What Francophile hasn’t longed to visit the iconic Provence, land of vineyards, olive trees and stone built villages? France Today Travels will share hidden corners of this marvellous region, which is especially colorful during the wine harvest season. Starting in the Southern Luberon Valley, you will be immersed in the relaxed rhythm of village and countryside life for a few days, before heading to buzzy Aix en Provence and the sights of the Mediterranean sea. After a week spent discovering hidden gems, as we take you off the beaten tourist path, you will come to agree this region truly is a land of contrasts.
Arrivals and transfer to our home base for the next 4 nights, a charming manor house hotel, set in sweeping vineyards. As you step out of your private transportation, you might be surprised to hear chickens or donkeys’ greeting you in the distance. It’s all part of the Provence countryside lifestyle. Don’t be fooled though; this laid back setting has modern comforts and even the vegetable garden is tended by the hotel’s Michelin chef. Enjoy a glass of pastis with your new travelling companions, while we have fun learning how to play boules. Dinner is at the casual hotel bistro, offering updated French cuisine with local ingredients.
An “only in Provence” kind of outing is planned today, as we go truffle hunting and/or grape picking and subsequent stomping at a privately owned family domaine. Here we will learn all the unique traditions of living in the Provencal countryside, especially at wine harvest time. Afternoon at liberty to enjoy the hotel, swimming pool, vineyards, walking paths, or spa facilities. Then, dinner free for you to choose in the nearby village of Lourmarin, one of the “plus beaux villages de France”. This evening offers a special bonus with a night market or “Marché de Producteurs” where the sellers will offer tastings of their products, including local olive oil and wines.
Private visit of a lovingly restored 18th chateau with Madame la Chatelaine herself! From the elevated terraces, you will get a bird’s eye view over the valley and villages below you. Lunch will follow at the private home and gardens of a celebrated garden designer, with his estate classed as a prestigious French “Jardin Remarquable”. Late afternoon free at the hotel, followed by an evening dining together at a family owned local bistro in a petit village square.
Today we spend a day in Peter Mayle’s countryside, enjoying the inspiration for the famous book, “A Year In Provence”. We will go at a very slow, relaxed pace on Electric bikes, stopping at wineries and an olive oil mill en route. A casual picnic will be provided for all, to be savored in a very special location overlooking the patchwork of vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees. Note that for those who do not wish to ride on E-bikes, we will provide transportation between the different stops. Final Luberon dinner at the hotel’s Michelin restaurant.
Transfer to Aix en Provence and our next hotel with a bird’s eye view of the painter Cezanne’s iconic Sainte Victoire Mountain. En route, visit the celebrated winery Chateau La Coste to see their contemporary outdoor art installations and enjoy the facilities designed by the architect Jean Nouvel. A village bistrot will fuel you up for the rest of the day, with typical Provencal dishes such as grilled lamb, Ratatouille and savory tomato tartelettes. Once at the hotel, you will relax in the contemporary surroundings overlooking the countryside, you may have a lavender oil massage at the spa, or take a dip in the infinity pool. Dinner is at your leisure tonight and your tour manager will gladly make reservations for you at one of Aix en Provence’s charming restaurants. Alternatively, you might take a time out with a meal served on your private room terrace.
Market day in Aix en Provence! We will enjoy a delightful morning tasting tour, spent in the company of a bubbly French female chef. Throughout the morning, we will learn the local culture, a bit of history and explore the colorful Aix en Provence market, learning across our tastebuds. At the end, we’ll receive a special guide with shopping suggestions and recipes from our chef’s kitchen. At lunch, you will be spoiled with a myriad of choice as you are free to choose from the cities’ plethora of bistros and cafés. In the afternoon , you will have the opportunity for your own adventure in Aix en Provence, known as a mini Paris. The temptations are endless: boutiques and food shops of all types, a myriad of sidewalk cafés for people watching, an ancient cathedrale, and plenty of choices for art enthusiasts. Amongst the highlights are the Atelier de Cezanne, which has been left exactly as it was the day Paul left this earth, with his easels, palettes, and still life objects, and also the highly praised Hôtel de Caumont museum. This architectural treasure in the aristocratic neighbourhood of the city offers a changing exposition and Louis 14th style tea room. Don’t forget to return to the hotel, though, as we will reunite for a trip to the Mediterranean sea and dinner in the stunning port town of Cassis.
It’s your last day and we’ve planned a morning free to enjoy the hotel’s pool, time to pack your bags with all your Provencal treasures or head into town to trawl the boutiques. Some of our favorites include the arty interior design shops on Rue Paul Bert, the former Count of Provence’s wedding candy, called “Calissons”, made daily at Patisserie Weibel, and tailored belts made while you wait by a leather craftsman at La Fibule. Following a day spent at your own pace, you will have plenty of energy to toast each other and all the amazing experiences we’ve had at the hotel’s highly rated Michelin starred restaurant, with a multiple course meal, and enjoy breathtaking views over painter “Cézanne’s mountain”.
A bientôt in Provence. Transfers back to Marseille airport or the Aix en Provence TGV train station.
In addition to our years of experience as journalists and residents uncovering the best France has to offer, our sense of fun, our local contacts, our passion for authentic dining spots, delicious wines, the best and most colorful farmers markets in the region, outstanding scenic stops, chances to chat with French friends, off the beaten path experiences, and plenty of relaxation at highly comfortable hotels, you can quantify it as follows:
Seven nights double room hotel accommodation in two carefully selected hotels of 4+* category
4 lunches (inc 1 truffle tasting & 1 picnic), 5 dinners (inc 2 Michelin starred restaurants)
Local wines included at group dinners
Services of an on-site and full-time experienced Tour Director
Services of all accompanying local guides, where applicable
All private tours and outings, including entrance fees and tastings, where applicable
Optional activities, where specified
Comfortable group transportation throughout the trip
Arrival and Departure transfers to/from the airport and train stations specified below, to the meeting point on Day 1 and from our last location on Day 8
All gratuities for baggage, porters and hotel service
What’s not included:
Air travel to/from France, and any transportation required to get to and from the Arrival/Departure points on our trip itinerary.
Travel or International Health Insurance
Individual meals or drinks taken on your own, when not dining as a group
And of course, there is no hassle with France Today Travels!
We will make arrangements to collect you and return you to one of the following points: Marseille Airport or Aix en Provence TGV station (high speed train from Paris). Do chat with us to ensure you have the best option to tie in with any of your pre and post tour travel plans.