Detailed Itinerary (or download a PDF copy here)
Day 1 (Sunday, May 13)
We meet in the lobby of the Best Western Marseille Airport and plunge right into our Provence adventure. Just 90 minutes up the road is our first destination, Roman Arles. Arriving before noon, we stow our bags at our charming, quiet hotel, then walk through the old town before stopping for LUNCH. In the afternoon, we get to know Arles better, with a get-acquainted walking tour and a stop at one or more of the many sights the city has to offer. Perhaps you’d like to explore the Roman amphitheater, the cathedral and cloisters, or the Museum of Old Arles. OVERNIGHT ARLES
Day 2 (Monday, May 14)
From Arles this morning we head north to the village of Barbentane to visit its Italianate château. You’ll enjoy the beautiful castle with its fine old furnishings and quiet grounds. Near noon we arrive at the soaring Roman aqueduct called the Pont du Gard, dating from the 1st century AD. It’s incredibly well-preserved, with an informative museum to explain its significance and construction. We return to Arles in the late afternoon for free time, followed by DINNER in town. OVERNIGHT ARLES
Day 3 (Tuesday, May 15)
We start a bit earlier today in order to get to the popular, and spectacular, village of les Baux-de-Provence before the big tour buses arrive. You’ll love the rustic cobbled streets and windswept castle ruins commanding a view of the valley. Late in the morning, we head to the pretty town of St. Rémy, which we explore and where we have lunch. In the afternoon, join us in visiting the asylum where Van Gogh lived in 1888-89, and to see the nearby ruined Roman town of Glanum. OVERNIGHT ARLES
Day 4 (Wednesday, May 16)
From Arles this morning, we go north. Around 10:30 a.m. we arrive in old Avignon, still protected by its proud city walls and recalling the days in the 14th century when it was the seat of the Catholic church. We’ll see as many of its attractions as time allows: the Palace of the Popes; the bridge called the Pont d’Avignon, celebrated in a French children’s song; the Musée Angladon, with 19th century art and furnishings. You’ll also enjoy wandering the animated streets and exploring the upscale shops. In the afternoon, we pass through Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern France’s most renowned wine region. Later, we come to our hotel, the Bellerive, surrounded by vines near Rasteau. DINNER is at our hotel. OVERNIGHT RASTEAU
Day 5 (Thursday, May 17)
France is chock-full of lovely stone villages, and we visit two of the prettiest today: the perched village of Séguret, and lovely Gigondas (a fine red wine is made here). Also on our agenda is fascinating Vaison-la-Romaine, three towns in one Roman, medieval and modern. We explore the old streets of the ville haute and admire the Roman-era excavations.Later, we relax at the beautiful Bellerive before DINNER at the hotel. OVERNIGHT RASTEAU
Day 6 (Friday, May 18)
Very close to Rasteau, across a plain covered to the horizon in grape vines, lies Roman Orange. Here we visit two treasures: a triumphal arch, built by the Romans in 20 BC, and the town’s magnificent Roman theater, dating from the reign of Caesar Augustus. It is one of the best-preserved in the world. After lunch, we visit the newly opened replica of the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave, displaying exact copies of images painted an estimated 32,000 years ago. DINNER at the hotel OVERNIGHT RASTEAU
Day 7 (Saturday, May 19)
From Rasteau today we push south to the fabled Lubéron region of Provence. Our first stop is the market town of Apt, to take in its renowned Saturday market. Then it’s on to two spectacular hill villages Bonnieux and Lacoste. Our final stop is in the village of Ménerbes, made famous by Peter Mayle in A Year in Provence.At day’s end we return to Arles and check into our centre ville hotel. OVERNIGHT APT
Day 8 (Sunday, May 20)
The fabled food and flea market at l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is first on today’s agenda. Here, we’ll shop for a picnic lunch, which we’ll enjoy near town. Then it’s on to the beautiful riverside village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. In springtime the source of the Sorgue River is at its peak a thundering waterfall leaping from the base of a cliff. Late in the day, as we make our way back to Apt, we may want to pause in rustic Oppède-le-Vieux, unlike any other village in this region. DINNER in town tonight. OVERNIGHT APT
Day 9 (Monday, May 21)
Our first stop is the delightful perched village of Roussillon, an ochre-colored marvel high on a cliff, where we go for a walk among the hills, pines and colorfully eroded cliffs. After a lunch break, we visit pretty Gordes, perched high above the Lubéron valley. Then it’s on to the ancient Abbey of Sénanque, founded by Cistercian monks in the 12th century in a wild and romantic valley. On our way back to Apt we may want to pause in rustic Oppède-le-Vieux, unlike any other village in this region. In the late 20th century it was largely abandoned, creating an atmospheric collection of romantically crumbling structures. OVERNIGHT APT
Day 10 (Tuesday, May 22)
Out of the country and into the city today, we leave Apt and proceed south, all the way to the Mediterranean at Cassis. Here, stroll the lively waterfront and enjoy a boat ride to visit three calanques dramatic, cliff-lined inlets of the Mediterranean. Late in the day we arrive in beautiful Aix-en-Provence, our home for the next three nights. We check into our hotel, then stroll to the Cours Mirabeau, one of France's most beautiful main streets, for a drink. Later, enjoy free time in what may be southern France's most beautiful town, followed by DINNER. OVERNIGHT AIX-EN-PROVENCE
Day 11 (Wednesday, May 23)
A walking tour of Aix begins our day. See the old Cathedral of St. Sauveur and some of Aix's many fountains, as well as the pedestrian-only shopping district, a medieval marvel. After a lunch break, we visit the city's fine-arts museum, the Granet, featuring paintings by Cézanne and other artists; and Cézanne's studio on a quiet, tree-lined street. OVERNIGHT AIX-EN-PROVENCE
Day 12 (Thursday, May 24)
Late in the morning, after free time in Aix, we leave the city for the nearby perched village of Ventabren. Here, we enjoy a festive FAREWELL LUNCH. Later, back in Aix, do some last-minute shopping or sightseeing, or take time to prepare for tomorrow's departure. OVERNIGHT AIX-EN-PROVENCE
Getaway Day (Friday, May 25)
It's time to say au revoir to Provence. Aix-en-Provence is only 30 minutes from the Marseille-Provence Airport, providing easy access for morning flights.
MEALS Tour includes breakfast every day, as well as eight other meals (lunches and dinners), as indicated in BOLD CAPS on the itinerary.
Hôtel Calendal, Arles
Hôtel Bellerive, Rasteau (Vaison-la-Romaine)
Hôtel Ste. Anne, Apt
Hôtel St. Christophe, Aix-en-Provence
HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS listed are subject to availability.
ITINERARY Details of this preliminary itinerary could change. A final itinerary will be issued closer to trip departure.
SIGHTSEEING All sightseeing listed in itinerary is included as part of the tour.
* TOUR PRICE of $3,995 per person is an estimate as any significant decline in the value of the U.S. dollar vs. the euro may result in imposition of a currency surcharge. Ask us for details.
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