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 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 with France Today Travels, 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, the charming La Domaine de Fontenille. 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, La Cuisine d’Amélie.
An “only in Provence” kind of outing, 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”. That 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 the lovingly restored 18th Chateau d’Ansouis 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 recently awarded 1 star Michelin restaurant, Le Champ des Lunes, presided over by Chef Jéraume Faure.
Transfer to Aix en Provence and our next hotel Les Lodges Sainte Victoire. En route, visit to the celebrated winery Chateau La Coste to see their contemporary outdoor art installations and enjoy the facilities designed by the architect Jean Nouvel. Tonight, a short walking tour of Aix en Provence awaits, followed by an evening cooking class with charming Mathilde in her school situated in the historic quarter of the city.
Everyone’s out for market day in Aix en Provence! Taste the farmers’ seasonal offerings and browse stallholders selling local textiles, clothing, olive oil soaps and other regional crafts. The colors, smells and ambience will immerse you into the Provencal lifestyle. Enjoy lunch in town, followed by a visit to the elegant Caumont Art Centre. Or simply relax at the hotel and make the most of their outdoor spaces or luxurious spa. Possibly THE highlight of our trip, tonight, experience neighboring Marseille’s old port and harbor on board a classic wooden sailboat. An aperitif and casual dinner buffet will be offered as the sunset goes down and the city skyline lights up. For the adventurous, there will be an opportunity to have a swim in the sea!
With the Harvest season, comes wine festivals! Today, we head to the stunning fisherman’s village of Cassis for their annual “star-filled” Les Vendanges Etoilées. You can wander the alleyways, shop the boutiques and enjoy Michelin starred chefs giving cooking demonstrations in the streets. Farewell dinner in the hotel’s Saint Estève gastronomic restaurant. Chef Mathias Dandine also just earned a Michelin star for his work in the kitchen, so that makes 2 Michelin meals for you in one week!
“Au revoir” and hope to see you again in France! Departure transfers to Marseille Airport or Aix en Provence TGV train station.
*Price quoted per person, based on double occupancy of a room. Please note there is a single occupancy supplement for solo travelers.
**Final itinerary to be confirmed 2 months prior to departure.
Top image: © Vins de Provence / 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
All breakfasts, 4 lunches (inc 1 picnic), 6 dinners (inc 1 cooking school and 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.
Top image: © Vin de Provence