Provence attracts the world’s elite, including Hollywood stars, fashionistas and the supremely wealthy. Painted by Paul Cézanne and written about by Albert Camus, Provence has natural beauty (towering cypress trees, sprawling vineyards, vibrant lavender fields), as well as charming villages and daily markets. For a truly luxurious trip, though, you have to go beyond the typical tourist traps. Here’s how to experience the very best that Provence has to offer.
Sophisticated perfume and beauty excursions
Maison Galimard, a perfume factory and museum in the world’s perfume capital, offers tours of their perfume factory and museum. See antique production equipment, visit the laboratory, learn about how perfume is made and visit the shop afterward for some stellar shopping. There are also workshops you can take if you’d like to create a perfume of your very own. The Couvent des Cordeliers, a converted 13th century monastery, also has perfume workshops, where experts are on hand to help you create a signature scent.
You can also tour the L’Occitane factory, located between Avignon and Nice. You’ll see production rooms, learn how the L’Occitane company finds and utilizes local organic ingredients, and hear about the brand’s interesting history. There are also films and interactive exhibits if you’re interested in learning more, and, of course, there’s a factory shop to browse before you leave.
Truffles and wine experiences
Truffles are a sort of celebrity in the South of France, and the treasured black truffle was named after the Périgord region. Yes, you can order them in your dishes at local restaurants, but you can also opt to see the process from the beginning. With this tour, you’ll learn the ins and outs of truffle hunting, sample them and try your hand at finding them yourself. There’s also a truffle and wine tasting tour you can take from Marseille, complete with truffle hunting, an expert-led wine tasting and lunch in Aix-en-Provence.
If you prefer the wine without the truffles, consider Château La Canorgue, a small vineyard in Bonnieux with a petite manor house that hails from the 18th century. They produce organic and specialty wines, including whites, reds and rosés. Run by the same family for five generations, they don’t allow chemicals in their wine production. Another option is Chateau Simone in Aix-en-Provence, a historical vineyard from the 16th century where you can taste a variety of fine wine. The town itself also has high class boutiques and art galleries to explore while you’re in the area.
Explore glamorous towns
Visit Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, which is among the most sophisticated and exclusive towns in Provence, steeped in culture and history. If you’d prefer to be chauffeured around, consider booking a private day trip to various places throughout Provence. You’ll be able to take a ride on the Formula 1 race track in Monte Carlo, place your bets at a grand casino, or visit the Fragonard perfume factory. Choose your preferred style of transportation, like a mini bus or a luxury car.
Travel in style
Provence is home to the French Riviera, one of the most alluring places on earth, and you can explore the glitzy towns of Monaco, Nice and Saint-Tropez in a chauffeured classic car or a sports car with you behind the wheel. The tours from Liven Up let you be a passenger, driver or a combination of both so you can get the feel for a Ferrari or Lamborghini without missing out on stunning views.
If you’d prefer to travel via the Mediterranean, consider a single-day or week-long yacht charter. A smaller yacht would be used for a day trip to the Calanques of Cassis, for example, while a larger yacht would suit you and your guests well for a multi-day trip to discover more of the coast. Arrange fun and adventure activities, like water toys, diving or deep sea fishing. Other types of on-board experiences are available, too, like wine tastings and live music. Whenever you reach a port, a luxury car will be waiting to take you to a casino, nightclub, restaurant or shop, and VIP access and exclusive activities can also be booked for you.
An alternative to chartering a yacht is booking a multi-day river cruise from Avignon to Tain-l’Hermitage on the Belmond Napoleon. Dine al fresco by candlelight, relax in the open air jacuzzi, and explore wine chateaux by day.
There’s one more way to explore Provence: by air. View the countryside from a brand new vantage point while you amp up the romance as well as your adrenaline. A hot air balloon ride is a unique and unforgettable way to explore Provence. Consider a private VIP flight, too, which spends one hour flying over the countryside, villages and lavender fields, and treats you to a bottle of sparkling wine upon landing.
Rest and rejuvenation
If you want to lounge by the sea without a huge throng of tourists nearby, take a boat to the Iles d’Hyères. While there, explore the picturesque Porquerolles or Port-Cros islands. You can also have a luxury camp set up on a secluded beach, where you’ll dine on a private lunch prepared by a Michelin-starred chef.
If R&R needs to be a little more active to suit you, take a day (or two) to go to one of the French Riviera’s world-renowned golf courses (Golf du Luberon is one of the nicest in the region). If your significant other or guests aren’t all golfers themselves, choose one of the many clubs that has a bar, restaurant and spa to keep them entertained.
For a chance to rest up in your own luxury hotel room, book a spa service that comes right to you. You can order relaxing services like traditional or deep tissue massage, reiki treatments or private yoga for individuals or groups.
Whether you are a frequent visitor to Provence or you’re hoping to move here permanently, there’s no lack of luxury experiences to consider. We think you should indulge in everything Provence has to offer during your next holiday.
Tim Swannie is the Director of Home Hunts. Home Hunts is a luxury property buyer’s agent based in France, helping international clients to buy luxury homes throughout France, Monaco, London and New York.
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