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walking into Vaison de Romaine on a women's hiking trip in Provence
walking into Vaison de Romaine on a women's hiking trip in Provence
lunch spread in provence france on women's group tour
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Picture of Colors of Provence
Landscape view of hillside village in provence france
Picture of Colors of Provence
Picture of Colors of Provence
Picture of Colors of Provence
Picture of Colors of Provence
Picture of Colors of Provence
Picture of Colors of Provence
Picture of Colors of Provence
Picture of Colors of Provence
Picture of Colors of Provence

Colors of Provence

Destination: Avignon, France

Provence is surely one of France's most fabled regions. Flanked by the Alps to the north, Italy to the east, and the Mediterranean to the south, Provence is known for the incredible diversity that exists within its borders, its rich human and natural history, and its sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and utter charm. On this trip we will introduce you to all the fascination that Provence has to offer: the ancient settlement of Avignon, the tiny perched villages of the Luberon, the craggy limestone of the Alpilles, and Mont Ventoux, an inspiration for Van Gogh (and us!). We will combine scenic hikes with visits to village markets, stays at French inns, a little culture, and a chance to sample all the fantastic tastes of the south of France. Maximum group size: 12

Highlights

  • Hiking in all the small mountain ranges of Provence: the Alpilles, Luberon, Dentelles de Montmirail, and Mont Ventoux
  • Experiencing the light of Provence, which has drawn artists and photographers forever
  • Savoring the cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, breads and pastries, red wines and olive oils
  • Visiting tiny villages perched on rocky cliffs and walking through landscape dotted with cypress trees

Departures and Prices

April 26 to May 04, 2020
$3250.00 - Limited Availability
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September 27 to October 05, 2020
$3250.00 - Available
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Inclusions

  • A local Provencal guide and an AGC guide (If there are fewer than 8 on the trip, there will not be an AGC guide)
  • Eight nights double occupancy accommodation with en suite bathrooms
  • All meals from dinner the first night through breakfast the last day, with the exception of one lunch
  • All activities on the itinerary
  • All transportation from the time you arrive at our hotel in Avignon to the time you leave
Not included: Transportation to and from our hotel in Avignon, alcoholic beverages (wine is included with dinner on a couple of nights), one lunch, optional activities, travel insurance and guide gratuities.

Details

This trip is designed for women who want to combine hiking off the beaten track in the Provence countryside, with exploring local culture, visits to some of their unique and different villages, and savoring fresh cuisine. There is significant elevation gain on several days and paths can be rocky at times. Participants can usually opt out of the day and spend the day on their own. In order to do all of the hikes listed here, women should be in good physical condition and able to hike for three to five hours a day. Being able to keep a fast pace is not necessary; there will be time for photography, admiring views, and savoring amazing picnic lunches. Rating: 1 2[3] 4 5

While this is primarily a hiking trip, there will also be ample time to explore local culture, visit some of the unique and different villages, sip wine, and savor fresh cuisine.

We'll be staying at 3 star hotels in Avignon, Saint Remy de Provence, and Vaison la Romaine. In Buoux we'll stay in a country inn (see the itinerary for the specific hotels).

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
We meet in Avignon at our hotel at 6:00pm to start our Provencal adventure! We'll share a welcome and introductions, looking out over the town of Avignon. Avignon, home to seven successive popes from 1309 to 1377, is one of the few French cities where the original ramparts are still largely intact. We then go out to enjoy the first of many delicious dinners at a local restaurant. We'll spend tonight in Avignon in the heart of the walled city. Overnight Palais des Papes D
DAY 2
This morning we will take a short tour around historic Avignon, pointing out the Pope's Palace, the marketplace, and other treasures hidden within the 14th century ramparts as we learn how the city has gorwn. We then transfer by taxi from Avignon to Saint Remy de Provence (20 minutes) where we will be staying for the next two nights. Our walk this afternoon takes us on a loop trail starting at the asylum where Van Gogh stayed for a year. Climbing high up to a ridge in the Alpilles, we have a splendid view of Saint Remy and the valley it sits in. Upon finishing the hike, you'll have an option to visit the asylum (6 euros and highly recommended for anyone interested in Van Gogh) and/or the Roman ruins of Glanum (8 euros), one of the better reconstructed sites. Whether you do both or neither, you will folloe the Van Gogh path, a sprinkling of enamel reproductions of the paintings he did while in Saint Remy and facing the very countryside that inspired his works, on the road back to the hotel. Dinner is in town. Hiking: 3 hours, 5 miles, 1050 feet elevation gain. Overnight Hotel des Alpilles or similar B, L, D
DAY 3
Leaving the hotel by foot we climb up into the Alpilles, literally "baby Alps", an isolated mountain of craggy limestone in an otherwise flat Rhone Valley. We walk on a broad path along the crest, in a countryside of surreal limestone formations. The views extend above the olive groves and throughout the flatlands of the Camargue, often to the Mediterranean Sea. To the north we'll notice the monolithic Pope's Palace and all the mountain ranges that will be our playground over our week's adventure, with the ever-imposing Mont Ventoux as the backdrop. We follow the scenic ridgeline and enjoy a gourmet picnic before dipping down to the village of Les Baux de Provence. There will be some free time this afternoon and you'll have an option to visit an amazing multimedia presentation in an old limestone quarry (13 euros) or to explore Les Baux. Listed among the most beautiful villages in France, Les Baux is set defiantly above the plains, a few-dozen homes perched atop the craggy limestone. We'll return to Saint Remy for dinner and our 2nd night. Hiking: 3.5 hours, 6 miles, 950ft elevation gain. Overnight Hotel du Alpilles B, L, D
DAY 4
Now that we've learned something about typical Provencal picnic fare, we'll start the day with a visit to the St Remy market where we can pick out our food for today's picnic lunch. It will be hard to decide between all the delicious and tempting options from dozens of stalls selling countless gourmet delights. A morning transfer (1 hour by taxi) takes us into the heart of the Luberon mountains, setting of Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence", and home to some of the most stunning villages and scenery in Provence. We begin our walk in one of those stunning villages: Bonnieux. After exploring its labyrinth of cobbled streets and admiring the views from its 12th century church, we set off on the trails. We follow old-stone walls through oak forests and admire centuries-old stone huts. Crossing the hollow that divides the Luberon in two distinct mountains we walk high above a lavender plantation before descending down into the valley where an old chateau has been repurposed as an environmental learning center. The final stretch finds us walking atop the cliffs above the Aiguebrun river. Soon from high above we spot our hotel: the Auberge des Seguins, as far off the beaten-track as you can get, hidden in the heart of the Luberon mountains. Set at the crossroads of the most beautiful walking paths in the Luberon, Les Seguins will be our home for the next two nights. Walking time: approx. 5 hours walking, 8.3 miles, 1250 ft elevation gain. Overnight Auberge des Seguins B, D
DAY 5
Today is one of options! If you want a down day to just relax, there is no more beautiful setting than our inn. If you'd like to do something in the morning, spend it exploring the 3,000 year old Buoux Fort, rich in history and surprises. It's an easy hike from the hotel and we'll explore the ruins of many different civilizations that sought refuge atop this rocky crag that has sheer cliffs on all sides and outstanding views. From Medieval ramparts and churches to Roman silos and watchtowers, and even Celto-Ligurian ruins, the site is fascinating. After a picnic lunch you can choose to return to the inn for a relaxing afternoon or to continue hiking. For those who want more hiking, we'll climb up to the rounded crest of the Luberon mountains. Carpeted in thyme and in wildflowers, the crest offers views out to the chain of the Alps in the north and even to the Mediterranean Sea in the south. Hiking: 2 - 5.5 hours, 3.7 - 8.8 mi, 650 - 2100 ft. elevation gain. Overnight Auberge des Sequins B, L, D
DAY 6
A morning transfer (1 hour, 15 minutes) takes us out of the Luberon and towards the Rhone Valley. We begin our walk above the vines, set beside the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range. "Dentelle" means lacework, attributed to these sharp, teeth-like limestone formations that soar above the Rhone Valley, creating improbable designs. We walk through a pure "garrigue", vegetation of sparse brush on the austere limestone to reach the town of Vaison la Romaine, our home for the next two nights. Vaison has three distinct faces: Roman, harboring France's largest archeological site; medieval: a pristine group of centuries-old homes set protected above the Ouveze river up to its castle ruins; and modern: bustling cafes and restaurants set around the refurbished main square. The three facets mix harmoniously and offer many treasures to explore. Hiking: 4 hours, 6.5 miles, 830ft elevation gain. Overnight La Fete en Provence or similar. B, L, D
DAY 7
A short morning transfer takes us to the village of Seguret. With its narrow cobbled streets with old fountains and washbasins, Seguret's beauty remains timeless and authentic and definitely off the tourist-radar. We walk on tracks and country lanes above and through the vines of the Rhone valley. We enter the lands of Gigondas, world-renowned for their powerful red wines. Our path leads us directly below the imposing limestone cliffs of the Dentelles de Montmirail, set above the gnarled vines. We end up in the heart of the village of Gigondas, the second largest wine-growing area in the world (second only to Bordeaux, also in France) so its only appropriate that we end our hiking with a wine tasting at one of the wineries. Back in Vaison we trade a traditional dinner for a special experience on the terrace of our hotel, overlooking the main square. It just so happens that the nation's best cheese shop is in Vaison, along with some pretty great wines too. We add some other goodies in the mix for a memorable evening of wines and cheeses and laughter. Walking time: approx. 4 hours walking, 7 miles, 1000ft elevation gain. Overnight La Fete en Provence or similar. B, L, D
DAY 8
Have we saved the best for last? Only you can decide. A morning transfer (50 minutes) takes us to the upper slopes of Mont Ventoux, the mountain that has loomed in the distance the entire week. We quickly trade Mediterranean forest for spruce and fir, beginning our walk at the sometimes-ski-resort of Mont Serein. The fir and spruce give way to larch, then mountain pine, and then no trees at all: a bare-limestone-otherworldly-moonscape shared only by the mountain goats robust enough to brave the steep slopes. As we near the summit we'll encounter alpine and even arctic flowers and what is arguably one of the best panoramas on earth. Though Ventoux is not nearly as high as its Alpine neighbors, it's a mountain set on its own. The views extend to the entire chain of Alps to the north, and to the vast and open Rhone Valley to the south, often as far as the Mediterranean Sea. We'll have a celebratory lunch at the summit before returning to Avignon. You'll have time to stroll through town before we enjoy one last dinner together. Note: More than any other hike, this one is weather dependent. If the mistral is blowing, we'll hike a lower section of the mountain. Hiking: 3 hours, 4 miles, 1600ft elevation gain. B, L, D Overnight Palais des Papes
DAY 9
Sadly, your trip ends after breakfast. B

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "Did this trip meet your expectations?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

My personal highlight was that I completed all the hikes. I was very nervous about failing. I liked the combination of city hikes and country hikes, learning some history, seeing the small villages. After attending the Carrieres de Lumieres I was really happy about it. The show was spectacular. The views were outstanding, the food was great, the guides were remarkable.

Colors of Provence 4/28/2019-5/6/2019


Hiking in the countryside and through the old villages, learning about the wildflowers and history. The hike on Mt Ventoux was memorable in a challenging, good way.

Colors of Provence 4/28/2019-5/6/2019


This trip was magical. Bernadette is an amazing guide, and she helped me to fall in love with Provence!!! The hikes were great, the food was great.

Colors of Provence 4/28/2019-5/6/2019


It was everything I expected and more. If I could have picked a kind of trip and where, this would be it. What made it even better was the wonderful local guide, Marian and all the woman that ended up coming. It was one of the best experiences of my life.

Colors of Provence 4/28/2019-5/6/2019


I loved meeting all these women and sharing our challenges and delights everyday. The places we stayed at were spectacular and the daily picnics and evening meals were so good!

Colors of Provence 4/28/2019-5/6/2019


I enjoyed the size of group, the guides were very good, the hiking was just right and the views and food were wonderful.

Colors of Provence 4/29/2018-5/7/2018


having never done a similar trip and having never travelled to europe my expectations were open however i can say the trip exceeded all of my expectations - first and foremost the AGC coordinator Kim was wonderful and our local guiede Bernadette was amazing they made the trip - I felt like all of my needs were taken into consideration even before i knew what they were - the accomodations were wonderful the day to day agendas perfect i truly feel like i experienced the "real" local not just the tourist view

Colors of Provence 4/29/2018-5/7/2018


The guides were great! The history, picturesque scenery and the food were amazing.

Colors of Provence 4/29/2018-5/7/2018


Hiking, countryside, skilled guides

Colors of Provence 4/29/2018-5/7/2018


Highlights included variety of hikes and areas visited.

Colors of Provence 4/29/2018-5/7/2018


I loved the majority of the hikes, the food was amazing, the guides were supportive on the hikes and prepared the most amazing picnic lunches! I had a few accomodations that were not so great. First stay in hotel in Avignon - the room felt like a maid's quarters -- stark, hole in the ceiling, just not very pleasant. Loved my room in St. Remy and if I had stayed the last night in Avignon, the second room I had was very nice. The room in Auberge (the one in the canyon) - had ants crawling all over the table and bathroom sink and smelled like a sewer. I had two nights in that room. It was tolerable - but not pleasant. I loved the location and the hikes from there.

Colors of Provence 4/29/2018-5/7/2018


Overall, the trip was wonderful. The highlights for me were the hiking, the scenery, the food and experiencing the local culture. On a personal note it was a gift to have 11 days where I was virtually unplugged from work and technology.

Colors of Provence 4/30/2017-5/8/2017


Our French Guide Bernadette made the trip informative, fun, exciting, laid back, all the great adjectives you can attach to a trip to learn an area and culture to include topography, history, food, wine, friendship. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet the other wonderful, fun, woman on this trip. I loved that we all hiked and talked and shared and laughed! I cannot say enough good things about Bernadette. She is a treasure.

Colors of Provence 4/30/2017-5/8/2017


I didn't see any questions below or opportunity to comment on our French guide, Bernadette. She was fabulous and it was her attention to detail and quality that really made the trip so fantastic. I have traveled with many groups and she is one of the best guides I've had the pleasure of meeting and learning from.

Colors of Provence 4/30/2017-5/8/2017


Hiking and seeing Provence with a French guide; spending time at a vineyard with the original French owner and, of course, the food and wine.

Colors of Provence 4/30/2017-5/8/2017


Great interaction with other women, beautiful location, hiking, great cuisine

Colors of Provence 4/30/2017-5/8/2017


The group dynamic was super. The local guide - Bernadette- was very competent and had great ability to solve problems. She had great interpersonal skills. She shared enough to make the trip interesting while keeping it professional. Both guides worked well together and both were very approachable.

Colors of Provence 4/30/2017-5/8/2017


Many highlights but I will name a few: the guides were knowledgeable and accommodating the choice of locations to hike and visit were exceptional every day had its own surprises, many arranged by the guides and some were truly unexpected.

Colors of Provence 4/30/2017-5/8/2017


So hard to pinpoint highlights. The hikes were great, showing us a side of Provence different from the popular lavender-and-sunflowers image! All that limestone, cliffs, mountains! Incredible! The food was fantastic. I thought, okay, it won't be like Italy where I ate all the pasta, gelato, and wine I could fine--but it was even better in some ways. But bottom line--the guides made the trip. Deb is great and it was so good to meet her and travel with her. But Bernadette is on another plane--she was absolutely spectacular and MADE the trip. I believe all 12 of us participants had nothing but respect, admiration, and affection for her. What a fantastic guide.

Colors of Provence 4/29/2016-5/7/2016


It was a fantastic trip. The hiking locations and lodging were perfect and the two guides (Deb and Bernadette) were amazing. They were great at keeping us moving from place to place and giving us time for photos and wildflower viewings. I loved the time in the villages and Fort Buoux was such an interesting place. Bernadette's knowledge of history and habitat made the trip.

Colors of Provence 4/29/2016-5/7/2016


countryside, hikes, guides, food, wine -- everything!

Colors of Provence 4/29/2016-5/7/2016


Both guides were great. Bernadette was absolutely marvelous in sharing her love of both the culture and natural beauty of Provence.

Colors of Provence 4/29/2016-5/7/2016


The guides were wonderful, informative, helpful, caring. The other travelers were supportive and friendly. The points and sites on the trip gave me a feeling that that I was gaining a broad education and history of the Provence area.

Colors of Provence 4/29/2016-5/7/2016


  1. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts will be buffets at the hotels where you're staying. Dinner is in restaurants with typically a choice of 2-3 starters, entrees, and desserts. Lunches are typically amazing picnics with a selection of meats, cheeses, spreads, wine, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. In general, meals will be done in a very French way with attention to presentation and dinners are usually 3 courses spread over 2 - 2.5 hours. Traditional French breakfasts do not serve eggs. Food can feel rich and heavy with lots bread, cheese, and sausages, and not a lot of greens. You will find the restaurants very accommodating and the picnics splendid.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we'll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.
  4. How do I get to Avignon?

    You can fly into Marseilles or Paris and then take the train. We'll give you instructions in the PreDeparture on how to do it, but remember to leave enough time to get back to the airport on your departure day and don't plan an early morning flight.
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