We have partnered with R. Crusoe, one of the leading luxury tour operators to Europe to present these curated pre and post Monaco tours to come sightsee and take in the local flavor of intriguing regions in France or Italy. They will arrange for exceptional luxury hotels for you, some of which are historic manors. They hand-pick the top local guides and get you off the beaten path and deep into your destination. Consider the following ideas as jump-off points, and remember that they will customize any journey to fit your specific desires.
Monaco is just three-hours’ drive away from Provence – a region legendary for its particular sunlight. Picasso, van Gogh, Colette, and F. Scott Fitzgerald are only a handful who’ve been inspired by the honey-hued glow that bathes the country’s lavender and sunflower fields and perched hamlets. Begin in Avignon, a historic seat for popes who left Rome behind in the 14th century.
From there, tour Uzès, a former bishopric, see the Roman arena in Nîmes, and enter other charming Provençal villages known for truffles, ancient stone houses, and extraordinary vistas. Aix-en-Provence delights with its old town and lively market. Arles has been named a UNESCO site for its Roman remains. See Pont du Gard’s Roman aqueduct. End in the coastal port city of Marseille.
We suggest a six-day journey.
Also reachable from Monaco is Normandy, France, a pivotal player in the Allied efforts during World War II. But Normandy has a rich, layered history that stretches much further back—before the Battle of Hastings. Begin in Paris for a pleasant drive toward Normandy, with a stop at Giverny, Claude Monet’s exquisite home and garden.
Continue to Rouen’s old town, the restored cathedral (virtually razed during bombings), the Marketplace, and streets filled with half-timbered houses. Head deeper into Normandy, with visits to lovely Honfleur, Deauville, and Caen. Tour fascinating World War II sites including the Museum for Peace.
Bayeux is home of an 11th-century tapestry illustrating William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in 1066. Follow the D-Day Overlord Route through Pointe-du- Hoc, to Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, and Ste.-Mere-l’Eglise, the first town liberated by the Allies. See the American Cemetery, Strong Point 62, the German Cemetery.
In Arromanches, take a lesson at the Invasion Museum and see Churchill’s ingenious artificial harbour. Daytrip to Mont St. Michel, built in the eighth century, an ecclesiastical fortress, abbey, and garrison. Explore St. Malo’s walled city, and taste oysters at nearby Cancale before returning to Bayeux. Consider a few days in Paris before going home.
We suggest an eight-day journey.
Lyon & Burgundy, France
If you love food and wine, head for Lyon & Burgundy, France. A non-stop flight takes you from Nice, France, to the food-centric city of Lyon, incubator of some of the world’s greatest chefs. Take private walking tours of the old town and the Presqu’ile, an interesting neighbourhood that juts into the Rhône River. Peruse the famous food market, Les Halles. Enter museums that appeal. Stroll Le Parc de la Tête d’Or. Linger at a café and watch local life happen.
Next, explore the best of Burgundy. Begin in the village of Tournus, where we enter a 10th-century abbey. Continue to Cluny and its fine château or Cormatin and its thousand-year-old Benedictine abbey. Wine-taste in Beaujolais.
Over the next two days, wind through the Côte de Nuits. Drive the Route des Grands Crus to some of the finest vineyards in the world, tasting and touring as you go. Learn how Beaune’s Hôtel-Dieu, a 15th-century charity hospital, now plays a central role in the world wine market. Go touring and tasting through estates of the Côte de Beaune – Pommard, Volnay, Mersault… Ditto in the Côte Chalonnaise.
Dijon, in the Côte d’Or, is the historic capital of all Burgundy. Tour the old city including the Palais des Ducs and the excellent Fine Arts Museum, the cathedral, and the heady wine cellars of Château du Clos de Vougeot. Finally, board the TGV speedy train for Paris, where you really ought to spend a few glorious days.
We suggest a seven-day journey.
Barging through France
There’s plenty of noise and excitement at the Grand Prix. Barging Through France offers a lovely contrast: Slow down, unpack your bags for a full week, settle into the rhythm of the peaceful countryside, see a side of France that most visitors miss. Barges were once the workhorses of Europe’s developing nations. Back then they carried everything from potatoes to lumber. Today, however, they’ve been reborn as slender, elegant masters of the French canal for a lucky few who wish to uncover the secrets of the countryside in grand style.
Relax as your private barge – a moveable luxury country hotel – takes you through gorgeous French backcountry. Our boats, which sleep between four and 12, are charter barges; this means that the boat, the bilingual chef and crew, and the decisions about where to go and what to see and do are yours alone.
Breakfast is served as the barge begins cruising along a winding waterway. Slowly the morning unfolds. You approach a lock. Some of you decide you like the scenery here, and you step ashore for a morning walk along the ancient canal towpath. Others are ready for a bike ride to explore the sleepy village nearby. Coffee with the locals? Why not? A wine tasting, perhaps?
Climb aboard the minivan that travels along with the barge just for you. Dig into the countryside, wander through crumbling ruins of an ancient abbey, peruse the stalls of a bustling village market, explore a medieval church, wander the halls of a mighty château. You turn to your on-board guide for an explanation of what you’re seeing—in English, of course. Or rely on the knowledge of a local guide to explain the intricacies of village traditions.
The morning of your barge trip, head to the village in which your boat is moored. Embark, and you’re off. Where to? The choice is yours: Burgundy and Franche-Comté; Provence; the Rhône Valley; or Languedob-Roussillon.
This is an eight-day journey.
Italian Lakes District
Italy on your mind? If so, it’s only a four-hour drive between Monaco and the Lakes District, which reveals the beauty and cultural richness of Italy’s north. Lake Como has been a popular retreat since Roman times. By private launch, visit Tremezzo to tour an villa with spectacular gardens. Bellagio is home of the 12th-century church and a villa known for its Egyptian sculptures.
Next, focus on Lake Maggiore, with time in Stresa, the prettiest lakeside town and a magnet for Europe’s turn-of-the-century beautiful people. A private launch takes you to the Borromean Islands, three beauties off the beaten path.
Leave the lakes behind for two full days in Milan, just a 45-minute drive away. Indulge in a private tour of the highlights. View one of the world’s great masterpieces, da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” Switch gears to examine art from the 1900s at the new Museo del Novecento. Then poke around on your own. Consider the Prada Fondazione, the Armani/Silos Museum, or Pinacoteca di Brera, a collection of classical northern Italian paintings. And there’s the possibility of a performance at La Scala, if you wish.
We suggest a six-day journey.