Alluring Southern France – Late Spring 2019
Provence and the Cote d’Azur
Provence is filled with the views and vistas painted by dozens of renowned artists. Explore their stomping ground as well as the history and culture of the many villages of Provence. Immerse in the most famous French markets, filled with local produce and goods as well as the works of French artisans. You may even take home an antique … or two! And, we won’t miss the seaside. Taste the salty Mediterranean air of the Cote d’Azur as you discover the “new Marseille”. We’ll take in all the alluring sights and culture of this grand city which has undergone a Renaissance the last few years. Also not to be missed: the 36,000-year-old cave paintings at La Grotte Chauvet. Breathtaking!
Our home for the week is an enchanting boutique hotel in the heart of Provence. Located in the middle of the Alpilles National Park in the charming town of Eygalieres, the auberge and its swimming pool sit amidst acres of greenery. The farm-to-table restaurant will entice you both morning and evening. The property is located 20 miles south of Avignon, and only 30 miles from the Mediterranean Sea.
Please note that this tour assumes arrival on the afternoon of May 30th and departure on the morning of June 6th to/from the Avignon TVG train station. Private transportation will be provided to and from this station. Those who require alternative options please request and provide specific information. Additional fees may apply. Details regarding train ticket purchases will be sent to you when final payments are due. Air travel is not included.
Day 1 – Thursday – Paris to Provence – La Bastide in Eygalières
Take the TGV (train à grande vitesse – fast train) from Paris to Avignon, a 2 ½ hour train ride. Afternoon pick-up at the TGV station in Avignon then we’ll drive to La Bastide for the week and settle in. This 15-room hotel is surrounded by green oaks, pink laurels and fragrant rosemary. You can play ping pong or boules, lounge by the pool, or hit one of the garden’s “nap corners”!
Aperitif and dinner at La Bastide. D
Day 2- Friday –Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
After breakfast we’ll drive to Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the antique capitol of France (even Europe?) with over 300 dealers. The Provençal market fills the center of town until 1:30; the antique flea market goes all afternoon as well with hundreds of dealers. Lunch will be on your own in Isle sur la Sorgue. This afternoon we’ll also visit Le Jardin de L’Alchimiste in Eygalieres.
Dinner at Chez Paulette in Eygalières. B,D
Day 3 – Saturday- Marseille
Visit of Marseille, Marseille has so much to offer that we’ll need the whole day to visit! In 2013 Marseille was the European Capital of Culture, so there are a lot new things to see, interesting museums, and the seafront and the old harbor are all restored.
Early Dinner in Marseille. B,D
Day 4 – Sunday –The Vaucluse and the Petit Luberon.
We’ll leave early for the Provençal market in Vaison -la-Romaine, the largest and most varied we know. Then we will visit the hill village of Seguret where our friends Ghyslaine and Jacques live. They will give us a cooking class and lunch , which we will assist in preparing.
Visit of Gigondas and wine tasting. Free dinner in Eygalières. B,L
Day 5 – Monday –Les Alpilles
Market day in St Rémy . We’ll visit St. Rémy-de-Provence with the opportunity to explore St. Paul de Mausole, the asylum where Van Gogh spent a prolific last year (1889-1890), or the village of Glanum, a Roman archeological site. We’ll lunch on our own (and shop) in St Rémy. After lunch we’ll tour Les Baux de Provence with it’s medieval ruins and history and spectacular vistas. Visit of La Carrière des Lumières. B, D
Cooking Class ( with Dominique) and dinner.
Day 6- Tuesday –La Grotte Chauvet in Ardèche
We’ll visit the 36,000 year old cave paintings in Pont d’Arc, a cave discovered in 1994 that contains the first expressions of human artistic genius. As in the more famous Lascaux, to preserve the original site, the French government made a replica of the whole cave, which was open to the public in June 2015. There are more than a 1000 drawings and paintings, with 15 different kinds of animals represented.
The cave was recognized by Unesco and has been classified as the number one World Heritage site. It is a beautiful site to see. Then after the visit we will have lunch near the cave, followed by a drive along the Ardèche River to come back to Eygalières..
Dinner Chez Ju in Molléges. B,D
Day 7- Wednesday –Le Grand Luberon – Site of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence
Morning visit of the typical Provencal market in Eygalières.
Our day will begin with a trip to the charming town of Lourmarin (Peter Mayle’s current home). We’ll then avoid the hustle and bustle of the tourist stops by walking through the forests of the Luberon and lunching at L’Auberge des Séguins at the end a valley surrounded by cliffs. Off to Roussillon after lunch, where we’ll explore the ochre quarries and visit this charming hill village. Next we’ll visit the spectacular village of Gordes, built on the face of a cliff, then the cistercian Abbaye de Senanque with it’s well-known lavender fields. Dinner at L’Aubergine(Eygalieres). B,L,D
Day 8 Thursday -depart for Avignon TGV Train Station
After breakfast, we will provide transportation to catch trains to the next destination. B
We ask that you discuss your departure plans with us at the time of Registration to help with coordination of Day 8.
If you have a few extra days before the Provence trip, experience Paris and enjoy an overview of this wonderful city, a private tour of Versailles and/or an exclusive French shopping experience. Inquire at time of Registration.