Picture Perfect Provence

Abbaye de Senanque Come discover the Provence we’ve come to know and love. Where you’ll follow in the footsteps of artists. Explore beautiful hilltop villages. Browse through colorful markets. Enjoy the tastes and aromas of Provencal foods and wines. And stay in marvelous villas, spending a week in leisurely exploration of the market towns, castles, villages and wineries in this wonderful region of France. This is the perfect time to visit Provence, when the sun is warm enough for sunbathing but gentle enough for sightseeing. Throughout the week, you will be accompanied by travel writers Judi Janofsky and Rich Steck, who co-founded Provence Escapes. Judi and Rich will share all that they know and love about Provence, including its magnificent food, wines, markets, ruins and villages.

The Provence Itinerary

Day 1, Saturday
Arrival at the Villa
You’ll be met at the Avignon TGV station in late afternoon and transferred to the villa in plenty of time to unpack and explore this luxurious property or take a refreshing dip in the pool before the evening’s welcome reception and dinner served on the terrace.

Cheese from BanonDay 2, Sunday
Coustellet / L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue Markets
We’ll start the morning at the Coustellet market, known for having the best fresh produce in the region. Farmers come to town and sell right out of their trucks so it couldn’t be any farm-to-table ready. We’ll pick up some of their beautiful foods for dinner tonight. Later we’ll explore one of the most famous markets in Provence at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, where you’ll find everything from lavender soaps, pottery and luxurious fabrics to locally made olive oil, fresh fruit, vegetables and cheeses. Considered the ‘Venice of Provence,’ this beautifully set town, graced by canals and the Sorgue River, is also recognized as one of the best places for antique shopping outside of Paris. And you’ll have plenty of time to explore the market and town.

Day 3, Monday
Free Morning / Oppede / Roussillon
Village of RoussillonAfter lunch, we journey to hillside medieval village of Oppede le Vieux. Abandoned in the 15th century when the plague struck the area, the village became a ghost town for centuries. Recently artists started to moving back. We’ll hike up through the town to the restored church. Later in the afternoon, we’ll travel to the ochre-colored hilltop village of Roussillon, a photographers dream. Built on the slopes of the Vaucluse mountains. Roussillon is known for its red cliffs and ochre stone quarries. You’ll have free time to explore the village and hike through the quarries.

Brantes, FranceDay 4, Tuesday
Sault / Brantes
Today we head to the north side of Mont Ventoux, traveling first to Sault. Built on a rock promontory that overlooks the Gorges de la Nesque, Sault is the center of the lavender growing region and known for its incredibly delicious nougat and honey. Continuing our trip north, we stop in the picturesque old and tiny village of Brantes which appears as though it is suspended above the valley. In the village, the labyrinth of lanes, archways and old stone houses huddle around the chateau and offer amazing views of Mont Ventoux. If we’re lucky Madame Dormier’s santon shop will be open and we can watch her make her darling characters in blue.

Van Gogh spent a year in an asylum in St. Remy

Van Gogh spent a year in an asylum in St. Remy, where he painted his famous “Starry Night.”

Day 5, Wednesday
St. Remy / Les Baux
Today we’ll start in the charming village of St. Remy to attend their weekly market. We’ll also follow in the footsteps of Vincent van Gogh who found inspiration for some of his best work here at the asylum where he was committed. Later we’ll venture to Les Baux, a medieval stone citadel that was once the stronghold of lords who terrorized southern Provence. In Les Baux we’ll see an incredible light-and-sound show, in an abandoned quarry, highlighting the artists that were influenced by Provence.

Cezanne's studio in Aix-en-Provence still has the smell of his oil paints.

Cezanne’s studio in Aix-en-Provence still has the smell of his oil paints.

Day 6, Thursday
Aix-en-Provence
“He was like a father to us all,” Pablo Picasso said of Paul Cezanne, who was born and painted in Aix. And today we will follow in the footsteps of this famous post-impressionist artist by visiting his studio, his home and the quarries where he painted. We’ll also have time to stroll along the city’s popular boulevard Cours Mirabeau, which is lined with cafes that were visited by Edith Piaf, Picasso, Emile Zola and Cezanne.

Cucuron


Day 7, Friday
Ansouis / Cucuron / Lourmarin
This morning we’ll travel south over the Luberon mountains to three wonderful villages. Lourmarin has delightful cafes, boutiques and galleries and today is market day. Ansouis is rated one of the Plus Beaux (prettiest) villages in France. Its chateau was built sometime before 961 and is classified as a national historic site. Cucuron’s main square is set around a beautiful stone pool, Bassin de l’Etang, which dates back to the Middle Ages and is rimmed by giant plane trees. It’s pretty enough to have been used as the set for the popular French movie “The Horseman on the Roof.”  

Day 8, Saturday
Au revoir…
After an early morning breakfast, we’ll depart for the TGV train station and your journey home.

The Details

Dates
August 31 – September 7, 2013

Group Size
Maximum of 10 people

Tour Hosts
Travel writers Judi Janofsky & Rich Steck

Each bedroom in the villa has French linens, an ensuite  bathroom and individual climate control.

Each bedroom in the villa has French linens, an ensuite bathroom and individual climate control.

Accommodations
Provence Escape tours are always villa based, giving our guests plenty of time and space to relax and enjoy the countryside and villages. The villas, located in the Luberon area of Provence, are luxurious with spacious guest bedrooms — each with its own private bathroom.

Rates
$3,575 per person based on double occupancy.

What’s Included
(Almost everything once you’re there. And because our rates are in U.S. dollars instead of Euros, your costs won’t increase if the value of the dollar decreases.)
• Seven nights in the villa
• Transfers from and to Avignon TGV Station
• Local ground transportation
• Admission to attractions
• Breakfast every day, 2 lunches and 5 dinners
• Local wines and cocktails
• A personalized packet of information including market buying tips, restaurant recommendations and information on places we’ll visit.

What’s not included
Airfare to and from France, roundtrip train fare to/from Avignon TGV station, trip insurance.

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