This seven-night trip is based around the beautiful Var coastline of Southern France, between Marseille and Toulon. Our focus is the protected, lesser-known western area of the French Riviera, where “la mer” meets “la terre.” The landscape features a mix of natural Provence forests, rocky cliffs, coastal paths, sandy coves, and the azure blue sea. The Greeks settled in this area 2500 years ago, followed by Romans and other sea-faring cultures, establishing ancient trading posts that are now colorful ports.
Our groups enjoy time on the water as offshore islands and “fjord”-like inlets lure us by boat, offering views of dramatic cliffs and wild landscapes of olive groves and fig trees, punctuated by white beaches. We go out on the Mediterranean Sea three times on a variety of boat trips, always highlights of the week.
This region excels at producing world class rosé wines. There’s nothing more evocative of the Mediterranean Provence lifestyle than ending the day with a refreshing glass (or more!) of rosé on a terrace with a view, accompanied by the perfect bowl of olives.
Our base is the lovely seaside town of Bandol. We stay in a traditional, locally-owned hotel in a quiet neighborhood just a short walk from the port and the seaside promenade.
The week includes a variety of special activities and experiences unique to this area:
– A day trip to Marseille, France’s oldest city. We enjoy a walking tour of the historic port area, the Roman docks, and the Mucem facility perched above the harbor. We also visit Notre Dame de la Garde, with views across the terracotta rooftops and to the outlying islands.
– Visits to small villages such as Le Castellet and Sanary sur Mer, with bustling farmers markets.
– Exploration of the seaside village of Cassis, surrounded by the tallest sea cliffs in Europe. We enjoy a bird’s eye view over the surrounding vineyards and then a boat ride to experience the fjord-like inlets called “calanques.”
– Optional morning walk on the coastal path. There’s also a lovely beach a short walk from our hotel.
– A visit to a classified garden to learn about Mediterranean plant species and “dry” gardening.
– Wine discoveries, including a vineyard/winery visit.
– A day trip to Toulon, one of the world’s most beautiful naval ports and home to submarines and warships as well as fishing boats and ferries. At the Liberation Museum on Mont Faron we learn about the “other” WWII landings took place in France and enjoy spectacular views. Later we take a boat tour of the harbor to explore its fascinating history.
– A day trip to an outlying island where we enjoy outstanding views back to the French coastline, including all the fishing villages and beautiful scenery enjoyed through the week.
– Memorable meals in a variety of settings.
– Time for relaxing and exploring on your own.
As always with our women groups, there’s a unique camaraderie and and spirit that’s an important part of the week.