masters as Van Gogh and Matisse, as well as many gorgeous and historically significant churches, chateaus and other sites.
South of France Tour
Thursday, October 9 – 18, 2014
Join Eleanor Schrader, design historian and lecturer, and François Martin, award-winning restaurateur and hotelier, for an incredible journey to Provence and the Côte d’ Azur. Highlights of the tour include trips to the Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse Museums in Nice, lunch and shopping in the lavender-scented town of Saint Paul de Vence, the 12th-Century Abbaye du Thoronet, a stay at Villa Borghese in Gréoux-les-Bains where we can partake of the mineral baths, a visit to Les Baux where we will visit the Klimt exhibition, a day in Arles where we will visit the new Van Gogh Museum, sumptuous lunches and dinners in the quaint towns of the Côte d’Azur and much, much more!
|Thursday, October 9
6:30 p.m. We’ll begin our grande adventure by converging in the grand lobby of our hotel accommodations for three nights, the luxurious Hotel Boscolo in Nice (12 Boulevard Victor Hugo, in the famous Quartier des Musiciens). The hotel’s magnificent façade, built in 1913 in the classical Second Empire style, reveals contemporary interiors inspired by eighteenth century design. We’ll enjoy a welcoming cocktail and be treated to a musical interlude by pianist Frédérique Blum. >>
7:30 p.m. We’ll enjoy our first dinner together at the chic restaurant La Pescheria at the hotel, with its warm wood paneled walls and elegant fireplace. >>
After dinner, we can stroll on the Promenade des Anglais, named for the British visitors who began to spend their winters along the coast. The famous boulevard is lined with shops and cafes on one side and the scenic Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) on the other. The bay is named for the harmless angel sharks with two fins that looked like angel wings to nineteenth century Mediterranean fisherman.
|Friday, October 10
9:30 a.m. After breakfast in the hotel, we’ll meet in the hotel lobby for our morning museum excursions.10:00 a.m. We’re scheduled for our first tour at the Musée National Marc Chagall, located in the hilltop Cimiez area of Nice, to see the beautiful paintings and stained glass works of the pioneering modernist artist. >>
11:30 a.m. Depart the Marc Chagall Museum for our next stop, the Musée Matisse, located in Villa des Arènes, a seventeenth century villa in Cimiez. The museum houses one of the largest collections of Henri Matisse, the leading member of the avant-garde artistic group Les Fauves. >>1:00 p.m. Depart the Musée Matisse for lunch at Carré Llorca in historic Le Vieux Nice (Old Town Nice). >>
2:30 p.m. Depart Old Town Nice for the charming medieval hilltop village of Èze, where we’ll explore the narrow streets, stairs and hidden corners on our way to tea at the famous La Chève d’ >>
5:00 p.m. We’ll depart Èze, taking La Grande Corniche, called “the most romantic road in the world.” La Grande Corniche was built by Napoleon alongside an old Roman road, and its breathtaking views have been the site of many famous movie scenes, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief” with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, as well as the James Bond film “Goldeneye” with Pierce Brosnan.
6:30 p.m. Return to Nice. Dinner and evening at leisure.
|Saturday, October 11
9:30 a.m. After breakfast at the hotel, we will depart for the Belle Époque period Musée des Beaux-Arts, built in 1878 in the former private mansion of a Ukrainian princess. The huge marble staircase reveals the paintings and sculptures on display that range from the 13th through the 20th centuries, including Fragonard, Degas, Monet, Chéret, Rodin, and Carpeaux. >>
10:30 a.m. We’ll depart the Musée des Beaux-Arts for our 11 a.m. visit at Palais Lascaris, a luxuriously decorated Baroque palace in Le Vieux Nice which houses a collection of historical musical instruments. The decor consists of frescoed ceilings with mythological themes from the late 17th century, as well as Aubusson tapestries, paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects and furniture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. >>
12:00 p.m. Lunch at leisure.1:30 p.m. We’ll leave for Fondation Maeght, the famous museum in Saint Paul de Vance that houses one of the most important collections of 20th and 21st century art. We’ll see works of art by Alberto Giacometti Pierre Bonnard, Constantin Brancusi, Joan Miró, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, Niki de Saint Phalle, and many others. >>
3:30 p.m. Upon leaving Fondation Maeght, we’ll have time to explore the charming artists’ village of Saint Paul de Vence, where many charming shops and galleries await you.
6:00 p.m. Leave for Hotel Boscolo. Dinner at leisure.
|Sunday, October 12
8:30 a.m. After breakfast at the hotel, we will depart for the Abbaye du Thoronet, a late twelfth century Cistercian abbey located in the Var countryside of Provence. The design of the abbey was an expression of the religious beliefs of the Cistercians, using the most basic elements of stone, light, and water to create an austere, pure, and simple world for the monks who inhabited it. >>
11:00 a.m. We’ll depart for our drive through the delightful fields and towns of Provence. You’ll be regaled with the sight and scent of lavender and sunflowers along the way.
12:30 p.m. Lunch at Villa Borghese in Gréoux-les-Bains, our hotel accommodations for the evening. Our hotel is located near the hills of the Lubéron, not far from the Gorges du Verdon. We’ll have a little leisure time at the hotel to unpack and stroll the grounds.
3:00 p.m. We’ll depart for our 4 p.m. appointment at Château de Sauvan, an 18th century manor reminiscent of the Petit Trianon and famous for its gardens that are replete with swans and peacocks. The owner of this manor, Princesse de Gallean Forbin-Janson, who was said to resemble Marie Antoinette, offered to take her place in the prison cells of the Conciergerie in Paris.
5:30 p.m. Depart for our hotel.
7:00 p.m. We’ll meet in the lobby of Villa Borghese for a welcoming cocktail and then dinner following. After dinner, perhaps we might enjoy a game of boules, some games by the fireplace, or listen to Frédérique Blum play the piano.
|Monday, October 13
8:30 a.m. After breakfast at the hotel, we will depart for the town of Forcalquier and its vibrant regional market on Place du Bourguet, where we’ll stroll among the stalls that are a feast for the senses. Here you will find local produce, breads, and regional crafts. Or if you prefer, nearby is the twelfth century Cathédrale Notre-Dame-du-Bourguet.
11:00 a.m. We’ll depart for Moustiers-Sainte-Marie in Occitan, considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. The town lies at the entrance to the Gorges du Verdon. Here you can visit its many faience shops, or take a steep walk up a path to the Chapel Notre-Dame de Beauvoir. The chapel dates back to the time of Charlemagne in the 8th century, and the path leading to the chapel is lined with the twelve stations of the cross. A hallmark of the town is a gold-painted star that hangs on a chain suspended between two cliffs above the chapel. Its origin, according to a legend popularized by Provençal poet Frédéric Mistral, lies in the 10th century knight Sir Blacas, who returned from a long captivity during the Crusades. >>
Lunch at your leisure.
3:00 p.m. We’ll depart for our trip back to our hotel, where you’ll have the late afternoon at leisure.
At 4:30 p.m., we have planned an optional semi-private visit to a Roman thermal spa with healing pools (Admission is about $80 extra.)Or you prefer, you might visit the twelfth century Castle of Gréoux. Referred to as the Templars Castle, the castle was once in the hands of the Knights Hospitaller (similar to the Knights Templars, formed in Jerusalem in 1118 to protect pilgrims visiting Palestine at the end of the First Crusade of 1096).7:30 p.m. Dinner at the hotel.
|Tuesday, October 14
9:00 a.m. After breakfast in the hotel, we’ll depart for the delightful medieval village of Ansouis, full of ancient streets dotted with boutiques and artists’ workshops. It has been designated one of the loveliest villages in France by the Plus Beaux Villages de France association. The village is crowned by a 1,000-year-old castle, Château d’Ansouis.
12:00 p.m. We’ll enjoy traditional cuisine Provençale at Auberge des Seguins, a former farm set deep in the limestone cliffs of the Buoux Gorge.
1:30 p.m. We’ll depart for Lourmarin, a picturesque village that is set amidst vineyards, olive groves, and almond trees. Lourmarin was the home of author and philosopher Albert Camus, and it is also the home of Peter Mayle, a British ex-patriate who wrote A Year in Provence. We’ll have a little time to stroll along its streets and visit its galleries.
3:00 p.m. We’ll visit the Château de Lourmarin, a twelfth century fortress that was transformed into a Renaissance castle in the fifteenth century. It is now a cultural center.
4:30 p.m. We’ll depart for our hotel accommodations for the evening at the Moulin de Lourmarin, which was converted from an eighteenth century oil mill. A little stream, “Le Rayé”, which once drove the millstones of the oil mill, still runs by.
7:30 p.m. We’ll dine at the restaurant of the Moulin de Lourmarin. Afterwards, we can take a romantic stroll around the town of Lourmarin.
|Wednesday, October 15
9:00 a.m. After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll depart for our 10 a.m. visit to Saint Paul de Musolé Asylum in Saint Rémy. It was built in the Romanesque style near the Gallo-Roman site of Glanum, and hence owes its name Mausolé to the proximity of the mausoleum. Here is where the Post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh committed himself, and in his one-year stay here he painted the views he saw from his room, including “The Irises”. >>
3:00 p.m. After lunch at leisure, we’ll wander among the streets to the Carrières de Lumières to see the exhibition of the Viennese Secessionist artist, “Klimt and Vienna: A Century of Gold and Colors.” Following our visit to the Klimt exhibition, we will visit Les Baux castle, built in the 10th century.
4:00 p.m. We’ll depart for our accommodations for the evening, the Manoir at L’Oustau de Baumaniére. “Baumanière” means beautiful manners, the art of living and welcoming everything and everyone with an acute sense of happiness.
7:30 p.m. Dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, which has been given two Michelin stars.
|Thursday, October 16
9:00 a.m. After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll depart for Arles, an ancient Roman city that became renowned as a cultural and religious center during the late Roman Empire. It was also a key location for the establishment of Roman Christianity. It is also famous for playing a key part in the life of Vincent Van Gogh, who produced over three hundred works during his time there.
10:30 a.m. François and Eleanor will split up. François will take those interested in the ancient Roman arena.Eleanor will take those interested to the ethnographic Museon Arlaten, which houses an extensive collection of the culture, objects, furniture, costumes, and other objects of Provence. >>
12:30 p.m. We’ll meet for lunch at Le Criquet, a restaurant service French Provincial food in Arles.
2:00 p.m. We’ll visit the recently-opened Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, dedicated to presentation of the paintings of van Gogh within the context of works by contemporary artists.
3:30 p.m. We’ll visit the masterpiece of twelfth century Romanesque architecture, Saint Trophime, named for an early bishop of Arles. In addition to the magnificent carved friezes and full-length statues of saints, the Cloister of Saint Trophime adjoins the church.
4:30 p.m. We’ll leave for Marseille, the largest Mediterranean port in France, and the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. We will stay at the majestic Hotel Dieu. Originally a twelfth century hospital, the cornerstone of a new structure was laid in 1753 to create a hotel. The new hotel was finally inaugurated in 1866 by Napoleon III upon the birthday of his wife, Empress Eugénie.
|Friday, October 17
10:00 a.m. After breakfast at the hotel, we will take the Petit Train Touristique de Marseille (“The Fun Train”) to Notre Dame de la Garde, a Neo-Byzantine basilica built on the on the foundations of an ancient fort located at the highest natural point in Marseille. Along the way, we’ll view forts built by Louis XIV, Palais du Pharo, and Saint Victor’s Abbey.
11:30 a.m. Upon our return trip down the hill, we will have some free time to have lunch and do some shopping at Galleries Lafayette and other local French boutiques.
2:00 p.m. We’ll depart for our tour of Unité d’Habitation, Le Corbusier’s famous Utopian mixed-use housing development, which incorporates his theories of architecture within a twelve-story structure complete with shops, medical and educational facilities, a hotel, and restaurant. >>
4:00 p.m. We will visit MuCEM (Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée) , a museum comprised of three different atmospheres dedicated to the discovery of the major stages of Mediterranean civilizations with themes such as the invention of gods, the treasures of the spice route, cabinets of curiosity, and the seven wonders of the world. We’ll pass through the arcades and vaulted rooms hidden in the stone recesses of Fort Saint-Jean, a historic monument that dates back to the 12th century. Via a suspended footbridge that is cast over the sea, we can stroll in the new Mediterranean garden and visit the collections of popular and folk art.
6:00 p.m. We will return to our hotel, where we have the option of either the evening at leisure, or to attend an 8:00 p.m. performance of the Marseille Philharmonic Orchestra at the Marseille Opera, conducted by Li Baio (Ticket is about $40 extra.)
|Saturday, October 18
9:00 a.m. After breakfast at the hotel, we will visit the town of Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume with its narrow Medieval streets and Jewish quarter. Our highlights here include the 13th-century Basilica Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, the 14th-century Royal Convent, and the 18th-century town hall. The tradition of the town holds that in the crypt of Saint-Maximin, there is a sarcophagus that was proclaimed to be the tomb of Mary Magdalene.>>
12:00 p.m. For our farewell luncheon, we’ll dine at Chez Bruno, renowned for its truffle menu and luscious surroundings. >>
2:00 p.m. We’ll depart for Nice, where we will bring our wonderful tour full circle!If you are bidding farewell to the group for an evening flight back to the United States, we will be back in Nice around 3:30 p.m. If you are staying another night in Nice before departing (or perhaps even staying in France longer!), arrangements can be made for you for your Saturday evening stay at Hotel Boscolo.
|Costs for the tour:
Double occupancy $4,995; single supplement $1,500. This includes nine nights’ luxury hotel accommodations, all breakfasts, five lunches, one tea, five dinners, all museum and tour admissions, and luxury transportation.Participants will make their own airline reservations and hotel accommodations for pre- and post-trip dates.Venues and accommodations are subject to change, but will be replaced with ones of equal or higher value.EleanorSchrader@roadrunner.com