Academic Trips & Language Classes
The Alliance Française (www.alliancefr.org; [tel] 01-42-84-90-00), is a nonprofit French-language teaching organization with a network of 1,040 establishments in 136 countries. See p. ### for more details.
Just outside Nice, the Institut de Francais, 23 av. Général-Leclerc, Villefranche-sur-Mer 06230 (www.institutdefrancais.com; [tel] 04-93-01-88-44, see p. ###), offers highly acclaimed month-long French immersion courses.
Other language schools include Actilangue (www.actilangue.com, [tel] 04-93-96-33-84), in Nice, Centre Internationale (www.cia-france.com, [tel] 09-70-40-57-06), in Antibes, and French immersion specialists CREA (www.crealangues.com [tel] 001-32-51-31-97-42), in the nearby Gorges du Verdon.
LUXURY CRUISES -- Dozens of major cruise lines call at Marseille, Nice, Villefranche, Monaco and at many points between. Google each destination for a list of who goes where (it’s a big list!) but the major players include MSC (www.msccruisesusa.com; [tel] 877/655-4655), and Celebrity (www.celebritycruises.com; [tel] 302/341-0205).
River Cruises -- Before the advent of rail, many crops, building supplies, raw materials, and finished products were barged through the South of France on a series of rivers, canals, and estuaries. Many of these waterways retain their old-fashioned locks and pumps, allowing shallow-draft boats easy access through idyllic countryside.
Go Barging (www.gobarging.com; [tel] 800/394-8630) operates 6-night river cruises departing from Paris along the River Seine, as well as trips through the Canal du Midi, Arles & Avignon, and Provence. Fares range from 3,360€ to 5,500€ per person (double occupancy) including all meals and drinks.
Viking River Cruises (www.vikingrivercruises.com; [tel] 800/304-9616) leads 1-week tours along the Rhône, taking in Arles and Avignon en route. For double occupancy, prices start at $1,860.
The newly renovated Thalazur (antibes.thalazur.fr; [tel] 08-25-82-70-94), complex in Antibes offers wellbeing stays of 1 to 7 nights, which may include cocooning, salt water therapy, and seaweed wraps.
For serious Provençal pampering just outside of Gordes, the five-star Les Bories Hotel & Spa (www.hotellesbories.com, [tel] 04-90-72-00-51), offers two- to five-day treatment programs at their on-site spa, La Maison d'Ennea. Facials, massages, and wraps use locally sourced essential oils, such as lavender and sweet orange.
There are plenty of excellent yoga and meditation retreats dotted around the region. A few popular places include Dévi Yoga Retreats (www.deviyogaretreats.com) across the South of France, Kaliyoga/France (www.kaliyoga.com) in Provence's Lubéron, and LuxYoga (www.luxyoga.com) on the French Riviera.
Food & Wine Trips
Dozens of gourmet tours have set up shop in Provence and the French Riviera in recent years. Ideas range from market tours, to shopping with chefs, to wine-tasting by bike.
Bike Tours -- Some of the best cycling tours of France are offered by VBT (www.vbt.com; [tel] 800/245-3868), which offers a 7-day trip around Avignon, St Rémy, and the Pont du Gard. Prices start at $2,545 per person, with airfare packages also available.
Cycling for Softies (www.cycling-for-softies.co.uk; [tel] 44/161-248-8282) is ideal for easy-going travelers with little cycling experience. Tours cover most of Southern France, in particular the Lubéron Natural Park. Prices vary according to type of tour (both self-guided and small groups are available); buffet breakfasts and gourmet dinners are included.
Cycle Cote d’Azur (www.cyclecotedazur.com) in Nice is run by former cycling pros. The personal knowledge its staff allow for near unlimited packages through the region from 2 to 14 days. Their 4-night Nice packages takes in parts of the Tour de France route from $699 per person; as does their longer self-guided Mont Ventoux and Provence tour, from $800 per person.
Bus Tours -- Most larger cities in Provence and the Riviera offer hop-on, hop-off bus tours, including Nice, Monaco, and Marseille. They are ideal for scoping out the lay of the land on arrival.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.