Provence's medieval walled towns, sun-dappled vineyards and rich history come to life on this leisurely vacation. Whether you’re strolling through a charming seaside town, sipping a tangy rosé at an outdoor café or browsing an open-air market, you're sure to enjoy the pastoral pace of this very special corner of the world.
• Enjoy a true vacation—unpack your bags just once since you stay in a single hotel.
• Visit famous Provençal destinations such as Avignon and the Pont du Gard.
• Less travel time—all excursions are less than an hour from your hotel.
Provence has a romance and glamor that has drawn artists and Europe's well-to-do for centuries. If the poppy fields and hillsides corduroyed with vines surrounding Arles remind you of a Van Gogh masterpiece, it’s for good reason. The artist’s most famous works depict the region's sun-dappled beauty. Le Café la Nuit in Arles’ central square, still a popular eatery, is captured in Van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night. And many of Arles' streets are named for writers or artists: Avenue Victor Hugo, Place Voltaire and Rue Robert Doisneau to name a few.
With Arles as your home base, spend a week exploring Provence's best-known sights. Over 2,000 years ago, Arles was the Roman capital of the region and you'll see reminders of this legacy at the Roman amphitheater, still in use today for bullfights and other public events. Visit nearby Pont du Gard, a graceful, three-tiered Roman aqueduct system that is a marvel of civil engineering. See the spectacular walled city of Avignon which became the seat of European religion for 70 years when the Papal leaders fled Rome in the 14th century. The medieval Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), built for the Pope and his court, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest Gothic structure in the world.
Other highlights include Aix-en-Provence where you can visit areas immortalized by the artist, Paul Cezanne, and the town of Aigues-Mortes on the Mediterranean coast, the launching point for many of the medieval Crusades to the Holy Land. Provence also has a wine and cuisine heritage that will make your palate beg for more. Enjoy local vintages in the famous wine region of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and sample the locally-produced olive oil, produce and lavender products that help define many distinctive Provençal specialties. Each meal is sure to be better than the last!
• 7 nights accommodations at Hôtel Atrium
• Daily breakfast, 1 lunch and 5 dinners
• All on-tour transportation plus English-speaking tour manager
• Sightseeing in Arles, Avignon, Uzès, Aix-en-Provence, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and Aigues-Mortes plus excursion to the Pont du Gard
• Round-trip airport/hotel transfers
Day 1 – Arrive in Marseilles
Upon arrival at the Marseilles Airport, board a private motor coach for the drive through Provence to your hotel in Arles. The remainder of the afternoon is free to relax and refresh until you join your guide and fellow travelers at a Welcome Dinner.
Accommodation: Hôtel Atrium – 7 nights
Day 2 – Arles Sightseeing
Spend the day in Arles, the town that captured the heart, soul and mind of Vincent Van Gogh and was the subject of some of his greatest works. Your morning is spent on a tour of this town that still reflects much of its Roman heritage, something that will become obvious as you visit the Roman Arena, still in use today, and other ancient sites! The afternoon is yours to shop or seek the same inspiration that captured Van Gogh.
Day 3 – Avignon Sightseeing
After breakfast, visit Avignon, famous as the location where the original Papal leaders fled when leaving the corruption of Rome in the 14th century. Your tour includes the Papal residence Le Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), which is largest Gothic palace in the world. Also sample some of Provence’s tastiest vintages. In a region that produces so many great wines like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, your taste buds won’t want you to leave!
Day 4 – Pont du Gard / Uzès
Visit one of those iconic structures that never fails to impress, the Pont du Gard. Built by the Romans almost two thousand years ago, this ancient aqueduct bridge was built to carry water from a spring at Uzès to the Roman colony of Nemausus (now the city of Nimes). A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Pont du Gard is one of the engineering masterpieces of the ancient world. In the afternoon, continue on to the town of Uzès, one of the loveliest villages in the south of France, where you’ll have time to shop and explore.
Day 5 – Day at Leisure
With nothing on the agenda today, take the opportunity to wander the cobblestone streets of Arles or explore the surrounding Provençal countryside.
Day 6 – Aix-en-Provence & Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Spend today visiting Aix-en-Provence and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, two towns that figure heavily in the region’s history and culture, the masterpieces of the painter Cezanne and today’s modern literary and cinematic works.
Day 7 – Mediterranean Coast
Today we venture to the seaside towns of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and Aigues-Mortes on the shores of the Mediterranean. This is a great opportunity to sample classic Provençal dishes like bouillabaisse, a hearty seafood stew.
Day 8 – Arles / Marseilles
Sadly, it’s time to bid adieu to Provence as you transfer to Marseille for your journey home.
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