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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
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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 - Available
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August 27 to September 04, 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


  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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