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Road trip: from Provence to the pearls of the French Riviera

ideal itinerary of 12 days to discover the south of France

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Road trip: from Provence to the pearls of the French Riviera
Provence rhymes with holidays. Here is a 12-day itinerary in the south of France, from Avignon to Monaco, for lovers of culture, nature and idleness.

Day 1: Avignon
The City of the Popes was the seat of Western Christianity throughout the fourteenth century. Its jewel, the Palace of the Popes, is the largest Gothic architectural ensemble in the world and a monument of aesthetic harmony. From the arches of the famous bridge, you can admire the peaceful waters of the Rhone before going to taste a sheep's stew on Piazza Pia.

Day 2: Pont du Gard - Nîmes
The Pont du Gard in a magnificent natural site is the best preserved ancient aqueduct, testimony to the mastery of Roman architecture. It is in Nîmes, a Roman town with prestigious vestiges, that one savors the end of day in front of the House Carrée or in a traditional feria to the arena.

Day 3: The Camargue
A wind of freedom floats there, disheveled the horsehair of wild horses or creasing the surface of the ponds with purple reflections. This "natural park" nestled in the second largest delta of the Mediterranean also cherishes a rich secular heritage, whether it is the bullfights of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer or guardians who guide their flocks along salt marshes.

Day 4: Alpilles - Saint-Remy-de-Provence
As a vertebral column of the region, the Alpilles massif unfolds its flanks beneath the mistral which blows Les Baux-de-Provence in generous squalls. This village, former feudal domain and object of incessant covetousness, relates in its old stones all the history of Provence. Following the olive groves and the vineyards, you arrive at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence to see the birthplace of Nostradamus or the Roman ruins of the site of Glanum.

Day 5: Luberon Regional Park
A favorite, certainly. The Luberon is worth to be seen for its myriad of ocher villages, often classified among the most beautiful of France, from which always springs an old bell-tower like Oppède le Vieux, Ménerbes or Bonnieux. Further, drowned under the violet sea of ​​a lavender field, the venerable Cistercian abbey of Sénanque guards the region and its gorges and valleys, to ride on horseback, on foot or in quad.

Day 6: Aix-en-Provence
It is everywhere, this traditional yellow and blue Provençal fabric, like an unofficial blazon of the land of mas and cicadas: on lavender bags or on the tablecloths of the Mirabeau Courses, vibrant and charming heart of Aix. We then venture to Mount Sainte-Victoire, land of eagles and walkers, to embrace the whole of Provence, like Cezanne in his time.

Day 7: Calanques of Cassis
From Cassis, we take an excursion to the creeks along the cliffs of Soubeyranes and Cape Canaille. The immaculate rocks contrast with the brilliant blue of the sea tongues that flow into these natural valleys, emblematic of the Mediterranean landscape of France.

Days 8 and 9: The Riviera (Saint-Tropez - Antibes - Cannes)
Between Saint-Tropez and Cannes, the highlights of French elegance range from majestic beaches to small, colorful harbors with lively animation. It is the favorite den of the jet-set that parades aboard the most beautiful yachts on the planet. Take a walk in the cool alleys to discover the local crafts or fill your baskets in the Provençal market of the Cours Masséna d'Antibes.

Days 10 and 11: Nice - Grasse
The curve of the Promenade des Anglais is the sweetest, as a climate that rhymes with sun and azure all year long. But the real Nice is hidden in the old town and its narrow streets with walls constellés of blue or green shutters. It is the ideal place to taste the specialties or visit the many baroque churches. In Grasse, the mysteries of a very French art, that of the traditional perfumery, from the gathering of the flowers to the setting in bottle.

Day 12: Monaco
Luxury cars, Belle Époque palaces and chic boutiques make up Monte-Carlo's décor. Clinging to its rock, the Oceanographic Museum is home to invaluable collections of marine objects, in addition to 6,000 specimens of fish. Finally, we plunge into a dream by throwing the dice at the pompous casino, a temple of glamor.

From the book Ulysse, Voir le monde - 50 dream itineraries according to your wishes.

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