For luxury travellers heading on a trip around southwest Europe, from glitzy Monaco to the quirky art that surrounds Barcelona, there are a plethora of options—personal shoppers at their beck and call, private tour guides to chauffeur them from one vineyard to another or self-drive in luxury cars, as well as art experts to demystify the inspiration behind the masterpieces.
Famed for its extravagant parties and opulent lifestyle, the luxury traveller finds solace in Monaco, where helicopter transfers are de rigueur as an airport shuttle. Stunning cars with gorgeous celebrities in tow are as common as candy or an elegant yacht party filling the air with music and laughter in the harbour. One of the highlights of the social calendar in Monaco is the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, and the best vantage point to watch the action from—and party the night away—is on a superyacht, offering guests a champagne breakfast, perfect lounging choices, the place to be seen and be photographed in a designer bikini… all this with entertainment from the best DJs around the world.
The tiny principality is home to at least 4,000 luxury brands all within easy reach in the Cercle d’Or district around Place du Casino. For the traveller who has neither the time nor the inclination to search through the multitude of shops, opt for a personal shopper who works with many brands and designers in Monaco to help clients find the right outfit for any of the glamorous occasions they are likely to find themselves in. Chauffeured cars, fitting rooms or even the whole shop can be privatised for utmost exclusivity.
Leave the glitz of designer brands behind for a while, and travel back to Nice via helicopter, of course. Modern tourism began in Nice in the 19th century, where the British aristocrats enjoyed the warm weather and ‘sea bath’ during winter season. Here, two outstanding museums are Musée Marc Chagall, featuring an extensive collection of the artist’s work, as well as Musée Matisse, situated a short distance from the Hotel Regina where Henry Matisse used to reside. Take a personal tour guide to explain the history and nuances of their works.
The next two museums worth a visit are in Grasse, namely the International Perfume Museum—the only one of its kind in the world—and the Jean-Honoré Fragonard Villa-Museum. The former retraces the steps of perfume, soaps, makeup and cosmetics for four millennia. Under the watchful eye of a teacher, the traveller can also create a custom Eau de Cologne with nine essences personalised to your tastes at the Jean-Honoré Fragonard Villa-Museum. This museum also displays prominent Grasse artists’ works, with a dozen major works by Jean-Honoré, and paintings from Marguerite Gérard and Jean-Baptiste Mallet.
Olfactory senses heightened, Provence is worth a short detour, to discover the local vineyards and taste the best rosé, together with a wine expert and a private chauffeur. Of course, Châteauneuf du Pape is an essential stop, and the private tour will take the would-be sommelier to a few vineyards in the village, exploring the wineries, followed by some quintessential wine tasting. Nearby are the stunning lavender fields that surround the fortified Sault village. For patrons of Van Gogh and Cézanne, explore Provence and venture out to Saint Paul de Mausole, where Van Gogh was treated and Aries, where he completed some of his most famous works. A tour of Aix-en-Provence, Cézanne’s birthplace, reveals the panoramas that inspired this great master’s post-impressionist works.
From here, drive in comfort with AVIS to Barcelona. With a rich tradition of winemaking, Catalonia (North- Eastern Spain) has 12 Designations of Origin—11 for wine and one for cava—of which one is Penedés. One of the best wineries here is Torres, run by multi-generations of the Torres family, all dedicated to the love of great wines. Try the blind tapas at Mas Rabell for a unique sensory journey accompanied by several different wines. Otherwise, dine at the three-starred Sant Pau, run by renowned Chef Carme Ruscalleda, who is the only female chef to be awarded seven Michelin stars in the world.
In Barcelona, at a Michelin-starred chef’s home, uncover his secrets to epicurean greatness in a lovely dinner paired with the best wines. Take in the city and its surroundings from the air in a private helicopter ride for amazing panoramic views, or indulge in a pampering experience at one of the best spas. Continue shopping with your dedicated personal shopper at beautiful boutiques and workshops or bespoke shoemakers and tailors like Ramon Cuberta and Bel.
While waiting for the wardrobe to be curated, an art and architecture tour around Barcelona is highly recommended. Begin with Gaudi’s first home, Casa Vicens, which contains all the initial elements of tiles that inspired his later masterpieces that include the yet-unfinished SagradaFamilia, Park Güell and Casa Batlló, so a half-day private tour is the perfect way to take in the dreamy architecture of the genius that is Instagram-worthy from almost all angles in one of the European cities with nine UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Next, head to Ibiza, renowned for its lavish beach parties and exclusive club scene. Personal hair and makeup artists will be on hand to deliver glamorous, party-ready looks. Gain exclusive access to the White Area in Privilege Ibiza, possibly the largest club in the world, and have fast track entry, while a host ensures that all requests are catered for. Otherwise, be the envy of everyone else at the Owners’ Table in Ocean Beach Club, the most exclusive bed in the venue, perfect to watch the aerial acrobats and airborne dancers performing. The club has hosted celebrities like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Ed Sheeran. Supercars like Lamborghinis and Porsches can be arranged to transport guests to their destinations.
For ultimate luxury, take the party to the Villa Skyfall for an in-villa clubbing night, with Pacha’s resident DJ spinning for the guests. Alternatively, have DJ lessons in Experience at Es Vive hotel, where the club will be at the guest’s disposal for the whole length of the lesson. Ibiza experience is incomplete without visiting Sublimotion, which is run by two Michelin-starred chef PacoRoncero. Dubbed the world’s most expensive restaurant, it’s an experience designed to stimulate all five senses.
Prestige luxury car rentals are available from AVIS Prestige. www.avisprestige.com
Fly into Nice, Marseille & Barcelona onTurkish Airlines. Taking Turkish hospitality to the skies! In Business Class, make your trip the most pleasurable experience with dishes that won the Skytrax award for Europe’s Best Airline Catering Service, the latest in-flight entertainment system and comfortable seating. www.turkishairlines.com
© This article was first published in June-July 2018 edition of World Travel Magazine.