BEST OF PROVENCE GUIDED TOUR – 6 days/ 5 nights $1.68,999 p.p.
Departure from Aix en Provence or Marseille airport
Spring: 18 April, 9, 16, 23 & 30 May
Summer Lavender: 6, 13, 20 & 27 June, 4 & 11 July
Autumn: 5, 12, 19 & 26 September
The Provence Tour is designed to encapsulate all that is great about Provence in 6 days of unforgettable experiences. From historical monuments to world-class art galleries and from wine tasting to gourmet meals, the tour is a sensory and visual delight. Includes visits to: Aix en Provence, Arles, Luberon hill villages, Saint Remy and Les Alpilles, and Cassis and Les Calanques, and numerous wine tastings.
Expect days filled with sunshine, as you travel through iconic countryside filled with sweeping fields of lavender. Enjoy cities replete with beauty and historic buildings, bubbling fountains, and cafe terraces overflowing with the joy of life in a part of the world the locals call “A corner of paradise”.
Stay in the Luberon Regional Nature Park in the village of Lourmarin at the 4-star Bastide de Lourmarin Hotel and Spa or the historic Moulin de Lourmarin.
Lourmarin is classed as one of France’s most beautiful villages. It is filled with shops, cafes, restaurants, and art galleries and is an enchanting place to spend time. The village has an extensive literary heritage claiming Albert Camus, Henri Bosco, and Peter Mayle as past residents.
Each night you will be able to choose a different restaurant to suit your mood.
Your UK guide, who lives in Lourmarin with his wife and children.
Itinerary in 2021
Pick up from Aix en Provence TGV or Marseille airport, you will be transferred to your accommodation in Lourmarin. The journey is an easy 1 hour’s drive through picturesque countryside.
Free time can be used to explore the village. On Sundays, there is usually an artisan or brocante market. You will gather for a drink’s reception around 18.30 followed by a gourmet welcome dinner.
Monday: Aix en Provence
A highlight of today is the visit to Aix en Provence. Your guide will share his love of the city on a brief orientation tour. Lunch in a typical restaurant, loved by the locals, but off the beaten tourist track, then choose between the main sights including, the Hotel Caumont Art Centre; Cezanne’s atelier and the viewpoint from which he painted Mont Sainte Victoire and the Musee Granet, a world-class painting and sculpture museum.
Tuesday: Luberon Villages*
The locals call the Luberon “Un coin de paradis”. It’s not hard to understand why: there are countless picturesque villages; numerous vineyards producing sumptuous wines; olive groves that stretch for miles; cherry orchards which produce snowstorms of blossom in spring and rolling mountains stretching away towards the Alps.
In spring the Luberon is awash with colour. We will stop by fields of poppies, and orchards of blossoming cherry and almond trees. In June and July, the Lavender blooms in rolling purple waves. In autumn, the russet fall colours are among the most picturesque in the world.
Our visits include Roussillon, famed for its red soil. Local legend has it that a jilted lover threw herself from a cliff and her blood stained the soil for miles around; and Gordes
Buffet lunch at Domaine de La Citadelle outside Menerbes and wine tasting. The vineyard has a famous corkscrew museum which we will also visit.
* Note in Lavender season the tour itinerary is adapted on Tuesdays to include a visit to the Provencal Lavender fields. The fields visited vary depending on the blooming of the lavender
Wednesday: Saint Remy and Arles
It’s market day in beautiful Saint Remy de Provence. We will spend the morning wandering amid the colourful stands of the traders and enjoying the charm of this picturesque Provencal town. Lunch in a restaurant hidden in the Les Alpilles’ countryside.
In the afternoon it is history time in Arles boasting the best collection of Roman sights in Provence – a Roman Arena, a Roman Theatre, Roman baths, and even a Roman Graveyard. For those of a more artistic disposition, Arles is also where Van Gogh completed many of his most famous paintings, as well as being the home to an exciting new modern art foundation – Luma Arles.
We will head for the glittering Mediterranean and the charming port of Cassis. On our way, we will stop at Domaine Paternel to taste the region’s famed white. Arriving harbourside we will explore the port and enjoy lunch together. Enthusiasts of seafood should not miss the opportunity to try Provence’s famed Bouillabaisse fish soup. In the afternoon we will take a boat tour out into Les Calanques. Renowned as almost the last untouched stretch of the French Mediterranean coast, these rocky coves are accessible only by boat or on foot. The Calanques are a world-famous wildlife reserve and a national treasure.
In the event of bad weather our trip to Cassis will be substituted by the following:
The first stop is L’Isle sur La Sorgue, a gorgeous market town nicknamed the Venice of Provence thanks to the canal system on which it sits. Waterwheels and charming antique shops make for a memorable visit.
Next up is Avignon and one of the sights of Provence – the Palais des Papes. Built-in under 40 years this gothic monolith inspires awe and reverence. Adding a touch of humour to the visit we advise to read Alphonse Daudet’s short story – The Pope’s Donkey, before the visit. It gives a wonderful insight into the world of the Avignon Popes.
On Friday our home village of Lourmarin hosts one of the largest and best Provencal markets. It’s the perfect opportunity to do something last-minute shopping before heading to Aix en Provence train station or airport.