SOUTH OF FRANCE HOLIDAYS

Travel from the heart of london or ashford to Lyon Marseille or Avignon.

LYON

La capitale gastronomique and much, much more

Lyon is a vibrant city ideally located in the heart of France and nestled between the Rhône and the Saône rivers. With more than 2,000 years of historical heritage, world famous food and a fascinating culture it is very easy to fall in love.

The city of Lyon combines historic districts with booming modern areas. If you are a history lover visit the Roman theatre and the impressive archaeologic park in Fourvière district or take a stroll through the streets of the Vieux-Lyon district and discover the Traboules (passageways) from the Renaissance. The new district of Confluence offers completely different scenery, with contemporary architecture. The area is the symbol of Lyon's modernity and urban dynamism. Culture vultures won't be disappointed as Lyon hosts many museums, but is also an open-air museum as the city has hundreds of mural paintings and trompe-l'oeil artwork on building facades.

For many foodies Lyon is considered as the world's gastronomic capital. There are plenty of places to choose from as the city offers more than 2,000 restaurants, including 14 starred restaurants in the 2015 Michelin guide. The starred chef Paul Bocuse is an emblematic figure of Lyonnaise cuisine and the bustling Halles markets carry his name, the Halles are the perfect spot to find the best regional products or to stop for an improvised lunch in one of the specialty restaurants. Your holiday to Lyon is also the perfect opportunity to enjoy a meal in a "Bouchon". Bouchon is the name given to the typical restaurants that offer conviviality and traditional cuisine in a warm atmosphere. Once you're well-fed you can go for a shopping afternoon, Lyon offers a large range of stores from the luxury boutique to vintage shops and French high street fashion.

Many events contribute to the cultural influence of Lyon such as the Biennale de la Danse (dance Festival) and its famous parade, Les Nuits Sonores (music festival) and Les Nuits de Fourvière (cultural festival hosted in the Roman theatre). The "Fête des Lumières" (Festival of Lights) takes place every December; it is a Lyonnais tradition when locals place lights and candles at their windows to celebrate Mary. For 15 years, this custom has become a splendid light show all over the city attracting millions of visitors every year.

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Content credit: Lyon Tourism and Conventions, www.lyon-france.com/en

Photos credit: Brice Robert/ Lyon Tourism and Conventions

Photos credit: 12hrs

Videos credit: Lyon Tourisme

 

What they say

"I have always preferred travelling by train, if at all possible, as flying always ends up being stressful, involving hours of waiting around, awful plane food and uncomfortable cramped seating.

When Eurostar announced they were launching a year round service to Lyon I was at the front of the line to try it out, I travel to France regularly and am a frequent user of the Paris Eurostar service so the chance to travel to the food capital of France in a few short hours was an exciting prospect.

The 5 1/2 hour journey flew by, with a regular supply of food and wine in Standard Premier it was a relaxing, laid back way of arriving into Lyon.
It is hardly original to compare the city to Paris, in fact it’s almost lazy, but the comparison works too well.

Lyon is a similarly beautiful city, filled with stunning architecture, delicious food and there is even a river running through the middle, so far so Paris. The differences are important though, Lyon is a much smaller city, easily walkable, with a laid back feel which makes it a great choice for a relaxing weekend away.

One of my favourite places to explore the Lyon food culture is Les Halles Paul Bocuse, named after Lyons most famous chef. The covered market isn't one of the pretty, tree lined markets France is famed for, it is a hall crammed full of absolutely everything delicious and it would be all too easy to spend a day eating your way around.
Try everything from Beignets or Brioche Saint-Genix, both local specialties or make a pit-stop for charcuterie and rosé, you can even choose from a number of stalls that will serve you fresh oysters, it really is a delightful place to indulge in the love of food! With Lyon now even easier to reach it will be a city I visit again and again."

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Content credit: Edd Kimber - http://www.theboywhobakes.co.uk/

MARSEILLE

Escape to the city that boasts 300 days of sunshine a year

France’s second metropolis, Marseille is a cosmopolitan city that is full of contrasts. Marseille combines 57 kilometres of coastline, one of the world’s most beautiful harbours, 300 days of sunshine a year, Mediterranean gastronomy and 2,600 years of historic heritage.

The city has undergone an amazing transformation in the last few years thanks to ambitious urbanism projects and the work of world-famous architects.  Designated the European Capital of Culture year in 2013, Marseille is catching attention and the city was voted “The second city to go in 2013” by the New York Times.

From the bustling city centre, the charming old quarters, the clamour of the Velodrome Stadium to the sandy beaches, Marseille is full of gems. Your holiday is the perfect opportunity, stroll in the Old City, discover Marseille street art, scuba dive in the Calanques National Park or why not take a bouillabaisse-making class and learn to cook the local fish stew?

What city can boast having opened nearly 10 cultural venues in one year? And having put on over 550 events? The Festival de Marseille is held every summer (mid- June to mid-July) and features, wide range of performances such as contemporary dance, music, theatre as well as art workshops. If you are in Marseille for Bastille Day events (14th July) Marseille’s extravagant celebration is a must-see; from the parade and a grand ball to the firework display in the Vieux Port. Marseille has been elected European Capital of Sport in 2017 so no doubt Marseille still has many more surprises in store!

www.marseille-tourisme.com

 

This video was filmed on the maiden voyage of the new Eurostar route from St Pancras International, London, to Marseille in the South of France. Big thanks to Eurostar for inviting us to make history with them. Recorded by Dave Burt, founder of the @London Instagram channel

Provence Wines

Provence, the site of France's oldest vineyards, is also the world's largest wine region specializing in AOP rosé, with 165 million bottles produced in 2014 (5.6% of the World’s rosé wines production).

Rosé has been the focus of Provence winemaking for centuries, ever since the Greeks brought wine to the area in 600 BC. Since rosé is a delicate wine and one of the most difficult to produce with success, these long-established traditions remain entirely relevant. Winemakers today are the beneficiaries of the region's collective knowledge and time-honored techniques. The area's deep-rooted rosé culture goes a long way toward explaining why the world's best rosés still come from Provence.

Welcoming you into the world of wine!

Provence's vineyards are taking another step forwards by offering visitors to the region a close-up on their history, fabulous wines, unique culture and wine growing heritage.

A generous and highly-contrasted land, bursting with sunlight and boasting an enviable lifestyle, Provence is home to ancient wine growing traditions and a very typical terroir. The best way of discovering the wines of Provence is simply to push open the door to the region's many wine cellars and bathe yourself in their time-honoured traditions. If you're seeking to find out more about our wines, the wine growers of Provence will be delighted to unveil their secrets to you…

More than any other product, wine is instilled with its own history and culture. It has a genuine soul – that of the people who nurture the vines throughout the seasons. Discovering a wine is all about understanding where it comes from and getting into the feel of the terroir and landscapes from which it draws its character. Humble, hospitable and filled with character, Provence's world of wine offers visitors a truly memorable travel experience.

Provence rosé lifestyle

Rosé is an important part of the Provençal lifestyle, and has the ability to adapt to a multitude of cuisines; while it is perfect as an aperitif or an accompaniment to barbecue fare, it also pairs beautifully with global and gastronomic cuisine.

The rosés of Provence are known for their pale pink colour, which is both crystal-clear and luminous. Provence rosés have a rich, aromatic bouquet with a wide range of delicious fruit aromas as well as floral notes, hints of spices and fresh herbal nuances. On the palate, the wines are refreshing and extremely vivacious. These wines are light, delicate, and well balanced, with an extremely fruity and generous finish that they have become known and loved for.

Escapades in the vines…

Provence offers a host of opportunities on the wine tourism theme, including tasting sessions led by wine experts, cellar and winery visits, vineyard tours, vineyard meals, B&B or self-catering accommodation in the vines, plus a packed events schedule.

The wine route, winding its way through the vineyards of the region's top three AOPs - Côtes de Provence, Coteaux Varois en Provence and Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence - leads you on a fabulous journey into the colours, bouquets and flavours of the region's wines, topped with stunning scenery and a wealth of cultural and natural riches. Spanning coastal areas, renowned touristic towns, hilltop villages and history-packed sites, the Provencal terroir stretches from the Mediterranean shores to the foothills of the Alps, and the countryside around Aix to the inland areas of Nice… Just imagine… You have just bought some local olive oil, fresh vegetables, tapenade olive spread and crunchy bread from a little Provencal market… Now all you have to do is enjoy them with some great Provence wine, against a backdrop of blue skies and chirping cicadas!

Welcome to the Provence Wine Route

Featuring 430 wine growers and cooperative wine cellars, located between Nice and Camargue, the Provence Wine Route offers tailored tasting sessions hosted by wine specialists. This sunny and charming itinerary crosses various breathtaking sites. Its thousand and one roads lead you to hidden vineyards and welcoming wine cellars. To get ready for your stay, we strongly recommend visiting the Provence Wine Route website at www.routedesvinsdeprovence.com where you will find a host of advice, suggestions and practical tools to use at will. This richly-informative and functional website is set to become one of France's foremost platforms for Wine Tourism. It contains simple tips and tools to help you plan your stay. What's more, it also allows you to create your own itinerary. 

www.provencewinetours.com/

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Content credit: Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence (CIVP) www.provencewines.co.uk

Photos credit: 12hrs

Photos credit: Office du Tourisme et des Congrès Marseille_FLC

Content credit: Marseille Tourist Office & Convention Bureau, www.marseille-tourisme.com/en/

Videos credit: PACA Tourism Board

Marseille harbour viewpoint Street art in Marseille A bottle of rose wine from provence

AVIGNON

A LIFESTYLE DESTINATION IN PROVENCE

The cross  of Palais des Papes Avignon festival Avignon Art,  picasso at window

Just 5 hours and 49 minutes from London by direct Eurostar and 2 hours 40 from Paris by the high speed train, Avignon will charm you with its outstanding heritage, its sunny climate and its large choice of cultural entertainments, all year long. Architecture, allure, culture and gastronomy – visiting Avignon means discovering the lifestyle of Provence.

Do not miss:

A visit at the UNESCO World Heritage

Avignon is home to an outstanding historical and cultural heritage. A city of art, Avignon was the capital of Christianity in the 14th century, when the Popes lived here, and hosts chapels, churches, ramparts and of course the Palace of the Popes,a magnificent Gothic monument. The old bridge – le Pont d’Avignon – has been made famous the world over by the beloved song.

A stroll in the city

The outstanding range of monuments gives the city the feel of a living theatre set. Architecture from the Middle Ages gives way to graceful 18th century city mansions with Baroque and Italian influences. Many have taken on new lives, housing restaurants, hotels, boutiques and museums where one can discover art from the Middle Ages, decorative arts, the Impressionists and contemporary art.

 Do not miss in July 2015: the re-opening of the Lambert art collection with over 550 contemporary works and 2 exhibitions.

Simply wandering the city streets allows you to shop on old streets where you’ll find both haute couture and young designers. Browse in the antique shops and the art galleries. Taste the market’s fresh food offerings, discover the crafts of Provence and enjoy cultural events all year long.

Try the gastronomy of Provence

Avignon is also a beacon of Provençal gastronomy; restaurants full of charm and character, are home to chefs who work with regional specialties, combining tradition and creative modern flair. Avignon also celebrates the Côtes du Rhône wines and serves as their capital. From the wine lists in the restaurants to the traditional celebrations and the many cellars – you will have countless opportunities to discover them.

Enjoy a world famous theatre festival

The "Festival d'Avignon" is one of the oldest and most famous theatre festivals in the world. In fact there are two festivals. The fringe festival Avignon Off turns the city of Avignon into a huge stage from July 4th to 26th and allows you to discover the biggest theatre scene in the world with its 1000 companies and over 1200 plays a day of every kind of live performances.

Founded by Jean Vilar in 1947, the official "Festival d'Avignon" presents contemporary creations from July 4th to 26th. lt is the place for artists and audiences to come together, and  the scene of many contrasting aesthetics, origins and generations.

Experience les Luminessences, a monumental video show at the Palace of the Popes happening every night from August 12th to October 3rd 2015.

New in 2015!  English performances on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays.

Seeing the Palace of the Popes in all its majesty, standing proud in the historical heart of Avignon, people often wonder:  but what were popes doing here in Provence? Why did they leave the Roman hillsides to come to the banks of the Rhône?

The monumental video projection, comprising music and story-telling, reveals the history of the building, the city and the region like never before. At the meeting of Europe’s great rivers, in the centre of old Avignon, come and experience an extraordinary 360° journey in time and space. An unforgettable evening, on a unique and exceptional site: the cour d’Honneur of the Palais des Papes. 

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Content credit: Avignon Tourisme, www.avignon-tourisme.com 

Photos credit: 12hrs