Travel with me to France
We have postponed this trip from 2016 to take place the following year. So, In 2017 I will be escorting a small group of Francophiles who would like to join me in another tour called The Perfumed Tour of France. We will do a week on the French Riviera and into Provence followed by a week in and around Paris with an emphasis on fragrance, gourmet and life’s sweet-scented pleasures. The tour kicks off in early May 2017. Please register your interest by emailing me via the site’s email option on the ‘Contact’ page. I won’t have updated costings for a few months.
Here is the itinerary to drool over:
Hello travellers,Here is an early glimpse at how The Perfumed Tour to France is shaping. We finally have the layout for our fortnight of tapping into our senses. We have a maximum of 24 places available and we need commitment in the shape of deposits from those who are keen to walk in the footsteps of Fleurette Delacroix. This is a one-off, tailored tour designed by me and using operators I know and trust, that is not available anywhere else or through anyone else. This tour, as you will see, includes exquisite experiences from making your own perfume to herbalist workshops, even cooking with flowers and to learning to make beautiful pastries as well as private expert guides and private meals by top chefs. You will stay in superior quality accommodation and be toured in a private coach. None of this comes without a high price tag in Europe but we believe all of our travellers want to travel at the best and safest level so we are following on from the benchmark we set with The Lavender Keeper Tour to Paris and Provence.
THE PERFUMED TOUR TO FRANCE 2016Walk in the footsteps of Fleurette Delacroix as Fiona McIntosh leads an escorted tour to Paris and Provence in the northern spring of 2016 to discover the secrets of perfume and enjoy the world famous May Rose Festival of Grasse. Experience a perfumed France – from food to chocolate, wine to patisseries, orchards to fields of roses and of course to scent itself…one of the ancient gifts of life.Fiona will share her research, her ideas, her storytelling and the world of Fleurette on your shared journey from the French Riviera of Nice and the prized perfume museum in southern France to the royal palace of Versailles. This tour is designed to tap into your senses, whether it’s an exquisite meal, beautiful artwork, perfumed garden, scented chocolate or acquiring a new skill such as learning to make your own perfume, working with herbs, making your fine pastries.Stimulating, enriching, captivating. Places are limited to 24 travellers – you are urged to book and deposit early.
Departing from Nice, France on Sunday May 8, 2016Day 1 – Sunday, May 8Welcome to the French Riviera. All in the perfume group will need to be on the ground in Nice no later than Sunday, May 8, when you will check into our hotel, Le Pré Catalan located in Antibes for our welcome dinner.Day 2 – Monday, May 9We will be plunged straight into the fascinating world of Fleurette Delacroix and her life in perfume. The month of May is the rose season, which along with jasmine is one of the two emblematic perfume flowers of Grasse and the surrounding region that are still grown here.
We will visit a perfume garden where the roses grow and you can pick some for yourselves as we will be needing them for the next part of today’s discovery.
You will also learn about the history of Grasse and its perfume industry and Fiona will share much of her inspiration for the story from her time in in the town, researching. Armed with your freshly picked roses the next part of our morning will be spent with Yves Terrillon and his team for a cooking class with a difference, as the main ingredients will be the roses you’ve picked.
Yves is a specialist chef who has made quite a name for himself in the art of cooking with flowers. You will create a starter, main course and dessert under his guidance and taste the fruits of your labours afterwards.
After lunch we will drive to St Paul de Vence, a hilltop village famed for its remarkable art galleries featuring prominent artists from around the world. Chagall himself spent 19 years in St Paul and your guide will take you to his tomb in the village cemetery where you can maybe add your own homage to the others you will find there.
Return to Antibes where you are free for dinner.
Day 3 – Tuesday, May 10
This morning visit the market in the Old Antibes on the Cours Massena. Here is where the locals come to buy their fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. We will also visit the Picasso museum overlooking the Mediterranean where Pablo Picasso had a workshop on the upper floors.
Enjoy lunch in Antibes before another immersion into the world of perfume, this time in Grasse. After a private guided tour of the town our group will enjoy an exclusive perfume creation workshop with a certified perfumer. By its end you will each leave with 100ml of your own personalised fragrance.
Return to Antibes where we will enjoy dinner together.
Day 4 – Wednesday, May 11
Transfer to Haute Provence making a stop in Aix en Provence in the morning. Here your guide will show you around this beautiful city and we will visit the Hotel de Caumont, a stunning city mansion lovingly restored.
The vocation of Caumont is the promotion of art by the temporary exhibitions that it houses. At the moment we do not have the program for next year, but this year saw the landscapes of Canaletto and the stunning collection of classical renaissance works of the Princes of Lichtenstein. Needless to say the level is high.
Enjoy lunch on your own and a chance to explore Aix privately before we continue our drive towards Forcalquier. Our next stop will be in Volx where we will discover another treasure of the region and beyond called the Olive Tree. Through the visit of the Eco Musée de L’Olivier, a museum created by Olivier Baussan, the founder of L’Occitane en Provence, you will learn how olives and olive oil have been historically and culturally essential in the Mediterranean region. Learn about this ancient tree, its fruit that delivers a perfumed oil, scented food, magnificent wood. Enjoy an olive oil tasting before continuing on to Forcalquier and your next hotel, the charming Auberge de Charembeau (pictured below).
We will sip an aperitif in the hotel gardens before the short drive for dinner in the Old City of Forcalquier.
Night at the delightful Charembeau and its sprawling gardens.
Day 5 – Thursday, May 12
Visit the Priory of Salagon, a monument dating back to the 12th century and which is now the site of an ethno-botanical garden and museum, explored with a special guide. You can also visit the village of Mane and do some shopping for local food specialties at the Maison de Pays.
Enjoy a Provençal picnic lunch in the Couvent des Cordeliers garden in Forcalquier where you will taste fresh goat’s cheese, fruits, local wines, fresh French bread, charcuteries, tarts, pastries. While this is happening we will have our very own rose distillation for you to make your own rose water.
After lunch, you will enjoy a herbalist workshop at the European University of Scents & Flavours. This workshop will permit you to discover the secrets of Provençale mythical plants like thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary, which you will have discovered this morning. You will make your own herbarium and an ointment.
Tonight’s dinner will be at the home of Joyce Borgman (pictured below) a familiar face from Fiona’s previous tours. You will enjoy a fantastic meal made with the vegetables from her organic garden. Here she is making panna cotta for last year’s group.
We will spend another night at special Charembeau.
Day 6 – Friday, May 13
We will leave Forcalquier this morning making a stop in the village of Cereste to a place called Scaramouche – one of the 10 best ice cream parlours in France and you can lavish your taste buds and heighten you senses for flavour during this mid-morning snack. We shall then drive on to Avignon where you will be free for lunch.
After lunch visit the Palace of the Popes. Once the seat of the Papacy in the 14th century, the palace of the Popes is one of the largest Gothic monuments in the world. Listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites the visit is a fascinating journey into the world of the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages. You will also visit the famous Pont d’Avignon, the bridge that spans half of the Rhone River and is the inspiration to the children’s song of the same name.
Continue on to Villeneuve lez Avignon. With its historical treasures and outstanding location, this town provides the ideal base for stays in Provence and Languedoc.
Settle into your rooms at the 5-star Hotel Le Prieuré. Just a few minutes from the heart of Avignon, this 5-star Relais & Châteaux is a subtle blend of past and present. Hidden in the heart of the village of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, its serene atmosphere and spirit invite you to relax and unwind.
Dinner in Villeneuve lez Avignon.
Day 7 – Saturday, May 14Participate in a Joel Durand / Chocolate workshop that is about using the perfume of everything from flowers to nuts to scent the taste experience.You will be free for lunch in lively Saint-Rémy. Take a stroll through the narrow streets where Nostradamus himself spent the first years of his life…enjoy its shopping and ambience.This afternoon we will drive to Les Baux de Provence to discover the village and the ruins of the medieval castle and then you will visit the Carrières de Lumières, an abandoned quarry which houses an incredible sound and light show; next year’s theme is yet to be revealed, but this year it was “the Masters of the Renaissance” featuring the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, Rafaele and Michelangelo among others. Return to your 5-star hotel.
Dinner in Villeneuve lez Avignon and a farewell to Provence.
Day 8 – Sunday, May 15
Transfer to Avignon TGV to take the train to Paris.
Welcome, check-in to the Hotel La Perle on the Left Bank. Presentation of the Paris week by your celebrated guide William Altman (pictured below), who charmed the Lavender group with his laid back, courteous and gently humorous manner. His knowledge of Paris is remarkable and William always enjoys showing his clients a ‘different’ Paris to the well trodden tourist sights.
Later we will take in the sights of Paris by night during a Seine river cruise on a private barge including dinner.
Day 9 – Monday, May 16
Today we will visit the chateau of Versailles, one of the most iconic palaces in France.
Later and staying in Versailles we shall visit the famous Osmoteque, a unique site devoted to preserving the memory of scents: here is a collection of vintage and existing perfumes as well as perfumes for the future.
An experienced perfumer will tell you all about the history of perfumery from antiquity to the present, while getting you to smell old perfumes and common and unusual raw materials, as well as certain Osmothèque treasures: perfumes no longer available commercially but which made an impact on their times. Houbigant, Coty, Poiret, Guerlain: you will enjoy discovering or rediscovering wonderful masterpieces of perfumery, like the bottles below.
Return to Paris and your hotel. Free for dinner.
Day 10 – Tuesday, May 17
Today we will start with a visit to the Marmottan Monet museum. Here you will discover over 100 original works by Monet, 80 by Berthe Morisot, a collection of other paintings by Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley ou Daumier, a unique collection of illuminations dating from the middle-ages to the Renaissance, as well as the Paul Marmottan collection of sculptures, bronzes, medals, engravings, miniatures, porcelain essentially dating from the First Empire (early 19th Century).
Once you have taken in all of the above, there is also the temporary exhibition, which will be dedicated to paintings on the theme of Art and Children with paintings by Le Nain, Philippe de Champaigne, Fragonard, Chardin, Greuze, Corot, Millet, Manet, Monet, Morisot, Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso.
After this incredible immersion we will enjoy lunch together before our next activity, close to Fiona’s heart, a patisserie class where scented foods from fruits to flavouring find their way into pastries.
Return to Hotel.
Day 11- Wednesday, May 18
We will leave Paris at 10:30 and drive to the city of Chartres where we will enjoy lunch before an afternoon of discovery including:
– The famous cathedral with local expert Malcolm Miller.
– International stained glass windows center.
– Cosmetic Valley, museum and introduction about the cosmetic valley, and the perfume industries which have set up in the region.
– The extraordinary Picassiette mosaic house, considered a famed example of naive art. Created by Raymond Isidore, a graveyard sweeper, you can admire the ultimate showcase of recycling broken pottery and glass!
– Group dinner in Chartres before the wonderful light show “Chartres en Lumieres” where all major monuments are lit up at 10:00pm.
Day 12 – Thursday, May 19
Day free. After the very big day yesterday we think you will all enjoy a full free day in Paris on your own to shop, to explore, to discover. And for first timers this may be the day to visit those iconic sites…Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, Galeries Lafayettes, Opera, etc. Everyone else….relax!
Day 13 – Friday, May 20
Today we will travel to Monet’s beautiful house and spring garden. You can take a photo like this on the iconic bridge that you’ll remember features in his most famous artwork.
Lunch will be at a local restaurant on our way back to Paris we will visit Vincent Van Gogh’s grave.
Farewell dinner in Paris.
Day 14 – Saturday, May 21
Au revoir to Fiona and the group. Transfer to airports for those leaving Paris.
Pictured here are snaps from the unforgettable French tour of 2014.