Artists have flocked to southern France for years, and for good reason. Drenched in a light that Matisse described as 'soft and tender, despite its brilliance', the Côte d'Azur is a picture-perfect landscape of cliff-top roads, vibrant market towns, sparkling Mediterranean waters and scenic coastal paths that have inspired the likes of Chagall, Rénoir, Picasso and Cézanne. The region has long been a favourite of Canadian designer and artist Virginia Johnson, whose latest project (an illustrated book on France to be published in May 2018), features a handpicked selection of historic villas, gardens, and towns that have inspired her over the years. Join Virginia on a week-long journey that explores such notable places as the Matisse Museum in Nice, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Cocteau’s magical Villa Santo Sospir, and the Maeght Gallery in St Paul de Vence. Visit markets in Nice and in Grimaud, dine in some of our favourite local restaurants, and take time to find your own inspiration, to sketch or paint at leisure, and to enjoy the beauty of Côte d'Azur in spring.
Dates: April 26 - May 3, 2018
Price is €3,945 per person based on double occupancy. Single supplement is €975 per person.
Note: This is an exclusive, fully-guided small-group journey led by the inimitable Virginia Johnson, along with Quench Trip Design Co-founder Mercedeh Sanati. For travellers wishing to extend their stay in France, we are happy to design an add-on trip.
- Explore the Côte d'Azur - the topic of her new book - shoulder to shoulder with Canadian designer, illustrator, and artist Virginia Johnson.
- View the progression of works by Henri Matisse, from the Matisse Museum in Nice (one of the world's larger collections of his work) to The Chapelle du Rosaire and Villa "Le Rêve" in Vence.
- Walk through Jean Cocteau's magical Villa Santo Sospir where he lived and worked, frescoing nearly every wall of the property.
- Shop for bargains at Brocante Jas des Roberts, a weekly flea market near Grimaud which is framed by vines, olive trees and a backdrop of the castle Grimaud.
- An hour-long hike around the promontory of St Jean Cap Ferrat, one of the most scenic Riviera towns, followed by lunch at the legendary Four Seasons Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat.
- Dinner at the historic La Colombe d'Or, where former owner Paul Roux encouraged struggling artists Dufy, Signac, Picasso, Braque, and Miró to swap a canvas or two for room and board. The art collection is one of the finest in the world.
- A behind-the-scenes visit of a local artist and design studio.
7 nights accommodation in sea-view rooms at charming boutique hotels in Nice and Saint Paul de Vence, inclusive of daily breakfasts, VAT, and city taxes.
4 dinners and 2 lunches, inclusive of tax, drinks, and tips (excluding alcoholic beverages).
Guided excursions to the sites, villas, and galleries as noted in the itinerary, inclusive of gratuities to the local guide and entrance fees.
The expert guidance of trip host Virginia Johnson.
A full-time dedicated Quench trip manager, Mercedeh Sanati.
Luxury group vehicle and driver throughout the trip.
*While we endeavour to operate this itinerary as planned, there may be slight alterations that affect the timing and order in which we visit the venues noted.
Your Host & Trip Manager:
Virginia is a designer and artist. Born in Toronto, she moved to New York after school to study at Parsons School of Design, and later worked as a design assistant at Helmut Lang. In 2001 she started making caftans, dresses and shawls with her textiles. Her collections have been carried by stores around the world including Barneys, Liberty and Holt Renfrew. In 2015 she closed her manufacturing business to focus on her art and creative partnerships, and has recently completed a series of watercolour prints of California, sold through Peter Dunham’s Hollywood at Home in Los Angeles.
Virginia is also an illustrator, working on books such as such as The Perfectly Imperfect Home, Kate Spade’s Occasions, Style and Manners, Madame Chic and Lunch in Paris. Her first book, an illustrated travel book on the South of France, will be published by Artisan in Spring 2018.
Mercedeh Sanati's career has taken her from Bay Street to the Norwegian Arctic. She was on her first plane at 5 months of age and has lived on 4 continents and traveled to more than 35 countries. In 1994, after graduating from University of Toronto's Commerce program, she joined KPMG's audit practice. She obtained her Chartered Accountant's designation, then moved to London, England. After two years abroad, she moved back to Canada, took on senior management positions at KPMG, then left to become Director of Operations at a luxury tour operator. There, she met Jennifer Deacon; together they launched Quench Trip Design in 2009.
Mercedeh wears many hats from trip designer to CFO and copy editor. In her spare time, she writes travel articles for such publications as The Globe and Mail, Away, and 1879 by Birks. Her work also has been featured in ELLE Canada and Chatelaine.