Day 1 – May 31, Tuesday
After checking in at your leisure at our 4-star boutique hotel in the center of the historical old town of Nice which back in the day was a favorite of Matisse, Fitzgerald, Nietzsche & Chekov, enjoy a rest in your room or stroll along the iconic Promenade des Anglais and gaze out to the majestic Mediterranean Sea, a few feet from our hotel.
At 7:00pm we will meet in the hotel courtyard for a welcome drink before heading out for dinner at the iconic Negresco hotel.
Day 2 – June 1, Wednesday
This morning we will discover the hidden secrets of some famous writers’ haunts in Nice. We’ll then head up to the charming ancient hill town of nearby Èze where we will enjoy a leisurely lunch before exploring the incredible Villa Ephrussi at Rothchild mansion, and its magical gardens.
We’ll return to Nice in the afternoon, for some rest and relaxation before having dinner at a gourmet local treasure,
Day 3 – June 2, Thursday
Today is dedicated to St Paul de Vence, where you will walk in the footsteps of artists and writers such as James Baldwin who spent the last 7 years of his life writing in a rental home perched in the countryside here. The Foundation in his memory is happy to welcome us and we will meet with some of their writers in residence.
Lunch will be at the iconic Colombe D’Or where you can peer around at the paintings of Picasso, Leger and mobiles by Calder. The place is legendary, and you’ll learn the whole story of this incredible hotel and restaurant while on site. Then we’ll head to enjoy an initiation tour of the a perfume factory in Grasse, the flower and perfume capital of France.
Afterwards we will have tea at a fabulous seaside hotel where Fitzgerald of Great Gatsby fame stayed for some time back when it was a private villa.
In the evening will enjoy a scrumptious dinner at a place that feels as if you’ve stepped back in time to the 1920’s.
Day 4 – June 3, Friday
Today we will transfer to Arles with a stop on the way in charming Aix-en-Provence where Peter Mayle enjoyed people watching and having a café on the Cours Mirabeau. A light lunch in the courtyard of a mansion and art center will be followed by an audio tour.
In the afternoon we will visit Cezanne’s atelier up in the hills, where you’ll swear he just left for a walk as everything is still in-tact. He painted the St. Victoire mountain in this studio over 60 times.
In Arles you will be staying in a 5 star hotel which has been renovated and decorated by haute couture fashion designer Christian Lacroix. Upon arrival and check-in, you’ll have time to go to the spa or relax by the pool.
Arles was Van Gogh’s home in the South of France as well as home to a number of writers including American poet and novelist Jim Harrison.
“I’d have often thought that if I received an early warning that I would pass on sooner than later, I’d get myself to Lyon and eat for a solid month….maybe I’d swim all the way downstream to Arles for my last supper.”
Dinner will be at a casual Mediterranean bistro
Day 5 – June 4, Saturday
This morning is free for you to discover the glories of the outdoor market right outside of your hotel. It’s one of the most interesting and vibrant markets in the south.
After a light lunch, we will meet a writer in residence at the outstanding Luma Foundation in Arles designed by no less than architect Frank Gehry!
In the evening we will have diner at the stunning Arlatan.
Day 6 – June 5 , Sunday
Today will commence with a tour of French Provençal writer, Frederic Mistral’s home filled with original items celebrating his life, friendships and other surprising encounters. You’ll enjoy lunch in the gardens of a family owned mansion in the vineyards where you will be welcomed by the owner who will share their passion for the wines of Provence.
On the way back to Arles, you’ll meet two women who produce some of the best olive oils in the area followed by a photo stop at short story writer Alphonse Daudet’s windmill, his favorite spot and the inspiration for writing his short sentimental stories about provincial life titled “letters from my windmill”.
Day 7 – June 6, Monday BEGIN ADD ON TO PARIS
Time to say goodbye to the south of France and head off to the capital!
We’ll take the TGV at 10 in the morning and will enjoy a light lunch on the train as we look out over all the dreamy fields of France.
On arrival in Paris at 1 pm, we’ll check into our sumptuous hotel, which is designed to resemble the home of the author Alexandre Dumas. (It also has a rum bar and an indoor swimming pool which are both welcome after a day out and about!)
We are situated in the heart of the Latin quarter, the oldest in Paris, home to a Roman Amphitheater as well as the ancient Sorbonne University and dotted with spirited cafés where the literary such as Hemingway, Stein, Sartre, De Beauvoir and Picasso, and others would rub shoulders.
We’ll go on a walking tour of the area, exploring the haunts and colorful anecdotes of Hemingway, Henry Miller and others. We’ll also visit the Pantheon which is the stately and impressive resting place of Victor Hugo, Dumas, Rousseau, Voltaire and Zola.
Tonight, we will dine on traditional fare at one of the oldest bistros in Paris. You might also remember it from the movie Midnight in Paris, as this is here that Gil meets Hemingway for the first time.
Day 8 – June 7, Tuesday
Today we will explore the glory of the right bank of Paris. In the morning we will visit Opera Garnier which is the crowning jewel of 19th century architecture and a must see on any visit to Paris as well as being the setting for Leroux’ Phantom of the Opera.
Afterwards we’ll stroll over to the nearby Museum of Romantic life which is tucked away from the busy streets. The museum is in a private free-standing house which whose owner hosted cultural soirées where he invited everyone from Ingrès, Delacroix, Liszt and Chopin and his mistress the author Georges Sand. There’s a lovely collection of watercolors and memorabilia. We’ll lunch in the delightful courtyard café which is run by the delicious Rose Bakery.
In the afternoon we’ll explore the Palais Royal. The serene garden which will be showcasing its autumnal flora, has a rife history of gambling and debauchery, but also elegance and creation. We’ll have a seat on one of the benches, maybe with a little coffee while revisiting the history of the famous residents of this square which included Colette and Cocteau.
Dinner is at a legendary brasserie a favorite art deco haunt for writers and artists in the roaring twenties.
Day 9 – June 8, Wednesday
Today we will head back over to the other side of the Seine and explore the vibrant neighborhood where Victor Hugo’s house is situated in the incredibly regal Place des Vosges.
We’ll meander through the narrow streets, which have some of the best shopping in Paris, before having lunch at a lovely café and bookstore.
After, we’ll wind our way past Notre-Dame to the fabled Shakespeare and Company bookstore. The original Shakespeare & Co is where owner Sylvia Beach lent books to Hemingway, and edited, retyped and published Ulysses for James Joyce in 1922. The more recent iteration is the love child of the eclectic George Whitman, now run by his daughter. It’s one of the most unique and incredible English bookstores in the world.
We’ll continue our leisurely exploration along the Seine towards the heart of Saint-Germain-Des-Pres, where we’ll enjoy a drink in the Café de Flore, where Picasso, Apollinaire and Sartre all imbibed liberally.
Our farewell dinner will be at the literary temple, where members of the jury for the Goncourt prize gather for dinner once a month.
Day 10 – June 9, Thursday
After a leisurely moment shared with croissants and café au lait, we will part ways, but the memories will last a lifetime!