Tailormade tour Nice by train, tour Provence and French Riviera by car France

10 nights/11 days

Nice • Provence countryside • Gorges du Verdon • Mougins

Combine the speedy and comfortable journey of the train to Nice and then enjoy the freedom of a tour of the Cote d’Azur and Provence by car. Explore the hotspots of the Riviera, the artistic villages of its hinterland, and the rustic interior of Provence, with its fields of mimosa and lavender, hills of olives and pine, craggy limestone cliffs and deep valleys.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £1,845 per person.

Luxury rail holiday to Nice and tour by car of French Riviera and Provence

This 10-night touring holiday by train and car combines effortless travel by rail to Nice, and then you can enjoy the freedom and flexibility for sightseeing and exploring the vast hinterland behind the glamourous French Riviera that a hire-car allows. You start your journey by Eurostar in London on an early morning train, which goes directly to Marseille without a change on 3 or 4 times a week from May until mid-September (out of this season, you would change trains in Paris). You reach Nice in the early evening, allowing you time to check-in to your hotel where you spend three nights, and venture into the city for dinner. You have two full days to enjoy the flavours of Nice with its mix of rustic and chic, explore the fragrant flower market, visit the art galleries and museums and dine in local fish restaurants. On the fourth day you collect a hire-car from the centre of Nice and make for the open roads of the Riviera into Provence. We recommend stops along the way, perhaps in the artists’ village of St Paul de Vence and in Grasse, at the heart of the perfume industry. There is time to rest and relax as well, perhaps to play some golf or to rent a pedalo on the Lac de Saint-Cassien, before navigating the hairpin beds of the roads around the spectacular Gorges du Verdon. You spend three nights in the village of Moustiers Sainte-Marie, with opportunities to explore the Gorges du Verdon in more depth, or to marvel at the acres of lavender fields on the Valensole plateau nearby. Your final stop brings you back towards the coast and the sparkling Cote d’Azur to stay in one of the most desirable hill-villages near Cannes, Mougins. From here you can enjoy a promenade along the Croisette in Cannes, visit the harbour and old town or relax in the grounds of your hotel with its panoramic views of the hills around. On the last day you are just 30 minutes’ drive from Nice airport.

Highlights

Nice • Promenade de Anglais • Baie des Anges • St Paul de Vence • Grasse • Lac de Saint-Cassien • Fayence • Seillans • Gorges du Verdon • Moustiers-Sainte-Marie • Trigance • Lac de Sainte Croix • Saint Tropez • Mougins • Cannes

Day by day

This touring holiday by train and car to Nice, Provence and the Cote d’Azur whisks you from London St Pancras to Marseille direct by Eurostar. The direct service operates from the beginning of May until mid-September, 3 or 4 times a week. At other times, the holiday can be done with a change in Paris. The train leaves London at about 07.15 and arrives in Marseille at 14.45 hrs. You then connect to Nice on a train at about 15.30 arriving in Nice just after 18.00 hrs. You spend three nights in Nice.

On the coast of the Cote d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera, enjoy two full days in the Mediterranean resort of Nice. There are plenty of cultural and active things to do both in Nice and nearby. Spend an afternoon walking along the Promenade des Anglais, which runs parallel to one of the most beautiful beaches in France, the Baie des Anges. Well-known for its artistic and cultural connections, Nice has over 20 museums and galleries, including the Musée Matisse, the Palais Lascaris, and several archaeological and historical museums. For something more modern, take a tour of the city’s 13 examples of street art, painted by internationally-renowned artists, or simply tour the architecture and atmosphere of the town to the soundtrack of the street jazz music. The Marche aux Fleurs Cours Saleya is the site of some of Nice’s best markets, selling flowers, fruit, and vegetables, as well as other local delicacies. Be sure to seek out and try some Socca, a pancake or crêpe made from chickpea flower, or Pissaladière, a kind of pizza topped with onions, olive, garlic, and anchovies. Wander round the Marché Artisanal Nocturne, lit atmospherically by the buildings around it, which runs from 18:30 to 00:30 every night apart from Monday, and displays the work of Nice’s local artists. A self-guided tour of the city will bring you to Queen Victoria’s Ancien Hôtel Régina, the Basilique Notre Dame, Le Cadran Solaire (a sundial which you operate using your own shadow), and the small squares of the Old Town. Take lunch on one of the café terraces. Voted the Green City of the Mediterranean, Nice has many hidden gardens ready to be explored; large or small, they are all perfectly maintained. For those looking for a more active experience of the Nice landscape, climb the Colline du Château, or head outside the city on one of the many trails that take you along the hillside, through oak woods and olive groves, to the hamlets and neighbourhoods of Bellet, the origin of Nice’s famous Bellet wine. Other possible day excursions include trips to Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, Monaco, the luxurious self-contained state famous for its connections with A-list stars and the Grand Prix, the seaside village of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, and the exclusive peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

This morning collect your hire-car from an office in the centre of Nice and then make your way out of town. The driving time without a stop is just over an hour, but there are plenty of places to stop along the way. The first stop should be at St Paul de Vence, one of the prettiest perched villages in the hinterland of the Cote d’Azur. It is renowned as an artists’ village and the winding main street is full of galleries and artisan goods to purchase. If you want to have lunch at the famous Colombe d’Or, a haunt for artists and writers who have left their mark with the vast collection of original works of art that adorns the walls. Pre-booking is essential. Near here, about 15 minutes on foot, or call in on your own in or out of the village is the Fondation Maeght, a museum of modern art with one of the largest collections of paintings, sculptures and works on paper of modern and contemporary art in Europe. Your next port of call should be in the village of Grasse, known for its long-established perfume industry. There is a museum exploring the history of perfume, and three historic perfume manufacturers, Fragonard, Galimard and Molinard provide guided tours to their factories. The town itself is a maze of winding alleyways and stairways, hiding some superb examples of 17th and 18th century private mansions. The local speciality is a ‘fassoum’, a courgette flower doughnut. The region around Grasse has grown flowers for hundreds of years in a favourable climate and in rich soil. Originally the plants grown were jasmine, rose and tuberose, but now other flowers are used and grown locally including orange blossom, mimosa, lavender, violet and jonquil. To these locally grown flowers are added imported materials in a raw and natural state including iris or vetiver roots, oak moss, amber seeds, sandalwood, patchouli leaves, cinnamon bark and cistus. The rose is harvested in May, the flower of the orange tree from the end of April until the beginning of June and jasmine in July and August. The most spectacular fields are those of mimosa from January to March in the region of the Massif du Tanneron, then broom in June and lavender in July. From Grasse it’s a drive of just 40 minutes to your stop for the next two nights.

You are situated amidst the rolling hills, of shades of green, criss-crossed by small valleys and streams. You might want to relax at your hotel, enjoying walks, golf, the spa or the swimming pool. If you do want to venture out, then the Lac de Saint-Cassien is a few minutes’ drive away. The lake offers all sorts of activities on the water, with fishing and pedalos, and walks around the lakeside. Also, just a few minutes away is the village of Fayence, one of 9 perched villages in the region. Fayence and these other villages have ancient stone buildings, shady squares, water fountains, stone staircases, pots of flowers, market stalls with abundant local fruit and vegetables, olive oils and spices, local fabrics and straw hats. At Seillans you can see stone shepherd huts called Bories.

The most direct route to your next stop in Provence only takes just over an hour and a half but we suggest you take a route that follows the course of the Gorges du Verdon and approach the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie from the gorge itself. The road towards the gorge winds through valleys of varieties of pine and oak and then you reach the Gorges du Verdon, the deepest gorge in France and where waters from the Alps have carved into the limestone massif of the foothills of the Alps. The road follows both sides of the gorge and is hairpin in places. Also, worth noting in this area is the variety of birdlife, especially vultures, eagles and other birds of prey. From Trigance, a typical village of Haute-Provence with a castle and narrow streets, you can take the northern route to the ‘point sublime’ with a spectacular viewpoint looking down the gorge. You pass through villages of Rougon and La Palud sur Vernon. The area is also popular for hiking with kayaking in the lower part of the gorge and on the Lac de Sainte Croix. Your hotel for three nights is in the charming and popular village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

There are plenty of opportunities today to explore the area, perhaps on foot as there are numerous walks, or drive to the Lac de Sainte Croix, as well as driving through the dramatic Gorges du Verdon. The village is renowned for its earthenware tiles and there are several workshops and sales outlets for the tiles. There is also a pottery museum. Another option for a day’s drive is to visit the area of the lavender fields near Riez (also known for its honey and truffles) and Valensole.

Today we recommend driving to the coast at Saint Tropez, and then following the corniche along to Frejus and on to Cannes before arriving at your overnight stop in the hill village of Mougins behind the coast. You stay here for two nights.

Mougins is a village about 15 minutes’ drive from Cannes and the coast. In the hills, it is a mediaeval village surrounded by the pines, olives and cypress trees of the Valmasque forest, but also offers visitors a panoramic view of the bay of Cannes, the Lerins islands and Grasse. Take time to explore the village on foot and seek out its narrow streets adorned with colourful flowers and ancient stonework. The village is linked with a number of artists over the years including Picasso, and in the Musee d’Art Classique de Mougins (MACM), there is a private collection of Roman, Greek and Egyptian antiquities alongside works of modern and contemporary art. Spend today exploring the village on foot or venture to nearby Cannes. Cannes is renowned as a stylish beach resort, and famous for its long Boulevard de la Croisette that flanks the seashore. There is a charming port, a long stretch of sandy beach and numerous shops and restaurants.

You drive back to Nice this morning in time to take the TGV departing at 11.23 to Marseille where you change trains for the Eurostar which takes you directly back to London to arrive just after 22.00 hrs. If the Marseille to London Eurostar is not operating at the time of the year or the day of week you want, you would travel from Nice to Paris, and then Paris to London by Eurostar instead.

All arrangements passed off promptly and smoothly. The hotels were perfect - and your advice at booking was efficient and helpful. Thank you.
Mr B, July 2016

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,845 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and including standard class rail travel. Supplement for standard premier about £280 per person.

Holiday Code FRBR09

Luxury rail holiday to Nice and tour by car of French Riviera and Provence

This touring holiday by train and car to Nice, Provence and the Cote d’Azur whisks you from London St Pancras to Marseille direct by Eurostar. The direct service operates from the beginning of May until mid-September, 3 or 4 times a week. At other times, the holiday can be done with a change in Paris. The train leaves London at about 07.15 and arrives in Marseille at 14.45 hrs. You then connect to Nice on a train at about 15.30 arriving in Nice just after 18.00 hrs. You spend three nights in Nice.

On the coast of the Cote d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera, enjoy two full days in the Mediterranean resort of Nice. There are plenty of cultural and active things to do both in Nice and nearby. Spend an afternoon walking along the Promenade des Anglais, which runs parallel to one of the most beautiful beaches in France, the Baie des Anges. Well-known for its artistic and cultural connections, Nice has over 20 museums and galleries, including the Musée Matisse, the Palais Lascaris, and several archaeological and historical museums. For something more modern, take a tour of the city’s 13 examples of street art, painted by internationally-renowned artists, or simply tour the architecture and atmosphere of the town to the soundtrack of the street jazz music. The Marche aux Fleurs Cours Saleya is the site of some of Nice’s best markets, selling flowers, fruit, and vegetables, as well as other local delicacies. Be sure to seek out and try some Socca, a pancake or crêpe made from chickpea flower, or Pissaladière, a kind of pizza topped with onions, olive, garlic, and anchovies. Wander round the Marché Artisanal Nocturne, lit atmospherically by the buildings around it, which runs from 18:30 to 00:30 every night apart from Monday, and displays the work of Nice’s local artists. A self-guided tour of the city will bring you to Queen Victoria’s Ancien Hôtel Régina, the Basilique Notre Dame, Le Cadran Solaire (a sundial which you operate using your own shadow), and the small squares of the Old Town. Take lunch on one of the café terraces. Voted the Green City of the Mediterranean, Nice has many hidden gardens ready to be explored; large or small, they are all perfectly maintained. For those looking for a more active experience of the Nice landscape, climb the Colline du Château, or head outside the city on one of the many trails that take you along the hillside, through oak woods and olive groves, to the hamlets and neighbourhoods of Bellet, the origin of Nice’s famous Bellet wine. Other possible day excursions include trips to Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, Monaco, the luxurious self-contained state famous for its connections with A-list stars and the Grand Prix, the seaside village of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, and the exclusive peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

This morning collect your hire-car from an office in the centre of Nice and then make your way out of town. The driving time without a stop is just over an hour, but there are plenty of places to stop along the way. The first stop should be at St Paul de Vence, one of the prettiest perched villages in the hinterland of the Cote d’Azur. It is renowned as an artists’ village and the winding main street is full of galleries and artisan goods to purchase. If you want to have lunch at the famous Colombe d’Or, a haunt for artists and writers who have left their mark with the vast collection of original works of art that adorns the walls. Pre-booking is essential. Near here, about 15 minutes on foot, or call in on your own in or out of the village is the Fondation Maeght, a museum of modern art with one of the largest collections of paintings, sculptures and works on paper of modern and contemporary art in Europe. Your next port of call should be in the village of Grasse, known for its long-established perfume industry. There is a museum exploring the history of perfume, and three historic perfume manufacturers, Fragonard, Galimard and Molinard provide guided tours to their factories. The town itself is a maze of winding alleyways and stairways, hiding some superb examples of 17th and 18th century private mansions. The local speciality is a ‘fassoum’, a courgette flower doughnut. The region around Grasse has grown flowers for hundreds of years in a favourable climate and in rich soil. Originally the plants grown were jasmine, rose and tuberose, but now other flowers are used and grown locally including orange blossom, mimosa, lavender, violet and jonquil. To these locally grown flowers are added imported materials in a raw and natural state including iris or vetiver roots, oak moss, amber seeds, sandalwood, patchouli leaves, cinnamon bark and cistus. The rose is harvested in May, the flower of the orange tree from the end of April until the beginning of June and jasmine in July and August. The most spectacular fields are those of mimosa from January to March in the region of the Massif du Tanneron, then broom in June and lavender in July. From Grasse it’s a drive of just 40 minutes to your stop for the next two nights.

You are situated amidst the rolling hills, of shades of green, criss-crossed by small valleys and streams. You might want to relax at your hotel, enjoying walks, golf, the spa or the swimming pool. If you do want to venture out, then the Lac de Saint-Cassien is a few minutes’ drive away. The lake offers all sorts of activities on the water, with fishing and pedalos, and walks around the lakeside. Also, just a few minutes away is the village of Fayence, one of 9 perched villages in the region. Fayence and these other villages have ancient stone buildings, shady squares, water fountains, stone staircases, pots of flowers, market stalls with abundant local fruit and vegetables, olive oils and spices, local fabrics and straw hats. At Seillans you can see stone shepherd huts called Bories.

The most direct route to your next stop in Provence only takes just over an hour and a half but we suggest you take a route that follows the course of the Gorges du Verdon and approach the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie from the gorge itself. The road towards the gorge winds through valleys of varieties of pine and oak and then you reach the Gorges du Verdon, the deepest gorge in France and where waters from the Alps have carved into the limestone massif of the foothills of the Alps. The road follows both sides of the gorge and is hairpin in places. Also, worth noting in this area is the variety of birdlife, especially vultures, eagles and other birds of prey. From Trigance, a typical village of Haute-Provence with a castle and narrow streets, you can take the northern route to the ‘point sublime’ with a spectacular viewpoint looking down the gorge. You pass through villages of Rougon and La Palud sur Vernon. The area is also popular for hiking with kayaking in the lower part of the gorge and on the Lac de Sainte Croix. Your hotel for three nights is in the charming and popular village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

There are plenty of opportunities today to explore the area, perhaps on foot as there are numerous walks, or drive to the Lac de Sainte Croix, as well as driving through the dramatic Gorges du Verdon. The village is renowned for its earthenware tiles and there are several workshops and sales outlets for the tiles. There is also a pottery museum. Another option for a day’s drive is to visit the area of the lavender fields near Riez (also known for its honey and truffles) and Valensole.

Today we recommend driving to the coast at Saint Tropez, and then following the corniche along to Frejus and on to Cannes before arriving at your overnight stop in the hill village of Mougins behind the coast. You stay here for two nights.

Mougins is a village about 15 minutes’ drive from Cannes and the coast. In the hills, it is a mediaeval village surrounded by the pines, olives and cypress trees of the Valmasque forest, but also offers visitors a panoramic view of the bay of Cannes, the Lerins islands and Grasse. Take time to explore the village on foot and seek out its narrow streets adorned with colourful flowers and ancient stonework. The village is linked with a number of artists over the years including Picasso, and in the Musee d’Art Classique de Mougins (MACM), there is a private collection of Roman, Greek and Egyptian antiquities alongside works of modern and contemporary art. Spend today exploring the village on foot or venture to nearby Cannes. Cannes is renowned as a stylish beach resort, and famous for its long Boulevard de la Croisette that flanks the seashore. There is a charming port, a long stretch of sandy beach and numerous shops and restaurants.

You drive back to Nice this morning in time to take the TGV departing at 11.23 to Marseille where you change trains for the Eurostar which takes you directly back to London to arrive just after 22.00 hrs. If the Marseille to London Eurostar is not operating at the time of the year or the day of week you want, you would travel from Nice to Paris, and then Paris to London by Eurostar instead.

All arrangements passed off promptly and smoothly. The hotels were perfect - and your advice at booking was efficient and helpful. Thank you.
Mr B, July 2016

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,845 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and including standard class rail travel. Supplement for standard premier about £280 per person.

Holiday Code FRBR09

Our prices include ● Standard class Eurostar and second-class TGV from London to Nice return (standard premier can be booked at a supplement)
● Hire of a Group B car for 8 days (not during your stay in Nice)
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at La Perouse, Nice
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Deluxe suite at Terre Blanche resort, near Tourrettes
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Superior room at La Bastide de Moustiers, Moustiers Sainte Marie
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Superior double room at Le Mas Candille, Mougins
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel
● Transfers in Paris if required

Additional information Driving times for this touring holiday
Nice to Tourrettes 1 hour
Tourrettes to Moustiers Sainte-Marie 1 hour 40 minutes
Moustiers Sainte-Marie to Mougins 2 hours
Mougins to Nice 35 minutes

All arrangements passed off promptly and smoothly. The hotels were perfect - and your advice at booking was efficient and helpful. Thank you.
Mr B, July 2016

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,845 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and including standard class rail travel. Supplement for standard premier about £280 per person.

Holiday Code FRBR09

Luxury rail holiday to Nice and tour by car of French Riviera and Provence

About Provence

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to Provence, the land which is the ancient province of the Romans, offers a rich tapestry of landscapes, culture and traditions. From the sunflower fields of Van Gogh`s Arles, to the sandy marshes of the Camargue, from the Cezanne like landscapes of Aix inland to the olive groves and lavender beds that surround the perched hill top villages, and finally to the dramatic coastline of the azure Mediterranean where the sandy beaches, craggy corniches and fishing villages have been transformed into a sophisticated holiday playground you experience a multitude of contrasting and complementary senses and images. The perfumes of lavender, thyme, rosemary, citrus, pine and olive mingle in the air and the light is bright and clear. Add to all these sensations a wonderful climate, good food and local wine and unlimited sporting and sightseeing activities and you can understand why Provence is not just an ideal holiday destination but a romantic way of life. Provence still has miles of open road across country, tiny, sleepy villages, dramatic hills and craggy peaks, beautiful, sense enriching panoramas and aromas all waiting for you to explore and enjoy.

Highlights of Provence

Cultural highlights include santons, Souleiado Provençal fabrics, herbs and lavender, wine and olive oil, melons and pastis, boules and berets.

Provence Climate

Average air temperatures in Centigrade: January: 12.2, February: 11.9, March: 14.2, April: 18.5, May: 20.8, June: 26.6, July: 28.1, August: 28.4, September: 25.2, October: 22.1, November: 16.8, December: 14.1. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France.

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