Nice is the perfect starting and end point to a tour – offering a brilliant mix of old-world opulence, fabulous food, a thriving art scene, and year-round sunshine. The ports we visit also offer the opportunity to explore Roman ruins, medieval alleyways, networks of canals, museums, galleries and more. Of course you could simply take a seat at a harbor side café and watch the world go by instead…
- Cruise along a relaxed meandering route – from Nice to Bandol; Barcelona to Languedoc
- Relax over a glass of vin rouge (or two…) alongside the locals in Bandol
- Discover outstanding producers in Languedoc-Roussillon
- Visit sparkling Cava vineyards, just outside of Barcelona
- Sample mouth-watering gastronomic delights in Catalonia
Wednesday 30 August
We fly from London to Nice. We arrive in time for lunch at a restaurant on Nice’s harbor.
We stop at Nice’s wonderful flower market, before embarking Le Ponant. We set sail for Bandol, stopping enroute for a quick swim. We enjoy dinner on board with Provençal wines tonight. The wine has been chosen from some of our favorite regional producers, including Château Simone, whose wines have wonderful depth from their herbaceous rosé to their complex reds which age beautifully.
Thursday 31 August
We arrive at Bandol, and pay a morning visit to an estate in La Cadiere d’Azur. The Bandol appellation produces some outstanding reds. The warm, coastal climate is ideally suited for the late-ripening Mourvèdre grape. We enjoy lunch on board before setting sail for Tarragona. We enjoy dinner accompanied by Corsican wines tonight. Corsica’s vineyards are found near the island’s coast, as the mountainous interior landscape is just too rugged for viticulture. We enjoy the full range of the island’s wines, including the rich and satisfying Muscat Vins Doux Naturels.
Friday 1 September
Sweet whites & robust reds
We sail to north-east Spain today, and to a wine region that first came to fame in the late 1980s. The concentrated wines are minerally and robust. En route, you can choose to relax or join a tasting hosted by our Wine Guide. We join together for lunch accompanied by wines from Southwest France — including dry and sweet whites from Jurançon, rustic Malbecs from Cahors, and floral-scented rosés from Fronton. We arrive in Tarragona this afternoon, and go ashore to explore the port city’s fascinating mix of Roman history and Medieval alleyways. We are joined for dinner by a winemaker from Priorat.
Saturday 2 September
We start the day with a walking tour of Tarragona. We enjoy lunch on board with a producer of Cava — Spain’s answer to Champagne and Prosecco. A glass of Cava is perfect alone as an apéritif, or accompanying poultry, rice and pasta dishes. We continue to Barcelona. The city is famous for the many artists and architects who have called Barcelona home — Pablo Picasso, Antonio Gaudí and Joan Miró just a few names amongst them.
There is much to visit here in Barcelona: admire the impressive Sagrada Família, or enjoy a leisurely wander along the Ramblas Promenade. Dinner will be served aboard Le Ponant tonight. We will enjoy local specialties, accompanied by wines from the Catalunya region. We’ll start with sparkling Cava, enjoy full-bodied whites from Terra Alta, and finish off with upfront reds from Penedes.
Sunday 3 September
Lunch amongst the trees
We arrive at Port de Plaisance de Narbonne Plage and enjoy lunch at Château l’Hospitalet. The Narbonne restaurant sits among pine woods, vines, and moorland in the la Clape mountain range. There is a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea here — we stop for a swim at the nearby beach. We dine with another of our friends from the La Clape or Corbières region, who present their wines over dinner tonight.
Monday 4 September
Stars of the Languedoc
We arrive in Sète and pay a morning visit to Mas de Daumas Gassac, one of the most outstanding producers in Languedoc-Roussillon. They make rich, powerful reds with great aging potential. Hugh Johnson is a great fan, having described the estate as the Languedoc’s only ‘Grand Cru’. Enjoy a free afternoon in the pretty fishing port of Sète — not your typical tourist town. If you like seafood, this is the perfect place to indulge – Sète has the largest working fishing fleet on France’s Mediterranean coast.
Tuesday 5 September
Our final night aboard
We make our way to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the standard-bearer for the Southern Rhône. The region produces both red and white wines of outstanding quality. We visit Domaine de Font de Michelle for lunch today. The vineyards here are tended using organic farming techniques. Their wine is aged in a myriad of different vessels including traditional cement vats, old foudres, demi-muids and French oak barrels. The afternoon is yours to enjoy at leisure. We sit down to a Captain’s dinner with wines from the Southern Rhône — including Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Beaumes-de-Venise — during our last night on board.
Wednesday 6 September
Take some free time to explore Nice this morning before our flight home.
Nice is a city of universal appeal: old-world opulence, year-round sunshine and a thriving local arts scene. With so many delights waiting to be discovered here on the bright blue waters of the Cote d’Azur… why not add a few days before or after the tour to discover them all?