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Henri Matisse: Life, Legacy and Love of Southern France

From the sea to flowers, animals to people, artists find their inspiration all around. For some artists, such as Henri Matisse, it’s a particular region that stirs their creativity. Born in the northern region of Picardy, Matisse blossomed artistically in southern France in the warm sunshine. We’re doing a deep dive into the life and inspiration of Henri Matisse as well as the best Matisse-inspired activities in France.


Henri Matisse: Life, Legacy and Love of Southern France

Matisse’s Biography

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Born in 1869, Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse didn’t grow up planning to be an artist; he studied law, per Biography.com. But in his 20s, he started painting and taking drawing classes. Like many artists, such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, he studied art in Paris

Looking at pieces from Matisse, you’ll notice his use of vibrant color and geometric shapes, such as in Icarus and Luxe, Calme et Volupté. He painted, sketched, sculpted, and even designed ballet costumes, according to Winged Canvas

“This 19th-century gospel of work, derived from a middle class, northern French upbringing, was to mark his entire career, and soon it was accompanied by a thoroughly bourgeois appearance—gold-rimmed spectacles; short, carefully trimmed beard; plump, feline body; conservative clothes—which was odd for a leading member of the Parisian avant-garde,” says Roy Donald McMullen in a Britannica article

From bronchitis to appendicitis, Matisse had various health problems but didn’t let them hold him back; he even attached a pencil to a long pole and thus continued to create art, according to Biography.com

In 1954, he died in Nice and was buried nearby.

Matisse’s Legacy

Kimberleyaeg, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Matisse’s art portfolio has a wide range of techniques, styles and subjects, but he is most often associated with Fauvism. After viewing some of Matisse’s work, “a contemporary art critic mentioned the bold, distorted images painted by certain artists he nicknamed ‘fauves,’ or ‘wild beasts,’” according to Biography.com. And now Matisse is considered the father of Fauvism, per Winged Canvas.

Inspired by artist Paul Signac, he also utilized the pointillism method, according to the Met. In short, this technique is using many dots of color to create the scene. Although he wasn’t an overnight success, Matisse did live to see his art succeed and traveled to showcase his work in New York, Berlin, Moscow and beyond, per Britannica. During his lifetime, Matisse even had a book published about him. Notable art collectors such as Gertrude Stein purchased Matisse’s work, per Biography.com.

Matisse and his Love of Southern France

Nice | French Side Travel | Monaco
Photo by Round Trip Travel

Today many flock to southern France for its sun, sea and sights. Matisse wasn’t any different.

Not only did he come to enjoy its pleasant weather but also to find inspiration for his artwork. He spent time in Corsica, Saint Tropez and Collioure and found inspiration in these sunny destinations, according to Winged Canvas.

In an article for the Met, Magdalena Dabrowski writes, “In the summer of 1904, while visiting his artist friend Paul Signac at Saint-Tropez, a small fishing village in Provence, Matisse discovered the bright light of southern France, which contributed to a change to a much brighter palette.”

He fell in love with the bright hues of southern France so much so that he resettled in Nice in 1921, per Biography.com. Over the years, Matisse stayed in different areas of Nice, including Old Nice and the Cimiez district, according to Nice’s tourism site.

Matisse also had a stint in Vence, a town northwest of Nice. Here he lived in a villa with a large garden and created Nature Morte aux Grenades and the Rosary Chapel with stained glass windows, per Nice Tourism.


Interested in diving even deeper into the life and legacy of Henri Matisse, perhaps in southern France? We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Matisse-themed activities in Nice.

Visit the Matisse Museum in Nice

AlfromLig, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Located in the sunny city of Nice, the Matisse Museum pays homage to its namesake with hundreds of his pieces of artwork. Wander among his sculptures and admire his paintings, all just steps away from his source of inspiration. 

Cooking Class in Matisse’s Workshop

In the old town of Nice, start your day by exploring its markets. Then get to work during your private cooking lesson in Matisse’s workshop. Marvel at the sea view as you get inspired in the kitchen and enjoy your meal in the company of an international opera singer.


Where to Stay in Nice

Hotel du Couvent Nice
Photo courtesy of Hôtel du Couvent

Hôtel du Couvent
This brand new hotel opens in summer in 2024 and will charm you with its 88 rooms in the heart of Old Nice. Treat yourself to a visit to its Roman-inspired thermal spa. Stroll the hotel’s farmer’s market and nosh on the hotel’s farm-to-table dining.


Dreaming of being inspired by Matisse and the landscapes that sparked his creativity, too? You might be interested in: Nature and Culture in Southern France or The Highlights of Corsica in Comfort and Style. Need some help planning your trip?

Best Rooftop Bars in Paris by Arrondissement

French Side Travel presents the Best Rooftop Bars in Paris! The City of Lights shimmers with romance, history, and undeniable elegance. But beyond the cobblestone streets and iconic landmarks lies another captivating perspective: the Parisian skyline. Imagine sipping a perfectly crafted cocktail as the sun dips below the horizon, or taking in the breathtaking panorama of the Eiffel Tower from a perch above the bustling Champs-Élysées.


ROOF at Hôtel Madame Rêve

1st Arrondissement

Courtesy of Hôtel Madame Rêve

ROOF at Hôtel Madame Rêve transforms the Parisian skyline in the 1st arrondissement. This sprawling rooftop terrace blossoms into a lush urban oasis. Imagine handcrafted cocktails amidst a verdant escape, savoring Japanese-inspired bites with every breathtaking vista. Iconic landmarks like Notre Dame, Pantheon, and Beaubourg emerge against the panoramic Parisian canvas. Unwind in this sanctuary, soak in the city’s magic, and experience a whole new perspective on the City of Lights.

Cocktail of Choice: Summer Garden

Gin Hendrick’s, Plant Caviar, Saint-Germain, & Prosecco


Le Tout-Paris at Cheval Blanc

2nd Arrondissement

Courtesy of Le Tout-Paris

Sip on Parisian perfection at Cheval Blanc. This Michelin-starred brasserie, seven floors above the Seine, boasts a glamorous bar with panoramic city views. Art Deco elegance meets modern energy as you sip innovative cocktails beneath the watchful gaze of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. Le Tout-Paris lets you experience the Parisian skyline in a sophisticated and bubbly atmosphere.

Cocktail of Choice: Gamay Rosé

Lemongrass infused Gin, Rosé grape Cordial, Peychaud bitter, & Champagne


Rooftop National at Hôtel National des Arts et Métiers

3rd Arrondissement

© DR

Unwind in style at the trendy rooftop bar of Hôtel National des Arts et Métiers in the 3rd arrondissement. Savor creative cocktails with breathtaking Parisian rooftop views. The Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Coeur peek over the city skyline, creating a magical backdrop for your evening. This vibrant escape offers an unforgettable experience under the Parisian sky.

Cocktail of Choice: Hysteria

Fair Vodka, Passion Fruit, Htheoria Liquor, Matiha Skinos, & Lime Cordial


Bonnie at SO/ Paris

4th Arrondissement

Courtesy of SO/ Paris

Soar above the Parisian skyline at Bonnie, a restaurant, bar, and club perched atop the SO/ Paris hotel in the 4th arrondissement. The Space Age-inspired design transports you to a futuristic wonderland, complete with panoramic views and a mirrored ceiling that creates a trippy, gravity-defying effect. Bonnie isn’t just about the view, though. It offers a chic Parisian atmosphere with a New York twist, serving up creative gourmet dishes from breakfast to dinner.

Cocktail of Choice: 20$ Punch

Rum Flor de Caña 12 años, Amaro Montenegro, Maraschino Luxardo, & Cherry Soda


Dar Mima at the Institut du Monde Arabe

5th Arrondissement

Courtesy of Paris Society

Embark on a journey at Dar Mima, a rooftop gem atop the Institut du Monde Arabe. Savor fragrant cocktails infused with Eastern spices and signature dishes inspired by Fatima Debbouze’s recipes. This unique Parisian escape lets you soak in cityscapes and cultural immersion, all under the twinkling night sky.

Cocktail of Choice: Easal

Cinnamon Nutmeg Rum, Dates, Verjus, & Honey Mousse


Bar de la Dame des Arts at Hôtel Dame des Arts

6th Arrondissement

© Ludovic Balay

Perched atop the Hôtel Dame des Arts, Bar de la Dame des Arts is a Parisian nightlife jewel. Savor bespoke cocktails and Champagne with breathtaking 360-degree views of the City of Lights. Immerse yourself in the vibrant ambiance and create unforgettable memories.

Cocktail of Choice: Aloe-Ha

Tequila Vecinidad, Dry Curaçao, Aloe Vera Syrup, Cucumber, Lime, Salt, & Wasabi


Bramble at Les Ombres

7th Arrondissement

Courtesy of Ducasse Paris

Savor innovative cocktails with a breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower at Bramble. Nestled atop the Musée du Quai Branly, this open-air bar offers a unique Parisian experience. Crafted by award-winning mixologist Margot Combat, drinks prioritize local ingredients and minimal waste. It’s a picture-perfect escape for a memorable evening.

Cocktail of Choice: Bramble Negroni

Gin, Campari, Red Vermouth, Blackcurrant Bitter, Absinthe, & Redcurrant


MUN on the Champs Élysées

8th Arrondissement

Courtesy of MUN

Escape to MUN, a rooftop oasis in Paris’ 8th arrondissement. This restaurant transcends dining, offering panoramic cityscapes as your backdrop. Immerse yourself in a glittering boudoir setting, where Asian artistry meets French charm. Savor exquisite Asian cuisine – a feast for both your eyes and your palate. MUN promises an unforgettable sensory experience.

Cocktail of Choice: Sakura

Beefeater 24 Gin infused with Sakura Tea, Saké Rosé, Sakura Shrub, & Raspberry Syrup


Perruche at Printemps Haussmann

9th Arrondissement

Courtesy of Paris Society

Indulge at Perruche, a verdant rooftop haven above Printemps Haussmann. Savor Provençal delights and refreshing cocktails under Parisian skies. Soak in breathtaking city views as plates and laughter are shared with friends. Perruche offers a taste of the good life, season after season.

Cocktail of Choice: Mentonnais

Gin Bombay Sapphire, Italicus, Bergamot Oléo Saccharum, Fresh Lime Juice, & Egg White


The best rooftop bars in Paris offer a taste of the city’s magic alongside breathtaking views. But a rooftop cocktail is just one sip of the Parisian experience. Speak with our experts today to start crafting your perfect Parisian adventure!

Guide to Ajaccio: Home of Napoléon Bonaparte

Military commander, short man with his hand folded across his chest, dictator riding on a magnificent horse. Napoléon Bonaparte has many images and titles that precede his name. But beyond the pages of history textbooks, who was this Frenchman? Napoléon I certainly left his mark on French history, including in his hometown of Ajaccio on the island of Corsica. Here’s a brief history of Napoléon Bonaparte as well as a guide to Ajaccio.


Guide to Ajaccio: Home of Napoléon Bonaparte

Napoléon’s Early Life in Ajaccio

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1769, Napoléon was born in the town of Ajaccio on the French island of Corsica. It was just the year prior that France had annexed this Mediterranean island from the Italian city state of Genoa, according to History.com.  Napoléon attended elementary school in Ajaccio, and at age 9, he left for mainland France to improve his French, according to Napoleon.org. Corsica had its own dialect and had heavy Italian influence, per Napoleon.org. “He was however to keep his accent when speaking French, and his spelling was full of Italianisms, confusions and pure inventions,” says Thierry Lentz.

Napoléon’s Military Career

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Throughout his life, he would go between mainland France and his home island of Corsica. In 1784, Napoléon started at the École Militaire in Paris. The irony of his military achievements is that he finished 42nd out of 58 students at the Paris military academy, per Britannica. Nevertheless, Napoléon Bonaparte made a name for himself and France with his military achievements; out of the 60 battles fought, he only lost 7, according to the World History Encyclopedia

In 1804, he named himself emperor and continued his military campaigns. However, his defeat by Russia led him to exile to the island of Elba in 1814, according to History.com. Not one to give up too quickly, Napoléon escaped exile and came back to France to reclaim his throne. The following three months or so would be named Napoléon’s Hundred Days, as he sought to regain control of France but to no avail, per The Collector. His fate was determined with his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, which led to his exile once again. In 1821, he died in exile on the island of Saint Helena, and later his remains were transferred to Les Invalides in Paris, per Napoleon.org

Napoléon Bonaparte’s Legacy

Photo by JR Harris on Unsplash

It’s been hundreds of years since Napoléon Bonaparte lived, but you’ll still find his influence throughout France, including Ajaccio. Although his reputation includes military defeat, escaped exile and dictatorship, Napoléon Bonaparte managed to leave a positive legacy. Napoléon founded the Bank of France and the Napoleonic Code, which saw the end of feudalism, per PBS. “He is often ranked alongside Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar as one of history’s most brilliant generals,” according to the World History Encyclopedia. “He also implemented a set of civil laws, best known as the Napoleonic Code, that was adopted throughout much of continental Europe and influenced the judicial systems of many modern nations.”


Today you can explore Napoléon I’s heritage and legacy in Ajaccio. His family home has been turned into a museum that can be visited today. Admire the artwork at the Palais Fesch, an art museum with many pieces from Napoléon’s uncle. Several statues in his likeness can also be visited. Here are more activities to explore in Ajaccio and Corsica.

Morning Boat Cruise to Îles Sanguinaires and Gulf of Ajaccio

Discover the bright blue waters of the north shore of Ajaccio with a private boat tour. You’ll float past famed singer Tino Rossi’s home, the Chapel of the Greeks and the citadel. Your private boat tour includes a stop at the island Mezu Mare where you can take a swim or see the Alphonse Daudet lighthouse.

Discovery of Ajaccio in Napoléon Bonaparte’s Footsteps

Reading a history book just won’t suffice. If you’re a history buff wanting to trace the steps of Napoléon Bonaparte in Ajaccio, look no further. We’ll organize a private guided tour as you explore Napoléon’s birthplace of Ajaccio and see history for yourself.

Wine Tour to Sartène and Alta Rocca

Ajaccio sea view
Photo by Jon Amdall on Unsplash

Corsica’s crystal blue waters and Napoleonic history aren’t the island’s only assets. Dive headfirst into Corsican wine country with visits to the town of Sartène and the Alta Rocca region. Sip on one of Corsica’s famed wines such as Vermentino or Sciacarello. Your private chauffeur will take you to some of the region’s finest domains.


Where to Stay in Ajaccio

Les Mouettes
Indulge in a stay at this four-starred hotel nestled against the coast. This 19th century villa offers 27 unique rooms where you can rest your head after a full day at the beach and in the town of Ajaccio. At Les Mouettes, hotel guests may enjoy access to its private beach as well as snorkels and lounge chairs. Take a dip in the hotel’s saltwater pool and enjoy a glass of wine on its terrace.


Longing to see the legacy of Napoléon Bonaparte with your own eyes and feet? You might be interested in: Luxury Stay in Southern Corsica or The Highlights of Corsica in Comfort and Style. Need some help planning your trip?

Louis Vuitton and His Rise to LVMH Luxury

LV: Two small letters pack a lot of weight. It was nearly two centuries ago that Louis Vuitton launched his luggage brand. Since then, the Louis Vuitton name has only grown in prestige and has also acquired a swath of other brands along the way. Today this luxury goods conglomerate has become one of the leaders in its industry. We’re tracing the path of Louis Vuitton, the brand’s evolution over the centuries and best Louis Vuitton-themed activities in France.


Louis Vuitton and His Rise to LVMH Luxury

Louis Vuitton’s Beginnings

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Louis’ humble beginnings are a far cry from his brand renowned for its luxury. Louis Vuitton was born in eastern France, and following the death of Louis’ mother, his father remarried. The story goes that Louis and his new stepmother didn’t get along, according to Biography. At age 13, he escaped the tension and headed toward Paris on foot. Nearly 300 miles and a couple years later, he finally arrived at his destination after taking different jobs along the way, according to Biography.

Louis Vuitton’s Rise to Prestige

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Once in Paris he began to work as an apprentice under Romain Maréchal, per Britannica. Vuitton remarked that the typically dome-shaped trunks weren’t practical for stacking, per Vogue. Instead, he opted for flat trunks; later, he and his son created and patented their tumbler lock. His trunks were “stackable and far more convenient for shipping via new means of transport like the railroad and steamship,” according to a Biography article. “Most commentators consider Vuitton’s trunk the birth of modern luggage.”

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. And for Louis, that made all the difference. In 1852 Napoleon III’s wife hired Louis Vuitton as her personal box-maker and packer, according to Biography.  In 1854, he opened his own workshop close to Place Vendôme, per the Louis Vuitton website

After Louis died, his son Georges took over the business. And we owe the iconic LV monogram design not to Louis but to his son, when he inaugurated this pattern in 1896, according to Vogue.

LVMH: The Growth of the Brand

In 1987, a new era began for Louis Vuitton when LVMH was born. This merger represents Louis Vuitton, Moët & Chandon champagne, and Hennessy cognac. Over the years, this luxury group acquired Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Sephora, Hermès, La Samaritaine and many others, according to The Fashion Law. Even more than accessories and prêt-à-porter, LVMH has made its mark on the hospitality industry with its Cheval Blanc hotels. Even more, in 2026 Louis Vuitton plans to open its first hotel in Paris.

In 2023, the Louis Vuitton brand was valued at $23.6 billion, per Statista. With its 75 brands, LVMH garnered 86.2 billion euros in revenue, according to the group. And one-quarter of this revenue came from the United States, per Statista


If you’re looking to dive head first into the luxury world of Louis Vuitton and LVMH’s other brands during your trip to France, we have a plethora of activities to pique your interest in Paris and beyond.

Private Shopping Appointments at Louis Vuitton

On the hunt for the perfect piece at Louis Vuitton? We’ll book you a private appointment so that you can shop in tranquility and, of course, in style.

Guided Tour of the Louis Vuitton Foundation

Louis Vuitton Foundation

Nestled in the cush 16th arrondissement, the Louis Vuitton Foundation showcases nearly a dozen galleries of collections and exhibitions. French Side Travel will organize a private guided tour of the premises. You certainly can’t miss the building: in contrast to the traditional style of LV, the foundation is housed in a modern, geometric building.

Exclusive Shopping Experience with Stylist Advice

Louis Vuitton la Croisette
Photo by Jannis Lucas on Unsplash

Explore the luxury of the fashion capital with a private shopping experience. Spend the afternoon with a personal shopper who will assist you as you browse different Parisian fashion houses. From Louis Vuitton to Chanel, you can enjoy a private appointment at one of these prestigious French houses.

Private Tasting at Hennessy Cognac

Discover the roots of Hennessy Cognac, one of the LMVH’s brands. Wander this brand’s headquarters with a private visit and learn about cognac production. Your guide will explain the ins and outs of the vineyards and the history of the house’s founder Richard Hennessy. 

Your visit will include a private tasting of several eau de vie beverages and a visit to the cellar of various cognacs. If you visit the charming town of Cognac between April and October, your visit will also include a boat ride.

Champagne Tasting in a Secret Cellar

Moët & Chandon Champagne
Photo by Deleece Cook on Unsplash

Before those champagne bubbles ever meet your lips, it all must start in the vineyards of this French region. Wander the vineyards with your Moët & Chandon ambassador. Make a stop at Fort Chabrol’s private domain and later explore the underground tunnels as you learn about the centuries-old champagne-making process. You’ll also have the chance to better understand the manual disgorging of bottles and bien sûr will sip on several Grand Vintages.


Where to Stay in Paris

Le Ritz
Le Ritz Paris is sure to impress with its regal rooms marked by chandeliers, crown molding and luxurious fabrics. This five-star hotel offers several suites inspired by important figures including Coco Chanel, Marcel Proust and Ernest Hemingway. The hotel also offers cooking classes, spa services, Sunday brunch, and a gourmet menu under the direction of Chef Eugénie Béziat. 

Hôtel de Crillon 
Indulge in a stay fit for a queen at the Hôtel de Crillon. This elegant five-star hotel boasts 78 rooms and dozens of suites, including designs from Karl Lagerfeld. Treat yourself to a romantic dinner at l’Écrin, the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. This hotel overlooks the historic Place de la Concorde.


Ready to discover the craftsmanship of Louis Vuitton and other fashion houses in France? French Side Travel is ready to plan your luxurious trip to Paris and beyond. You might be interested in: An unforgettable Fashion and Art Trip to the City of Light or A Historical and Cultural Escape to Paris. Need some help planning your trip?

Your Guide to Nîmes: The French Rome

Imagine a place where ancient Roman stones whisper tales of gladiatorial combat, sunshine paints the cafes with a golden glow, and modern hospitality offers a touch of indulgence. This is Nîmes, a captivating city in southern France, waiting to unfold its magic before you.

Nicknamed “the French Rome,” Nîmes boasts a wealth of Roman ruins rivaling the Eternal City. Just as 19th-century poet Jean Reboul once declared, Nîmes, like Rome, is a city built upon seven hills, bathed in sunshine, and graced with the beauty of its historical legacy.

The city sits proudly along the Via Domitia, an ancient road that once linked Italy to Spain, a testament to its former strategic importance. Prepare to be transported through time as you explore Nîmes.


Things to See in Nîmes

The Roman legacy of Nîmes unfolds like an open-air museum, inviting you on a captivating journey through the ages. Prepare to be awestruck by:

Arena of Nîmes

This behemoth, remarkably well-preserved, rivals the Colosseum itself. While the Colosseum bears the scars of medieval quarrying, Nîmes’ inhabitants cleverly repurposed theirs as a residential area. This act of preservation allows us to witness the near-complete structure today, with its arena, tiered seating, galleries, and arches standing strong – a captivating testament to the city’s rich history of spectacles. Today, the Arena of Nîmes pulsates with a different kind of energy, hosting concerts and cultural events.

Pont du Gard:

© Aurelio Rodriguez

A short 30-minute drive beyond Nîmes lies the awe-inspiring Pont du Gard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This three-tiered aqueduct, a masterpiece of Roman ingenuity, stretches majestically across the Gardon River. Take a moment to marvel at its intricate stonework and imagine the vital role it played in transporting water to ancient Nîmes. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even kayak here!

More Monuments, Maison Carrée and Temple de Diane:

© Olivier Maynard

Nîmes’ Roman treasures extend beyond the arena and aqueduct. Don’t miss the Maison Carrée, a perfectly proportioned temple recently added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s list. Other monuments include the Temple de Diane, Tour Magne, and Porte d’Auguste. These sites offer a glimpse into the daily life of the city’s Roman inhabitants and will spark your curiosity for exploration.

Things to Do in Nîmes

Nîmes isn’t just about reliving Roman history; it’s a city brimming with hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Walk through the Jardins de la Fontaine

Courtesy of Nîmes Tourisme

Step away from the bustle of the city center and find serenity in the Jardins de la Fontaine. These beautifully landscaped gardens offer a peaceful oasis, adorned with classical statues, cascading waterfalls, and serene walking paths. Immerse yourself in the sweet scent of blooming flowers and the gentle sound of trickling water, a perfect escape for a moment of quiet reflection.

Immerse yourself in the city’s museums: Musée de la Romanité and Carré d’Art

Courtesy of Musée de la Romanité

For those who crave a deeper cultural experience, Nîmes offers an array of museums. Delve into the city’s rich Roman heritage at the Musée de la Romanité, where captivating exhibits bring the past to life. If contemporary art interests you, head to the Carré d’Art, a vibrant space showcasing modern and experimental works.

Participate in the city’s festivities: Feria de Nîmes & Roman Days of Nîmes

Nîmes comes alive throughout the year with a vibrant calendar of festivals and events. Immerse yourself in the city’s spirit by attending the annual Feria de Nîmes, a thrilling bullfighting festival (courses camarguaises) unique to the region.

Alternatively, watch history come alive during the Roman Days of Nîmes, where the city transforms into an ancient Roman spectacle complete with gladiatorial games and costumed actors. No matter the season, Nîmes offers a unique opportunity to connect with its local culture and traditions.

Planning Your Nîmes Getaway

Nîmes is effortlessly accessible, whether you journey directly from Paris by high-speed train (3 hours), incorporate it into your exploration of Provence as a day trip from Aix-en-Provence or Avignon, or add it as a stop on a multi-region itinerary. Learn more about Roman History in Provence.

Where to Stay in Nîmes

Maison Albar – L’Imperator

© K_Pictures

This 5-star urban resort exudes timeless elegance, having charmed icons like Hemingway and Picasso. Choose from luxurious rooms or private houses, ideal for families or groups seeking an exclusive escape.

“…the mistral was blowing so they rode with the mistral down to Nîmes and stayed there at the Imperator.”

The Garden of Eden, Ernest Hemingway
© Marco Strullu

Indulge your taste buds at DUENDE, the hotel’s 2-Michelin-starred restaurant led by culinary maestro Pierre Gagnaire. His creations are a testament to his innovative spirit and dedication to artistry. Unwind at the expansive Codage Spa, a sanctuary of pampering, or sip handcrafted cocktails at Bar Hemingway, a tribute to the famed writer who frequented this very spot. Maison Albar – L’Imperator allows you to experience Nîmes’ rich heritage in the lap of luxury.

Margaret – Hôtel Chouleur

Courtesy of Margaret – Hôtel Chouleur

For a stay that feels more like a private residence than a hotel, look no further than Margaret – Hôtel Chouleur. Nestled on a quiet street, this charming 4-star hotel boasts just 10 rooms and suites, designed with a blend of French tradition and modern flair. Relax in one of the hotel’s two courtyards, or lose yourself in a good book in the library. Here, you can pour yourself a drink and settle up at the end of your stay, fostering a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.

For a truly unforgettable experience don’t miss ROUGE, the on-site Michelin-starred restaurant. Chef Georgiana Viou’s culinary creations showcase the best of Mediterranean cuisine. Just steps from the Maison Carrée, Margaret – Hôtel Chouleur is perfect for those seeking a personalized experience in the heart of Nîmes.


Nîmes’ allure is derived from its blend of Roman heritage, sun-drenched charm, and contemporary elegance. Ancient stones whisper of the past, vibrant cafes hum with life, and unique experiences await around every corner.

Ready to explore? Let our Travel Designers curate your perfect French escape. Speak with an expert today to unveil the magic of Nîmes.

From Albi to Paris: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

From Claude Monet’s water lilies to the grandeur of Versailles, France is an icon in the world of art. This country has produced or heavily influenced some of the world’s biggest names: Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Van Gogh and beyond. Even more, it’s home to the largest art museum in the world, the Louvre. Although lesser known, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec played an important role in French art history, namely the Art Nouveau and Post-Impressionist movements. From Albi to Paris, we’re exploring Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s roots and legacy, plus best activities inspired by this artist.


From Albi to Paris: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Toulouse-Lautrec Biography

Paul Sescau, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1864, Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa was born in Albi, a small town in southwestern France. (We can see why he shortened his name!) He left the small town of Albi for the big city of Paris in 1872. At the age of 8, Toulouse-Lautrec learned art from their family friend Réné Princeteau, according to France Today. He also studied under Léon Bonnat and Fernand Cormon, who also taught Van Gogh, per the Met.

From the get-go, Toulouse-Lautrec struggled with health problems, according to the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. Most likely due to intermarriage, he suffered from a congenital bone disease. And in his mid 30s, he died due to alcoholism and syphilis, according to the Met.

Toulouse-Lautrec’s Art Career

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Creating lithography, posters, drawings and paintings, he was a jack-of-all-trades. Toulouse-Lautrec straddles the Art Nouveau and post-impressionist movements. Looking at his work, you’ll notice his raw, emotional perspective. With his unmistakable style, Toulouse-Lautrec often illustrated people in an accentuated, almost clownish manner. 

With many pieces relating to prostitution and brothels, there are dark undertones to Toulouse-Lautrec’s work. “His sympathetic fascination with the marginal in society, as well as his keen caricaturist’s eye, may be partly explained by his own physical handicap,” says Cora Michael in her essay for the Met. “The directness and honesty of the picture testify to Lautrec’s love of women, whether fabulous or fallen, and demonstrates his generosity and sympathy toward them.”

Plagued by the vices of this world and little appreciated in the art community at the time, Toulouse-Lautrec was a tragic hero. Yet his distinguished perspective, subject matter and Montmartre exposition chiseled a legacy on French art history.

Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre

Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Like many artists, Toulouse-Lautrec migrated to the bohemian Montmartre neighborhood and conveyed its aura in his art. “The raucous spirit of Montmartre — its unbridled energy, tawdry behavior, garish colors, and provocative celebrities — was both a way to live and a subject to depict,” according to the National Gallery of Art.

And one of his habitual hang-out spots was the Moulin Rouge. And in 1891, he designed his first poster for the cabaret, which still has a room named after him, according to the Moulin Rouge. Toulouse-Lautrec went on to design more posters such as Jane Avril – Jardin de Paris et Divan Japonais


Although he may receive less screen time than Monet and Van Gogh, you can still explore the wealth of art that Toulouse-Lautrec created during his short life. From Albi to Paris, we’re sharing some of our best activities to explore the legacy of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Private Walking Tour to Ancient, Unknown Paris

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Grab your walking shoes as you discover the different architecture styles of Paris for yourself. You’ll wander through Passy and Auteuil and admire the colors of Parisian architecture between 1850 and 1950. From Art Nouveau to Neo-Haussmannian movements, turn back the clock to the time of Toulouse-Lautrec and beyond. Your tour guide will introduce you to some of France’s top architects of the time, such as Le Corbusier and Hector Guimard.

Visit the Moulin Rouge

Discover the cabaret that inspired Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. This Montmartre landmark has been around since the 1800s and played an integral role in Toulouse-Lautrec’s art career and influence.

Take a Montmartre Painting Class

evening in the Place du Tertre and the Sacre-Coeur in Paris, France

Find inspiration and follow in the footsteps of Toulouse-Lautrec by picking up the paintbrush. Whether you’re a beginner or maestro, you can lose track of time as you learn how to paint with local artist Edwidge in the heart of Montmartre.

Visit the Montmartre Museum

Although the Montmartre Museum didn’t open until 1960, its building dates back to the 1600s. Get lost among the masterpieces of Auguste Renoir, Raoul Dufy and beyond. After you’ve admired the museum’s artwork and learned about the neighborhood’s history, take a stroll in its surrounding gardens.

Private Guided Tour through Albi and Cordes-sur-Ciel

Credit: Round Trip Travel

Far from the hustle and bustle of Paris rests the charming town of Albi in southwestern France. Marvel at the majestic Sainte Cécile Cathedral and make your way to the Berbie Palace. Its fairytale-like gardens are just a foretaste of what’s inside. The Berbie Palace is one of the best conserved episcopal palaces and is also home to the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. Here, they celebrate this hometown artist with the largest public collection of Toulouse-Lautrec art.

After a short drive from Albi, you’ll fall in love with Cordes-sur-Ciel, named one of the most beautiful French villages. Wander its narrow streets and turn back the clock to a different century as you explore its shops and restaurants.


Where to Stay in Paris

Courtesy of Kimpton Saint Honoré

The Kimpton Saint Honoré Hotel
Be charmed by this five-star hotel’s 149 rooms in the heart of Paris. If you’re looking to stay in, nurse a cocktail at its rooftop bar or unwind at its spa. Looking to explore? You’re just a stone’s throw from the Opera and the Tuileries Gardens.

Courtesy of Château des Fleurs

Château des Fleurs 
Rewind to the Belle Époque with a stay at five-star hotel Château des Fleurs. Enjoy a stay in one of its 37 rooms and admire beautiful Parisian architecture from your bed. Nosh on the hotel’s Franco-Korean fusion menu. Treat yourself to a massage or a facial at its spa. This hotel is a short walk from rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. where Toulouse-Lautrec studied under Princeteau, per France Today.


The world of French art is best experienced first hand, not in a history book or online. French Side Travel is ready to design the perfect trip for any art aficionado. You might enjoy: A Journey Through History, Art, and Nature in Charming France or An unforgettable Fashion and Art Trip to the City of Light. Need some help planning your trip?

Uncover Canada’s World War History in France

Are you a Canadian World War history buff planning a trip to France? Immerse yourself in the rich legacy of Canadian bravery and sacrifice by following the Canadian Route of Remembrance. This unforgettable itinerary takes you to the very battlefields where Canadian soldiers played pivotal roles in both World Wars.

This historic route winds through northern France, encompassing poignant memorials, preserved trenches, and informative museums. Walk the same grounds where Canadian troops secured key victories, stood strong against overwhelming odds, and forever changed the course of history.

Join us as we delve into the details of this commemorative journey.


Canadian World War I Sites & Museums in Northern France

Canada played a pivotal role in the First World War, and Northern France bears witness to the courage and sacrifice of its soldiers. Here are some key sites you can visit to learn more about Canada’s WWI experience:

vimy ridge canada world war i

Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge offers a powerful experience for visitors seeking to learn about Canada’s role in World War I. The iconic Canadian National Vimy Memorial towers over the Lens Plain, marking the very site of the pivotal 1917 battle. Dedicated in 1936, it commemorates the over 66,000 Canadians who lost their lives in the war.

To delve deeper, the Visitor Education Centre, opened in 2017, utilizes multimedia exhibits to explore Canada’s involvement in the war, from its beginnings to its lasting impact. Finally, free guided tours led by Canadian university students bring the battlefield to life.

Explore the preserved trenches and underground tunnels that played a crucial role in the Canadian victory, and visit the military cemeteries to pay your respects to the fallen soldiers. Vimy Ridge offers a profound and moving tribute to Canadian bravery and sacrifice.

beaumont-hamel newfoundland memorial
© Carl Liversage

Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial

The Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial offers a poignant and immersive experience. Atop a hill overlooking a meticulously preserved trench network stands the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Memorial, a bronze caribou symbolizing the enduring spirit of its soldiers. This unique site allows visitors to walk through the very trenches where soldiers fought, providing a powerful and visceral connection to the realities of trench warfare.

Other WWI Sites

menin gate memorial ypres belgium
Courtesy of CWCG

For history buffs seeking a unique perspective, Wellington Quarry near Arras awaits. Descend into this “secret city” used by over 20,000 Commonwealth soldiers to prepare for the Battle of Arras, and imagine the immense undertaking that preceded the offensive.

Scattered throughout the region lie the Remembrance Trail a series of memorials honoring fallen soldiers. Pay your respects at the Monument of the 37th British Division, the Scottish Highlanders’ Cross, and the New Zealand Memorial, each a poignant reminder of the war’s global impact.

Just across the border in Belgium lies Ypres, a town forever etched in Canadian memory. Here, inexperienced Canadian troops faced a baptism by fire during the brutal battles of Ypres. Explore the Ypres Salient battlefield and the haunting Menin Gate Memorial, where every evening the Last Post is sounded in remembrance of the missing.

Where To Stay in Northern France

Hôtel Louvre-Lens 4*

© Gilles TRILLARD

Only a 15-minute drive away from Vimy Ridge, the Hôtel Louvre-Lens blends restored miners’ cottages with modern comfort. Located opposite the Louvre-Lens Museum, it’s a perfect base to explore WWI sites and regional heritage. After a day of exploration, relax and savor innovative regional cuisine by Chef Kasprik.


Canadian World War II Sites & Museums in Normandy

Normandy played a crucial role in the liberation of Europe during World War II, and Canadian troops were at the forefront of the Allied invasion. Here are some key sites you can visit to learn more about Canada’s contribution to D-Day and the Battle of Normandy:

Juno Beach: Canadian D-Day Glory

juno beach normandy wwII canada
Courtesy of Normandy Tourism

Juno Beach, on France’s northwest coast, signifies Canadian triumph in WWII. Here, Canadian troops were the first Allied forces to liberate a house on D-Day. This house, still standing as Canada House, marks the day’s significance. Dive deeper at the Juno Beach Centre, the only Canadian museum on the Normandy beaches. Explore Canada’s wartime efforts, both military and civilian, through interactive exhibits and artifacts.

Juno Park (Courseulles-sur-Mer) offers a glimpse into the D-Day defenses. Explore the remnants of the Atlantic Wall, including concrete fortifications and artillery, for a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the Canadian troops.

Canadian War Cemetery Reviers/Bény-sur-Mer), a few kilometers inland, honors over 2,000 Canadians who fought for Juno Beach. A somber yet significant stop, it pays tribute to their sacrifice.

juno beach WWII canada
Courtesy of Juno Beach Centre

Dieppe: A Lesson Learned

dieppe normandy wwII canada
© Valentin Pacaut

Further up the coast of Normandy lies Dieppe, a location etched in Canadian memory for a different reason. The 1942 Dieppe Raid, though a tactical failure, proved a crucial learning experience. It exposed weaknesses in Allied planning, paving the way for the meticulous planning and overwhelming force used during D-Day. While resulting in heavy casualties, Dieppe also demonstrated Allied resolve and forced the Germans to divert resources. The Dieppe Raid Memorial honors the Canadians who participated in this pivotal operation.

wwII canada dieppe normandy memorial
Courtesy of Normandy Tourism

Vertus Canadian Military Cemetery (Hautot-sur-Mer) honors over 950 fallen soldiers, including 707 Canadians. Pay your respects to those who fought in Operation Jubilee.

Beaches of the Côte d’Albâtre (Puys, Pourville, Varengeville-sur-Mer): Take a boat trip and explore the scenic beaches where Operation Jubilee unfolded.

Where to Stay in Normandy

Château d’Audrieu

Château d’Audrieu, a luxurious 18th-century chateau 30 minutes from Juno Beach, beckons. Relax amidst 25 hectares of gardens, woodlands, and a pool. This meticulously restored historical monument offers a captivating blend of history and modern comfort.


French Side Travel promises an unforgettable journey, one that blends remembrance with cultural immersion. Speak with our experts today and let’s craft your perfect Canadian Remembrance Route itinerary. Walk in the footsteps of heroes, honor the past, and discover the enduring spirit of Canada’s brave soldiers.

Your Guide to the Provence Wine Region

Bright blue waves and year-round sunshine draw many to Provence. But there’s much more to be explored and enjoyed in this region in southern France. This sun-drenched region is also well-known for its breathtaking vineyards and wine selections. With nearly 90% of its wine production being rosé, Provence is rather pink. We’ve curated a guide to the Provence wine region along with the best wine activities in the heart of southern France.


Your Guide to the Provence Wine Region

How to Get to Provence

Walking Tour of Aix-en-Provence

Provence is easily accessible by plane and train. You can fly into the Marseille airport, where our drivers can pick you up to whisk you off to a darling Provençal village or to bustling Marseille. It’s also possible to fly into Paris and then take the high-speed train to Provence destinations such as Avignon, Aix-en-Provence or Marseille. From Paris, reaching Provence takes around three hours in the TGV train.

Overview of the Provence Wine Region

Provençal vineyards are filled with white varieties such as Rolle, Ugni Blanc and Clairette grapes, per Wine Folly. Red grapes grown in Provence include Grenache Noir, Syrah and Cinsault. We owe much to the Phocaeans who founded Marseille around 2,600 years ago because they packed grapevines in their suitcases, according to Vins de Provence. So even before Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, the region of Provence was the first to produce wine, per Vins de Provence.

Out of all French AOP rosé wines, Provence produces nearly half of these pink wines, according to the Vins de Provence’s 2022 report. And these Provence rosé wines aren’t just for the French to enjoy. In 2022, more than 61 million bottles of Provence rosé were exported, per Vins de Provence. And one of the largest export markets for Provence rosés is the United States, which imported about 23.5 million bottles of rosé in 2022.

When it comes to top appellations in Provence, you must get acquainted with Côtes de Provence as it’s the region’s largest producer and is well-known for its rosé, per Wine Folly. Some of our other favorites are Bandol, which is particularly known for its reds, and Cassis, well-loved for its whites. 

Another hallmark name in southern France is Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Although not technically in the Provence wine region, this appellation is worth mentioning for its close proximity. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is on the southern end of the Rhône Valley and will charm you with its reds, per Wine Folly.  


Itching to discover the world-renowned wineries tucked between rows of lavender and olive orchards? We’ve rounded up some of our best Provence wine region activities that will have you begging for seconds.

Private Luxury Gourmet Tour to Aix Country

Begin your luxurious tour in the charming town of Aix-en-Provence, known for its moss-covered fountains. Wander its cobblestone streets on a private walking tour and discover the secrets of this city founded by the Romans in the second century B.C. You’ll also find yourself enchanted by its many markets, where your food expert will show you around. Indulge in Provence’s many specialities from its tapenade spreads to calisson candies, honey to cheeses.

After you’ve eaten like a true Aixois, our driver will introduce you to the romantic Luberon Valley, one of the top Provence wine region destinations. During the afternoon, you’ll enjoy a cellar visit of a local vineyard followed by a tasting of three wines. Sip on a glass of the Côtes de Provence appellation with a backdrop of rolling Provençal vineyards in quaint villages such as Lourmarin or Ménerbes. Oh là là !

Private Food and Wine Tour to Avignon Country

Turn back the clock with a visit to the medieval town of Avignon. This charming town is a destination in and of itself with its rich historical significance and ancient architecture. Even more, it’s only a stone’s throw away from some of Provence’s best wineries and vineyards. Admire the Gothic architecture of the Pope’s Palace and see the Pont d’Avignon, a bridge that inspired a children’s nursery rhyme any French child could croon with you. The city boasts exquisite restaurants, but for lunch, we recommend that you stroll its markets to taste the region’s best flavors. Following your authentic meal, our wine expert will meet you to sample several glasses of the famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. 

Guided Wine Tour of the Châteauneuf du Pape Appellation

Photo by Eric Masur on Unsplash

After just a short drive from the historically rich town of Avignon, you have some of the best Provençal wine appellations at your fingertips. Your day will begin with a visit to Gigondas as you wander vineyards in this famed appellation. After you sip on a flight of wine, nosh on an authentic dish at a French restaurant in the village. Later, our driver will guide you to another wine tasting with the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. Taste some of this region’s best red and white wines all with a postcard-worthy village backdrop.


Where to Stay in Provence

Domaine de Fontenille
This four-star hotel is located in the lush Luberon Valley and invites you in to a cozy stay in one of its 21 rooms. Savor an authentic French meal made with the freshest ingredients from the hotel’s vegetable garden. Unwind with a yoga class or explore the Luberon horseback during your stay at the Domaine de Fontenille.

Courtesy of Château de Fonscolombe

Château de Fonscolombe
After discovering the wealth of the Provence wine region, rest your head at this five-star hotel. The Château de Fonscolombe will woo you with its 50 elegantly decorated rooms and its manicured gardens just a hop, skip and a jump away from Aix-en-Provence.


Longing to taste the riches of the Provence wine region for yourself? French Side Travel is ready to help you organize a magical trip to savor the best of the Provençal wine. You might enjoy: A Perfect Cultural and Culinary Stay in the Beautiful Provence or Culture and Gastronomy in Provence. Need some help planning your trip?

French Riviera: Best Hotel Spas and Wellness Getaways

Are you dreaming of a French getaway that combines luxury with a renewed sense of well-being? France boasts a wealth of exceptional wellness retreats, each catering to a unique vision of holistic rejuvenation. From art-inspired treatments to personalized weight-loss programs, there’s a perfect retreat waiting for you on the French Riviera.


Le Negresco – Nice

Wellness is A Work of Art at N Le Spa

© Nicolas Matheus

New for 2024, N Le Spa at Le Negresco takes a revolutionary approach to wellness. Forget the typical spa experience – here, every detail is designed to evoke the sensations of art.

Instead of a single brand, N Le Spa curates products from the finest names, allowing personalization unlike ever before. Discover the concept store, where you can explore new cosmetics and even create a custom serum.

© Nicolas Matheus

Unwind in relaxation areas adorned with art and music, or indulge in a sensory journey with a Michelin-starred chef-curated treat. Dive deeper with immersive treatments or innovative yoga experiences that blend sound, movement, and digital art.

Designed by architect Jean-Philippe Nuel, the spa reflects Le Negresco’s eclectic spirit, creating a unique sanctuary for the senses. N Le Spa is more than a spa; it’s a journey of discovery, contemplation, and immersion, crafted to leave you feeling renewed and beautifully you.


Lily of the Valley – Le Croix-Valmer

Shape Up in Paradise at Lily of the Valley’s Shape Club

Seeking a luxurious retreat dedicated to wellness? Look no further than the Shape Club at Lily of the Valley. This 5-star haven isn’t your average spa. Here, a team of experts works year-round to craft personalized programs for weight loss, skin health, and overall well-being.

Their method revolves around nutrition, fitness, and targeted treatments. Under the guidance of nutritionist Jacques Fricker, their weight-loss program offers delicious, healthy meals alongside effective fitness sessions. Expert therapists tailor treatments to address your specific needs, maximizing results. Restrictive diets are a thing of the past! The Shape Club champions a sustainable approach. Their “TGV” method combines low-calorie meals with healthy indulgences, allowing you to lose weight without sacrificing flavor.

But Lily of the Valley’s appeal extends beyond their wellness programs. For those seeking pure relaxation, the resort’s idyllic location on the Saint-Tropez peninsula with a private beach club and multiple pools provides the perfect escape.


Terre Blanche Hôtel, Spa & Golf Resort – Tourettes

Immerse Yourself in Riviera Wellness at Terre Blanche

Escape to the heart of the French Riviera and discover Terre Blanche Hotel Spa & Golf Resort, a sanctuary dedicated to your holistic well-being. Their signature Detox Program offers a 360° approach to wellness, combining delicious, regionally-inspired cuisine with personalized exercise routines and expert treatments.

Indulge in a variety of fitness options, from invigorating group water classes to personalized training sessions focusing on Pilates, yoga, and strength training. The state-of-the-art fitness club boasts cutting-edge equipment to help you achieve all your sporting goals. Terre Blanche Spa pampers your body with a selection of luxurious treatments using only the finest natural products.

Terre Blanche offers a variety of saunas, steam rooms, and a refreshing vitality pool to help eliminate toxins and promote deep relaxation. Take a dip in the stunning indoor pool, a sanctuary of light and tranquility, or bask in the sunshine by the outdoor pool, complete with soothing water features. Set out on a journey to rediscover your well-being in the heart of the French Riviera.

Learn More: Best Hotels for Golfing in France


Four Seasons Grand Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat

Embrace Riviera Wellness in Saint-Jean-du-Cap-Ferrat

Escape to the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Peninsula and discover the Four Seasons Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat. Here, amidst 17 acres of lush gardens overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean, a world of holistic wellness awaits.

Embrace a personalized approach guided by their dedicated wellness concierge. Hike scenic trails or cycle charming towns, all while reconnecting with nature. Unwind in the tranquil Spa Garden or discover the power of local herbs in signature treatments.

Courtesy of @martino.dini

Cultivate creativity with pottery classes or lose yourself in the vibrant world of flower arranging. Chef Tièche’s garden-to-table philosophy extends to cooking classes and organic wine tastings, nourishing your body from within. The Four Seasons Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat is a gateway to a healthier, happier you on the stunning French Riviera.


Thermes Marins de Monte-Carlo

Monaco’s Wellness Sanctuary

Monaco’s allure extends beyond its famed casinos and designer shopping. Look no further than the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, a haven of wellness directly connected to the prestigious Hôtel Hermitage and Hôtel de Paris.

This vast sanctuary offers a holistic approach to well-being, combining cutting-edge facilities with a team of multidisciplinary experts. Unwind with personalized treatments designed to address your specific needs, from beauty and anti-aging to weight management and stress reduction.

Thermes Marins elevates relaxation to an art form. Take a dip in the stunning heated seawater pool, offering breathtaking Mediterranean views. Bask in the sunshine on the solarium overlooking the port and the legendary Rock of Monaco. For the fitness enthusiast, a panoramic gym boasts cutting-edge Technogym equipment and a variety of group classes, from aqua fitness to Pilates and strength training.

Thermes Marins goes beyond indulgence; it’s a champion of sustainability. Holding esteemed Green Globe certification, they prioritize eco-friendly practices, ensuring a healthy planet fosters a healthy you. Indulge in luxury and embark on a transformative wellness journey at Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, a jewel in the crown of the French Riviera.

See what French Side Travel has to offer in: Monaco


Château Saint-Martin & Spa

Provençal Bliss Awaits in Vence

Perched above the village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Château Saint-Martin & Spa beckons with an experience unlike any other. Recognized as the “Best Luxury Spa Destination in Europe” by the World Luxury Spa Awards, this haven of tranquility promises a transformative journey for your mind, body, and soul.

Embrace treatments by La Prairie, a world leader in cellular science. Expert therapists curate treatments using cutting-edge products, ensuring a truly rejuvenating experience. Choose your ideal setting – unwind in one of four elegant treatment rooms, including a dedicated space for couples’ pampering, or soak in the fresh Provençal air beneath a romantic gazebo nestled amidst the hotel’s charming gardens.

Château Saint-Martin & Spa offers more than just pampering. Embrace the ancient practice of yoga, offered in both group and private sessions. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a curious beginner, these classes, held outdoors in the gardens or within the spa itself, promote hormonal balance, emotional stability, and mental clarity, leaving you feeling centered and renewed.

Unwind, reconnect, and discover the transformative power of wellness at Château Saint-Martin & Spa, a captivating escape in the South of France.


Ready to transform your mind, body, and spirit? Allow our team of experts to craft the wellness escape of your dreams!

Your Gourmet Guide to French Regional Specialties

Partake in a culinary journey throughout the regions of France, where each region boasts distinctive flavors and gastronomic delicacies. With 13 administrative regions nestled within metropolitan France, this country is your playground for epicurean delights.

We’re taking you from the snow-capped Alps to the sun-kissed shores of the Mediterranean, displaying each corner of France that offers a tantalizing array of specialty dishes and foods to ignite your senses. Join us as we explore these French regional specialties, inviting you on this luxurious gastronomic adventure.


Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Many know this region in eastern France for its stunning Alpine landscapes, including the majestic Mont Blanc, and for its ski resorts. However, there are many fine wines and culinary delights such as the city of Lyon’s gastronomic scene for you to explore as well.

Indulge in an unforgettable week experiencing the best of Lyon’s unique gastronomy: Luxury Gourmet Week in Lyon

Fondue Savoyarde, French Alps
Credit: Yann Allegre

Regional Specialty: Fondue Savoyarde 

The locals serve this decadent melted cheese dish with bread and cured meats. It is perfect for an après-ski in mountain dining experience in this region. 

Fondue has both Swiss and French backgrounds, dating back to the 17th century. It uses a mixture of cheeses from both countries. Today, a typical recipe requires equal parts of Comté and Beaufort, two of France’s top mountain cheeses, along with an equal portion of Swiss Gruyère.

Ready to hit the slopes? Check out: Ski Vacation in Chamonix


Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

This region in eastern France boasts picturesque vineyards and charming medieval towns. It’s famous for its prestigious Burgundy wines, exquisite cuisine, and scenic countryside. Check out: Wine Tours in Lyon, Dijon & Champagne

Coq au vin, Burgundy

Regional Specialty: Coq au Vin

This classic French dish embodies the rich flavors of Burgundian cuisine. Coq au vin contains chicken braised in red wine, lardons, and mushrooms. The key ingredient is local Burgundy red wine that chefs use to marinate and cook the chicken and to create the flavorful sauce that completes this artisanal dish. 


Brittany

Located in northwest France, Brittany is famed for its rugged coast, ancient Celtic heritage, and delicious seafood. Picturesque villages, historic sites, and vibrant cultural festivals draw visitors to the region.

Regional Specialty: Breton Crêpes

You cannot visit France without having tasted an artisanal classic, crêpes. This specialty, which originated in 13th-century Brittany, is described as thin pancakes, which can be sweet or savory. Crêpes, not to be confused with galettes, are typically made with wheat flour. Top your crêpes with sweet flavors such as Nutella, caramel, fruits, or the French favorite, crème de marron. While galettes, made with buckwheat flour, are typically accompanied by more savory flavors such as ham, cheese, and eggs.

Hungry for more? Check out: Beginner’s Guide to French Crêpes


Centre-Val de Loire

Locals and visitors alike celebrate this region in central France for its majestic châteaux, picturesque countryside, and the iconic Loire Valley, often referred to as the “Garden of France.” It’s a paradise for wine enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Tart Tatin, Loire Valley

Specialty Dish: Tarte Tatin

Those who have a sweet tooth will want to indulge in this classic French dessert created back in the 1880s by the Tatin sisters. Described as an upside-down caramelized apple tart, this delectable dessert embodies the elegance and refinement of the Loire Valley. It includes all the elements in a perfect treat with a crunchy base, a fruity interior (typically apples, and some sweet caramel glaze. 

Entice your taste buds and discover the true flavor of the Loire Valley: Flavors of the Loire Valley


Corsica

Known for its pristine beaches, rugged mountains, and vibrant Mediterranean culture, Corsica offers opportunities for luxury seaside retreats, outdoor adventures, and indulgent cuisine featuring fresh seafood and local specialties.

Corsica, Fiadone

Specialty Foods: Fiadone & Brocciu cheese

Fiadone, a traditional Corsican cheesecake made with brocciu cheese, showcases the island’s unique culinary heritage and local ingredients. Eggs, lemon zest and sugar are also included in this dish. This regional delight is creamy on the inside and golden brown on the outside.

Brocciu is prepared with goat’s or sheep’s milk and is described as soft, creamy, and sometimes foamy. Nineteenth-century Emile Bergerat French poet once said, “Those who haven’t tasted it don’t know the island”. This cheese has its seasons for the best time to taste it, which is in the winter between December and April. 

Check out: Luxury Stay in Southern Corsica


Grand Est

Rich history, diverse landscapes, and charming towns characterize this region in northeastern France. Grand Est is home to picturesque vineyards, scenic countryside, and the historic city of Strasbourg, home to the European Parliament.

Alsace, Choucroute Garnie

Specialty Dish: Choucroute Garnie

Choucroute Garnie, French for dressed sauerkraut, is a hearty dish symbolizing the France-German culinary influences of this region. The name also hints at its lavishness. This dish consists of sauerkraut expertly cooked with the subtle essence of Alsatian wine, enriched with decadent goose fat, and infused with aromatic juniper. Delight in a lavish array of charcuterie, featuring succulent slabs of pork and a variety of exquisite sausages, all served atop a bed of tender potatoes, ensuring a truly unforgettable culinary experience of this region.

Discover: Gourmet Delights in the Heart of Alsace


Hauts-de-France

Located in northern France, this region is famous for its iconic landmarks such as the white cliffs of the Opal Coast and the historic city of Lille. It offers a blend of cultural heritage, culinary delights, and opportunities for luxury shopping and leisure.

Carbonnade Flamande, Northern France, hauts-de-France

Specialty Dish: Carbonnade Flamande 

Also known as Flemish beef stew, it represents the comforting and robust flavors of northern French cuisine. Carbonnade flamande champions hearty beef cooked with beer and caramelized onions. The sumptuous, glossy gravy and melt-in-your-mouth beef offer a comforting embrace, making it an ideal dish to savor during the chillier months.

Most “Estaminet” restaurants, a traditional type of eatery found in this region of northern France, have this specialty on the menu. They serve hearty, traditional French cuisine with an emphasis on using local ingredients and having an old-world ambiance.


Normandy

We love Normandy for its picturesque coastline, historic sites, and rich culinary traditions. Here you can explore charming seaside towns, sample gourmet cheeses, and ciders, and discover the region’s pivotal role in world history.

Moules Marinères, Mussels, Moules Frites, Normandy

Specialty Dish: Moules Marinières 

An ideal choice for seafood lovers and an essential culinary experience if you wish to immerse yourself in traditional French cuisine. This beloved classical dish involves fresh mussels cooked within a savory broth of white wine, garlic, and herbs. It brings together this coastal region’s delicate flavors of seafood and dairy products. The origin of the Moules Marinières recipe stems from an efficient approach to preparing mussels, highlighting the innate flavors of the seafood to shine through.

Ready to embark on a culinary journey? A Road Trip Through Normandy for Foodies


Nouvelle Aquitaine

Situated in southwestern France, this region is famed for its diverse landscapes, from the sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast to the lush vineyards of Bordeaux. It offers opportunities for luxury wine tours, gourmet dining experiences, and outdoor adventures in the Pyrenees mountains.

Foie Gras, Nouvelle Aquitaine, Bordeaux,

Specialty Food: Foie Gras

Not only is this region famed for wine and amazing landscapes, but also its world-renowned cuisine. There are a few specialties from this region to include the most famous foie gras. This culinary specialty is a popular holiday delicacy in France renowned for its exquisite flavor and velvety texture. Foie gras comes from the specially fattened liver of ducks or geese. According to French law, “foie gras is part of the cultural and gastronomic heritage protected in France.” 

Unique Experience: Gourmet Walking Tour of Bordeaux

You can have the opportunity to embark on a gourmet journey through Bordeaux with our private walking tour. Led by a knowledgeable foodie guide, you can explore the city’s culinary treasures, from artisanal coffee and chocolate to local pastries and iconic specialties. Indulge in 10 tastings, including cheese and wine at the historic Covered Market, culminating in a delightful meal at a renowned bistronomic restaurant, accompanied by Bordeaux’s finest wines:


Occitanie

Occitanie known for its Mediterranean climate, picturesque countryside, and historic cities such as Toulouse and Montpellier is a paradise for wine enthusiasts, offering access to renowned vineyards in regions like Languedoc and Roussillon.

Cassoulet, Occitanie, French Regional Specialties

Specialty Dish: Cassoulet

Cassoulet is named for the dish it is traditionally baked in – a cassole. This hearty stew contains white beans, duck, sausage, and pork, representing the rustic and flavorsome cuisine of the Languedoc region. The cassoulet from Toulouse uses duck confit and French garlic sauces, a delicacy of that area. 


Pays de la Loire

Positioned in western France, this region is renowned for its fairy-tale châteaux, scenic rivers, and charming towns. It’s an ideal destination for luxury river cruises, cultural excursions, and gourmet dining experiences along the Loire River.

French Regional Specialties, Rillettes de Porc
Courtesy of Sarthe Tourism

Specialty Food: Rillettes de Porc

This dish showcases the region’s dedication to artisanal craftsmanship and gastronomic tradition. Pork rillettes, a beloved French lunch or snack, pairs beautifully with crusty bread and creamy French butter, garnished with tender pork and served alongside cornichons. Additionally, rillettes consist of slow-cooked pork or poultry in its own fat, resulting in a flavorful and indulgent dish, much like duck confit, but it is served shredded.


Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur

Situated in southeastern France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is famed for its stunning Mediterranean coastline, picturesque villages, and vibrant cultural scene. It offers opportunities for luxury villa rentals, wine tasting in Provence, and indulgent seaside escapes on the French Riviera.

Bouillabaisse, Provence, South of France, Gourmet Guide, French Regional Specialties

Specialty Dish: Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse stands as a quintessential culinary treasure traditionally from the Mediterranean region of Provence. Originating in Marseille, where it holds a very symbolic status, this dish comprises a rich fish soup served with garlic-infused bread croutons slathered with rouille, accompanied by fish pieces and potatoes.

Contemporary Provençal bouillabaisse showcases locally sourced rockfish simmered in a flavorful court-bouillon made with water or white wine, infused with garlic, olive oil, and sometimes saffron. The preparation of today’s bouillabaisse soup follows a specific charter, which mandates that they must cut the fish in front of you. At the Miramar, one of the founding members of the charter, bouillabaisse must be crafted with at least six varieties of rockfish. 


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