Day 1, Saturday, May 7: Welcome to Aix en Provence.
Arrival in Aix en Provence. After check-in, free time to go on exploring this lively Provençal town. Stroll along its wide and leafy boulevards, picturesque squares and sit at a café terrace to watch a lively street scene. Aix was the birthplace of Paul Cezanne and where he lived for most of his life. We will meet with our fellow travelers for a welcome dinner. Includes: (D).
Day 2, Sunday, May 8: Aix en Provence.
After breakfast enjoy a guided walking tour of the historic town and learn about Aix’s rich history dating back to when the Romans settled it as a spa town and named it “Aqua Sextius”. In your walk, you will discover beautiful medieval and renaissance architecture, lively narrow alleys filled with shops and picturesque squares with splashing fountains. We will also discover some of Cezanne’s favorite haunts in the city. After lunch in a bistro in Aix, you will have the afternoon at leisure. Includes: (B/L).
Day 3, Monday, May 9: Cezanne’s Studio, Jas de Bouffan and Mont St. Victoire.
This morning we will explore the surrounding countryside that inspired Cezanne. We will take a guided tour of Jas de Boufan, Cezanne’s family home and of his workshop at Les Lauves. We will also gaze at the nearby Mount Saint Victoire, Cezanne’s favorite subject, appearing in more that 80 paintings. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure to explore the town on your own or take a painting class with a local artist (optional). Includes: (B).
Day 4, Tuesday, May 10: Van Gogh’s inspiration in Arles and St. Remy de Provence.
Today we will visit the charming towns of Arles and Saint Remy de Provence. It is here that Vincent van Gogh came to set up an art colony in 1888 and where he produced over 150 canvases, notably, the Irises and Starry Night. Our tour in historic Arles will include the Roman Arena and Saint Trophime cathedral noted for it magnificent Romanesque doorway. After lunch in a quaint Provencal restaurant, we will head to the picturesque town of St. Remy de Provence, birthplace of Nostradamus. Here we also will be able to tour St. Paul de Mausole, the convent turned convalescent home where Vincent Van Gogh entered in 1889. Return to Aix en Provence for an evening and dinner at leisure. Includes: (B/L).
Day 5, Wednesday, May 11: St. Tropez, Musee de l’Annonciade and Nice.
We will leave today Aix en Provence and head to Nice, the famed French town on the French Riviera. On the way, we will stop in the picturesque fishing harbor of St.Tropez which was a favorite artistic subject to many modern painters like Signac, Duffy, Matisse and others. Here, we will visit the lovely Annonciade Museum. Housed in a 16th century chapel, this museum traces the evolution of painting from neo-Impressionism to Fauvism.
It was Paul Signac, master of Pointillism who was first inspired by the beauty and light of this fishing village. Many others followed like Matisse, Dufy, Derain and Vlaminck to name a few whose works are displayed at the museum. There will be time to explore the old port, the Place des Lices and enjoy lunch on your own. In the afternoon, we will continue to Nice where we will spend the remainder of our stay. After check -in at our hotel, we will meet for dinner in town. Includes: (B/D).
Day 6, Thursday, May 12: Nice and Matisse Museum.
After breakfast, we will go on a guided tour of this legendary French Rivera town. We will stroll along the beautiful beachfront Promenade des Anglais, visit the picturesque “old town” and its colorful market on Cours Saleya. After free time for lunch at the market, we will head to Cimiez Hill to visit the Matisse Museum which holds a collection of works that the artist and his heirs donated to the city of Nice where he lived from 1918 to 1954. Evening at leisure. B.
Day 7, Friday, May 13: Vence, Chapelle Matisse, Antibes and Picasso Exhibit.
Today we will go for a visit of Vence, a picturesque hilltop town above the Mediterranean Sea. Many famous painters found refuge in Vence including Dufy, Soutine, Matisse, Chagall and Dubuffet. We will visit the Chapelle Matisse (aka Chapelle du Rosaire des Dominicaines de Vence). It was designed and decorated by Henri Matisse between 1947 and 1951 in gratitude to the nuns who helped him recover from a serious illness. Matisse used stained glass to bring “natural” colors inside this all white chapel and he considered this to be his masterpiece. In the afternoon our tour will take us back to the coast to Antibes, a pretty coastal resort town where we will visit at the newly renovated Picasso Museum. Return to Nice. Includes: (B/L).
Day 8, Saturday, May 14: Villefranche sur Mer, Eze, Renoir’s estate in Cagnes sur Mer.
On our last day on the Rivera we will go on a drive along the coast to visit the pretty harbor of Villefranche sur Mer home of luxury estates and where million dollars yachts lay anchor. Here, at harbor side we will visit the small 14th century chapel St. Pierre restored and decorated by artist Jean Cocteau in 1957 with pastel colored frescoes depicting the life of the saint and of local fisher folks. We will then continue on to explore the medieval hilltop town of Eze where we will enjoy panoramic views of the coast.
After free time for lunch in Eze, we will continue with a visit of Impressionist painter Pierre August Renoir’s estate in Cagnes sur Mer—Domaine des Collettes. This is where the painter lived till his death in 1919. Set in the middle of a parkland filled with olive trees, the house turned museum features an eclectic collection of the artist’s paintings, sculptures and lithographs. We will return to Nice for the evening and a farewell dinner. Includes: (B/D).
Day 9, Sunday, May 15: After breakfast tour ends.
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