The Best of Provence Tour is designed to encapsulate all that is great about Provence in a week of unforgettable experiences. From historical monuments, to world class art galleries and from wine tasting to gourmet truffle evenings the tour is a sensory and visual delight.
Expect days filled with sunshine, as you travel through iconic countryside filled with sweeping fields of lavender. Enjoy cities replete with beauty and historic buildings, bubbling fountains and cafe terraces overflowing with the joy of life in a part of the world the locals call “un coin de paradis” – a corner of paradise. And as an added bonus in September groups get to see the grape harvest in action at our accommodation – Chateau Constantin.
The Tour includes visits to: Aix en Provence, Arles, Avignon, Luberon villages, Les Alpilles, and Cassis and Les Calanques, as well as numerous wine tastings.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Pick up from Marseille Airport or Aix en Provence TGV|
|DEPARTURE/RETURN TIME||To be arranged with tour organiser.|
Saturday - Arrival
Pick up by taxi or minibus (depending on numbers) at an agreed time from either Aix en Provence TGV or Marseille Marignane airport. You will be transferred to Chateau Constantin, located 1km outside the Luberon village of Lourmarin. The journey is an easy hour’s drive through picturesque countryside.
Upon arrival a small hamper of luxurious Provencal goodies awaits in your bedroom. The group will gather for a champagne reception followed by a gala welcome dinner.
Sunday: The Luberon
The locals call the Luberon a corner of paradise. It’s not hard to understand why: – there are countless picturesque villages; numerous vineyards producing sumptuous wines; olive groves that stretch for miles; cherry orchards which produce snow storms of blossom in Spring and rolling mountains stretching away towards the Alps.
Our village visits include: Roussillon, famed for its red soil. Local legend has it that a jilted lover threw herself from a cliff and her blood stained the soil for miles around; and Gordes, which for decades has been an ultra-chic retreat for wealthy Parisian families and French celebrities.
Early evening tour leader Jamie Ivey will lead a rosé tasting of Provence’s finest pinks based on his three award winning books on the subject.
Monday: L'Isle Sur La Sorgue and Avignon
First stop is L’Isle sur La Sorgue, a gorgeous market town nicknamed the Venice of Provence thanks to the canal system on which it sits. Waterwheels and charming antique shops make for a memorable visit.
Next up is Avignon and one of the sights of Provence – the Palais des Papes. Built in under 40 years this gothic monolith inspires awe and reverence. Adding a touch of humour to the visit we advise our groups to read Alphonse Daudet’s short story – The Pope’s Donkey, before the visit. It gives a wonderful insight into the world of the Avignon Popes.
In the evening we will taste renowned Rhone wines, including a velvety, aged, Chateauneuf du Pape. An optional drawing class is offered as an introduction to Provence’s artistic heritage
Tuesday: Aix en Provence
We will head for the glittering Mediterranean and the charming port of Cassis. We will split up to explore the port and enjoy a lunch. Enthusiasts of seafood should not miss the opportunity to try Provence’s famed Bouillabaisse fish soup. Regrouping in the afternoon we will take a boat tour out into Les Calanques – renowned as almost the last untouched stretch of the French Mediterranean coast, these rocky coves are accessible only by boat or on foot. The Calanques are a world famous wildlife reserve and a national treasure.
Returning to the Chateau we will enjoy a special gourmet truffle evening, with delicacies such as truffle pizza, and cheese laced with truffles. Based on his book about training his dog to find truffles Jamie will share the secrets of truffle hunting in Provence with the group.
A tour of Provence would not be complete without taking in one of the region’s famous markets. Fortunately our home village Lourmarin hosts one of the largest and best Provencal markets. It’s the perfect opportunity to pick up some gifts to take home.
The afternoon is free. Guests can choose to relax by the pool, play tennis, go for an e-bike ride or take part in a Provencal cookery course.The last evening will begin with Provencal aperitifs such as pastis, rinquinquin and of course rosé. For those feeling sporty there will be a boule competition. Afterwards we will enjoy a BBQ, before departure the following morning.
All our groups are based at the Chateau Constantin winery 1km outside the village of Lourmarin.
Lourmarin is classed as one of France’s most beautiful villages. It is filled with shops, cafes, restaurants and art galleries and is enchanting place to spend time. It is located in the Luberon Regional Nature Park, in the heart of Provence, 30 minutes north of Aix en Provence.
The Chateau has 7 rooms all with ensuite bathrooms (although note 2 of the bedrooms, while they have their own shower/bath, share a toilet in the corridor). The Chateau has been recently refurbished to the highest standards. It has a swimming pool and tennis court and extensive grounds in which to relax. Guests staying in September will have the added bonus of watching the harvest in action. You can view a full gallery of pictures here: Chateau Constantin