Madrid, Barcelona, St Tropez, French Riviera, Cannes, Nice
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
The sun will set low over the Catalonian fields and spreads its rays over the glittering azure expanse of the Mediterranean Sea during your 13-day Spain and France tour. Modern cities and darling villages greet you at every turn, charming and captivating you. The air is thick with the rich smells of cooking and the promise of another beautiful night as art lovers uncover the true names of cultural Paradise.
Madrid - Welcome to Spain!
This morning you land on the outskirts of Madrid, one of the most sensational cities in Europe and home to some of the greatest art museums on the planet. A private driver will be waiting for you at the airport, ready to escort you to your charming and elegant hotel right in the middle of the city’s bustling heart. After dropping off your bags and taking some time to recover from jet lag, you can explore this amazing city, taking in the many sights and reveling in the unparalleled experiences that have made Madrid the political, social and cultural center of Spain.
Madrid - Touring Magnificent Madrid
Today, you venture forth into one of the oft-overlooked art capitals of the world, a place where the glories of Spain’s most famous sons and daughters are displayed in incomparable fashion. Begin your day at the Museo del Prado, the unquestioned center of Spain’s rich artistic history. Goya’s greatest works can be found here, from The Third of May to his two Majas, while the highlight of the entire collection is Valzquez’s sensational Las Meninas. The museum also houses an impressive collection of artists of other nationalities, including Titian, Rubens, and Hieronymus Bosch.
After your encounter with the best art from the peninsula, enjoy an early afternoon stroll around the Plaza Mayor, the heart of Madrid since the early 17th century, dominated by the graceful and elegant Casa de la Panaderia. Once a center of bullfights and executions, it’s now a place where Spaniards gather to enjoy a beautiful spring day at one of the plaza’s charming cafes or to watch their beloved and talented national soccer team. From its glorious past to its sumptuous present, the Plaza Mayor is certainly a part of Madrid that you do not want to miss.
The afternoon can be spent touring more of Madrid’s incredible art museums: the Reina Sofia Museum. It houses some of the best works of modern Spanish masters, including Picasso’s unforgettable Guernica, while the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum offers an excellent and approachable collection of some truly outstanding works.
Barcelona - Spanish Royalty and a Thrilling Train Ride
Today you experience first hand the life of Spanish nobility as you tour the immense and impeccable Palacio Real de Madrid, the largest palace in Europe by floor area and one of the greatest buildings of its kind in the world. The palace dates back to the middle part of the 1700s and houses some of the most incredible works of art in the country. Paintings by Caravaggio, Velazquez and Goya fill the halls, and frescoes by Mengs, Giaquinto and de Flandes cover the palace’s walls. Music lovers will also want to visit the storerooms of the palace to encounter the world’s only complete Stradivarius string quintet.
The afternoon sees you boarding a high-speed train that will zip you through the incredible countryside of Spain until you reach breathtaking Barcelona, the home of the 1992 Summer Olympics and one of Spain’s greatest tourist attractions. In the evening, enjoy the vivacity and verve that characterizes this marvelous metropolis, perhaps with an evening of tapas.
Barcelona - The Captivating Capital of Catalonia
This morning, set out on a half-day, private tour of Barcelona as a friendly and knowledgeable driver leads you through this amazing city. Start at the sensational La Sagrada Familia, the magnum opus of the famed Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi and one of the most sensational – and strangest – cathedrals in the world. Still under construction more than a century after the first stone was laid, the other-worldly towers offer only a hint of the cathedral’s ultimate grandeur. When completed, it will feature a center spire more than 560 feet tall, making it the tallest church building on Earth.
Continue on to another of Gaudi’s best-loved works, the scenic, and serene Park Guell, where the architect’s whimsy and love of color are both on full display. Beautiful mosaics line the terrace and winding benches fill the park, footpaths cut into the surrounding hillsides, and the many statues and buildings that fill the complex are as charming as they are gloriously unique. You’ll also want to stop by the Casa Batllo and Casa Mila, two of Gaudi’s best-known houses, noteworthy for the artist’s eschewing of traditional forms and straight lines as well as its dazzling colors.
In the afternoon, stroll along Barcelona’s most famous thoroughfare, La Rambla, which runs from the city’s heart all the way to the beaches that line the Mediterranean. Although the street has become slightly kitschier with the influx of tourists, you’ll find it still retains the charm and charisma that made the poet Lorca quip that “La Rambla is the only street in the world which I wish would never end.”
Barcelona - A Day of Leisure in Beautiful Barcelona
Today, enjoy the slower pace of Spanish life as you ease into the joys and pleasures of Barcelona. Wake up late, and enjoy a cup of coffee and a Spanish pastry before setting out to see some of the lesser-known marvels of this wonderful city. You can stop by the Palace of Catalan Music, a simply gorgeous concert hall that was built in 1908 and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. You’ll be amazed by the statuary and stunned by the splendid stained glass windows, casting the entire structure in a beautiful bath of multihued light.
There are also a number of small and quaint museums that can be found throughout the city. Barcelona’s Picasso Museum possesses a fine array of the master’s works, and the Catalan Art Museum features perhaps the foremost collection of Catalonian artists in the world. Other notable spots include the Poble Espanyol, an open-air museum dedicated to portraying the varying styles of Spanish architecture, the Gothic Quarter, which is home to the Barcelona Cathedral and its fantastic assortment of gargoyles, and the Juan Miro Foundation, where you can find fascinating works of abstract art and sculpture, including many by Miro himself.
Provence - Crossing the Pyrenees into Southern France
Pack your passport, and prepare for one of the most unforgettable drives of your life as you make your way across the mountainous borderlands into the lush and fertile fields of southern France, where the colors collide in a dazzling display of earth and sky and where fields of lavender give way to the brilliant hues of a noontime sun. You start by train, as a first-class carriage takes you from Barcelona to Montpelier, filled with luxurious accommodations and all of the niceties of train travel. Once in Montpelier, a rental car will take you the rest of the way into phenomenal Provence, a place where time seems to stand still, and where the cultures of many nations and peoples come together to form one of the most singular regions in France.
Provence - Delightful Towns and Spectacular Scenery
There is truly something for everyone in wonderful Provence, and today is dedicated to exploring this beautiful area as you see fit. You can explore the many ruins left by the Romans when they first colonized the area, from the incredible aqueduct bridge of the Pont du Gard near Nimes to the arena at Arles, and from the residential remains of Vaison la Romaine to the striking Arc de Triopmhe in Orange, the oldest remaining triple-arched Roman triumphal arch in the world.
Those looking for the quainter side of Provence life would do well to visit northern Luberon, where you can find the remains of ancient hilltop settlements and astounding instances of natural beauty. Head to the sprawling and sensational village of Gordes, make for the lavender fields of the Senanque Abbey (a structure which dates from the 12th century) or see the sights of Isle sur la Sorgue, a charming riverside commune that is famed for its darling antique shops and waterside restaurants and cafes.
St. Tropez - Making Your Way to the Med
Continue east at your own speed, exploring the countryside and simply soaking in the lifestyle of this inescapably enchanting area. Set out for famous St. Tropez, the seaside resort that has since become the byword for the ultimate destination for jet-setters the world over. Once a quiet and unassuming fishing village, St. Tropez became the center of the French Riviera in the middle of the 12th century, and it retains its Old World charm and nouveau riche luxuries in equal parts.
The art scene in St. Tropez is grander than the city’s size would lead you to believe, and it’s filled with works from less famous – but no less talented – artists from the schools of early modern art. Post-Impressionists like Seurat and Fauvists like Braque have art on display at the gorgeous Annonciade Museum, and the works compiled at the Chateau Suffren are certainly worth checking out. As an added bonus, the home itself is one of the oldest buildings in St. Tropez and is a remarkable example of changing architectural styles throughout the area’s rich past.
St. Tropez - Your First Taste of the Cote D’Azur
There’s nothing quite like your first view of the French Riviera, where the sapphire expanse of the Mediterranean swallows your view and where the sun casts colors upon the land that are unlike any you’ve ever known. This is the place where artists have turned for inspiration for centuries, where the scenery offers captivating views into the glories of nature and the people welcome you with open arms and open homes. The scent of lavender and sea salt suffuses the air, filling it with an earthy and organic aroma that leaves you longing for the shores of the sea. It is a place where dreams come true and where memories are made. It is a place unlike any other.
Nice - A Day in Nice
Your explorations of the French Riviera begins in Nice, home to some of the best art museums in all of Southern France. Those drawn to modern art must make a visit to the Musee d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, where an extensive collection of American pop art – think Warhol, Wesselmann and Lichtenstein – exists alongside marvelous exhibits of Nicoise painters and European New Realists. A unique collection of Chagall’s paintings inspired by the Old Testament is a must-visit for fans of this one-of-a-kind master, and the city’s Matisse Museum offers the largest collection of Matisse’s works on Earth, all housed in the charming and elegant splendor of a 17th century Mediterranean villa.
In the evening, enjoy some of the region’s famous food at a neighborhood restaurant – needless to say, the salad Niçoise is sublime – before setting out to enjoy the nightlife of this incomparable city, where even the train stations glimmer with the imagination and vision of modern art. You can also spend the dwindling daylight hours strolling the gorgeous Promenade des Anglais, where the rolling surf of the sea crashes against some of the finest examples of Belle Epoque architecture in the country.
Nice - The Artistic Charms of the Riviera
Head out to the countryside to discover some of the great hidden secrets of the area’s art scene. In St-Paul-de-Vence you’ll find the Maeght Foundation, a comprehensive collection of 20th-century art and sculpture, with works from legends like Miro, Giacometti, and Calder filling the outer-lawns and gardens and paintings from Chagall and Braque filling the gallery. At the Chateau Garimaldi in nearby Antibes, you’ll find more than 200 works by Pablo Picasso, the results of his stay at the chateau in the middle part of the 1940s, while Cagnes-sur-Mer was the home of Auguste Renoir for nearly 20 years in the early 20th century. While the house contains no modern art, it does showcase the artist’s studio much as it existed when the great master was at his prime. The Henry Clew Museum in Cannes is also worth a visit, not only for the art that fills the museum, but also for the sensational landscaping that surrounds it.
Nice - Soaking up the Sun by the Shores of the Med
Your final day in Europe is spent surveying the more commercial aspects of the French Riviera – after all, there is some amazing shopping to be done here! Fine handcrafts and other artisanal goods are littered throughout the landscape, from the glassblowers of at Biot to the fine potters of Vallauris. Art galleries are everywhere, offering reproductions of classic works and the products of up-and-coming local artists, and the city of Grasse offers a special sensual treat at the perfumeries of Fragonard, Molinar and Gallimar. Here, you can sample some of the amazing scents of these olfactory artists and even tour the impressive International Perfume Museum before picking out your favorite scent.
In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner at one of Nice’s finest restaurants that features traditional French gourmet food in an atmosphere that is simply to die for.
Nice - Bidding Adieu
Today sees you saying goodbye to Europe as you end your incredible voyage into the heart of the Continent’s art world. From the masterpieces that fill the halls of the Prado to the smaller, more intimate museums that dot the French Riviera, this is sure to be an adventure unlike any other you’ve ever experienced, and it’s sure to leave you longing to explore the other great art scenes in Europe and beyond.
If you wish to further your trip in France, please visit the France tours section for additional ideas.
- Hit all the highlights of Madrid, Spain’s splendid capital and the home of some of the greatest art collections known to humanity, from the stunning exhibits at the world-famous Prado to the undeniable grandeur of the Royal Palace
- Live it up in Barcelona, where the surrealistic presence of Gaudi permeates every street corner and where the infectious charm of Catalonia fills the air, from the iconic La Rambla to the soaring La Sagrada Familia
- Marvel at the countryside that marks the border between Spain and France as you make your way from the heart of Catalonia into the incomparable fields of southern France
- Spend two day reveling in the leisurely pace and undeniable beauty of life in Provence, taking in the region’s storied history, its alluring communities or its stunning natural landscapes, from Arles to Avignon
- Glory in the grandeur of the French Riviera, the home to movie stars and movie festivals, famous artists and unforgettable edifices, all framed by the gentle surf of the Mediterranean and the comforting warmth of a sunset off the Cote D’Azur
- Discover the vibrant art scene on the coast of the Med, from the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nice to the Maeght Foundation in St-Paul-de-Vence
From the streets of majestic Madrid to the shores of the Cote d’Azur, Spain and France are must-see spots for art lovers the world over. This 13-day vacation is dedicated to showing you all the best of this remarkable region, with great masters and lesser-known luminaries existing side-by-side and surrounded by a beauty that is truly unlike anywhere else on Earth.
Begin in Madrid as your wind your way through the great galleries and sensational cities of Spain, taking in the glories of the Prado and the scintillating modern art of Barcelona. Explore the local museums throughout Provence and southern France, reveling in the pace of life in towns like Nice and St. Tropez. And experience the truly inspiring scenery that has driven artists to soaring heights for centuries, from Matisse to van Gogh to Antoni Gaudi.
If you’ve longed to live the life of a watercolorist or dream of days where the only thing on the schedule is relaxing, if you’ve yearned for the grandeur of nature and the brilliance of modern art, if you’ve wanted nothing more than to spend two weeks in creative revelry, this is one vacation that is sure to leave you dazzled and delighted.
$3,336 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
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- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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