Itinerary – The Riviera Hillsides Experience
A European Experiences week has an ideal balance of structure and flexibility, activities with the group and time on your own. We may also adjust our plans based on weather, the interests of the group members, and unexpected opportunities. If there’s a special event during your week, we’ll likely rearrange things to be there.
We’ll describe a “typical” week on The Riviera Hillsides Experience, but no two weeks are ever quite the same! Your week might be organized differently, and experiences may be added or not included. And of course, there are a few surprises that we’ll wait to share with you when we’re together…
After meeting the group at the Nice-Ville train station, we’ll travel up into the hillsides to the authentic village of Le Rouret, our base for the week.
Once everyone has settled into their room at our small, family-owned hotel, we’ll head outside to play a fun game of boules, a recreation emblematic of the South of France. Afterwards we’ll enjoy a relaxed dinner together. This first evening offers the ideal opportunity for everyone to get to know each other and discuss the week ahead.
The South of France has captured the imagination of artists since at least the 19th century, and today we’ll explore some of the same bucolic vistas that once inspired artists, poets, writers, and dreamers. Our day starts in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a small village perched atop a hill. With the help of an art specialist, we’ll explore the commune’s rich artistic past, then enjoy a group lunch outdoors.
In the afternoon, we’ll travel to nearby Cagnes-sur-Mer, another perched village, to enjoy more of the region’s art history, as well as stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Dinner tonight will be together at our hotel.
Day three begins with a guided tour of one of the region’s great and historic gardens, listed by the French Ministry of Culture as one of France’s premier Jardin remarquables (“Remarkable gardens”).
Afterwards, we’ll take a driving tour through the region’s stunning countryside, enjoying views of valleys, canyons, and waterfalls found among the Vallée du Loup. We’ll savor our surroundings a little longer while enjoying a serene picnic from one of the area’s scenic lookout spots.
After lunch we’ll learn about (and taste) one of the region’s culinary staples, olive oil, during a visit to an historic mill and boutique in the charming village of Opio.
We end our day with a pleasant group meal in an authentic bistro only steps from our hotel in Le Rouret.
Our destination today is the town of Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, to learn about the history and culture surrounding the fragrance industry. We meet an industry expert who takes us on a guided tour of an experimental garden and helps us to discover the finer points of producing fragrances.
Lunch today is on a nearby farm, where we’ll gain a greater appreciation for the region’s agricultural specialties.
We return to Grasse after lunch to explore the International Perfume Museum.
Travelers enjoy dinner on their own today and will have the opportunity to choose among the restaurants and cafés in Le Rouret.
Today we’ll visit Tourrettes-sur-Loup, a picturesque and well-preserved medieval village perched atop a rocky hillside. The commune is closely associated with the violet, a flower integral to the region’s perfume production. The morning will give us the opportunity to explore the village, stopping into artisans shops and boutiques. We’ll also learn more about the commune’s deep connection to violet cultivation. The day will give you a great opportunity to find one-of-a-kind gifts and keepsakes to bring home.
You’ll enjoy lunch on your own today in Tourrettes-sur-Loup.
Afterwards, the group will visit the neighboring town of Vence, where we’ll explore a famous chapel closely associated with the esteemed French painter Henri Matisse.
Toward the end of the day, we’ll also encounter another of the region’s great gardens, with a private tour of the grounds followed by an intimate, informal evening of appetizers and aperitifs on the grounds.
Our morning starts with a trip to the bustling farmer’s market in Valbonne.
Afterwards, we’ll head again to Grasse, where you’ll enjoy lunch on your own. You’ll find many options in this charming town.
Later in the day, you’ll have the opportunity to try your hand at making a custom perfume of your own at a legendary fragrance workshop in Grasse. Our groups tell us this is an unforgettable sensory experience!
You will have dinner on your own in Le Rouret tonight.
It’s our last full day in the Riviera Hillsides! We start with a boat ride to the Ile de Lerins, a scenic island off the coast near Cannes. There, our group will take a leisurely hike while also appreciating the stunning blues of the Mediterranean and the open skies. A highlight of the island is its 11th-century monastery.
Lunch today is casual and relaxing: a group picnic on the island, basking in the sunshine and sea breeze after our hike.
For tonight’s final dinner together, we’ll enjoy a farewell aperitif and a luxurious meal (by a Michelin-starred chef) in Le Rouret.
Too soon it’s our last day. We’ll leave our hotel after breakfast and say goodbye to our travelers at the Nice Airport or the Nice-Ville train station. What a wonderful week we’ve had together!