2022 Memories You Promised Yourself Tour for Women

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September 19 – October 1, 2022

South of France Tour for women to the Cote d’Azur, Provence, Camargue & Occitanie 

Join Canadian best selling author Patricia Sands and Américan aka “Barefoot Blogger” Deborah Bine who will take you to their favorite places in the South of France.

Good friends Canadian author Patricia Sands and American “Barefoot Blogger” Deborah Bine love France and are eager to share the beauty of Côte d’Azur, Provence , Camargue, and Occitanie. This tour combines active time and leisure time and follows in the footsteps of beloved characters in Patricia’s Love in Provence trilogy and her novel, Drawing Lessons. Deborah will lead you through the marketplaces, towns, and cobblestone streets she’s grown to love and write about while living in Uzès. In this exclusive South of France Tour for women, you’ll return home with friendships among like-minded women and treasured memories. We promise you this!

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. A new three-book Villa des Violettes series has now been released.

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.

Monday, September 19 : Welcome to the south of France !

Your adventure begins! From the Nice airport you will transfer by private van to your 4 star boutique hotel for a 5-night stay in the heart of the historical center. There will be time to freshen up / relax / or explore. Patricia Sands and Deborah Bine will meet and greet you for a cocktail in the courtyard of the hotel followed by a welcome dinner where you are sure to fall in love with the Côte d’Azur.

Meals included : Cocktail, dinner

Tuesday, September 20 : 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.

Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

Wednesday, September 21 : 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.

Meals included : Breakfast, dinner

Thursday, September 22 : 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 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. The afternoon will be yours to explore the old town and to shop, browse or people watch. At 4 p.m., you’ll regroup to have a refreshing drink and nibbles, before returning to your hotel in Nice. 

Meals included : Breakfast, drinks and snacks

Friday, September 23 : 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. 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 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.

Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

Saturday, September 24 : 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. 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. 

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. You’ll have time to relax, enjoy the pool and spa. You’ll enjoy the welcome cocktail in the courtyard followed by dinner in their refined restaurant.

Meals included: Breakfast, cocktail and dinner

Sunday, September 25 : 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.

During your morning guided tour of Arles, 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, you will be able to 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 painted some of his most famous works. 

Meals included: Breakfast, dinner 

Monday, September 26 : 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 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.

Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

Tuesday, September 27 : Sète Market & Olive Oil Mill

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.

After lunch on the way back to Arles, you’ll  be greeting by the owners of  a women owned 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.

Meals included: Breakfast, dinner

Wednesday, September 28 : 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 gallery to experience an audio- visual masterpiece. 

Meals included: Breakfast, dinner 

Thursday, September 29 : Pont du Gard & Uzès

This will be 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, you 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. 

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

Friday, September 30 : 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 picnic lunch will be prepared prepared for you in the shade of a centuries old tree in the courtyard of the family owned property.  

As all good things must come to an end, our farewell dinner will be at the reputable Lou Marques restaurant at the hotel. Put a little zing in your attire tonight! 

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Saturday, October 1 : Au revoir !

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

Deposit

To secure a place on our tour, we ask that you fill in our reservation form, which indicates that your deposit of 30% will be required when it is clear the tour will proceed as planned. The balance will be due 2 months prior to the tour.

Terms and Conditions

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

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 credit cards except Amex.

Gratuities

Tips to drivers, restaurants and guides are included. 

Arrival and Departure

You will be welcomed on arrival by Patricia and Deborah for a briefing cocktail and welcome dinner at 6:30pm on September 19, 2022. Your transfer from the airport to the Beau Rivage hotel  is included on September 19. At the end of the vacation on October 1, we will provide transfers to the train station in Arles and Marseille as well as transfers to the airport in Marseille.

What to Pack

Please wear comfortable walking shoes as you will be at times walking on cobblestones and uneven sidewalks, sometimes for more than an hour. Laundry service at both hotels is available at your expense.

Physical Requirements

Our tour is “physically active.” You may be on your feet, walking and standing, for up to three hours, 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, you will want to explore other tour options.

Accommodation

You are staying in a well-located four-star hotel in Nice and in a 5-star hotel in Arles. Rates are based on single occupancy. Consult us for twin occupancy rates.

Weather 

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

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.

Additional Services

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

 

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 19 – October 1, 2022
Duration: 13 days, 12 nights
Cost: €4750 euros in single occupancy
Participants: 16

Tour HIGHLIGHTS

  • 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, fishing town of Sète and an olive oil mill.
  • 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 Uzès, Pont du Gard
  • Joining harvest time and tasting the wine

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