French Provincials ® Hidden Provence

Visiting delightful hilltop villages and castles, elegant historic cities, typical towns and places of natural beauty

Dates 2014

  • May 16-23
  • Jun 20-27
  • Sep 19-26
  • Oct 17-24

Price per Person in Twin $3,680
Single Room Supplement $1,295

Our Tour Features

  • Accommodations for 4 nights in superior rooms at Grand Hotel Avignon
  • Accommodations for 3 nights in superior rooms at Grand Hotel Mercure Roi Rene
  • Buffet breakfasts daily
  • 6 Lunches with beverages at local restaurants
  • 2 Dinners with beverages at local restaurants
  • English-speaking professional guide throughout
  • Transportation by deluxe mini-coach
  • Entrances to all places of interest as indicated in the itinerary
  • Individual arrival transfers from Avignon TGV station to hotel
  • Departure transfers by mini-coach from Aix to Avignon TGV station
  • Participation limited to a maximum of 10 persons

Day 1, Thursday
Arrivals in Avignon * Tarascon * St. Remy * Les Baux

This morning participants will arrive into Avignon TGV station where they will be greeted and transferred to Avignonand the Grand Hotel Avignon. After some leisure time to freshen up, we begin this afternoon of touring with our visit to Tarascon, where we visit its impressive Chateau.  We will enjoy a private tour within the Charles Demery Museum, to learn about the history and manufacture of the colorful Provencal fabrics that can be seen everywhere and we will have time to shop at Souleido, the shop next door, with a dazzling array of these prints. We continue on to charming St. Remy for a walk through its beautiful Roman ruins set among lush gardens.  Our last stop is in Les Baux, set high on a rock above vineyards and olive groves, where troubadours once serenaded Provencal kings. We return to Avignon in the late afternoon.  This evening our welcome dinner is at a local restaurant within a short walking distance from our hotel.  (D)

Day 2, Friday
Nimes * Uzès * Avignon
After breakrfast we leave for Nimes, filled with Roman treasures.  Here we tour its amphitheatre, considered the world’s best preserved, and stroll through the lovely Garden of Diane. We continue on to Uzès, medieval jewel, for a walking tour and lunch at a local restaurant.  We return to Avignon for a city walk in the historic centerfollowed by our tour within the fabulous Palais des Papes(B, L)

Day 3, Saturday
Arles & The Camargue 

This morning we drive to Arles and have time to enjoy some of its wonderful markets.  This city of red-tiled roofs has been immortalized in many of the paintings of Van Gogh. We will enjoy a walk in its historic center and a visit its Roman Theatre and colorful Museon Arlatan.  After lunch, we drive through the lush vegetation of theVaccares Lagoon, and we might even spot some lovely pink flamingos, before reaching Aigues-Mortes, whose name means “Dead Waters”.  This was once an important port, as well as a fortified military town.  It was from here that the Crusaders embarked on their journeys to the Holy Land.  The port has been silted over but the splendid and unique fortifications remain intact.  We enjoy a walking tour here before returning to Avignon. (B, L)

Day 4, Sunday
Pont du Gard * Orange * Vaison-la-Romaine

After breakfast we stop at the Pont du Gard, marvel of Roman architecture and engineering, built 2000 years ago. Our guide will explain how this aqueduct once brought water throughout the region. We continue to Orange, a wonderful Roman town, with much charm.  The town was once a possession of the Dutch House of Orange, hence its name.  We will visit its Antique Theatre and marvel at the Roman lay-out of its ancient streets, which became the model for modern cities, especially in America.  We enjoy lunch in Orange before stopping at the picturesque ruins ofVaison-la-Romaine, another ancient Roman town.  Then we will drive through the wine roads of theChateauneuf-du-Pape, ancient vineyards of the French Popes.  We will stop to savor these renowned wines before returning to Avignon.  (B, L)

Day 5, Monday
The Luberon Villages * Aix-en-Provence

After breakfast we are ready to leave Avignon. We depart on a day of scenic delight, through the winding roads to see some of the charming villages and castles of the Luberon:  Ménerbes, built on a sheer cliff; Lacoste, associated with the family of the notorious Marquis de Sade; Bonnieux with outstanding views; Lourmarin, where we will have lunch and visit its 15th century chateau filled with Provençal antiques, and view its fabulous gardens.   We continue to Gordes, a perched village, surrounded by almond groves, before reaching Aix-en-Provence, elegant ancient city founded by the Romans. Its name means “waters” and we will soon understand why – there are literally hundreds of fountains – large and small, in public places and tucked away in hidden alleyways.   We check in at theGrand Hotel Mercure Roi René, in the heart of the city center, ideally located for evening strolls.  (B, L)

Day 6, Tuesday
Aix-en-Provence * Mont Ste-Victoire Road

After an early breakfast, we enjoy a morning stroll through the fragrant and bustling markets of Aix-en-Provence, through Old Aix, to admire some of the 17th century former mansions with sculptured doorways, wrought-iron balconies and charming fountains, and along the plane-tree lined Cours Mirabeau with its superb former mansions. We will tour the Museum of Old Aix (Musee de Vieil Aix) housed within a former 17th century mansion and filled with a collection of all things Provencal.  After lunch at a local restaurant, we enjoy an afternoon drive along the scenic Ste. Victoire Road, glimpsing the Mont Ste-Victoire from many angles.  This mountain was probably the favorite subject of Cézanne.  We will pass through charming villages and towns such as St. Antonin-sur-Bayon, Puyloubier, Pourrières and Chateauneuf Le Rouge and stop for some photo-ops en route. We return to Aix in the late afternoon. (B, L)

Day 7, Wednesday
Salon de Provence & Hidden Villages

After breakfast we drive to charming Ventraben, a perched village with picturesque streets and lovely fountains; and continue to Velaux, set on a hilltop surrounded by vineyards that ‘flow’ to the plains below; and to Salon-de-Provence, known for its olive oil, its typical atmosphere and surprising Mossy Fountain. We enjoy a short walking tour here, and have time for lunch before reaching Barben Castle for a scheduled visit of this medieval gem, with French formal gardens designed by Le Nôtre, who also created the gardens at Versailles. We will make a stop at beautiful Silvacane Abbey, founded by the Cistercians around 1144, in the historic town of La-Roque-d’Anthéron, and return to Aix in the late afternoon.  This evening we will enjoy our Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant, within an easy walk from our hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 8, Thursday
Aix * Departures

After breakfast, transfers will be provided to Avignon TGV Station.