Group Tour Operator for holidays to Provence, France
Panoramic Provence and the Untamed Camargue
Provence: this beautiful area of the south of France conjures up images of pretty villages and sun-kissed vineyards. On this tour, we explore western Provence, including visits to the remarkable Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct. Gaze at the amazing structure and walk across it for some fantastic photos. It also has many historic towns such as Avignon, the former ‘City of the Popes’. Nearby is Arles, with its famous sites such as the Constantine Baths and Les Alyscamps – originally a large Roman cemetery, and the Camargue. This flat, marshy region is home to hundreds of species of birds, from grey herons and pink flamingos. Perhaps see the world-famous white horses!
Spend some time in Aix-en-Provence, a former Roman spa town. It has beautiful squares and bubbling fountains on every corner. Water features dot the length of the famous Cours Mirabeau and the central promenade is shaded by huge plane trees with markets along its pavements. If you visit Orange, see the Arc de Triomphe Orange – built just north of the old city walls. The carvings show military themes such as Roman battles for supremacy. Orange also has lovely squares, shops and cafes with delicious cakes. Furthermore, make sure to sample some of the local produce, as much of Provencal life revolves around the food and wine of the region. It has excellent cuisine with a strong emphasis on fresh food and intense flavours. Locals use olive oil and fresh herbs while fish and goat’s cheese are popular delicacies.
Dates throughout 2022
Travel to France
Travel to Dover for your ferry crossing to Calais. Continue through France, making an overnight stop, before travelling further south to picturesque Provence. Check into your hotel, where you will be served dinner.
Today explore the beautiful town, Aix-en-Provence. The elegant old town has a genteel feel, thanks to its profusion of fountains, and upmarket boutiques dotted along the labyrinth of narrow streets that spread out from the Cours Mirabeau. Perhaps enjoy an guided tour to provide further insight into the area. Then visit the well-preserved workshop of artist Paul Cezanne where he worked daily from 1902 until his death in 1906. Dozens of great works were created here. Nearby is Mount Sainte-Victoire, which features heavily in Cezannes’ paintings. Perhaps take the walk from his studio to Lauves’ hill, where some of his most famous paintings of this landscape were painted from. Now converted into the ‘Land of Painters’ by the city, you can take in the same panorama which inspired the artist.
Pont du Gard and Avignon
This morning we travel to the spectacular Pont du Gard, the 2,000-year-old Roman three-level aqueduct and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We continue to the medieval walled city of Avignon to see several remarkable monuments. For around 70 years, Avignon served as the centre of the Catholic world, and indeed the Pope resided here during the early 14th century. This has left a remarkable architectural impression on the town, mainly with the vast Palais des Papes and the Pont Saint-Bénézet, the bridge made famous in the song ‘Sur le Pont d’Avignon’. Only 4 arches now remain of the original 22 which spanned the River Rhone. Don’t miss the city’s ramparts which are also listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
The Luberon, Lavender and ‘Les Baux’
Today we head north to the Luberon, an area famous for its breathtaking lavender fields and vineyards. At its centre is Les Baux-de-Provence, a medieval hilltop village clinging to a rocky outcrop and officially classified “one of the most beautiful villages in France”. Walk up the narrow, cobbled (and car-free) streets to the ruined castle for splendid views over the surrounding countryside. We continue to Roussillon where the many different shades of the locally-mined ochre rock daubed across the houses offer a flamboyant, technicolor landscape providing an amazing backdrop for pictures. Other picturesque villages include Gordes and St Remy de Provence. Perhaps finish off with a wine tasting before returning to your hotel.
Arles and The Camargue
Visit historic Arles, once the Roman capital of Gaul, Britain and Spain. At the heart of the small town is the huge, preserved amphitheatre. The town is remarkably well-preserved and Van Gogh lived here for two years and painted some of his most well-known works. We then travel into the Camargue, where the wild landscape of red salt lagoons teeming with flamingos and herds of wild white Camargue Horses contrast with ancient fishing villages and long, sandy beaches. We visit the popular coastal town of Saintes Maries de la Mer, a picturesque coastal town. Once a year, Gypsies from all over Europe make a pilgrimage to worship Sara the Black, their saint and patroness. You can see Sara’s statue in the crypt of the town’s little church. An optional cruise by boat or paddle steam through the Camargue is available. Return to your hotel with a scenic drive around this stunning region, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Return to the UK
It’s time to leave Provence. Travel north through France, making an overnight stop. Continue to Calais for your return ferry crossing to the UK.
Marseille and the Calanques
Extend your stay in this stunning region and visit France’s largest commercial port, Marseille, a city full of art and culture with 26 centuries of history combining tradition and modernity. The city has a wealth of monuments, places of interest and museums to visit. In the afternoon, perhaps enjoy a boat ride along the coast from nearby Cassis to the Calanques – a series of limestone cliffs, inlets and rocky promontories plunging into the Mediterranean for about 20 km immediately to the south east of Marseille.
Nîmes’ arena, one of the most famous amphitheatres, was used for animal hunts, gladiator contests and even executions. Other highlights include the Tour Magne – all that remains of an ancient hilltop fortification. A spiral staircase inside leads to a fantastic view over Nîmes. Although uphill, the walk up to the Tower through the public park of Jardins de la Fontaine is delightful.
Perhaps explore Orange, a town incredibly rich in history, from its Celtic fortifications to its Roman monuments. The Ancient Theatre of Orange is one of the best conserved Roman monuments in France and among the best-preserved artefacts of the Ancient World. It is used today for concerts.
Suggested hotels – All inspected by Greatdays staff in November 2016
Novotel Aix en Provence Beaumanoir Les 3 Sautets, Aix-en-Provence ****
4* hotel located approximately 3 km from Aix town centre (30 mins walk) with a local bus outside. It has 120 rooms of which 2 are adapted, free coach parking, lounge area and bar, seasonal outdoor pool, computer station and large terrace. There is a lift as well as ground floor rooms. Rooms have bath/shower, hairdryer, air-con/heating, tea/coffee, TV, WiFi. Rooms on floors 1 and 2 have safes. Coach parking is available.
Mercure Orange, Orange ****
4* hotel located on the outskirts of Orange. The hotel was fully renovated in November 2015 and has 97 rooms of which 3 are adapted. There is a seasonal pool, large bar and lounge area, fitness room, terrace, garden, computer station and free onsite coach parking. Choice of menu from second night onward. There is no lift but plenty of ground floor rooms. Rooms have shower, hairdryer, TV, tea/coffee, WiFi, air-con/heating, trouser press and safe.
Novotel Nimes Atria Centre, Nimes ****
4* hotel located in the centre of Nimes next to Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, a few minutes walk from the amphitheatre. It has 119 rooms of which 4 are adapted (with bath). There is a bar and lounge area, an Atrium restaurant, computer station and free coach parking in front of the hotel. Rooms have either shower or bath, hairdryer, tea/coffee, TV, WiFi, air-con/heating and safe. The hotel provides an excellent base for excursions.
Best Western Atrium, Arles ***
3* hotel located in the heart of Arles, facing the historical monuments. 91 rooms (no adapted). The hotel has a rooftop seasonal pool and terrace area, lounge area with drinks on request, lift and onsite restaurant. Free coach parking is outside the hotel on a first come first served basis. If this is not available, more parking is available near the near main square. Rooms have bath with shower, hairdryer, tea/coffee, TV, WiFi and air-con/heating.
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|Dates||Half Twin||Single Supplement|
|January – March 2022||From £325.00 per person||From £175.00 per person|
|May – July 2022||From £395.00 per person||From £215.00 per person|