The tour of the Provence will give you the opportunity to enjoy the amazing region where landscapes, old ruins, natural parks and the cozy town merge in a unique and unforgettable way
Once you have arrived in Marseille from Paris, your guide will pick you up from the train station and you will be driven to your hotel. Then, you will be brought to the breathtaking “calanques” in Cassis, for a relaxing boat trip through cliffs and sheltered inlets. During this trip, you can also visit one of the islands in the Frioul archipelago, where Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo is located.
Later, after a free lunch in one of the restaurants along the coast where you will try typical local food and famous wines, you will move towards Aix-en-Provence: there, you will have the chance to visit the elegant jewel of the Provence region, walking in Cours Mirabeau, through decorated fountains and old streets and squares. You can take a look at the impressive Cathedral, along with the Appeal Court. There are several museums you can visit, such as the Museum of Natural History and the Museum du Viel Aix, with some collections about Provencal history.
Take a break at the Quartier Mazarin, a typical district built by the archbishop Mazzarino with several Hotel Particuliers – great townhouses – and a cozy atmosphere.
Outside the city of Aix, you can admire one of the most iconic landscapes of the area, the Montagne Sainte-Victoire, one of Cézanne’s favorite subjects. After the visit and, if you like, a “provençal” dinner in the city centre, you will be driven to your hotel in Aix.
On your second day, you will be driven to the Valensole, the well-known area where lavender is grown.
The driver will pick you up and you will quickly reach the lavender fields. You will be guided through the unique Plateau of Valensole, where you will experience lavender in every possible way: you will visit a local producer and his products, such as honey, essential oil and much more! From Forcalquier to Castellane, you will spend some time plunged into nature, you will pass by some chateaux and enjoy the breathtaking view over the lake.
After lunch, you will pass through the Luberon villages, with their markets and intimate atmospheres, to reach Avignon, the so-called “City of Popes” (due to the Avignon Papacy): there, you will have the possibility to visit the magnificent Papal Palace (Palais des papes), one of the most important gothic medieval buildings in Europe. This palace, along with the Pont saint-Bénézet, is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While walking through the streets of the town, you can also admire the Notre Dame des Noms Roman Cathedral and the Calvet Musuem, along with its collection of paintings and metal objects, as well as other important medieval buildings, such as the ramparts and the Church of Saint-Pierre. If you like, you can spend some time visiting some markets in Rue des Teinturiers: there, you can buy seasonal products and local handmade objects.
Have a break in the famous Place de l’Horloge and visit the Petit Palais Museum, an art gallery with religious Italian paintings from the 14th and 15th centuries. Later, you can reach the Rocher des Doms, where you can find a beautiful public garden and a magnificent view over the river.
You will have dinner at one of the restaurants in Place de l’Horloge, or closer to the Rocher, and then you will have some wine tastings – for instance, of Côtes du Rhône around the city and in small wine shops. Then, you will be driven to your hotel in Avignon.
On the third day, you will leave Avignon to reach the small town of Chateauneuf: the city is composed of many beautiful chateaux, a medieval bourg and lies in the middle of a vast green valley. It is without a doubt one the most magical and beautiful villages in France: besides the chateaux, it is also famous for wine, so don’t miss out the chance to taste some of the different varieties! With some wine and region food tastings, this is always the best way to have lunch.
Moving South-West, you will reach Pont du Gard, the iconic Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon River, and is one of the UNESCO Word Heritage Sites. Take a walk on the top of this three-level arched bridge to experience the best view over the river. There, you can also find a related museum and some local guides, who will introduce you to the history of this amazing sight.
Later, you will be driven to Saint-Remy, where you can feel the Mistral and stroll around the cosy streets and squares.
You can visit the medieval church called Collegiale Saint-Martin, in Place de la Republique; moreover, if you like Van Gogh, you can visit the Monastery Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, the asylum where the famous painter spent one year before dying and where he painted various self-portraits and the world-renowned Starry Night. At the end of the day tour, you will be driven to your hotel in Saint-Remy.
You will spend your 4th day visiting to ancient and magical towns: Les Baux and Arles.
Les Baux is a small village nestled in the mountains, atop a rocky outcrop: the view over the valley is breathtaking and the fairy-tale atmosphere will astonish you. Within the village, the most important sites are the Castle ruins and St. Vincent church. You can walk in the lower town, take some photos and admire the beautiful landscapes: however, do not forget to experience the so-called Carrières de Lumières, a permanent show where bright images are projected against some stone walls in deep galleries, in order to plunge the spectator in a “total” visual and musical experience.
Once you leave Les Baux, you will be driven to Arles, one of the most important Roman cities in the province of Gallia. There, you can find many Roman monuments, all classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The most impressive Roman remnants are without a doubt the Gallo-Roman semi-circular theater, the amphitheater (inspired by the Colosseum) and the Roman necropolis called Alyscamps. Moreover, the church of St. Trophime is a high example of Romanesque architecture and the Ancient history museum will give you the opportunity to enjoy and learn from the past.
Coming back to recent times, you can visit the amazing Foundation Van Gogh and all the sites that he “used” and painted in order to create his masterpieces (over 300 during his time in Arles!)
Later, have some Pastis in Place du Forum and look for a nice bistrot in the backsteets or in one of the hidden squares clos to Rue du Dr. Fanton. After dinner, the driver will pick you up and will drive you to your hotel in Arles.
On your last day, you will drive and walk through the natural region of Camargue, South of Arles and between the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhône river delta. This wetland offers hundreds of different species of flora and fauna – the birds and horses that run across the marshlands are very famous in this region.
Within the region you have the beautiful Regional Nature Park of Camargue, a protected area along the shoreline classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Take some time to enjoy the unique landscapes, the animals and all the plants, while relaxing and taking photos. Then, you will move to the small village of Aigues-Mortes which, despite its name, offers some beautiful medieval sights – such as the famous walls – and some modern structures like the Ramparts and the Tower of Constance.
After lunch, your guide will pick you up and you will be driven to the train station in Arles, where you can comfortably reach the train to go back to Paris!
✓ Plan your trip in advance
✓ The big markets, especially in Arles, are open on Wednesdays and Saturdays: you will find fish, flowers, local products, along Boulevard Combes and Boulevard des Lices
✓ In Avignon, during the month of July, rooms can be hard to find because of the famous Theater Festival: reserve early!
✓ The lavender blossoming season is from June to August
✓ Taste some wine in Chateauneuf: one of the best places to do so is without a doubt Chateau la Nerthe, with its 1300s wine cellar (you’ll need to book in advance!)