France's Wine Country: Paris to Nice - Page 3
Day 8: Lyon to Digne-les-Bains (175 Miles)
As a gateway to the Alps, Lyon's vicinity has a mind-boggling number of outdoor options. Try Vercors Regional Natural Park (+188.8.131.52.3826; www.pnr-vercors.fr), which is less than an hour and a half away, with stunning waterfalls, gorges, and pine forests. Spend the day in outdoor heaven, climbing Vercors' limestone cliffs in the morning and hiking some of its 1,900 miles of trails in the afternoon. Before dusk, drive south to Digne-les-Bains (www.ot-dignelesbains.fr), a spa town with thermal springs between the Alps and Provence.
Day 9: Digne-les-Bains to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse (75 Miles)
From Digne-Les-Bains, drive south to the Gorges du Verdon for a morning rafting trip through the canyon, Europe's deepest. In the afternoon, patrol Provence to the west in all its scenic glory: find fields of lavender, flowers, and olive trees punctuated by country villages, Roman ruins, and medieval castles. Hike on the Luberon Massif, a World Biosphere Reserve with oaks, beech forests, owls, and roe deer, before bedding down in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, a small town on the edge of a gorge where Petrarch once pined for Laura.
Day 10: Fontaine-de-Vaucluse to Nice (150 Miles)
From Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, it takes about two and a half hours to drive directly to Nice. But take your time and stop in Aix-en-Provence to walk along the Cours Mirabeau, a boulevard with fountains and cafes perfect for people-watching. Nice is bright and merry with beaches, palm trees, and art deco facades. In the afternoon, hit the market on Cours Saleya for flowers and fruit, then wander the old town in search of a bistro for dinner. For a dose of culture, hit up the Matisse Museum (http://www.musee-matisse-nice.org) or just absorb Nice, a colorful, funky Matisse painting in itself.
Add On: Corsica
Take off from Nice by ferry for a sojourn in Corsica. The towns of Ajaccio, Napoleon's birthplace, or Bonifacio, perched upon limestone cliffs over the sea, both make great home bases. The rugged composition of Corsica affords a bounty of spectacular mountain and sea vistas—not to mention great hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Travel some of the island's small trails and explore the inland villages, or follow the GR20, a long-distance walking trail that follows the isle's rugged, wildflower-strewn spine.