About Intimate France – We travel every spring and fall to Europe's most beautiful destinations. Our small groups (usually limited to eight travelers) guarantee you the utmost in personal service and attention to detail. Contact us: IntimateFrance.com or (800) 676-1247. More about us. 

 

It's Going to Be Glorious – Spring 2017 in Devon & Cornwall, England

 

 

A ferry plies the waters of the Dart River, with Kingswear rising in tiers above the banks.

 

We have put together what I am convinced is the best Devon-Cornwall itinerary out there — 12 full days and 12 nights touring the timeless fishing villages, luxuriant gardens and stately manor homes of southwestern England. See the itinerary here, or contact us for updated information.

 

We start at a Heathrow Airport-area hotel (the Renaissance) on Monday morning, June 5, 2017, and loop through Devon and Cornwall before returning to Heathrow via the cathedral town of Wells, Somerset, late in the day Friday, June 16. 

 

What is special about this tour? Well, for starters, in two charming coastal villages (Brixham and Fowey) we stay in hotels with seaview rooms. We feast on fresh seafood and other delicacies from the rapidly improving cuisine of Devon and Cornwall. We stroll through amazingly lush gardens and visit magnificent manor homes. We alertly protect our ice cream cones from the notorious, dive-bombing seagulls of St. Ives.

 

 

The castle at St. Michael's Mount is one of seven manor homes on our itinerary.

 

We will travel in a nimble, 16-seat mini-coach, allowing us access to even the smallest villages that can be reached only by narrow, hedge-bordered lanes.

 

By actual count, our itinerary includes visits to eight gardens, seven manor homes and castles, six exceedingly charming villages, four cathedrals and notable churches, and a brace of other sights. And this doesn't even count time spent in utterly delightful towns such as St. Ives, Dartmouth and Wells.

 

 

George Nevin in Port Isaac, where the hit comedy-drama series 'Doc Martin' is filmed.

 

 

If you are a fan at all of the brilliant comedy-drama TV series "Doc Martin," you'll especially appreciate our guided, Martin-themed walking tour of the Cornish village of Port Isaac, which is called Portwenn in the series. Take it from us — you'll love this series, available via Netflix, Amazon and Acorn.

 

A final note  — why do we call this "the best Devon-Cornwall itinerary out there"? Because we've reviewed others, and far too many of them compromise in important ways. For example, one features hotel stays in towns of overwhelming ordinariness (zero charm) and actually boasts about giving you "glimpses" of major sights, such as St. Michael's Mount. In other words, you can see it out the window of your coach as you motor past.

 

At Intimate France, we simply do not do that. Bring on the charm, we say ... and the small groups (maximum: 16), great dining, top sights, comfortable and atmospheric lodging, and guides and fellow travelers who want to get the most out of their time on the road.

 

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More of Just Back - Provence Shines in Spring Sunshine 2016

(Except for an Hour Atop Foggy Mont Ventoux)

 

Our six-plus weeks on the road in France, Switzerland and Italy were crammed with the kind of experiences we crave when we go to Europe. In Provence (southern France), our group of eight marveled at the soaring Roman aqueduct called Pont du Gard. We took in a perfect replica of a cave with prehistoric art dating back 30,000 years. We feasted on fruits and vegetables from the bounty of the southern French farm. And we had experiences that will live in our memories always.

 

Ruth Ann and John, major Tour de France fans for years and years, were delighted when we passed through the Rhône River Valley town of Bourg-St. Andéol and saw, at a roundabout in the center, bold silhouettes of colorful Tour racers. John and Ruth Ann hopped out of the van and reveled in posing in front of the signs, knowing that in a a few weeks, the tour would flash through this very spot.

 

A couple of days later, part of our group of eight got up early to pile into the van and climb to the 6,273-foot-summit of Mont Ventoux, which features prominently on the Tour de France every year.

 

 

George Nevin atop Mont Ventoux, in extreme fog, as well as being very cold.

 

A cruel trick of the weather meant that as we climbed the mountain through gloriously clear French countryside, clouds closed in, until at the summit there was zero visibility. And was it cold!

 

We did not mind. We'd conquered Ventoux just as hundreds of bike riders would do two months later. We descended from the peak hoping that the Tour would have better conditions.

 

(Post-Tour de France update: riders did indeed have clear weather for Mont Ventoux, but brisk winds — the very thing that gave Ventoux its name (it means "windy") — forced race organizers to move the finish line downhill to escape the worst of the punishing gales.)

 

 

Photo courtesy Ruth Ann Haney  

 

Our group in the medieval sector of Vaison-la-Romaine. Ruth Ann "arted up" the image.

 

 

 

France in Photos – Spring 2016

 

Herewith, some of our favorite images from our second 2016 tour –
Provence. Next e-newsletter: photos of French & Swiss Alps.

 

 

Before meeting the tour at the Marseille airport, George and Susan took in the market of Uzès.

 

 

Uzès, a lovely spot near the Pont du Gard, is charming, especially on market day (Saturday).

 

 

Ever hopeful, this regular at a roadside restaurant is asking for a handout.

 

 

Our Provence group spent three nights at the Hôtel Calendal, Arles, a sweet hotel indeed.

 

 
These magnificent Roman monuments, sitting beside the road near St. Rémy-de-Provence, are all
the more remarkable because of their human scale and ease of access. No ticket needed!
 
 
At lunch at La Table de Ventabren (1* Michelin), in the pretty village of Ventabren.
 

 
The Pont du Gard, a magnificently preserved Roman monument, is 2,000-plus years old.
 
 
At Les Baux de Provence, we toured the ruins of the fortress that Louis XIII had demolished in 1632.
 
 
The plateau at Les Baux de Provence features drawings to help bring the middle ages to life.
 
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And what trip report would be complete
without mentioning the food?
 
Three dishes served at Mas de Fauchon, an ultra-comfortable
hotel-restaurant in the wilds of Provence.
 
 
 
A scrumptious, and gorgeous, spring soup, featuring wild asparagus.
 
 
Main dish — coq au vin, ordinarily not my favorite, but this time a spectacular winner.
 
 
 
And finally — who can resist a strawberry-themed dessert in the spring?
 
 
And just so you don't think all cuisine in France is "haute" — a charcutrie plate for lunch one day.
 

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IN OUR NEXT INTIMATE FRANCE E-NEWSLETTER -- CONTINUING OUR PICTORAL SCRAPBOOK
WITH IMAGES FROM OUR SPRING 2016 TOURS, THIS TIME IN THE FRENCH & SWISS ALPS.

 

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