Provence - 8 Days

Provence

Food and art are passions in Southern France and key ingredients for the culturally curious. Paint in idyllic walks down lanes that inspired Cézanne in Aix, contemporary art on the grounds of a classic Provençal château, an insider tour with a van Gogh art scholar in St. Rémy, a picnic in a lavender meadow, exploring the Roman ruins of Glanum, soft landscapes changing hues in the waning sun, and a farewell in Châteauneuf-du-Pape… and the palette of our Provence tours becomes richer still.

Only With Tauck

SMALL GROUP DEPARTURES averaging no more than 22 Tauck guests. A small group size means a more personal travel experience highlighted by stays at chic smaller hotels in fabulous locations.

Tour prices are per person in U.S. dollars. All hotel accommodations, mini coach transportation, admissions, entertainment, special dinners, sightseeing, porterage, and the services of hotel and restaurant staff, local guides and drivers are included. Transportation from Marseille-Provence Airport to Hotel Le Pigonnet is included, regardless of the time you check in to the hotel, provided you have furnished us with accurate flight or train arrival information at least three weeks prior to the start of your tour. If you arrive locally by train, please retain a receipt for the transfer from the station to the hotel and submit it to your Tauck Director for reimbursement. Transportation from Auberge de Cassagne & Spa to Marseille-Provence Airport or the Avignon train station is also included when you check out of the hotel. Transportation to and from airports and train stations may be shared with other Tauck guests.

We pledge to make every effort to operate all tours as advertised. We reserve the right to alter or curtail the itinerary, or substitute sightseeing, hotels, and/or conveyances as deemed necessary. Any savings realized by these changes will be refunded to you. Any resultant added expense will be covered by us. Although not expected, prices on this website may be modified due to unexpected significant external factors not forecast at the time of publication.

Rates and schedules are not guaranteed until booked and will vary based on departure date.

Day 1
Aix, art & a mansion hotel

Tour begins: 3:00 PM, Le Pigonnet, Aix-en-Provence. A transfer is included from Marseille Provence Airport to Le Pigonnet in Aix-en-Provence. As it has millions of wayfarers before you – and not a few sailors from all corners of the globe – the old “port” of Marseille welcomes you to the south of France. And so commences a sensual journey through Provence… past lavender fields and ancient stone walls… a true feast for the senses. To the locals, Aix-en-Provence is simply “Aix.” Strolling its boulevards with a local guide, you’re taking in the same views that inspired Cézanne… Gauguin… van Gogh… Zola… no doubt ready to share your own – um – impressions of this charming old university town with the world. Aix’s grandest boulevard, the Cours Mirabeau, dates back to the 17th century. Lined with plane-trees, elaborate fountains and opulent mansions, it invites a leisurely bike ride, a brisk walk, or a cognac in one of its many popular cafés. So what will it be… a drawing? A painting? A novel? Take your time to decide; there’s no hurry. But first, join us for cocktails, canapés, and a sumptuous dinner in your 18th-century mansion hotel as we begin the ultimate Provence tour.

Meals – Dinner

Lodging – Le Pigonnet

Day 2
Cézanne, Château La Coste & more in "Aix"

Follow the footsteps of post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne through his hometown, Aix-en-Provence, today. See the landscapes he painted, the fields where local residents became his subjects, the views of Mont Sainte-Victoire that so inspired him, and the studio where he worked. Garner a few handy phrases en francais from your Tauck Director as you explore. Head just north of “Aix” to Château La Coste, a classic Provençal château, vineyard and estate whose heart – a 17th-century Venetian-style villa – is surrounded by olive groves, hilltops covered by oaks and almond trees, and hundreds of acres of lovingly tended vines. Discover works by some of Europe’s greatest living artists on a walk through the château’s expanding sculpture gardens, or visit its working organic winery, and enjoy lunch al fresco (weather permitting). Then return to Aix for a free afternoon and evening with dinner on your own in this inspiring city… and perhaps become inspired yourself to create a masterwork of your own…

Meals – Breakfast, Lunch

Lodging – Le Pigonnet

Day 3
Gordes & a Provençal picnic

Savor a visual feast of fairy-tale villages, meadows and moorlands as you explore Gordes today. Stroll the town’s arcaded medieval lanes and stop by a market to pick up the makings of a traditional picnic lunch – perhaps a baguette, fruits and meats, cheese, olives and, naturellement, wine… whatever tempts your palate! Rich with color, chalk and red ochre cliffs, cedar forests and river-hewn gorges surround. Enjoy your picnic lunch in a Provençal meadow, then continue to your hotel in Gordes, overlooking the lovely village and the valley beyond. Dine this evening at the hotel, which sports a restaurant by Michelin Star chef Pierre Gagnaire.

Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Lodging – Hotel La Bastide de Gordes

Day 4
Time stands still in the Luberon

Some call the hilltop villages of the Luberon the “sentinels of time.” No wonder. Looking out over wild stretches of cedar and oak, they seem to have been here forever. Enjoy a morning walk to the medieval Abbaye de Senanque; founded in the 12th century, it is still tended by a small community of Cistercian monks. Next, visit Ménerbes, which author Peter Mayle made world-famous in A Year in Provence; enjoy a delicious lunch of typical French fare, then follow it with an easy hike through the quarries of Roussillon, where the deep ochre used in the town’s architecture harmoniously blends into the warmth of the natural surroundings. Return to your hotel in Gordes, where the evening is yours to spend as you wish.

Meals – Breakfast, Lunch

Lodging – Hotel La Bastide de Gordes

Day 5
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, St-Rémy & Glanum

Deep beneath the hills of Provence, the most powerful spring in France bursts forth at nearly 20,000 gallons per second to feed the Sorgue River, emerging in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, once the home of the Italian poet, Petrarch. Your Provence tours visit St- Rémy-de-Provence, home to the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, where legendary Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh went to heal and hide out… and where he created over 150 works, including Starry Night. After time to explore and enjoy lunch on your own in St-Rémy, you’ll glimpse inside the artist’s troubled mind as van Gogh scholar Mathilde Duvilliers shares insights on his complicated life, and reads from his letters, while you walk in his footsteps at the asylum and its grounds. The ancients roamed here too; explore the ruins of the Roman city of Glanum, one of the largest and oldest archaeological sites in France. Arrive late afternoon at Auberge de Cassagne & Spa in Le Pontet-Avignon for a three-night stay. In addition to its lovely gardens, the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, where you’ll enjoy dinner tonight, is a real treat!

Meals – Breakfast, Dinner

Lodging – Auberge de Cassagne & Spa

Day 6
A day of wining & dining in Avignon

On market day in Avignon, partake in the process of bringing great Provençal food from the market to the plate. Join a chef on a buying trip to an Avignon market – smelling, tasting, and feeling your way through the fresh produce, breads, meats and cheeses. Learn the chef’s kitchen secrets firsthand as you help prepare a traditional meal in a hands-on cooking lesson. And after a professional sommelier guides you through a tasting of fine Rhône wines, it’s time to eat… drink… and be very merry. For much of the 14th century, the Roman Catholic popes ruled from Avignon. Take an insider’s look at the ten-towered Palais des Papes they built for themselves – more fortress than palace – or if you wish, explore lovely Avignon on your own. You’ll have free time today to spend as you wish. A bicycle ride? A walk? A long afternoon drink in a café? Tonight is yours to explore and dine on your own in Avignon; our shuttle can take you back from town to the hotel.

Meals – Breakfast, Lunch

Lodging – Auberge de Cassagne & Spa

Day 7
Pont du Gard, Avignon & a grand farewell

A three-level, 2,000-year-old aqueduct spanning the River Gardon, the Pont du Gard stands as testimony to the Romans’ amazing engineering skills and love of baths. Learn more about it as you walk the “pont” – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and visit its new museum. After lunch on your own in Avignon and some more time to explore this history-rich town as you wish this afternoon, travel to nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape – one of the country’s premier wine-growing regions – to celebrate the flavors of Provence with cocktails, canapés and local wine, followed by a spectacular dinner of Provençal specialties… a perfect finis to your tour!

Meals – Breakfast, Dinner

Lodging – Auberge de Cassagne & Spa

Day 8
Au revoir, Provence...

Tour ends: Marseille. The warm, inviting colors… sun-kissed meadows… those amazing Provençal flavors… intangible sensory imagery that linger not only on the return to Marseille and on your flight home… but far beyond… A transfer is included from Auberge de Cassagne & Spa to Marseille Provence Airport; allow three hours for check-in… au revoir!

Meals – Breakfast

What's Included

  • See artists' studios, visit an organic winery or explore a sculpture park, and enjoy a enjoy a wine tasting lunch during 2 nights in Aix
  • Go to a market in Avignon to select fresh ingredients for a chef-hosted cooking class
  • Visit the Roman ruins of Glanum
  • Learn the finer points of wine tasting with a local sommelier Meet Vincent van Gogh through the eyes of a learned scholar Picnic in a tranquil meadow at Abbaye de Sénanque
  • Walk atop the Pont du Gard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site Airport transfers upon arrival and departure
  • 15 meals; service charges, gratuities to local guides, admission fees, taxes and porterage

Nights 1-2

Aix-en-Provence, France

Le Pigonnet

A quintessential Provençal country house from centuries past… nestled in secluded bowers formed by shrubs, hedges and age- old trees… flowering plants in mellowed stone urns. Sound idyllic? Indeed. This is Le Pigonnet, set just minutes from Cours Mirabeau and the city walls of Aix, Provence’s “city of a thousand fountains.” Operated by the same family since 1924, the hotel has been eloquently described as “an isle apart, set in the city.” Guests enter through monumental gates to a grand mansion with Genoese-style towers and peaceful gardens. The bright Mediterranean sunlight spreads its warm glow throughout elegant guest rooms decorated in classic Provençal style with regional fabrics. All are fully air conditioned and equipped with satellite television, wi-fi internet access, a safe, minibar and a daily turn-down service. The atmosphere is tranquil and homey, with a crackling fire in winter and the sound of cicadas on the terraces in summer. Renowned Provençal cuisine is a specialty at Le Pigonnet, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

Nights 3-4 Gordes, France

Hotel La Bastide de Gordes

Time stands still at Hotel La Bastide de Gordes… once an ancestral castle built on the edge of a cliff overlooking one of the most beautiful villages in France, and the magical landscapes of the Luberon. Light-filled guest rooms featuring views of the village or the valley offer charming bathrooms with traditional tile floors and a bath or shower, and a host of amenities. Three restaurants – including Pèir by Michelin Star chef Pierre Gagnaire – celebrate the joys of French gastronomy and the flavors of Provence, the Mediterranean and the Luberon, amidst panoramic views of the spectacular valley below.

Nights 5-7
Le Pontet Avignon, France

Auberge de Cassagne & Spa

The true essence and peace of Provence imbue Auberge de Cassagne & Spa, a charming 1850s Provençal country house set in an oasis of greenery. Guest rooms provide a true “sense of place” with floral prints and pastel shades that reflect Provence. Enjoy the heated, counter-current indoor swimming pool, take the sun beside the lovely outdoor pool or treat yourself to something soothing or rejuvenating at Le Spa de Cassagne. Le Restaurant more than fulfills Provence’s promise of exquisite cuisine, fine wines and superb service.

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