South of France Memories You Promised Yourself with author Patricia Sands

September 2 – 14, 2024

Join best-selling author Patricia Sands on a trip of a lifetime to the Cote d’Azur, Provence, Camargue & Occitanie 

Travel with Canadian best selling author Patricia Sands who will share with you her favorite places in the South of France. This tour combines active and leisure time and follows in the footsteps of beloved characters in Patricia’s Love in Provence trilogy, her novel Drawing Lessons and her latest release, The Secrets We Hide.

Monday, September 2 2024  : Welcome to the south of France !

Welcome to the Côte d’Azur!  Grab a cab from Nice airport  to 4-star Hotel Aston Scala located in the historical center taking some time to relax by the rooftop pool.   The  meet & greet cocktail will be on the rooftop with a fabulous view of Nice  followed by a welcome dinner at the hotel 

Meals included : Cocktail, dinner

Tuesday, September 3 : Nice

Wear comfortable walking shoes today. This morning, your guide will share a wealth of history as she leads you along the iconic Promenade des Anglais and then into the maze of narrow streets in the captivating old town. You  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.

After lunch, we will take the Hop On/Hop Off (HoHo) bus for a city tour. The bus  stops in the charming seaside village of Villefranche-sur-Mer, a great opportunity to exit and explore and then hop back on the bus. 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. Dinner will be at the  chic Bistrot Gourmand.

Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

Wednesday, September 4 : Grasse & St Paul de Vence

Today you will head into the hills above the Riviera to Grasse, for centuries the capital of French perfume making. You will visit the famous Parfumerie Fragonard’s working studio, family-run for four generations. A studio tour will acquaint you 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, there are other interesting activities in Grasse to occupy your time. No worries. Next will be a  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. Dinner will be at authentic Marcel Bistrot in the heart of the historical district. 

Meals included : Breakfast, dinner

Thursday, September 5: Antibes

Discover 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 including the daily Provençal food market. 

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. After lunch, you’ll be taken to meet a local artisan for a glass blowing demo in his workshop followed by a stop for refreshments at  F Scott Fitzgerald’s former home, the stunning Hotel Belles Rives.  Dinner will be at the refined Les Sens. 

Meals included : Breakfast, refreshment, dinner 

Friday, September 6:   Eze & Villa Rothschild

This morning you will have some free time in Nice.  After grabbing an early lunch, we will 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 at St. Jean de Cap Ferrat. The exquisitely furnished villa and its themed gardens show us how the super-rich live on the French Riviera. This evening, there will be live music at the Moon bar at the hotel where you’ll enjoy some tapas finger food. 

Meals included: Breakfast, tapas 

Saturday, September 7 : Arles via Aix en Provence

You’ll bid au revoir to the Côte d’Azur today and make your way to dreamy Arles. En route, you will stop in the ancient Roman town of Aix en Provence for a stroll through historical center, along the Cours Mirabeau to the Cathedral. You can  explore and shop before meeting at the King’s fountain to meet for Cezanne tour. 

After lunch, you’ll be taken for a 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. You will check into your 5-star hotel in Arles the fabulous Jules Cesar with some time to relax, enjoy the pool and spa.  Dinner will  be at the lively Comptoire d’Italie restaurant on the main square.

Meals included: Breakfast, cocktail and dinner

Sunday, September 8: Arles

We will 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.

During your morning stroll  of Arles with a special local friend, 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, where some may want to stop. Then we will end at Place du Forum where everyone can have  lunch.

After lunch, you will be able to discover some of France’s finest Roman treasures and Renaissance architecture, Les Arènes 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 painted some of his most famous works.  Dinner will be at La Gueule du Loup, where husband and wife team will welcome you in their  18th century  building . 

Meals included: Breakfast, dinner 

Monday, September 9 : 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 natural wonder and UNESCO protected site, famous for its pink flamingos, white horses, black bulls and salt flats. Afterwards you will discover some  interesting facts and fables about the 13th century walled town of Aigues Mortes that sits at the entrance of the Camargue. You will be escorted 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. You’ll have dinner at the place to be, just across the street from your hotel at the chic Grand Café Malarte frequented by the likes of Picasso. 

Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

Tuesday, September 10 : Pont du Gard and Uzès 

This will be a fun day,  starting at Pont du Gard, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most visited ancient monument in France. You will explore this well-preserved Roman aqueduct before lunch at Villa Curti. Then it will be  time for a stroll of the medieval town of Uzès with a special guest.   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.  On your way back to Arles, a stop will be made in picturesque  St Quentin la Poterie,  a village housing  twenty pottery and ceramics workshops. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch 

Wednesday, September 11 : 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 needed.  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 gallery to experience an audio- visual masterpiece.  Dinner will be at the stunning Arlatan. 

Meals included: Breakfast, dinner 

Thursday, September 12: Nimes  & Olive Oil Mill

With your local guide, you’ll be taken for a walking tour of the historical center to admire the Roman temples , arenas, statues and baths with a stop at the “Halles” indoor market where you’ll mingle with the  locals while doing a wine and cheese pairing.     After lunch on  the way back to Arles, you’ll  be welcomed for a tour and tasting in  an  olive mill in a small Provençal village in the heart of the Alpilles.  Dinner will be at the Jardin des Arts located in a 13th century cloister. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner 

Friday, September 13 : Vineyard Tour & Harvest

A special treat for your last day! You will be participating in the September harvest tradition of picking the grapes, known as “les vendanges.” You will be introduced to a variety of wines as you visit a local vineyard at 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. A lunch will be prepared by our hostess Hélène which you will be able to enjoy with the wines from her family owned vineyard. 

As all good things must come to an end, our farewell cocktail will be in the courtyard of the hotel followed by dinner  at the luxurious 18th century mansion Hotel Particulier.  Put a little zing in your attire tonight! 

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Saturday, September 14 : Au revoir !

Time to have a last café au lait and bid farewell to your new friends and  the south of France . Transfers will be arranged to take you to Avignon TGV high speed train station and Marseille airport.

Read here what Patricia Sands has to say about travelling with Memories tour guests

Deposit
To secure a place on our tour, we ask that you fill in our reservation form, which indicates that your 30% deposit will be required on reservation. The balance will be due 2 months prior to the tour.

Included
All meals  indicated in the program including wine for dinner,  breakfasts,  tips to guides and in restaurants, taxes, professional tour guides, a full-time tour facilitator, activities and entrance/admission  fees as indicated in the program, accommodation in a 5-star hotel in Arles with pool and spa and a 4-star hotel in Nice with a pool, airport and train station transfers in the morning on the last day of the tour,  transportation in  a coach with AC  and  safari jeeps in Camargue.

Not Included
Round trip airfare to France, any personal souvenirs or purchases, additional wine, beer or spirits beyond what is offered at meals, travel insurance (highly recommended) and trip medical coverage (required for travelers over 50 years of age).

Terms and Conditions
If an insufficient number of participants register for the tour (14 required)  or in the event of conditions deemed unsafe for our clients, the tour may be cancelled or postponed. If Patricia Sands is unable to travel, the trip proceed as planned. While we endeavor to operate all trips as described,  we reserve the right to change the trip itinerary owing to circumstances beyond our control or for more interesting and exciting opportunities.  Any changes will be of similar or superior quality and  content.

Cancellation Policy
This is a packaged group tour and non-refundable  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. If you get sick from Covid or any other disease before the trip departs or during it,  you will need to have your own medical and trip cancellation insurance to cover any costs incurred.

Payment
We accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

Travel with insurance – and rest assured 

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Arrival and Departure
You will be welcomed by Patricia Sands and Nancy McGee  for a meet & greet cocktail  at  6:00 pm on September 2, 2024.  At the end of trip on Sept 14,2024  we will provide transfers to the TGV train high speed station in Avignon  and  to the airport in Marseille.

What to Pack
Phone chargers, european adaptors, medication, layered clothing, comfortable walking shoes. Laundry service is available at both hotels.

Physical Requirements
Our tour is “physically active.” You may be on your feet, walking and standing, for over an hour, indoors and outdoors, rain or shine. That means if you need help climbing in a tour bus or if you are winded after walking 50 feet, Nancy has other tour options you may want to explore.

Accommodation
You are staying in a four-star hotel in Nice and in a five-star hotel in Arles.

Weather
Temperatures should be pleasant. We expect clear sunny skies with average daytime temperatures between 22C / 72F and overnight lows of 15C / 57F.

Additional Services
Nancy McGee of Absolutely Southern France is happy to assist with roommate matching as well as pre and post tour travel planning.

Read here what Patricia Sands has to say about travelling with tour participants

CONTACT US

To reserve your spot or request additional information,  please fill out the form below. Nancy will then contact you to discuss the tour details and arrange your booking.

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Tour Details

Dates: September 2-14, 2024
Duration: 13 days, 12 nights
Cost: 5125€ twin occupancy
Participants: 13

Tour HIGHLIGHTS

  • Strolling the seaside Promenade des Anglais in Nice and touring the colorful city
  • Meandering through the cobblestone streets of Saint Paul de Vence, filled with history, galleries and charming shops
  • Discovering the spectacular hilltop town of Eze and enjoying the spectacular gardens of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
  • Exploring the ancient harbor town of Antibes, Patricia’s home away from home
  • Walking in Cézanne’s footsteps in Aix en Provence
  • Admiring  the  roman treasures, world-renowned ancient and modern architecture and the spirit of Van Gogh in Arles.
  • Touring the ancient Roman Arena in Nimes before savouring local products at the daily market and at an exceptional olive oil mill.
  • 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
  • Discovering a genuine Duché (duchy)  in Uzès and admiring the  Pont du Gard, UNESCO  heritage site and architectural wonder
  • Joining harvest time and tasting the wine

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