Who hasn’t dreamed of visiting Provence at the most amazing time of year, when the infamous lavender fields are in bloom? France Today Travels will spoil you with a totally immersive trip during a double destination week in Provence, enjoying the diversity of this stunning region. From the Haute Provence, a rocky landscape covered in Herbes de Provence and grazed by shepherds, to the regal town of Aix en Provence, to ancient Mediterranean port towns, join us on an unforgettable adventure in Peter Mayle’s country.
Arrivals and transfer to our home base for the next 3 nights, a stylish, yet relaxed hotel in the rocky, covered landscape of the Haute Provence. On arrival, as you step out of your car, you will be overwhelmed by the perfume of local Herbes de Provence growing wild, and the sound of chirping cicadas. You are definitely in Provence! A game of boules with two very local Frenchmen and a welcome “aperitif” is in order, as you get to know your fellow travellers. Together, you will enjoy a casual bistro dinner featuring locally sourced ingredients. And, have your first taste of a French cheese platter at the end of the meal, where you will likely be offered 3 – 5 different types of Goats cheese, all different – yes it is possible!
A bustling morning will be spent at the colorful Forcalquier farmers market, offering both seasonal produce and plenty of local treasures. Fill your market basket with cherries and apricots, as well as delicate lavender sachets, a set of Provencal quilted table mats and a straw hat! Next we are off to lunch at a stunning private home in the nearby Durance river valley. Here, the owner, will take us into her vegetable garden and then treat us to a lavender themed lunch, including Ratatouille and lamb. Get your cameras ready to capture endless purple fields as our hostess will guide us to her favorite “secret” lavender spot, where we will not see another tourist! This is the stuff dreams are made of. After such a full day, tonight you may relax and choose dinner at the hotel restaurant or venture out to nearby Forcalquier for a choice of dining, under the Provence stars at a typical eatery.
Today is a day for all the senses with a distillery visit and lavender harvesting session, in the company of a family of multi-generational lavender growers in nearby Apt. Lunch will be relaxing, in a pretty Luberon village. Keep your eye on the landscape of hilltop villages, vineyards and orchards; you might just spy a stone “borie”, or shepherd’s hut, along with a grazing troup of sheep. This afternoon, save time to relax by the pool or indulge yourself at the hotel spa, perhaps with a lavender oil massage! Tonight, we are treated to an alfresco dinner on the terrace, cooked by the hotel’s celebrated chef. Life is pretty tough in Provence!
Wave “au revoir” to Lavender country and hit the road south for Aix en Provence. En route, we will discover a secret truffle farm. The charming French owner will offer a fascinating presentation on the profession of truffle growing and will explain why the “black diamond” is such an elusive and expensive ingredient. Then, off we go into the fields, accompanied by his trained canine companions, to sniff out truffles at the base of oak trees. After this effort, you will be rewarded with a savoury and sweet(!) tasting of truffle treats as a light lunch. Then, we depart for Aix en Provence and our hotel, with the famous Sainte Victoire mountain in sight at all times. Our second indulgent hotel is set amongst Cezanne’s landscape of olive trees and “his” mountain, which he painted hundreds of times and has inspired countless other painters. Tonight, you will be immersed in these paintings as we dine on the hotel terrace with all these iconic sights in view.
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 a highly rated Michelin starred restaurant, with a multiple course meal, and enjoy breathtaking views over painter “Cézanne’s mountain”.
*Price quoted per person, based on double occupancy of a room. Please note there is a single occupancy supplement for solo travelers.
**Final itinerary and hotel selection to be confirmed 2 months prior to departure.
Top image: © blueyeh / Fotolia
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 – 5* category
4 lunches (inc 1 truffle tasting & 1 cooking school), 5 dinners (inc 1 Michelin starred restaurant)
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.