French Riviera Archives -

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?

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. 


Ready to tantalize your taste buds and embark on a culinary adventure through France? Speak with our experts today to dive deeper into these regional specialties!

French Side Travel’s Picks: Seven New Hotels in France for 2024

Explore enchanting destinations with French Side Travel, your gateway to a luxury experience. As seasoned experts, we reveal seven new hotels in France, each with its unique allure. From the heart of Paris, the royal realm of Versailles, and down to the sun-kissed shores of the French Riviera, we provide insider insights for an extraordinary stay.

Let French Side Travel guide you to these hidden treasures, ensuring your journey in France is nothing short of exceptional.


New Hotels in Paris

1, Place Vendôme

1, Place Vendôme emerges as a radiant gem in Paris, featuring five rooms and ten suites, each a unique setting that weaves a tapestry of influences and stories. The hotel invites guests into an exquisite journey through art, knowledge, gastronomy, nature, and care. Behind its blue carriage door, a wrought-iron gate with the Chopard initial leads to a familial haven redesigned by architect Pierre-Yves Rochon. The rooms and suites, named after precious stones, showcase a blend of materials and colors. From a cigar lounge with Eastern influences to an exotic winter garden adorned with mosaics, every space radiates magic. The hotel’s elegance, deeply rooted in Parisian charm, extends from meticulously crafted interiors to the refined entrance reworked in 18th-century style. The overall enchantment of this Parisian escape is undeniable, creating a captivating experience for every guest.

Paris Hotel Room Place Vendôme
Courtesy of 1, Place Vendôme

Craftsmanship Atelier in a Haute Couture House

Participate in a discovery workshop, for an introduction to craftsmanship in the luxury fashion world. Perpetuating the noble gestures of haute couture and luxury ready-to-wear, we invite you to the private atelier that collaborates regularly with the greatest names in the fashion world, from Chanel and Christian Lacroix to Yves Saint Laurent and Maison Margiela.

Hôtel Hana

In the heart of Paris’s 2e Arrondissement, Hôtel Hana merges Haussmannian architecture with Japanese inspiration. Majestic neighbors like the Opéra Garnier and the Bourse surround the hotel, creating a sanctuary for travelers. The talented architect Laura Gonzalez has curated 26 rooms and suites, transforming them into tranquil retreats that offer the supreme luxury of calm amid the energy of Parisian life. From Japanese cuisine at Hanabi, a culinary spectacle by Shirley Garrier, to Japanese-inspired treatments in the spa, Hôtel Hana invites guests to indulge in a space where silence and calm reign, honoring the significant role of self-care deeply rooted in Japanese traditions. Hôtel Hana ensures an unforgettable and sensory-rich experience for every traveler.

Paris Hotel Hana Cocktail Bar Hanabi
Courtesy of Hôtel Hana

Backstage Access at Opéra Garnier

Learn about the fabulous history of this institution linked to music and dance since the 17th century. During this exclusive tour, you will discover not only the backstage areas and the historical “Central costumes” room, storing the creations of the latest productions, but you will also learn the costume-making secrets from the Company’s productions.

Hôtel Balzac

Experience timeless elegance at the newly reimagined Hôtel Balzac, set to open its doors in June 2024. Located on the iconic Champs Elysées, this legendary establishment, redesigned by the Festen duo, seamlessly blends minimalist aesthetics with the tradition of French hospitality. With 58 rooms and suites, some offering breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower, every space exudes creative modernity and prioritizes absolute comfort. The Japanese-inspired spa promises a holistic retreat, while the lounge and bar provide intimate settings for relaxation. Nestled in the heart of the vibrant Champs-Élysées, Hôtel Balzac offers a unique retreat where you can recharge and immerse yourself in the charm of chic Parisian living.

Paris Hotel Balzac Room Picture
© Yann Deret

Paris Illuminations Tour

Experience the enchantment of the City of Light in a private driving tour. As night falls, step into a classic car, departing from your accommodation. Witness the transformation of Paris into a mesmerizing spectacle, with shimmering lights adorning iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum, Madeleine Church, Place de la Concorde, and the historic Place de la Bastille. Conclude this magical journey on the illustrious Champs-Élysées, where the beauty of Paris radiates under the night sky.


New Hotel in Versailles

Hôtel Les Lumières

Opening its doors in June, Hôtel Les Lumières promises a radiant stay in the heart of the Royal City. This 5-star boutique hotel, dating back to the 17th century, beckons with the illustrious Palace of Versailles at its doorstep. The hotel offers an intimate interlude, blending the inspiration of the Grand Siècle with a contemporary atmosphere across its 31 elegantly decorated rooms and suites. Ascend the grand staircase from 1907, nestle in the period library, or indulge in a unique sensory pause at the spa. A highlight is Pierre Hermé‘s Café, where a tearoom with a 6-meter-high ceiling and views of the Place d’Armes invites you to explore an exceptional menu. Indeed, Les Lumières is more than a hotel; it’s an invitation to awakening, where every moment promises eternal memories in a place that marries the lights of yesterday and today.

Versailles Hotel
Courtesy of Hôtel Les Lumières

Private Guided Tour of The King’s Garden at Versailles with The Garden’s Manager

The King’s Garden was built between 1678 and 1683 by Jean-Baptiste La Quintinie, at the request of Louis XIV. Also, it is the historic site of the École Nationale Supérieure de Paysage. Classified as a historical monument and a remarkable garden, its gardeners perpetuate the art of pruning and cultivating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in a French-style garden.


New Hotels on the French Riviera

Maison Albar – Le Victoria

Maison Albar Hotels introduces Le Victoria, an upcoming jewel in Nice’s crown, overlooking the azure expanse of the Mediterranean Sea. Positioned between the iconic Promenade des Anglais and Place Masséna, this elegant retreat merges French design with the relaxed charm of the South. Boasting 102 rooms and 30 suites, the hotel offers sweeping views of the Baie des Anges and the countryside. Le Victoria features a 600m² spa, and a rooftop with a restaurant, bar, and infinity pool. With high-end boutiques at its doorstep, the hotel’s refined aesthetic and culinary excellence redefine the essence of a Côte d’Azur stay.

Courtesy of Maison Albar Hotels

Private Tour of Nice

Set out on a captivating full-day private tour of Nice with your licensed guide and driver. From the panoramic views of Mont Boron Hill to the vibrant streets of the old town, immerse yourself in the blend of Italian and French charm. Stroll along the iconic Promenade des Anglais, wander through narrow winding streets, and savor local street food. Discover the architectural gem of the Russian Orthodox Church and culminate your day with a wine-tasting experience in the heights of Nice, surrounded by the vineyards of Bellet.

vineyard in nice france
Courtesy of Château de Bellet

Hôtel du Couvent

Nestled within the heart of Nice’s Old Town, the soon-to-be-unveiled Hotel du Couvent, slated for a June opening, is a sanctuary blending 17th-century tranquility with 21st-century luxury. Boasting 88 meticulously restored rooms, the hotel embraces ancient architecture, lush gardens, and a Roman-inspired thermal spa. Valéry Grégo, the visionary behind Les Roches Rouges and Le Pigalle, orchestrates this ultra-luxurious haven. Guests can anticipate farm-to-table dining, herbalist treatments, and access to the hotel’s farmers market. Beyond its historical significance, the hotel offers an idyllic retreat where visitors can immerse themselves in the captivating charm of Nice’s old-world allure.

hotel room in nice france
Courtesy of Hôtel du Couvent

Tour of the Balcony Villages of Tourette-sur-Loup & Saint Paul de Vence

Head to the picturesque inland areas of Nice, where the majestic peaks of the Alps unfold. Your first stop is the medieval village of Tourette-sur-Loup, nestled atop a rocky hill. Revel in the village’s medieval charm and savor a panoramic view of the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. Continuing your adventure, explore Saint Paul de Vence, once a haven for artists like Matisse and Picasso. Immerse yourself in its medieval streets, walls, and the captivating views that have inspired artistic legends throughout history. Today, art galleries and decor shops still echo the town’s rich creative heritage.

Château de Théoule

Discover the enchanting Château de Théoule, a historic haven turned into a seaside jewel, opening its doors in March. Originally a soap factory built in 1630, the château now invites you to relive the Côte d’Azur’s golden age. Nestled in Théoule-sur-Mer, each room and suite offers unparalleled views of the Mediterranean in an Art Deco ambiance. Indulge in refined Italian cuisine at the panoramic sea-view restaurant and enjoy the magic of Plage Blanche, a hidden gem for sunset swims. With a spa facing the sea, Château de Théoule promises an exquisite escape on the French Riviera.

private beach club in théoule sur mer france
Courtesy of Château de Théoule

Hiking in the Estérel Massif

Embark on an extraordinary journey in the Estérel Massif, where the rugged red rocks meet the azure Mediterranean waters. This mountain range, stretching along the Var department’s coast in Provence, captivates with its distinct geological formations. However, despite its modest elevation, the Massif de l’Estérel promises an enchanting hiking experience. The inland trails lead to panoramic viewpoints, revealing breathtaking coastal vistas. As you explore, encounter the remnants of a once-forested landscape, now transformed into a striking panorama of hills and cliffs. Alternatively, traverse the scenic coastal road, offering glimpses of coves embraced by red rocks and jagged boulders plunging into the sea. Immerse yourself in nature’s artistry and discover the extraordinary beauty of Estérel’s vibrant landscapes.


Elevate your travel experience with French Side Travel. Contact our experts to craft a tailor-made itinerary featuring these exclusive new hotels in France. Let French Side Travel curate an unforgettable adventure tailored just for you. Check out: The Best of Paris in a Week & A Perfect Week on the French Riviera

Love in Every Corner: Top Five Romantic Hotels in France

Discover the most romantic hotels in France with the expertise of French Side Travel. From Paris to Provence and everything in between. Embark on a journey through the enchanting landscapes and iconic cities of France, where timeless romance meets unparalleled luxury. Our curated selection of hotels and unique experiences invite you to indulge in a romantic escape. Let these exquisite destinations set the stage for an unforgettable stay in the land of love.


Paris

Château des Fleurs

Within a stone’s throw of the Arc de Triomphe, Château des Fleurs stands as a beacon of intimate luxury. This enchanting haven pays homage to the refined merriment of 19th-century Parisian celebrations and the joie de vivre of the Belle Époque. What sets this romantic retreat apart is its unrivaled proximity to the famed Champs Elysées. As you step inside, the red accents and curated decor create an ambiance of romance, providing an idyllic backdrop for your stay in Paris. Immerse yourself in the timeless allure of Château des Fleurs, where every moment is a celebration of love and luxury.

Courtesy of Château des Fleurs

Private Seine River Cruise

Enhance your romantic escapade in Paris by reserving an exclusive private Seine River Cruise. Picture yourselves gliding along the Seine at sunset, passing by iconic landmarks as the city gradually illuminates. This tailor-made cruise down the world-renowned Seine River promises a uniquely intimate experience. Seated in the plush leather banquette, surrounded by tinted windows to ensure your privacy, you’ll embark on a journey through the heart of Paris. The cruise encompasses the historical center, featuring landmarks like Notre Dame, the Louvre Museum, and the Eiffel Tower. A bottle of champagne accompanies this enchanting voyage, transforming your evening into an unforgettable and magical moment. Allow French Side Travel to add an extra layer of romance to your stay at Château des Fleurs.


Champagne

Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa

Amidst the picturesque vineyards of Champillon, the Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa stands as a testament to refined romance. This luxurious haven offers an enchanting retreat for couples seeking an idyllic escape. Surrounded by rolling vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see, the hotel boasts a stunning location that captures the essence of the Champagne region. The Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa harmoniously blends charm with elegance, providing an intimate setting for a truly romantic experience. Don’t miss the chance to unwind and pamper yourselves at the hotel’s amazing spa, enhancing your romantic escape.

Courtesy of Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa

Candlelit Dinner in a Vineyard

Experience the romance of a private candlelit dinner amidst the vineyards of Champagne. This unique and intimate encounter, curated by French Side Travel, offers a rare opportunity to indulge in the beauty of the French countryside. As the sun sets, casting a warm glow over the rolling vineyards, embark on a culinary journey like no other. Begin with an introduction to the vineyards, savoring the aroma of the terroir and the gentle rustle of grapevines in the evening breeze. Your private chef will then craft a four-course culinary masterpiece, perfectly complemented by selected champagnes. This dinner promises to be an intimate feast for the senses, creating cherished memories of your time together in Champagne.


Normandy

La Ferme Saint Siméon

Perched above Honfleur, Ferme Saint Siméon stands as a testament to timeless romance. This 17th-century inn, a cherished retreat for the masters of impressionism, offers a panoramic view of the Seine estuary. The charm of this unique hotel lies not only in its scenic location but also in its carefully decorated accommodations spread across three distinct buildings. The 34 rooms and suites exude history and beauty, featuring traditional paneling, oak flooring, and noble materials. Each room, equipped with modern amenities, provides a comfortable haven for guests. Ferme Saint Siméon beckons couples to explore the picturesque town of Honfleur. A stay at this charming retreat promises an intimate escape, inviting guests to discover the beauty of Normandy from this enchanting vantage point.

Courtesy of Ferme Saint Siméon

Day Trip to Fécamp & Étretat

Make your way to the picturesque towns of Fécamp and Étretat, nestled along the stunning Alabaster Coast. These idyllic destinations offer a perfect blend of cultural charm and natural beauty. In Fécamp, the historic harbor and the renowned Palais Bénédictine, home to the production of their famous liquor, stand as a testament to the town’s rich heritage. Palais Bénédictine is a masterpiece of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, providing a captivating journey into history and the art of liquor-making. Meanwhile, Étretat, with its famous arches and towering cliffs, boasts awe-inspiring scenery that has been immortalized in numerous paintings. A private guided driving tour ensures an immersive experience, allowing you to explore these coastal gems, making your romantic escape to Ferme Saint Siméon truly unforgettable.


Provence

Domaine de Fontenille

In the heart of the Luberon, Domaine de Fontenille stands as a celebration of romantic French charm. Surrounded by organic vineyards and cypress trees, this 4-star haven offers a unique blend of modern luxury and classic elegance. The 19 rooms and suites provide enchanting views of the with several boasting private terraces. While only a short drive from Aix-en-Provence, the estate transports guests to the true essence of Provençal countryside living. Domaine de Fontenille is not just a hotel; it’s a celebration where romance flourishes amidst lavender fields and rolling vineyards. The estate invites couples to immerse themselves in the vibrant local markets, saunter through fragrant gardens, and soak up the warmth of the Mediterranean sun. In this captivating setting, create timeless memories that linger like the sweet scent of lavender.

Courtesy of Domaine de Fontenille

Private Guided Tour of the Luberon Villages

Enhance your stay at Domaine de Fontenille with a full-day driving tour exploring the renowned villages of the Luberon. Nestled within the picturesque Luberon Regional Nature Park, a UNESCO-listed reserve, this off-the-beaten-path area boasts limestone mountains, rolling hills, and captivating villages that encapsulate the essence of Provence. Your day begins with Gordes, a hilltop village resembling a postcard with its dramatic setting and vibrant town square. Continue your journey to Roussillon, known for its striking ochre cliffs and unique village built from these vibrant pigments. Conclude the day in Lourmarin, a charming village with tree-lined streets, a Renaissance castle, and a delightful atmosphere. After a day of discovery, your driver will seamlessly return you to the comfort of Domaine de Fontenille, adding a touch of cultural richness to your romantic escape.


French Riviera

Chèvre d’Or

In the captivating village of Èze, La Chèvre d’Or stands as a romantic haven, offering an intimate escape amid the picturesque landscapes of the French Riviera. This luxurious gem boasts an array of individually designed rooms and suites, each exuding a unique charm. Guests are invited to savor exceptional cuisine at the hotel’s prestigious Michelin-starred restaurant, where panoramic views of the Mediterranean provide a breathtaking backdrop to every meal. The terraced gardens, adorned with vibrant flowers, create an enchanting ambiance for quiet moments. With its harmonious blend of natural beauty and sophisticated elegance, La Chèvre d’Or beckons couples to indulge in the serenity and sophistication of the Côte d’Azur.

Courtesy of La Chèvre d’Or

Discover the Splendor of Monaco & Menton

Immerse yourself in a day of romantic exploration with a private full-day driving tour of Monaco and Menton from La Chèvre d’Or. Your driver will whisk you away in a luxury vehicle, setting the stage for an unforgettable experience. In Monaco, a realm of sophistication, explore iconic landmarks such as the grand Casino de Monte-Carlo, the historic Monaco-Ville, and the captivating Prince’s Palace, evoking the timeless romance of Grace Kelly and Prince Ranier III. After a leisurely lunch, traverse the picturesque coastline to Menton, where the scent of lemon trees and vibrant gardens fills the air. Stroll along the Promenade du Soleil, immersing yourself in the colorful facades against the Mediterranean backdrop. This tour curated by French Side Travel promises a day of refined romance and memories to cherish.


French Side Travel – Where your love story meets the magic of France.

From the iconic allure of Paris to the tranquil vineyards of Champagne, the coastal charm of Normandy, the lavender-scented realms of Provence, and the sophisticated ambiance of the French Riviera. French Side Travel stands as your trusted expert, seamlessly weaving dreams into tailor-made vacations. As you embark on this journey, let our expertise curate moments where the romance of each location intertwines with your love story.


Ready to make your dream vacation a reality? Contact our experts to tailor an unforgettable experience, ensuring every moment resonates with the magic of your love. Let French Side Travel be your guide to a romantic escape like no other. Check out: Incredible Wine Trip to Champagne, Romantic Getaway to Monaco & the Riviera, and Cultural and Culinary Stay in Provence.

Elevate Your Game: Best Hotels for Golfing in France

Elevate your golfing experience in France with our expert-selected hotels, where sophistication meets the fairway for an unforgettable stay. No need to wonder where to golf in France, we have done the work for you. Unveil a collection of exquisite accommodations nestled amid scenic landscapes, providing avid golfers with world-class courses and lavish amenities.


Versailles

Airelles Le Grand Contrôle

Courtesy of the Palace of Versailles

Nestled next to the historic Versailles Palace, Airelles Le Grand Contrôle stands as a beacon of refinement and elegance. This luxurious hotel boasts a regal ambiance and access to some of the finest golf courses in the region. For an unforgettable experience, guests can indulge in a round at the prestigious Le Golf National and Le Golf de Saint Germain. Both courses offer immaculately manicured courses that challenge and captivate golf aficionados.

Le Golf National

A golfing haven boasting two full courses and a nine-hole gem, Albatros stands out as the hero among them. It was a host of the French Open and the second course in Europe to showcase a Ryder Cup. Its 2018 edition witnessed a historic victory spearheaded by Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari. The anticipation builds as the Olympic Games are scheduled to grace Le Golf National in 2024, solidifying its spot on every golfer’s must-visit list.

Courtesy of Golf National

Golf de Saint Germain

Designed in collaboration with Harry Colt, the Golf de Saint Germain emerges as a stunning course nestled within the enchanting forest of Saint Germain, just west of Paris. Having played host to the prestigious French Open on nine occasions, this course has witnessed remarkable moments, including Sandy Lyle’s triumph in 1981 and Seve Ballesteros’ extraordinary feat in 1985, where he set a course record with a remarkable score of 62. Immerse yourself in the rich history and captivating beauty of Golf de Saint Germain, an iconic destination where the legacy of golf’s finest moments continues to unfold.


Brittany

Domaine de la Bretesche

Courtesy of Domaine de la Bretesche

Discover the pinnacle of golfing excellence at Domaine de la Bretesche. Set against breathtaking landscapes, this premier hotel and golf resort combines luxury hospitality with world-class golfing facilities. The Domaine de la Bretesche features elegant rooms and suites, ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay. Immerse yourself in the charm of Brittany while enjoying top-notch amenities, including gourmet dining and a spa retreat. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a leisure seeker, Domaine de la Bretesche stands out as an ideal golfing getaway in France.

Golf de la Bretesche

Courtesy of Golf de la Bretesche

Golf de la Bretesche is a floral paradise. Each hole is uniquely adorned by hydrangeas, roses, azaleas, or rhododendrons. The 18 holes, comprising 4 par 3s, 10 par 4s, and 4 par 5s, offer a diverse range of challenges. Pay attention at the enchanting green n°9, where the castle of La Bretesche is magically reflected in its pond. It’s worth noting that, the 18-hole golf course, expertly designed by renowned architect Henry Cotton, offers both a challenging and picturesque experience for golf enthusiasts


Seignosse

70 Hectares… et l’Océan

Courtesy of 70 Hectares… et l’Océan

For those who seek a coastal golfing escapade, 70 Hectares et l’Océan in Seignosse emerges as an idyllic retreat. This exclusive destination offers a harmonious fusion of oceanic serenity and expansive green landscapes spanning 70 hectares, hence the name. The golf course, set against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean, provides an exhilarating challenge for golfers of all levels. The hotel itself exudes a laid-back luxury, ensuring a tranquil retreat after a day on the links.

Golf de Seignosse

Courtesy of Golf de Seignosse

Golf de Seignosse stands as a captivating masterpiece on the southwestern coast of France. This premier golf course, renowned for its scenic beauty and challenging layout, immerses golf enthusiasts in a harmonious blend of nature and sport. Designed by the legendary American architect Robert von Hagge, the course winds through lush pine forests and sandy dunes. With its strategic bunkers, undulating fairways, and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, Golf de Seignosse promises an unforgettable golfing experience. Whether you are a seasoned player seeking a challenging round or a leisure golfer looking to soak in the coastal charm, this course offers a perfect blend of captivating landscapes and golfing excellence.


Provence

Domaine de Manville

Courtesy of Domaine de Manville

Nestled in the heart of the Alpilles Natural Park in Provence, Domaine de Manville is a luxurious haven that blends historic charm with modern elegance. This five-star hotel, set within a meticulously restored 18th-century farmhouse, offers discerning guests a tranquil retreat. Boasting spacious rooms and suites adorned with stylish furnishings, the hotel provides a sophisticated ambiance for relaxation. Guests can indulge at the on-site restaurant L’Aupiho*, or simply bask in the serene beauty of the surrounding landscape. With its commitment to excellence, Domaine de Manville ensures an unforgettable and indulgent escape in the heart of Provence.

Golf de Manville

Courtesy of Golf de Manville

Golf de Manville presents a golfing paradise amidst the enchanting landscapes of Provence. This 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Thierry Sprecher and Anne-Laure Ricci, offers a perfect blend of challenge and beauty. Surrounded by olive trees and featuring strategically placed hazards, the course provides an exhilarating experience for golfers of all levels. The meticulously manicured fairways and greens complement the picturesque setting, creating a harmonious balance between sport and scenery. Whether you are a seasoned golfer or a casual player, Golf de Manville promises an immersive golfing experience, where each swing is accompanied by breathtaking views of the Alpilles.


French Riviera

Terre Blanche Hôtel & Spa Golf Resort

Courtesy of Terre Blanche

Situated in the heart of the French Riviera, Terre Blanche Hotel Spa & Golf Resort offers an unparalleled blend of sophistication and sporting excellence. Boasting two championship golf courses, designed by golf legend Dave Thomas, the resort provides an exclusive golfing experience. Guests can bask in the Mediterranean sun as they navigate the challenging fairways, and later, unwind in the lavish surroundings of the hotel, indulging in world-class spa treatments and gourmet dining.

Le Château

Courtesy of Terre Blanche

This 18-hole championship course offers a challenging yet picturesque golfing experience amidst the stunning Provençal countryside. With its undulating fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and breathtaking views of the surrounding hills, Le Château Golf Course provides a test of skill for golfers of all levels. Impeccably maintained and seamlessly integrated into the natural terrain, this course stands as a testament to the perfect marriage of sport and scenic beauty.

Le Riou

Courtesy of Terre Blanche

The resort’s second 18-hole championship course complements the landscape with its meandering fairways and strategic water features. Le Riou offers a golfing challenge set against the backdrop of the picturesque Provençal hills, inviting players to navigate through well-manicured greens and enjoy the panoramic views. With its thoughtful design and commitment to excellence, Le Riou Golf Course ensures a memorable and rewarding golfing experience within the refined ambiance of Terre Blanche.

Effortless Travel for Unforgettable Experiences

Embark on a stress-free vacation with French Side Travel, where luxury extends beyond your hotel suite. Our exclusive service includes a private driver-guide seamlessly integrated into your itinerary, ensuring effortless travel from your accommodation to various activities and back. Envision being chauffeured in a luxurious vehicle, ready to explore the finest destinations in France. Whether you’re indulging in sightseeing, enjoying exquisite dinners, or partaking in other planned activities, your dedicated driver ensures a smooth and comfortable experience. Allow yourself to unwind as you’re effortlessly transported back to your accommodation, creating cherished memories of your French getaway.


Ready to tee off your dream golf vacation? We know where to golf in France. Our experts stand ready to tailor-make your journey, ensuring every swing is accompanied by unparalleled luxury and breathtaking landscapes. Contact us today to unlock the doors to a world where your golfing aspirations align with French hospitality. Let us craft the perfect golfing escape for you!

Our Guide to the Principality of Monaco

From its captivating history to its opulent charm, Monaco beckons with a blend of luxury, culture, and mystique. Uncover the Grimaldi legacy, explore the exclusive resort life, and follow in the footsteps of icons like Grace Kelly. Whether you seek a yacht adventure, a cultural journey, or simply a taste of sophistication, this principality awaits your visit. Plan your escape today with our guide to the Principality of Monaco.


Our Guide to the Principality of Monaco

Unraveling the Allure of the Principality

Monaco does not disappoint. Only 30 minutes from Nice, nestled along the sun-kissed shores of the French Riviera, you will find Monaco. This destination that exudes elegance, charm, and an air of mystery. Known for its stunning coastline, star-studded affairs, and vibrant culture. If you desire to dive deep into the storied past of this highly contested city-state, see and be seen in the playground of the rich and famous, or simply searching an unforgettable escape, make your way to the Principality of Monaco.

Monaco Explained

Naturally, when thinking about Monaco many questions come to mind. Why is Monaco so small? Who are the Grimaldi’s? Soon you will be asking yourself, When can I visit? Monaco is only 520 acres, just to put into perspective, it fits inside New York’s Central Park (843 acres). While the Principality of Monaco has changed hands numerous times, the Grimaldi Family has remained at the helm since 1297. This is when Francesco Grimaldi seized control of the Rock of Monaco. According to the Ancient Greeks, Monaco may have a more mythical origin story as it is proclaimed that on Hercules’ journey back to Greece after his tenth labor, he built the Rock of Monaco.

Eventually with the opening of the renowned Casino de Monte-Carlo by the Société de Bains de Mer de Monaco in 1863 and the arrival of railway travel in 1868, Monaco established itself as a destination for distinguished travelers on the Côte d’Azur. From this point forward, the tourism infrastructure has continued to evolve. Rather than arriving by train, you can arrive in style with a Private Helicopter Transfer from the airport. This allows you to skip the traffic and take in panoramic views of the dazzling coast.

Helicopter to Monaco
Credit: Blade

History of Monaco

Evidently, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the Principality of Monaco. Beyond the exclusive resort for international jet-setters, there’s a fascinating story. Uncover the history of the nation founded by the Grimaldi’s that went from a perched village to a prosperous country hosting the world’s billionaires. Until 1848, the towns of Menton & Roquebrune were also a part of Monaco, so we recommend continuing down the coast for a visit.

Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco

Follow in the footsteps of Grace Kelly who gave up her career as an actress in Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier III. Her legacy can be seen at the Monaco Cathedral and the filming locations from Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘To Catch a Thief’ in which she starred. For those truly enamored by the Monégasque Royal Family, opt for an exclusive, private visit to the Prince’s Palace after hours.

Your Stay in Monaco

Upon arriving to Monaco, make your way to the hotel of your choice: Hôtel de Paris, Hôtel Hermitage, Monte Carlo Bay, or Monte Carlo Beach. These properties represent the finest of Monégasque hospitality with impeccable service, exquisite interiors, and exclusive access to the principality.

During your time on “The Rock” take up the favored pastimes of shopping and yachting. Spend the afternoon with a personal stylist who will assist you in curating your wardrobe in the numerous boutiques found in Monaco. From luxury ready to wear & leather goods from houses such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, to fine jewellery and watches from Boucheron, Cartier, and Chopard. What better way to see Monaco than aboard a yacht? Make your way to the port and embark on a journey to take in the sunshine, sea, and stunning views.

Where to Stay in and near Monaco

Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo

Internationally renowned 5-star luxury hotel, enchants visitors with its iconic status and recent 2019 transformation, offering exquisite suites like the Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III suites. From the Louis XV-Alain Ducasse restaurant to the rooftop pool of the Wellness Sky Club, this Monaco gem provides an unparalleled experience.

Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo

This Belle Epoque palace and 5-star hotel is located in sparkling Monte-Carlo by its renowned casino. The Gustave Eiffel-designed glass dome, architectural details, and ornate decoration make this one of Monaco’s most romantic spots. The 277 rooms and suite feature Louis XV-style furnishings. The rooms with terraces offer views on the glistening sea.

Monte-Carlo Beach

This 5-star gem built in the 1930s, invites guests to indulge in the Dolce Vita. With a stunning seafront, terracotta façade, and stunning frescoes, the hotel offers the epitome of luxury. Highlights include the exclusive Diamond Suite, a cabana service by the water, an Olympic swimming pool, a spa, and an organic Michelin-star restaurant set in an exceptional natural site.

Monte-Carlo Bay

The sophisticated 4-star Hotel & Resort, redefines the legendary destination with its relaxed ambiance. Situated on its own picturesque peninsula east of Larvotto, the resort offers breathtaking views of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Featuring a grand private residence entrance, solarium, terraces, and gardens by Jean Mus, this chic Garden of Eden promises a unique experience.


If you’re still asking yourself, “When can I visit?” speak with one of our experts who will curate your perfect stay.

Be inspired by one of our sample itineraries: Cultural Discovery of Monaco, Unforgettable Trip to Monaco, & Family Trip to Monaco.

French Side Travel’s Client Favorite Destinations in 2023

2023 was an exciting year for French Side Travel as clients experienced each region of France. Our expert travel designers crafted tailor-made trips that focused on history and culture, romance, adventure, gastronomy and more. Read on to discover French Side Travel’s client favorite destinations in 2023.


French Side Travel’s Client Favorite Destinations in 2023

Paris

French Side Travel's Client Favorite Destinations in 2023 Paris

In 2023, Paris remained at the top of French Side Travel’s client favorite destinations list. It’s difficult not to be taken away with the beauty of the City of Light, and there is truly something to do for every type of traveler from couples looking for a romantic getaway, to history buffs, families and more.

French Side Travel clients especially enjoyed food tours and cooking classes in the French capital in 2023. Whether it was a private tour to discover the best breads and pastries in Montmartre, a wine and cheese tasting in the heart of a 17th century cellar, or a market tour, cooking class, and meal in the Latin Quarter, our clients learned plenty of interesting tidbits and left with full and happy stomachs!

Netflix also inspired clients through shows set in Paris like Emily in Paris and Lupin, and French Side Travel arranged custom tours based on these themes.

Provence

Provence luberon

It’s easy to see why sun-drenched Provence topped the French Side Travel client favorite destination list again in 2023. This truly striking area set between sea and mountains has it all. The foods and wines are among the best in the entire country, the region has a fascinating history and an incredible beauty, which inspired many famous artists.

Clients loved experiencing the world-renowned markets in Provence along with expert guides. They were treated to tastings of iconic products from the region – think tapenade, Calissons, honey, cheese and more, as well as fresh, seasonal produce picked by local growers that same morning. After a fabulous market picnic clients rounded out the day with a visit to a vineyard to meet with a passionate local winegrower for a cellar visit and tasting.

Another highlight was a unique private truffle hunting and tasting tour. Clients toured a Provençal truffle plantation and learned about the cultivation of truffles and the training of truffle dogs. They not only experienced hunting for France’s elusive “black gold” with trained hunters, but they also discovered wild herbs, vineyards, olive groves, and bee hives. The tour finished with a full truffle tasting: hors d’oeuvres with truffle ice cream and truffle honey, organic extra-virgin olive oil, truffle oil, and truffle salt, all paired with Champagne.

Where to Stay in Provence
villa la coste hotel

Villa La Coste

Situated halfway between the historic town of Aix-en-Provence and the famous Luberon Nature Park, this Palace hotel is set in the midst of the Provençal landscape. It is an international destination for art, architecture and natural beauty.

The property features 28 Villa Suites surrounded by gardens, herbs, and flowers. Each opens onto a spacious terrace offering expansive views over vines and valley. The hotel’s contemporary architecture is enhanced by local materials and embraces the natural setting.

The close-to-nature philosophy runs through in each of the four contrasting restaurants, all of which feature organic produce.

The Spa’s clean lines, natural stones and light wood convey a contemporary elegance in keeping with the spirit of the property. 100% natural treatments featuring regional ingredients: oils from Provençal plants and flowers, mineral salts, clays and more.

When booking this hotel with French Side Travel, enjoy a free guided walking tour of the art and architecture path along with a wine tasting.

French Riviera

French Side Travel's Client Favorite Destinations in 2023 French riviera Cannes

The sparkling French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur, is a true paradise. The illusive area is a seamless mix of authentic and local beauty as well as unmistakable glitz and glamour.

One of the most popular places to visit is Cannes thanks to its international reputation. Known for being a modern, cosmopolitan, and fashionable place, it has also lovingly preserved its roots and its traditions. Clients love seeing the old town. In 2023 they visited the ramparts, the Musée de la Castre, the square tower, and the church. They admired the view over the city, the port, the Croisette, the Iles de Lérins, the Bay of Cannes, and the Forville market with its rows of food shops. A stroll around Forville market is like exploring all of Provence, taking a delicious journey steeped in the atmosphere of the South.

Another gorgeous stop includes the quaint village of Grasse, known as the world’s perfume capital. Producing over two-thirds of France’s natural aromas, it is a leader in the industry. The old town is the highlight of Grasse. It has numerous ancient buildings and a great deal of character. Many of the houses are painted in pastel orange colors to brighten the narrow streets, and there are numerous shops, cafés and restaurants.

It would be impossible to mention the Côte d’Azur without mentioning Saint-Tropez. Once an unassuming fishing village, Saint Tropez is now known for luxurious yachts, sunbathing, and exclusive boutiques. In the 19th century, Impressionist painters such as Marquet, Signac, and Matisse immortalized the city in their beautiful works. The most picturesque area of this city is its historic center, known as La Ponche. The small alleyways and charming cobblestone lanes adorned with small souvenir shops, cafés, and restaurants are ideal for strolling.

Champagne

champagne French Side Travel's Client Favorite Destinations in 2023

In 2023, French Side Travel clients showed an increased interest in Champagne. Since it is just 45 minutes by train from Paris to the Champagne region, it’s the perfect addition to a trip. There are hundreds of Champagne producers in the region ranging from small family growers to prestigious houses like Ruinart, Moët & Chandon, and Dom Pérignon.

Reims, the capital of Champagne and the City of Kings makes a great base from which to explore the vineyards. A visit to the Veuve Clicquot house and its wine-cellars is always a client highlight. There’s more to Reims than just bubbles, however. Don’t miss seeing the Notre-Dame cathedral, one of France’s most visually-stunning and historically-important churches. It has an unrivaled collection of Art-Deco architecture mixed with Gothic monuments.

Normandy

normandy Omaha beach

The most popular excursion for French Side Travel clients in 2023 was a visit to the World War II D-Day landing beaches and memorials in Normandy. It was in this part of Normandy where thousands of brave allied troops gave their lives to liberate France, and eventually Europe.

Clients particularly enjoyed private guided tours led by passionate guides to explore the moving sites that hosted the pivotal battles. Two especially powerful places of remembrance include the moving and solemn American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer and the Pointe du Hoc, with largely untouched rugged cliffs and bomb craters, bunkers, and casements still visible.

Bordeaux

French Side Travel's Client Favorite Destinations in 2023 Bordeaux

Among all of the wine regions in France, including Burgundy, the Loire Valley, and Champagne, French Side Travel clients spent the most nights in Bordeaux. This is undoubtedly thanks to the diverse range of things to see and do besides taste wines. The charming city of Bordeaux features fabulous architecture and wonderful shopping, much of which is on completely pedestrian streets.

The food scene in the region is also renowned. Oysters from the neighboring Arcachon Bay are considered some of the best in the world, and a visit to Arcachon is a popular insider excursion, as it is a destination beloved by the French. The largest sand dune in Europe, the Dune de Pilat, is a must-see.

Just hour outside of Bordeaux, the picturesque Dordogne valley awaits, offering the chance to discover medieval hilltop villages and prehistoric sites. See spectacular prehistoric paintings Lascaux and Rouffignac caves. Adventurous clients love hiking and kayaking in the area.

Where to Stay in Bordeaux
les sources de caudale bordeaux

Les Sources de Caudalie

Located between vineyards and forests, just 20 minutes from Bordeaux’s city center, this 5-star hotel features a collection of state-of-the-art buildings perfectly in tune with the idyllic surroundings.

The five cottages revolve around the region’s rich, varied culture as reflected in paintings, antiques, and warm-colored fabrics. Each of the 40 rooms boasts a unique decor, featuring antiques, collectible furniture, and fine drapes. Most of them have a terrace or a balcony with a beautiful view on the vineyards or on the lake. The Village des Pêcheurs, a suite on stilts and the Suite l’île aux Oiseaux in the middle of the lake are the perfect place for a romantic getaway.

Set in a former orangery and modeled on an ornamental 18th-century glasshouse, the two-star Michelin restaurant invites guests to savor the chef’s brilliant, well-rounded cuisine. On beautiful days it is possible to enjoy lunch or dinner outdoors on the terrace overlooking the lake and the vine-covered hills.

The spa offers unique treatments which combine the virtues of natural hot spring water drawn from 540 meters beneath the earth – rich in minerals and oligo-elements – with the most recent scientific discoveries of the benefits of the grape and the grapevine.


We hope this list of French Side Travel’s client favorite destinations in 2023 help inspire a future trip. Our travel designers are standing by to create a tailor-made itinerary just for you. Some of our favorite destinations include Paris, Bordeaux, Normandy, and Southern France.

4 Classic French Foods (And Why the French Eat Them)

From baguettes to macarons, cheeses to pastries, the French are known for their creations in the kitchen. As you wander France, it’s certain that bakery aromas will tempt you at each corner. France boasts more than 600 Michelin-starred restaurants, which will lure you in with its gastronomic menus. But what makes these classic French foods emblematic? For the French, food isn’t simply a means of survival; it’s a reflection of its culture, history and heritage. From croissants to escargots, we’re revisiting four classic French foods and their origins as well as sharing our best culinary experiences.


4 Classic French Foods (And Why the French Eat Them)

What is gastronomy?

One very important word in French culture is gastronomy. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines this word as “the art or science of good eating” or “culinary customs or style.” You’ll see this word often as you discover more about French culture and cuisine.

Escargots

No doubt, one of the most well-known classic French foods is escargots, or snails. This dish is often seasoned with parsley, butter and garlic and can be found on brasserie menus all over France. But why do the French eat snails? Although snails have been eaten by cultures for thousands of years, legend has it that these escargots became a more important part in French culture in the early 1800s, per the Local. France’s foreign affairs minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord asked his chef to prepare a dish for his meal with Tsar Alexander of Russia. Hailing from Burgundy, the chef cooked a regional speciality: snails bathed in butter, garlic and parsley, according to Le Monde. And the rest is l’histoire.

Truffles

Credit: Round Trip Travel

No, we don’t mean the chocolate version; we’re referring to the fungi! Truffles are “edible spores that grow on an underground fungus in the family Tuberaceae,” per All Recipes. Although these delicacies can be found in several countries, France is home to the first successful truffle plantation, according to Truff. Known as the father of modern truffle growing, Joseph Talon figured out the symbiotic relationship between the fungi and their environment. Truffles were originally hunted by pigs but are now usually located with the help of dogs’ sense of smell. You can indulge in this luxe, often in savory dishes such as pasta.

Foie Gras

Photo Credit: Asavaa via Wikimedia Commons

One classic French food is foie gras, which is duck or goose liver fattened by force feeding. Although its description isn’t the most appetizing, this dish remains popular in France and is typically eaten for le Réveillon, or New Year’s Eve. By far, France is the biggest producer of foie gras. The average French person eats 170 grams of foie gras per year, according to Statista. Legend has it that this delicacy began with the ancient Egyptians and that it became a part of French cuisine in the 1500s, according to Britannica

Croissants

You’ll have no trouble finding these buttery crescents all over France. Although most associate the croissant with France, this classic French food actually has its roots in Austria. The croissant’s ancestor is the Austrian kipfel, a moon-shaped pastry dating back to the 1200s. In 1838, an Austrian man named August Zang opened the first Viennese bakery in Paris, according to the Smithsonian Magazine. And since then, this baked good has found its place in the French diet. 

Food and gastronomy play large roles in French culture. Ready to try one of these classic French foods or perhaps prepare it yourself, too? We’ve rounded up some of our best culinary experiences for your trip to France so that you can eat and cook like a local. 

Private Cooking Class in the Loire Valley

Get some quality time with a Michelin-starred chef as you learn and make classic French recipes. This private cooking class reflects the season in order to provide fresh ingredients and authenticity. Perhaps you’ll make a Blanquette de veau with his signature of Sologne chanterelles and spring onions. Or maybe you’ll make the chef’s version of a tomato salad topped with roses and passion fruit. And don’t worry: you’ll get to taste your dishes!

Farm Visit and Harvest Workshop in Normandy

In this intimate workshop, you’ll get to meet local farmers in Normandy and collect chicken eggs on their family farm. Then you’ll head out to the fields to harvest fresh seasonal produce. Later, a local chef will teach you his best French recipes, which you’ll enjoy over lunch afterward.

Cooking Class in Saint-Étienne-la-Thillaye 

Cider typical food in Normandy

Opt for a cozy culinary experience with a morning in the kitchen with Norman cook Brigitte. You’ll discover some of her specialties: chicken supreme flambé topped with Calvados, an apple brandy, and various types of scallops. For our gourmand travelers, we have you covered. You’ll also learn how to make crème à la Normande and Calvados soufflé. Enjoy your freshly made goods all with the backdrop of her classic farmhouse and meadows dotted with cows and apple trees.

Truffle Cooking Class in Avignon

Discover French truffles alongside your chef in the charming town of Avignon in southern France. Cook your meal over a wood-burning stove before enjoying an apéritif in the wine cellar. And then it’s time to dig into your scrumptious truffle-inspired meal.

Cooking Class in Dordogne

Spend a full day indulging in the best of French cuisine. After meeting your chef in the region of Périgord Noir, you’ll enjoy a welcome drink on the terrace. Your chef will explain the ins and outs of the regional cuisine including best tips for finding produce and shopping at local markets. Then it’s time to get to work in his outdoor kitchen where you’ll prepare local recipes such as duck confit, Cabécou and tapenade. After enjoying your three-course meal paired with local wine, you’ll leave with a happy tummy and a copy of the recipes you learned.

Bakery Class in Paris

Photo by Sergio Arze on Unsplash

Hone your skills at a French staple as you learn how to bake traditional baguette or croissants. Your baker will show you all the tricks to make the perfectly shaped croissant or crunchy yet soft baguette. You’ll also learn how to make brioche, a buttery French bread.

Where to Stay in France

Hotel La Mirande in Avignon
Step into another era at Hotel La Mirande, a 5-star hotel fit for a queen and king. Its 26 rooms are tastefully decorated with cotton prints and each has their own name. Explore the hotel’s intimate garden, which is home to a wide array of plants and herbs picked by its chefs. The hotel also has its own cooking school where guests can book sessions to learn alongside decorated chefs. Try your hand at the pavlova pastry or perhaps sauteed, spiced squid. If you’d rather leave the cooking to the professionals, Hotel La Mirande will not disappoint. We’d be happy to book you a table at La Mirande’s Michelin-starred restaurant. Nosh on Chef Florent Pietravalle’s latest creations from black pear to meat paired with a rye-bread crust.

Hotel Fleur De Loire | 5-Star Hotel

Hôtel Fleur de Loire
Indulge in a luxurious stay at the five-star Hôtel Fleur de Loire in Blois. These 44 rooms are fit for royalty; they’re located in a building designed by Gaston d’Orléans, the son of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis. The chic rooms are but a foretaste of all this hotel has to offer; don’t miss dining in Michelin-starred chef Christophe Hay’s restaurant. 


Ready to dig into a delicious French meal or even make it yourself? Take a look at some of our culinary-inspired tours: Gastronomy, Gardens, and Grandeur and Luxury Gourmet Week in Lyon. Need some help planning your trip?

Best Van Gogh Activities in France

They say home is where the heart is, but sometimes it’s somewhere far away that tugs at our heart strings. France has long attracted tourists, artists and intellectuals over the centuries with one notable resident being Vincent Van Gogh. Born in the Netherlands, this renowned painter spent considerable time in France during his career. We don’t blame Van Gogh for being inspired by France’s magnificent landscapes, idyllic villages and rich culture. For those enchanted by this post-Impressionist painter’s work, we’ve compiled our best Van Gogh activities in France. 


Best Van Gogh Activities in France

Van Gogh’s Time in France

Van Gogh lived in many places during his short life: England, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Vincent Van Gogh’s brother Theo worked as an art dealer in Paris and introduced him to the work of Claude Monet among others, according to the Van Gogh Museum

He lived in Paris for several years before he decided to move to Arles in southern France. In a letter to his brother Theo, he wrote, “It seems to me almost impossible to be able to work in Paris, unless you have a refuge in which to recover and regain your peace of mind and self-composure. Without that, you’d be bound to get utterly numbed.”

And in that vein, he headed down to sunny Provence.

Although Van Gogh’s life was punctuated by instability and mental illness, it didn’t ultimately hinder his ability to paint and draw. Van Gogh created 180 paintings during his time in Arles, according to the Van Gogh Museum. It was here that he would so infamously cut off his ear. Later, he spent a year in a mental hospital in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where he created around 150 paintings, including arguably his most famous piece Starry Night.

Perhaps you’re interested in learning more about this Post-Impressionist painter’s life and legacy. We’ve rounded up our best Van Gogh activities for your trip to France.

Take a Tour of Van Gogh’s Arles and the Alpilles

Spend the day on a private guided tour through Van Gogh’s stomping ground in Provence. You’ll start in Les Baux-de-Provence, which has been labeled as one of France’s most beautiful villages. This quaint village will enchant you with its narrow pathways and views over the Provençal hills. Les Baux-de-Provence is also home to the Carrières de Lumières art center. Here you can stroll through its “From Vermeer to Van Gogh,” a digital, immersive exhibition celebrating Dutch artists.

Later, our guide will take you to Saint-Remy-de-Provence and its Saint-Paul-de-Mausole Monastery, where he spent a year and created dozens of pieces of art.

You’ll explore the village of Eygalières as well as Arles, where Van Gogh created many of his masterpieces. Your private tour will be adapted to your wishes, which means you can spend as little or as much time in each spot as you’d like.

Hone Your Painting Skills in Montmartre

Perhaps seeing all this impressive artwork has you itching to create, too. In the artsy neighborhood of Montmartre, you can take a privileged painting class with local artist Edwidge. Whether you’re a beginner or have the next Starry Night up your sleeve, this class will be the place to let your creativity take the stage. You’ll be able to hone your techniques all while being in the heart of a neighborhood teeming with inspiration. 

Take a Day Trip to Giverny and Auvers-sur-Oise

Photo by Chris Linnett on Unsplash

Van Gogh wandered about France during his life, but he finished his days in Auvers-sur-Oise. Our guide will take you to this quaint village, about an hour north of Paris, where he created many pieces. He spent the final two months of his life in this town before taking his own life in 1890. You’ll also visit the cemetery where he was buried by his brother. You’ll also be able to visit nearby Giverny to see Claude Monet’s house and gardens.

Enjoy a Family-Friendly Scavenger Hunt at the Musée d’Orsay

orsay museum paris

Located along the Seine River in Paris, the Musée d’Orsay promises endless artistic treasures to its visitors. The museum also offers a host of Van Gogh’s works, including a self-portrait and his famous bedroom painting. While the adults admire the trove of art, the younger ones will enjoy a scavenger hunt in the museum. This private tour is well-tailored to families and will have all ages raving about Van Gogh.

Stroll through Arles

Explore the town of Arles through the eyes of a local. Our private guide will take you to the important spots in Arles as you trace Van Gogh’s footsteps. You’ll visit the Arles Amphitheatre, a Roman theater that dates back to the first century A.D. Your guide will dish all about Van Gogh’s time spent in this town and show you the old Hôtel Dieu hospital, where he stayed after cutting off his ear.

Where to Stay in France

Villa Gallici 
Opt for a luxurious, intimate escape with a stay at Villa Gallici, located in the heart of Provence. No matter your needs or wishes, a stay in one of this boutique hotel’s 23 rooms will be a dream come true. From balconies with garden views to its Baroque-style beds, these rooms are fit for royalty. Lie out on one of its cushy lounge chairs poolside. During your visit, be sure to visit the villa’s exquisite wine cellar with hundreds of choices. Indulge in a unique dining experience with both French and Italian flavors. You can also relax with a gastronomic lunch and spa package for two with your choice of a body or facial treatment along with time in the sauna, jacuzzi, and cryo cabin. Or perhaps you’re in dire need of a recharge but solo; Villa Gallici also offers lunch and spa packages for one.

Photo courtesy of Monsieur Aristide

Monsieur Aristide
Nestled in the heart of Montmartre, this 4-star boutique hotel offers character and luxury for your stay in Paris. The tastefully decorated 25 rooms are furnished with treasures found at flea markets. Nosh on the seasonal menu of Monsieur Aristide’s restaurant. Indulge in some respite from the city buzz in the hotel’s garden.

Château des Alpilles
Step into a postcard at this five-star hotel located in Saint Rémy de Provence. This 19th century manor-turned-hotel boasts 21 rooms and suites and will charm you with its elegant accents. Enjoy a sophisticated meal at the Château des Alpilles’ restaurant or savor your dish poolside during the summer. Unwind in the hotel’s hammam or play a round of the Provençal game of pétanque.


Feeling tempted by one of these Van Gogh activities in France? Contact us to start planning your trip today. Take a look at some of our history-inspired tours: A Journey Through History, Art, and Nature in Charming France and An Unforgettable Fashion and Art Trip to the City of Light. Need some help planning your trip?

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Meet the Team