Summer decadence en Provence

For a chance to experience the raw beauty and charm of Provence, set off on this eight-night trip, where you’ll succumb to gourmet delights in a decadent escape. Try your hand at making your own signature scent; learn to cook up a Provençal feast with an acclaimed chef, and indulge your senses at the original L’Occitane spa where you can harness the natural power and goodness of Provence.

18th-century chic

Start your holiday right off the plane, with friendly greetings from the L’Occitane team as they welcome you to Nice. They will not only help you with formalities of car hire but will give you their insider tips for your luxury holiday in the South of France. A scenic forty minute drive later and you will be in the picturesque town of Grasse. Check in and unpack your bags at the grand and sprawling Bastide St. Antoine hotel. Enjoy some rest and relaxation in the 18th century surrounds before going to the Michelin starred Jacques Chibois restaurant for a lavish lunch of seasonal specialities and local ingredients.

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Good senses in Grasse

Having been captivated by the scenic trails depicted in the blockbuster hit and bestselling novel “Perfume” by Patrick Suskind, you will be taken on a private tour of Grasse to witness for yourself the picture-perfect environs of the Provençal town. Keeping in the spirit of all things aromatic, you will discover the art of essential oils and perfumery.

Give your nose a rest and treat your taste buds to an evening sampling the dinner menu at the hotel’s restaurant. Before you dig in, enjoy a champagne aperitif in the kitchen with the chef, who will personally help you select your main course. After your dinner, you will not only leave with a full and satisfied stomach

but your own dedicated copy of “Provence Harvest.” This coffee table book by chefs Jacques Chibois and Louisa Jones includes their favourite recipes, allowing you to take home the flavour of Provence.

Historical heights

Next, you’ll experience a little bit of regional history as you spend the day driving the 75 miles to Moustiers Sainte-Marie, taking the same route once used by Napoleon Bonaparte on his return from exile. This “Route Napoleon” will bring you to the picturesque mountain town of Castelanne for a pit stop where a brief stroll will allow you to take in the beautiful surroundings before lunching at one of the many charming restaurants.

After a relaxing lunch, continue your journey by following the signs to “Gorges du Verdon.” This incredible drive is especially stunning as you pass the emerald hued Verdon River and enter the heart of the deepest canyon in Europe. An impressive 14 miles long and 2300 feet deep, make sure to stop and admire the spectacular views. Although there are many spots for catching the perfect picture, our favourite is the aptly named “Sublime Point” at Rougon and the “Routes des Cretes,” a view definitely not to be missed.

Luxe picnics and lakeside retreats

The following day will begin at Moustiers Sainte-Marie, a typical Provençal hilltop village famous for its “Faience,” or ceramic-ware. Complete your foray into the world of ceramics with a private visit to the atelier of artisan Franck Schere, where you will receive your own personalized gift.

After your morning of browsing, it’s time to get set for a truly unique lunch. Starting with a bit of mystery, you will be taken to a secret location where you will be wined and dined with not only a picnic prepared by the chef at the Bastide de Moustiers but have it served aboard a 1950’s Chevrolet pick-up truck, making this not just a lunch but an experience. Drive in style around the countryside just as Olivier Baussan, the founder of L’Occitane did back in those glamorous days. To finish the day in the same exceptional style, take to the lake, hire a motor boat and experience a truly stunning setting.

The L’Occitane secrets

It’s time to hit the road and head to Forcalquier. Being firm believers that it is never just about the destination but also the journey, you will stop off on the way in Manosque for an exclusive private tour of the L’Occitane factory. Learn about the luxurious products and their Provençal history from the makers themselves – a unique (and very nice smelling) expedition.

After a leisurely lunch, you will head to your L’Occitane spa hotel “Le Couvent des Minimes.” Spend the afternoon unwinding in the charming surrounds of the transformed convent by booking yourself a spa treatment at the hotel’s very own L’Occitane Spa and envelope yourself in a world of pampering. End the evening with a delicious dinner at the hotel’s “Le Cloitre” restaurant.

Spend the day learning the in’s and out’s of perfumery from the acclaimed Olivier Bagarri, Director of the research and training centre for the study of aromatic and scented plants. Not only will you get a private tour of the institution but you will take part in your very own “Atelier du Parfumeur,” creating your own signature scent for an aromatic memory to take home.

By the vine

After a relaxed breakfast, hit the road and head to Aix-en-Provence. Although only an hour away, a stopover at Chateau Vignelaure is a must. Described as “one of the showpiece properties not only of Provence, but of France,” this is the perfect vineyard to kick-start your wine tasting. After the tasting, lunch at the village of Puyloubier and view the “Sainte-Victoire” mountain, an image made familiar by home-grown artist and legend Paul Cezanne.

Spend your last full day discovering Aix in all its historical glory by taking a voyage into the world of molecular cuisine at the gourmet hothouse, Pierre Reboul. Once wined and dined to your heart’s content it’s time to head back to your hotel to catch some z’s before your journey home tomorrow.

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