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We begin in Nice, largest city along the Côte d'Azur. This mesmerizing city of gorgeous beaches and old-world opulence enjoys a stunning coastal setting and is a perfect hybrid of French and Italian influence. You’ll quickly understand why it has enchanted artists for centuries: Chagall… Matisse… Picasso… Renoir.
We set out for St-Paul de Vence, a quintessential cobbled hilltop medieval village made famous by Matisse, Picasso, etc., plus various Hollywood stars. From here we’ll join the Route Napoléon, snaking seductively through the mountains of Provence. We’ll visit Grasse (synonymous with French parfum) and exquisite Castellane before arriving in Dignes les Baines, a Roman-era spa town, steeped in history and the scent of lavender.
Riez (Lavander Fields)
Few sights in France can match the Gorge du Verdon for sheer drama. Nicknamed, the “Grand Canyon of Europe,” this mind-blowing canyon cut deep into the Alp foothills. Our route is an unfolding drama of vertigo-inducing glory beneath soaring cliffs. We then soak up the scenery traveling the Lubéron along serpentine backroads through a traditional countryside quilted with hilltop villages, vineyards, and fragrant lavender fields.
We end in Aix-en-Provence, the chic, gorgeous and intimate city of Paul Cézanne.
Cassis (Fisherman village)
Head south today via Marseilles to the Mediterranean shore and Parc Nacional de Calanques - a dramatic coastal region of plunging coves and surging headlands - leading to the irresistibly charming fishing village of Cassis, poised beneath dramatic cliffs.
We then ride east along the fabled shoreline road for lunch in Sanary sur Mer, another dreamy old harbor town where sun-creased fishers unload their catch and tend their nets. The D559 hugs the coast, weaving in and out of coves and over headlands via Lavandou to St-Tropez - launched to fame as the Côte d'Azur’s sexiest jet-set resort by Bridget Bardot.
More sensational riding today, crammed with vast views of stunning beaches tucked in coves cusped between craggy headlands. We aim for two of the most famous cities of the French Riviera - celebrity-rich Cannes and Antibes - before lunch in evocative, 14th century Villefranche-sur-Mer, spilling down the slopes of the Cap Ferrat peninsula.
In the afternoon, we’ll swing with the bends around Cap Ferrat and up over the “High Corniche” via the medieval mountain village of Èze to arrive in Monaco, the spotless high-stakes royal principality of James Bond allure.
After time at leisure to sample and savor the temptations of Monte Carlo, with its luxurious villas, casinos and yacht harbors, we cross the border into Italy for lunch in San Remo, most beautiful of the Italian Riviera resorts. We then climb inland and return to France for lunch in the charming mountain village of Sospel before descending to Nice, and the end of our thrilling journey.
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