Paris
Paris
6°
5°
Fri
6°
Sat
10°
Sun
11°
Mon
11°
Tue
    • :
    • :
  • Mel
    Mel
    27°
    33°
    Fri
    24°
    Sat
    22°
    Sun
    24°
    Mon
    20°
    Tue
    20°
    Wed
    • :
    • :
  • News  /  Voyage

    The insider guide to a luxe south of France road trip

    By Divya Bala 15 December 2017

    Allez-y!

    When you think of the south of France, what comes to mind? Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot perfecting Riviera chic in the 60s; Aromatic fields of lavender and grapes soaked in Insta-perfect sunlight; Local produce markets in hilltop villages and fresh seafood by the coast; Or perhaps it’s the glamour of the world’s elite who go to play there?

     

    Whatever gets your baguette baking, there’s a universe of hedonism, adventure and gastronomic delights to be sampled in this trés chic part of the world so we wanted to give two of you lucky Francofans the chance to experience it. We’ve put together an 8-night road trip across Paris, Lyon, St. Tropez and Luberon and entry is as easy as taking a selfie (see below for competition details).

     

    To get you in the mood, a little insider guide (from Divya Bala, our girl on the ground) on how to get the Frenchiest, most chicest, best out of the south of France. Bon chance!

     

    Paris

    The beauty and charm of the city of lights and love has long been muse to the greatest artists, writers and poets of the world, there’s no need to wax lyrical on its quaint beauty, chic inhabitants or picture-perfect streets. With three nights to drink up the romance of this town, spend your days strolling through the cobblestone streets, ivy-covered boulangeries and hidden courtyards of the bougie Marais. Start at trendy Café Charlot before sampling fresh produce at the Marche Aux Enfants Rouges and scouting the streets nearby for the best designer boutiques (Merci on Rue Beaumarchais for new, Nice Piece Vintage on Rue Charlot for pre-loved).

     

    For evenings, grab a bottle of rosé, some chèvre, comté and some fresh fruit and head to the tip of Square du Vert-Galant to watch the sunset over the Seine from Île de la Cité (literally, island of the city, one of two in Paris).

     

    As the night sets in, cross over in the Saint Germaine district for a drink at any of the bustling bars on Rue de Buci (the street is so alive with revellers after dark that cars can no longer get through, try as they might) and continue to historic Montparnasse (playground of Hemmingway, Picasso, Degas) to eat at La Closerie Des Lilas on Boulevard du Montparnasse, run by the same folks behind the famous Café de Flore but with less tourist attention.

     

    If you have any energy left, head to the red light district Pigalle, specifically, the hôtel particulier that houses Le Carmen, a decadent, rococo bar/club hidden behind industrial-looking doors that reveal skyrocketing ceilings, rococo columns and frescoes, enormous mirrors and some serious cocktail game. Though the door policy is relaxed, keep your eyes peeled for models, actors and Paris’ elite that come here to unwind.

     

    Lyon

    The city of stairs makes for some stunning vistas of the city and it’s ancient Roman ruins as much as it does some seriously sculpted calf muscles. Ditch the Renault to get around on foot and bike to get the best of the cobbled streets and soaring staircases. Here, you’ll spend two nights at the Cour des Loges in Lyon’s historic renaissance old town, looking out over the picturesque Saône river. Just a short stroll away is the cities oldest (and best) wine bars that specialize in the small vineyards near the Lyon, La Cave des Voyageurs on Place Saint Paul.

     

    Give your legs a break and take the lift up to the top floor of the Gadagne Museum for a coffee break and an exploration of the rose garden and terrace built into the rock face and be sure to head to Brasserie L’Est on Place Jules Ferry (housed in a converted train station) for a feast by the city’s most famous chef, Paul Bocuse. And if you’re missing a good latte, head to Mokxa Café on Place Saint Polycarpe, the perfect starting place to explore the arty, bohemian passageways of the La Croix Rouge neighbourhood.

     

    St Tropez

    If Saint Tropez were a colour it would be that perfect, bronzed sun glow that you get after a swim in the sea and a few rays, perhaps with that blush of a couple of glasses of champagne thrown in. Here, you’ll be staying at the glamorous Villa Marie to do little else besides luxuriate by the pool and take in the spectacular views of the Côte d’Azure and its crystal blue waters.

     

    For those who can pry themselves from the beach or pool for a moment, head to the iconic, lipstick red terrace of Sénéquier on Quai Jean Jaurès, made famous by that chicest of all Frenchies, Brigitte Bardot in the film And God Created Woman to eat homemade nougat and biscuits. Then, wander over to the market on Place des Lices, (known to be a VIP-spotting haven – think: Kate Moss and Karl Lagerfeld) for fresh country produce, herbs and local delicacies like chesnut cream. And of course, stop by family bakery Marcel Cavazza on rue des Commerçants to try the finest Tropézienne, a local speciality that is more or less the most heavenly sandwich of brioche and thick cream sprinkled with sugar that you’ve ever tasted.

     

    Lubéron

    For the final stop, two nights in the medieval stone village of Lubéron, a 50kn stretch in Provence that has long been a place to stay for the beau-monde and bohemians of London and Paris. Where you’ll stay at La Bastide de Marie, a reimagined centuries-old farmouse set on a 37-acre section of the owner and top boutique hotelier, Jocelyn Sibuet’s vineyard between the Lubéron mountains.

     

    To feast, try Le Table de Pablo on the outskirts of Villars for Asian-French fusion plating that looks as good as it tastes. And for something a little more traditional, try Thym, te Voila in Apt after visiting the nearby markets on a Saturday for typical French cuisine.

     

    Hike to the top of Luberon’s most well-known village, Bonnieux, through cobblestone streets that spiral up to be rewarded with cinematic views from the medieval church that sits at the villages highest point. Or, head over to Lacoste to visit the 18th century Château de Lacoste that presides over the village that once housed the notorious Marquis de Sade (whose debaucherous antics that led to the creation of the word ‘sadist’ took place). Nowadays, the castle is owned by Pierre Cardin whose fashion parties and collection presentations are much more above board. Then, drive to Lourmarin, once voted the Plus Beaux Villages de France title and housed 20th century writer Albert Camus.

     

    The deal

    First prize is two return flights to France thanks to JP Boutefeu; 8 nights in luxury accommodation in Paris, Lyon, St. Tropez and Luberon; French language lessons by Alliance Francaise de Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide to get you bantering with the locals, a Renault car to get you there and a $500 spending spree at French sports heritage brand Lacoste (celebrating their 85th anniversary) to get you looking the part (Read: chic). BYO adventurous spirit!

     

    Because one Frenchy escape just isn’t enough, second prize is a trip for two to Nouméa, New Caledonia including 2 return flights (with airport transfers) with Aircalin from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane; 5 nights at Le Méridien Nouméa and a full day excursion to explore and enjoy lunch at the stunning Amédée Lighthouse on the stunning Amédée isle.

    Enter competition here.

    Join us :  So Frenchy So Chic, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney festivals, January 12, 14 and 20, 2018. Book here.