Bonjour!

Deborah and I, Patricia Sands, look forward to welcoming you to the corner of the world that has stolen our hearts! We are good friends who love France, particularly the south where we spend so much time in our very different lives.

“Why not share that passion for travel in France and knowledge with other women?”  Often we’ve been asked to do just that.  Hence … our tour is here … “South of France Memories You Promised Yourself”.

I first fell in love with the south of France when I was twenty-one. The love affair continued to grow as I visited often during my busy life. The next thing I knew, many decades later, I found myself spending part of each year there writing novels set in Provence. Life moves in mysterious ways and I can’t imagine doing anything differently.

In the past few years, it’s been a pleasure to lead small groups of women on tours following in the footsteps of beloved characters in my Love in Provence trilogy and my most recent novel, Drawing Lessons.

In 2018, a new opportunity presented itself and we couldn’t be more excited. My good friend, Deborah Bine and I joined forces to co-lead this tour that combines many of the enticing places in France we both love. The 2018 tour was an unqualified success and we look forward to repeating it this year with you.

Here’s Deborah, aka The Barefoot Blogger, to tell you her story.

 

Hi Everyone, it’s Deborah here.

My love affair with the south of France started much later in life than Patricia’s. It was the week of the wedding of Prince William and Kate in London. A friend invited me to “jump over” to France for a few days which, as an American, sounded like a long way to go. Happily I discovered how easy it is to travel in Europe and, most importantly, I found Uzés. It was a Saturday market day and the small French town was beyond charming. That day I promised myself I’d return. Now here I am, five years later, inviting you to join me and Patricia as we share the places we love most.

We’re eager for you to experience the beautiful sites and learn why we can’t stay away from the “real” south of France – the beauty, the surprising secrets of the Côte d’Azur, Provence, the Camargue and Occitanie. Guided by travel expert, Nance McGee of Absolutely Southern France, we’ve planned an itinerary for you that includes a combination of active time and leisure.

Most importantly, we can’t wait to meet you! We’ll form friendships among like-minded women and return home with treasured memories to last a lifetime.

We promise you this!

 

Sunday 15 September : NICE

Your adventure begins! From the Nice airport you will transfer by private van to Beau Rivage Hotel **** for a 5-night stay.  Patricia and Deborah will be waiting to greet you in the lobby. There will be time to freshen up / relax / or explore. Our welcome dinner will be on the terrace of the hotel’s seaside restaurant, where you are sure to fall in love with the Côte d’Azur.

Hotel : Beau Rivage****, Nice         Meal included : Dinner

Monday 16 September  : NICE

Wear comfortable walking shoes today. This morning, our guide will share a wealth of history as she leads us along the Promenade des Anglais and then into the maze of narrow streets in the captivating old town. We will visit the famous daily market on Cours Saleya, where there will be time to browse and stop at one of the many restaurants for lunch.

We will regroup at 1 p.m. in the hotel lobby which is just minutes down the street from the market. A block away from the hotel, we will take the Hop On/Hop Off (HoHo) bus for a city tour. Along the route there will be an opportunity to exit at either (or both) the Musée Chagall and the Musée Matisse.  You can hop back on another bus to continue the route. The bus also stops in the charming seaside village of Villefranche-sur-Mer, another opportunity to exit and explore. At the end of the route, there is also an opportunity to visit the bar in the Hotel Negresco if anyone is interested. These would all be individual choices

Hotel : Beau Rivage**** Nice        Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

 

 

Tuesday 17 September: GRASSE & SAINT PAUL DE VENCE

Today we head into the hills above the Riviera to Grasse, for centuries the capital of French perfume making. We will visit the famous Parfumerie Fragonard’s working studio, family-run for four generations. A studio tour will acquaint us with how they create their signature perfumes. You’ll marvel at the choices and discover what suits you.  If you have an allergy to fragrances, we have other interesting activities in Grasse to occupy your time. No worries. Next we will drive along a winding, picturesque road to the medieval village of Saint Paul de Vence. There may be a surprise stop on the way! Patricia will share her favorite stories of celebrities and artists who have lived here. There will be free time to browse shops and galleries.

Hotel : Beau Rivage**** Nice       Meals included : Breakfast, dinner

Wednesday, 18 September : EZE & VILLA ROTHSCHILD

This morning you have a chance to sleep in or enjoy Nice on your own. Visit a gallery of your choice: Musée Chagall or Matisse or the Museum of Modern Art if you haven’t already stopped there. Or perhaps you prefer browsing the elegant Galeries Lafayette or the quirky shops of the pedestrian Rue Massena. Or rent a lounge at the beach. The choice is yours.

After an early lunch, we will meet in the hotel lobby at 12:30 to drive along the breathtaking route to the hilltop village of Eze. After a walk through narrow cobblestone streets of the 11th century town, to the top of the Exotic Garden, you will discover one of the most dazzling panoramic views of the Côte d’Azur.

On our way back to Nice, we will stop for a tour at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on St. Jean de Cap Ferrat. The exquisitely furnished villa and its themed gardens show us how the super-rich live on the French Riviera.

Hotel : Beau Rivage****, Nice         Meals included : Breakfast, dinner

 Thursday, 19 September : ANTIBES

Now to tour charming Antibes, the setting of Patricia’s award-winning Love in Provence series. Patricia says her heart lives in this town with its boat-filled harbor, 16th century ramparts and narrow cobblestone streets.  She will happily lead you to all the best spots.

We will visit the daily Provençal market, which is primarily food, and then follow with a visit to the nearby Picasso museum. For those interested, we will have tickets for you to visit the Musée Picasso in a 500-year-old castle. See where the artist worked on ceramics during this stay in Antibes. The setting is beautiful, including the sculpture garden, and it’s an opportunity not to be missed. The exhibit is small and does not take long to view. There is a delightful selection of cafés, bistros and restaurants for lunch. The afternoon will be yours to explore the old town and to shop, browse or people watch.

At 4 p.m., we will meet to have a refreshing drink and nibbles, before we return to Hotel Beau Rivage. After we are back in Nice, everyone can do what they wish for the rest of the evening. This offers time to relax, revisit a favorite spot you discovered this week, and pack up for our departure in the morning.

Hotel : Beau Rivage****, Nice       Meals included: Breakfast, drinks and snacks

Friday , 20 September : ARLES via AIX EN PROVENCE

We bid au revoir to the Côte d’Azur today and make our way to dreamy Arles. En route, we will stop in the ancient Roman town of Aix en Provence for a stroll through historical center along the Cours Mirabeau. Patricia and Deborah will take everyone to the Cathedral and then you can wander and shop back to the King’s fountain to meet for Cezanne tour. That will also take us by the farmers’ market at the city hall.

After lunch, we will meet at a designated spot for a one-hour guided tour, literally in the footsteps of Cézanne. The leafy boulevards of Aix are enchanting, lined with gurgling fountains and 17th and 18th century mansions. We will check into our hotel in Arles and relax with a welcome cocktail.

Hotel : Jules Cesar*****, Arles       Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

Saturday, 21 September: ARLES

We immerse ourselves in the unique experience that is Arles — truly a magical town and the stepping stone to the Camargue. Readers of Patricia’s novel, Drawing Lessons, will feel they are back on the pages of that story.

Saturday is market day here! One of the largest! Everyone can explore the market and then meet at 11 at the nearby fountain in Place de la Republique.  Patricia will take you on a Van Gogh tour. You will feel the spirit of Vincent Van Gogh that still lives throughout this town. He stayed here from February 1888 to May 1889 which is said to be his most prolific period. We will pass by the Vincent van Gogh Foundation, some may want to stop here. Then we will end at Place du Forum where everyone can have a late lunch.

After lunch we will discover some of France’s finest Roman treasures and Renaissance architecture, Les Arenes and the Theatre Antique. From there it’s an easy stroll to the Luma Foundation‘s Parc des Ateliers which showcases the ultra-modern architecture of internationally renowned architect, Frank Gehry. The latest (and last) project of Gehry’s blends artistically with the restoration of the city’s old railway repair yard. The fusion of modernity and antiquity is part of what attracts visitors from around the world to the area. You will have time today to visit the archeological museum, Roman baths or explore the ancient town on your own. Wander along the Rhône River and pause where Van Gogh planned some of his most famous paintings.

Hotel: Jules Cesar*****, Arles     Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

Sunday, 22 September SETE

Today we are heading out of Arles to experience the vibrant atmosphere along the boat-lined canals in Séte, the trendy “Latin Quarter” of the south of France. With a special local guide, we will tour this fishing town including a stop at the largest indoor market of the region. After some free time for lunch, you will be taken to further explore this unique town followed by a stop to admire the panoramic view from the St Clair hilltop.

Hotel: Jules Cesar*****, Arles        Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

 

Monday  23 September  : CAMARGUE & AIGUES MORTES

An adventure-filled morning awaits as we go on a 4×4 Safari into the heart of the Camargue. This is the world of Jacques de Villeneuve from Patricia’s novel, Drawing Lessons.

Learn about this unique natural wonder and UNESCO protected site, famous for its pink flamingos, white horses, black bulls and salt flats. Afterwards Deborah will share some interesting facts and fables about the 13th century walled town of Aigues Mortes that sits at the entrance of the Camargue. She will escort us around the ancient town where we can imagine Crusaders departing from here to the sea which once reached this spot. We will end the day with a guided mini-train tour through the rose- colored salt marshes and learn how the famous “fleur de sel” is harvested by hand, as it has been for centuries.

Hotel : Jules Cesar*****, Arles,      Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

Tuesday , 24 Sept  PONT DU GARD,  UZES

We leave Arles for a fun and busy day in the world of the Barefoot Blogger. Starting at Pont du Gard, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most visited ancient monument in France, we will explore the well-preserved Roman aqueduct.

After lunch it’s time for a tour of the medieval town that Deborah calls home. You’ll be enchanted by the maze of small streets and shaded plazas, the quaint shops and the views of the royal Place du Duché.

Hotel : Jules Cesar*****, Arles   Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

Wednesday, 25 September: ST REMY & LES BAUX 

Today is market day in nearby St. Remy de Provence, birthplace of Nostradamus. Spend the morning in this charming town at one of the largest markets in the area. Linger at stalls filled with displays of truly Provençal products. For lunch there is a wide choice of restaurants, cafés and bistros and shady squares for relaxing. Patricia can offer suggestions if anyone wants them.

In the afternoon we will take a short drive outside St. Remy to the Monastery of St. Paul de Mausole, formerly an asylum where Van Gogh committed himself for treatment after leaving Arles. Van Gogh spent a year at the sanitarium and painted some of his most noted works, including Starry Nights. His presence is felt throughout the building and in the gardens. Then we will travel along a picturesque route to the Carrière des Lumières that sits below the village of Les Baux de Provence. We will walk through the cavernous quarry, transformed into a spectacular art gllery by Jean Cocteau and experience the audio- visual masterpiece “Picasso and the Spanish Masters.”

 

Hotel : Jules Cesar*****, Arles          Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

Thursday, 26 September :  VINEYARD, HARVEST & OLIVE OIL

A special treat for our last day! We will be participating in the September harvest tradition of picking the grapes, known as “les vendanges.” Our guide for the day will introduce us to a variety of wines as we visit a local vineyard, with a charming mas straight out of your best south of France dreams. There will be a “hands on” experience amongst the vines, so dress for the country and be sure to bring a hat.  After lunch, we will drive to a unique olive mill in a small provençal village in the heart of the Alpilles. The Sourdon family, through four generations, has produced its fine olive oil in a typical mas from the 12th century.

As all good things must come to an end, our farewell dinner will be a very special meal in a truly memorable setting in Arles. Put a little zing in your attire tonight!

 

Hotel : Jules Cesar, Arles        Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

 

Friday, 27 September : Transfers to train station or Marseille airport

Au  revoir!

 

Best-selling women’s fiction author Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else. She spends months each year researching her stories in the south of France, her second home. Her fifth novel, Drawing Lessons, set in Arles and the Camargue, was published October 1, 2017. Her new novel The First Noël at the Villa des Violettes was released November 15, 2018. Connect with Patricia at her Facebook or Amazon Author Page or her website.

 

 

 

Deborah Bine, the Barefoot Blogger, , is a solo female who left South Carolina for Uzés, France on a whim and following a dream. She travels and stumbles through France, where she doesn’t speak the language, sharing the fun, adventures and inspiration along the way. Follow Deborah at    BarefootBlogger.fr on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Strolling the seaside Promenade des Anglais in Nice and touring the colorful city
  • Meandering through cobblestone streets of Saint Paul de Vence, filled with history, galleries and charming shops
  • Discovering Eze and the spectacular gardens of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
  • Exploring the ancient harbor town Antibes, Patricia’s home away from home
  • Walking in Cézanne’s footsteps in Aix en Provence
  • Savoring vibrant, trendy Sète and a culinary adventure
  • Living in Arles among roman treasures, world-renowned  architecture and the spirit  of Van Gogh
  • Enjoying a safari to observe the Camargue’s unique flora, fauna and rose-colored salt marshes
  • Experiencing market day in St Remy de Provence & the spectacular Carrières de Lumières in les Baux de Provence
  • Peeking into the Barefoot Blogger’s world in Uzés, Pont du Gard
  • Joining harvest time and tasting the wine

For the detailed itinerary, email nancy@absolutelysouthernfrance.com

Still undecided?  Listen  to all of the wonderful things Liz had to say about the tour she did last year with Patricia Sands.

15 Sept to 27 Sept  2019    13 days/12 nights

US $4750 in double occupancy per person

 US $ 600 single room supplement   

(Maximum 16 participants)

Past Participant : $100 discount

Bring along a friend : $100 discount

First three firm reservations will receive signed copies of Patricia Sands’ novels

Drawing Lessons and The Promise of Provence

Included

    • Airport transfers on arrival
    • Accommodation 12 nights
    • All breakfasts, two lunches and eleven dinners
    • Gratuities (tips for guides, drivers, restaurants) and taxes
    • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
    • All private and professional guides, activities and entrance fees as indicated

    Not Included

    • Roundtrip airfare
    • Meals and beverages other than those mentioned in the program
    • Travel insurance

     


Arrival and Departure 

You will be welcomed on arrival by Patricia and Deborah for a briefing and welcome dinner at 7PM on 15 September. Your transfer from the airport to the Beau Rivage hotel is included. Also, at the end of the vacation, we will provide transfers to Marseille airport, Avignon and Marseille high-speed train stations on 27 September.

Physical Requirements

Our tour is “physically active.” You may be on your feet, walking and standing, for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, at times on cobblestones and uneven sidewalks, rain or shine. That means if you need help climbing in a tour bus or if you are winded after walking 50 feet, you will want to explore other tour options.

Accommodation

You are staying in well-located hotels:  a four-star hotel in Nice and a five-star hotel in Arles.  Both are equipped with A/C. Temperatures in September should be pleasant. We expect clear sunny skies with average daytime temperatures between 25C / 77F and overnight lows of 18C / 64F.

Transportation

You will be travelling in a comfortable air- conditioned coach driven by a professional driver as well as in safari jeeps driven by guides who are also professional drivers.

Passport

Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your scheduled return date.

Terms and Conditions

If insufficient numbers of participants or in the event of conditions deemed unsafe for our clients, the program may be cancelled.

Cancellation Policy

This is a package tour and non-refundable with no refunds even in case of injury or illness or personal emergency.  Cancellation must be notified by email to nancy@absolutelysouthernfrance.com.  We highly recommend that you purchase travel   insurance including medical assistance and cancellation.

Payment.

We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express and bank transfers.

Additional Services

We are happy to assist with roommate matching as well as additional arrangements before and after the tour.

I came away in awe of your energy and your calm management of every crisis and emergency.  Your love and knowledge of the region that I so enjoyed in your books came through loud and strong on the trip.  The tour was everything I had hoped for and much more besides.  I hope my limitations were not too much of a drag for the group.  I somewhat surprised myself with how tired I was at the end of each day.  Hot, humid sunshine seems not to be my friend.  Your flexibility and skill at ordering taxis was a godsend and I thank you.  Thank you again for everything and do keep in touch. 

Warm Regards,

Margaret

I would like to express to you how wonderful this trip was……There was not a moment wasted, and yet, there was time here and there on our own, and in between touring and dinner, that one could do as they please……Rest, shop, have a coffee or a cocktail…….The planning, the tours, the surprises, the dinner locations, the coach bus and the wonderful drivers……the hotels, oh, the hotels!!!   My miniature room at the Cloistre Hotel suited my fancy to a tee…….I have a collection of photos of that window view that will go into a shadow box and hang in a special place in my home……I will never forget the heavenly chimes of the church tower clock several times each day…………Heaven on earth…..I missed those bells this morning……..

I could go on and on….It truly is a trip that I will cherish in my mind forever…..

Deb

Just returned home from a fabulous South of France Memories You Promised Yourself Tour with Patricia Sands, author and Deborah Bines, blogger.

These two wonderful ladies shared their love of Southern France with all of us.

Friendships, Food, Laughter, Sights and Happenings were all part of the last 12 days. Much love to everyone    –

Thank you for such an organized and well thought out trip.  It felt like we were Patricia’s and Deborah’s best friends coming to visit them.  I’ve been on other tours before, and I must say this tour was over the top as far as seeing wonderful places and having such great experiences.  You captured moments for us that I think were exclusively for us.

Clare

Tonight I say goodbye to France with a promise to myself I will return. Thank you Patricia, Deborah and Nancy for such a wonderful experience and such fun on the South of France Memories tour. How lucky was I to have been part of a wonderful group of ladies for 12 days

Rhonda

 

I can’t believe we went to all those places!! I’m still soaking up Uzes and getting a rest too. I could stay at least 2 more months!! Thanks to Patricia & Deborah & Nancy.

Judith

For reservations or additional information, click here or send an email to nancy@absolutelysouthernfrance.com