A stunning Baldscape taken at the Minuty Vineyard in the South of France . The shine on this baldy head indicates that the sun is shining and its a hot day ideal for the vines producing some stunning Rose French Wine . Head to either Avignon ( Provence) or Nice ( Cote d’Azur). Avoid Marseille as first timers. If you want history, art , food, quiet countryside choose Provence and rent a car. For beaches, balmy climate, mountain and sea, glamour , food and perhaps a bit more vivacity head for Nice. Great regular cheap transportation means you have Cannes, Antibes,Villefranche andMonaco within 45 minutes of Nice. As well as a couple of unique hillside villages like Eze and St Paul de Vence. I would seriously recommend that you don’t visit Provence in October – not that it is really a super-bad time to be there – but, there is an increased possibility of really cooler, windy, rainy weather (even mini-mistrals) and those conditions do not make for a great vacation.
French wine holidays in France
Arblaster & Clarke (01730 263111; winetours.co.uk), the leading wine tours specialist, offers a wide range of expert-led tasting and vineyard walking breaks, including Champagne weekends.
Other wine-themed holidays in France are available with: Grape Escapes (0845 643 0860; grapeescapes.net) Gourmet Touring (0033 632 80 04 74; gourmet-touring.com) Smooth Red (020 8877 4940; smoothred.co.uk)
Gourmet on Tour (020 7558 8796; gourmetontour.com) has a broad choice of group and individual cookery, gastronomy and wine holidays across lots of French regions.
On the Menu (0870 899 8844; holidayonthemenu.com) offers holidays with cookery courses in the Loire, Gascony and Provence.
Belle France (01580 214010; bellefrance.co.uk) Cookery, calvados and cider tasting in Normandy, and other food/wine breaks.
European Waterways (01753 598555; gobarging.com) Hotel barge holidays, with gourmet meals and fine wines.
Explore (01252 883597; explore.co.uk) Bordeaux gourmet cycling tour.
Headwater (01606 828307; headwater.com) Gastronomic walking and cycling breaks in Burgundy, the Dordogne and Tarn; cycling in wine regions.
Inntravel (01653 617000; inntravel.co.uk) Short foodie breaks to a few northern France hotels; good food is also integral to Inntravel’s walking/cycling breaks.
Susi Madron’s Cycling for Softies (0161 248 8282; cycling-for-softies.co.uk) Gourmet dinners are an elemental part of the holidays.
Tour operator listings by Fred Mawer
Provence and the Côte d’Azur are made for explorers. One of the joys of travelling here is touring the back roads and soaking up the stunning variety of landscapes: fields of lavender, ancient olive groves, cliff-top roads, maquis-cloaked hills and even snow-tipped mountains. It’s home to Europe‘s deepest canyon, oldest road and highest pass, all a dream come true for drivers – and then there’s the Mediterranean itself, a bright mirror of blue reflecting back craggy cliffs, white beaches and endless skies. Take your time – getting there is half of the fun.