It is always challenging to visit and navigate a country that is not one's own, and whose language one may not speak. Especially when moving from one point to the next, the soft "hand-off's" or the drivers that meet, greet and bring us to our new destination even if a simple job, help ease us into the sometimes daunting experiences. The drivers hired to pick us up and transfer us between airport-hotels, trains-hotels were always on time, if not early, and were extremely pleasant and professional.Our private tour of the Louvre, Isle de la Cite, Ile Saint Louis and Notre Dame with Anne-Marie was, in our opinion, the best guide. She was professional, knowledgeable, and passionate about what she was teaching us. It was a relaxed pace and we never felt rushed. I would definitely recommend her and/or ask her to guide me at another museum.
Unfortunately, due to the timing of our trip (1st 2 weeks in August), the lavender fields were not what I expected. It turns out, most of the lavender was harvested by the time we toured the fields. Our tour guide spent some time having to search for lavender fields just so we could see and get pictures. One of my focuses of the trip was to see the endless lavender fields which I made very clear to the travel specialist. If she knew there would be even a slight chance we would miss the full lavender fields, and that the lavender would be harvested by the time we went, it would have been better if she let us know ahead of time that so we wouldn't be entirely surprised. I lean and trust the specialists to be familiar with the timing of such things and would have had different expectations or rescheduled the trip to come in July which was when other guides were saying it was best to go. Moreover, the description of the small group tour that was sent to me in a pdf file was entirely inaccurate - we did not got to Faience, Moustiers-Saint-Marie nor did we visit the famous factory of L'Occitane. We did visit a local distillery and saw some other beautiful villages - Gorde, Rusillon, and Fontane-de-Cluse - but not what was in our packet. This trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity and this planned day was a complete miss. I was truly disappointed.
Our third and final hotel in Antibes was not on par with the other 2 hotels we stayed at. The breakfast experience was not desirable - there were times when there were not enough tables to accommodate the guests, and the wait staff appeared very flustered and stressed due to the volume of guests they needed to serve. Moreover, our air conditioner started to leak water late one night. We told the evening manager and he didn't seem care nor was there a sense of urgency. If we turned off the a/c the leak would stop but by no means were we turning off the a/c in such hot and humid weather! The leak was minimal but we ended up moving our bags and the furniture, placed towels on the floor so as to limit the damage to the tile. Needless to say, we ended our trip on a lower note than expected.
I would certainly book less tours and spend some time exploring on our own. We ended up cancelling one of our tours because we were so exhausted moving so much. I would also travel as noted above, in July, when the lavender is in bloom.
Knowing what I know now about the South of France, travel when it is less crowded. It was way too hot and crowded for our comfort.
I'd also stay in Old Town Antibes. That vibe is way more our speed then Juan Les Pines. Juan Les Pines plage reminded us of wildwood or the Jersey shore. We do not have kids nor are we young ourselves so the crowds and energy was overwhelming.
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