Provence 2020 - Trip Itinerary

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Here is our planned itinerary, but it could change due to weather conditions or other circumstances beyond our control. Provence is famous for its hot and dry Mediterranean climate and May is the ideal season to visit, before the heat sets up for the summer. However, Provence and the Mistral wind are intimately related. The powerful gusts, the roaring wind with the clarity and light it brings to the sky are very much a part of a walking tour in Provence. Included meals shown by B - continental breakfast, L - lunch, D - dinner.

Day 1 19 May Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

We meet in our hotel in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence at 5pm for a trip orientation. Situated in the heart of the Alpilles, a land of light and artists, Saint-Rémy is surrounded by lush green perfumed valleys and white limestone hills. Its ancient streets are lined with beautifully restored old houses; you will soon be seduced by Saint Rémy’s charm. Afterwards, we will take a short walk to our first dinner in a typical French Brasserie. D

Day 2 20 May Saint-Rémy-de-Provence 6 miles 800 feet of ascent

After breakfast, we head to the weekly market, one of the best Artisan & Crafts markets in Provence. We will take this opportunity to buy a snack for lunch, perhaps a baguette and some local French cheese? After dropping our shopping at the hotel, we head past the ruins of a pre-roman city to a deep shaded vale where we will stop for our picnic lunch. A botanical path then takes us to the top of a rocky cirque, enjoying far reaching views to Mt Ventoux to the north and all the way to the Mediterranean sea to the south. We then descend on a path with a few rocky steps in a deep gorge between limestone cliffs. A spectacular walk to start our holiday. Back in Saint-Rémy in the mid-afternoon, there will be time to explore the many historic buildings, museums and art galleries and maybe even for a swim in the hotel’s heated pool. In the evening, we head to our restaurant in a characterful little street, serving typical provençal cuisine made from fresh local produce from the market. B/L/D

Day 3 21 May Avignon - Luberon 6 miles 800 feet of ascent

Today, a 30 minute drive takes us to the papal City of Avignon. The skyline of Avignon is a magnificent urban landscape, with an exceptional set of monuments including the St. Bénézet bridge, the Ramparts, the Petit Palais, the Cathedral and the impressive walls of the Popes’ Palace flanked by 4 mighty towers, symbol of the Church’s influence throughout the Christian world in the 14th Century. After the visit, you can enjoy lunch from the rooftop café terrace. We then drive (50 minutes) to the Luberon Regional Park to explore one of the most famous hilltop villages. Our afternoon walk starts in the village of Gordes, a rocky promontory in a landscape of cypresses, olive and almond trees. We head through a green oak forest to a medieval abbey and a heaven of tranquillity. We then continue to a small village of typical dry stone dwellings and shepherd’s huts with great views of the Alpilles and the Luberon, before heading back to the village for some well deserved refreshments and dinner in a renowned little restaurant serving local dishes and fine wines in a charming setting. Drive back 45 minutes. B/D

Day 4 22 May Saint-Rémy: Saint-Paul-de-Mausole 8 miles 150 feet of ascent

After a hearty breakfast, a circular walk from our hotel takes us to the foothills of the Alpilles through woods and vineyards. We start with a tour of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, the mental hospital where the great painter Vincent Van Gogh, alone and suffering, found relief and respect for his artistic creativity. Intoxicated by painting and freedom, he immortalized the wheat fields, arid mountains and olive groves, producing in a year 150 of his most famous masterpieces. Our relaxed pace brings us in time for our picnic lunch in a lovely olive grove with great vistas of the nearby hills. After lunch, we visit an award winning local vineyard for a private tour of their cellar coupled with a wine and olive oil tasting. Later on we follow an irrigation canal, a refreshing presence in the dry landscape which provides habitat for birds and wildlife. On the way back to the hotel, we enjoy dinner at a delightful restaurant just outside the town, offering traditional cooking in a family atmosphere. B/L/D

Day 5 23 May Arles - Camargue 4 miles 50 feet of ascent

Arles is the land of beauty - George Sand. A 30 minute drive in the morning takes us to Arles, known as the Little Rome, because outside of Rome itself, it is the city with the highest number of vestiges and sites dating from the Roman Empire. Visit the museums and monuments at your leisure, maybe stopping for lunch at the café terrace made famous by Van Gogh. In the afternoon, we drive (20 minutes) to a superb nature reserve, part of the Regional Park of the Camargue, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, for a guided tour to discover the rare and iconic wildlife of the wetlands of Provence. Back in Saint-Rémy (35 minutes), we head to a vibrant brasserie in the center of town for a colorful dinner. B/D

Day 6 24 May Saint-Rémy-de-Provence 6 miles 1000 feet of ascent

A great circular walk from the hotel to explore the limestone hills of the Alpilles, their impressive features and amazing views. We start following the way of the Italians on the Camino de Santiago trail to a beautiful spot by a hidden lake from which we ascend on a good track to our picnic lunch spot. We continue past a cedar forest to the famous Rocher des Deux Trous with, weather permitting, beautiful views of the north of Provence. On our way back, we visit the impressive archeological site of Glanum, founded in the 3rd Century BC. In the evening, we will have dinner in one of the most delightful restaurants in Saint-Rémy, with an original, festive atmosphere where guests share plentiful salads, platters of regional specialities and gorgeous desserts. B/L/D

Day 7 25 May Les-Baux-de-Provence 8 miles 1200 feet of ascent

After breakfast, we embark on a very special walk straight from our hotel. We ascend once again through the Alpilles first on quiet roads and good tracks, then on more rugged trails in the heart of the forest. We will enjoy great views from our picnic spot, before discovering the amazing scenery of the valley of Les-Baux-de-Provence: a chasm of rocks and light that has inspired writers, artists and filmmakers alike. We head down to the Carrieres de Lumieres, the old bauxite quarries, for an extraordinary immersive experience of music and light that is sure to impress. We then ascend to the medieval town and castle of Les-Baux-de-Provence, where we discover the tumultuous history of the Lords of Les Baux, the medieval ruins, towers, keep and chapel with magnificent views over the valley, the vineyards and olive groves. A grand finale for our week exploring Provence. A very short drive (15 minutes) back to Saint-Rémy and a great dinner at our favorite local restaurant where the chef revisits his grandmother’s recipes, with a touch of originality featuring organic, local produce. B/L/D

Day 8 26 May Farewells

Departure day after breakfast, check-out time 11 am. B

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