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Brigitte Bardot first popularised the bikini on the beaches of the Cote d'Azur, and close by, but a world away, Van Gogh and Cézanne drew inspiration from the landscapes of Provence inland. The French Riviera remains the most fashionable stretch of coast in the Mediterranean for luxury holidays. Take a boat trip to explore Cap Ferrat or Cap d'Antibes, enjoying beaches, watersports and long lunches in the port-side restaurants of former fishing villages such as St. Tropez. Other attractions range from the flower market in Nice to the shops and casinos of Cannes and Monte Carlo. Inland, the attractions of Provence are very different, but no less appealing. Wander round any number of picturesque villages, tasting local produce at farmers' markets or sipping pastis beneath the plane trees of an outdoor café.

Explore the region's impressive Roman heritage in places like Arles, Orange and Vaison-la-Romaine, or go walking through fields of lavender and sunflowers.

For yet another aspect of Provence, head for the unspoilt wilds of the nearby Camargue, in the Rhône delta. Here you can enjoy excellent horse riding and see everything from flamingos to the famous long-horn Camargue bulls.

For those keen to minimise their carbon footprint, Provence can be easily reached by train using France's superb TGV network, and Eurostar trains now run direct to Avignon on certain dates throughout the summer so you can be in Provence just five and three quarter hours after leaving central London. The wonders of modern technology, eh?

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Provence & the Cote D'Azur
Provence & the Cote D'Azur
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Map of Provence & the Cote D'Azur

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A Note on Price

A no-expense spared weekend on the Côte d'Azur can cost upwards of £2,500pp. Or, take a self-catered villa in Provence, arriving in comfort via the train to Aix en Provence and your luxury holiday over the May half-term week can be taken care of for less than £10,000. Based on 8 people self-catering.

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