Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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France: Best of Provence
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Highlights

  • Discover the highlights of Provence and immerse yourself in ‘joie de vivre’
  • Walk on country paths alongside colourful lavender fields and verdant vineyards
  • Explore French wine culture with a tour of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s vineyards
  • Follow in Van Gogh’s footsteps through charming Saint-Rémy
  • Stay in the hilltop towns of Bonnieux, Roussillon and Gordes, in stylish hotels

Enjoy quintessential Provence on this self-guided walking and discovery tour in France’s iconic sun-drenched south. Walk from hilltop village to hilltop village through scenery which inspired many of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings.

Walk to the magnificent Abbaye de Sénanque, the emblem of Provence and a working monastery steeped in history. Browse the outdoor markets of the captivating hilltop towns of Bonnieux, Gordes and Roussillon, taking in the sounds, scents and hand-made products of this great French tradition.

Stay in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and visit the Abbaye that Van Gogh called home. Wander the town—another Provençal gem brimming with sunny outdoor terraces and bright flowering window boxes. Indulge in an al-fresco meal of fresh goat’s cheese salad, drizzled with honey and served with a delicious crusty baguette. Wash it down with a glass of red wine or an aniseed flavored ’pastis’, relax and watch the world go by.

Day 1 Arrive Avignon and Transfer to Bonnieux

A private transfer brings you from Avignon train station to the magnificent hilltop village of Bonnieux (1 hour).


Settle into your welcoming hotel before exploring the picturesque old town. The old streets, fountains and medieval walls of the town all hint at Bonnieux’s wealthy past when it belonged to the Popes. The most dominant feature is the ‘Vieille Eglise’ (old church); climb 86 stone steps to reach it and take in views of the Monts du Vaucluses, Roussillon and Gordes.


Enjoy your first Provençal meal at one of the many restaurants in the village. Expect fresh and flavorful vegetables and local ‘fromage de chèvres’ on the menu.


Overnight: Bonnieux


Day 2 Transfer to Goult and walk to Bonnieux

After a leisurely breakfast of croissants, fresh baguettes, homemade jams and rich coffee, a private transfer will bring you to Goult (15 mins). A beautiful and historic town, Goult is not as well known as its neighbors, giving it an especially authentic charm. Aside from its well preserved old town, another attraction is its cultivated terraces. Large olive, oak and fruit trees, as well as vegetable gardens, are set amongst attractive stone walls; all of which are maintained by local volunteers.


Descend from Goult and follow back roads and farmland tracks lined with orchards and vineyards. You’ll see Lacoste with its distinctive Château ahead, your next objective for the day! Originally owned by the Marquis de Sade, this 11th century castle is now owned by French fashion designer; Pierre Cardin. Enjoy a refreshment in the town square before continuing to Bonnieux on peaceful trails.


Walk: 14 km, 285m ascent, 200m descent.


Overnight: Bonnieux


Day 3 Walk to Roussillon

Say 'au revoir’ to Bonnieux and head off through the heart of the Luberon countryside to Roussillon. Enjoy easy-going walking along farm tracks through a multitude of vineyards and olive groves. Come to the Pont Julien; a Roman stone arch bridge that spans the River Cavalon. Dating from 3BC, it’s incredible to think that this bridge has been used by people for over 2,000 years and is an impressive reminder of Provence’s past as ‘Gaul’. Find a shady tree nearby for a classic French picnic of fresh baguette, cheese and dried ‘saucisson’ (cured French sausage).


Continue to Roussillon, and you will notice that the earth changes color to ochre and that the landscapes become more dramatic, characterized by strange rock formations.


Dinner is included at your hotel tonight.


Walk: 13.5 km, 195m ascent, 215m descent


Dinner & Overnight: Roussillon


Day 4 Free Day or ‘Sentier des Ocres’ walk

Roussillon is one of France’s ‘Plus Beaux Villages’, a certification awarded to rural villages which have tourist appeal as well as a rich cultural heritage. A wander through the narrow streets enjoying the many artisanal shops and cafés is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. The views from the terrace at the top of the village are particularly impressive. If your visit coincides with market day, take part in the French ritual and browse the stalls which sell everything from freshly baked baguettes, croissants and cakes, to dried lavender and fragrant ‘Savon de Marseilles’.


The Sentier des Ocres is a must-do while in Roussillon; a short but very dramatic walk through the site of the former ochre quarries of the town. Stroll through the picturesque valley and forest of chestnut and pine trees. Interpretation boards explain the geological reasons ochre is present in the landscape, and tell of its extraction for use as a pigment in times past.


Optional Walk: 1.5 km


Overnight: Roussillon


Day 5 Walk to Gordes via Joucas

This lovely walk takes you across the valley floor to the charming perched village and artists’ colony of Joucas. Home to a number of artists focusing mostly on sculpture, there are various reminders of this fact scattered through the town. Explore at your leisure before making your way through a forest trail to the lovely village of Gordes. Another ‘Plus Belles Villages de France’,  its labyrinth of narrow streets clustered around the castle are host to many fine restaurants and specialist shops. The Château de Gordes, built in the 11th and rebuilt in the 16th century, is worth a visit to visit to witness the combined architecture from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance era. It was designated an historical monument in 1902.


Spend the late afternoon at an outdoor café, under the shade of a lofty tree, enjoying an ‘apéritif’ of icy pastis and soaking up that unmistakable Provençal way of life.


Walk: 12.5 km, 250m ascent, 225m descent


Dinner & Overnight: Gordes


Day 6 Private, guided Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine Tour

Today you will be whisked away by your knowledgeable, English speaking guide for a full day, private tour of the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine region. The first vines here were planted by the ancient Romans, and the area is steeped in a long and interesting history. With its characteristic pebbly soils, the vineyards here produce some top rated, powerful and complex red wines, as well as a very small number of rare white wines. Learn all about this, while tasting wine from three different vineyards and meet the ‘Vignerons’ who tend the vines everyday. Enjoy some free time in the historical village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape itself, and indulge in a leisurely lunch at one of the cafés or bistros in the cobbled village center. At the end of the tour, you will be taken back to your hotel in Gordes.


Overnight: Gordes


Day 7 Walk to the Abbaye de Sénanque, transfer to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Leave Gordes on quiet country roads and forest tracks, before descending into the Sénancole gorge. Arrive at the iconic Abbaye de Sénanque. A beautiful, functioning 12th century abbey tucked into an isolated valley north of Gordes. Famous for its lavender fields and associated craft industry, it welcomes visitors year-round. Marvel at its architectural splendor, as well as the traditional way of life that the monks have managed to preserve to this day.


A private transfer brings you to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (1 hour). Check into your luxury hotel before hitting the cobbled streets to explore another unmissable Provençal gem. Nestled at the foot of the ‘Massif du Alpilles’, this charming and lively town is full of boutiques, art galleries, cafés and bistros. It is also irrevocably associated with Vincent Van Gogh. Visit St. Paul de Mausole, the one time home of the famous artist, and explore the grounds and gardens he has immortalized in many of his paintings; a must-do for any art fan.


Walk: 3 km, 125m ascent, 100m descent


Overnight: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence


Day 8 Onward Travel

Enjoy a decadent breakfast buffet before taking your included transfer back to Avignon Train Station (30 mins) from where you can begin your onward travel. If you have more time to explore the area, why not add an extra night or two to further explore Saint-Rémy-de-Provence? If you would like to explore other parts of France after Provence, browse more of our French adventures here.


Accommodation

One of the highlights of this tour is the very high standard of the accommodations. We have specifically chosen the hotels to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. You will be staying in carefully selected 3, 4 & 5* hotels.


Alternate Accommodation

We will always try and accommodate you at the accommodations listed. However, if those listed are unavailable, alternative accommodation of the same or better standard than those described will be provided.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

We will be happy to accommodate your party with single rooms if requested, and a single supplement applies.


A solo walker supplement is not available as it is cost-prohibitive. Unfortunately, unless you are willing to pay substantially more to do this tour by yourself, it is not available to solo walkers.





 

 

 




Le Clos du Buis - Bonnieux

An extremely welcoming, family owned, ‘Hotel de Charme’, Clos du Bois is well-situated at the entrance to Bonnieux. Pierre and Lydia are your hosts and will make you feel at home right away. Relax by the pool and enjoy views over Mont Ventoux and the glorious Provençal countryside.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Le Clos de la Glycine - Roussillon

Located in the heart of Roussillon, this hotel boasts wonderful views over the ochre cliffs that surround the town. Breakfast is a particular treat; take your time over the decadent buffet which includes fresh, seasonal fruit, yogurt, a variety of breads and decadent pastries, and creamy fresh fromage de chèvres.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Les Bories Hotel & Spa - Gordes

This exceptional hotel is set in beautiful gardens of olive trees, cypress, oaks and lavender. All rooms are spacious and come with a private terrace; the perfect spot to relax and take in the views over the Luberon. There is also a refreshing swimming pool and spa area to take advantage of.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel Le Saint Rémy - Saint-Rémy

An elegant boutique hotel located in the heart of Saint-Rémy. It is a wonderful base for exploring the town or simply relax in the extensive pool area. The friendly team is always on hand to assist and to make your stay here unforgettable.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel Le Vallon de Valruges and Spa - Saint-Rémy

Conveniently located a short stroll away from the town center, this magnificent hotel is a great place to spend your time in Saint-Rémy. Take advantage of the indoor and outdoor pools and large Spa area; and immerse yourself in the hotel’s peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.


 

 

 

Availability

You can start this walking tour anytime between April and October, on any day except Tuesdays.


Time of Year

Lavender is in full bloom from approximately mid-June until it is harvested, usually end of July to mid-August. The exact dates of bloom and harvesting depends in the weather and in turn, soil conditions.We recommend avoiding July and August for Provence as it can be extremely hot and is uncomfortable for walking. If you choose to travel during this time, you should set off early each day to avoid the mid-day heat. Spring to mid/late June is ideal, as is September to October.


Meals

Seven breakfasts are included. Breakfast tends to be an elaborate and delicious affair! A buffet selection with lots of sweet treats like pastries, home made jams, fruit and cereals. Savory tastes are also catered for with bread, cheese, ham and eggs available.

Two dinners are included on nights 3 & 5 at your hotel. On the nights dinner is not included you will be ale to try some excellent local cuisine in nearby local restaurants, or you can dine at your hotel if they have a restaurant. Gastronomy in France, and in Provence in particular, is renowned for its high quality and emphasis on local and fresh ingredients.




Local Markets

Each town in Provence has its own dedicated market day. Markets tend to be open from the early morning and finish around lunch time (1-2pm)


Bonnieux - Friday


Goult - Thursdays


Roussillon - Thursday


Gordes - Tuesday


Saint-Rémy-de-Provence - Wednesdays


Grade & Terrain

This tour has an easy to moderate grading. The trails are a combination of dirt or wooded trails, gravel tracks and paved country roads. This tour is suitable for walkers with good physical fitness.

There are some rolling hills and while in the Petite Luberon range some fairly significant elevation gains and losses.  It is also pertinent to note that the terrain in Provence is fairly rugged and quite rocky at times, you will need to be sure-footed in order to negotiate the terrain.


Water refill points may not be readily available throughout the day of
walking, so you should fill up at your overnight locations before
setting off each day.  


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

Some of the trails will be way-marked. We also provide detailed turn-by-turn directions for each walk. The easiest way to find your way is to navigate using the Macs Adventure Navigation Smartphone App. Simply download the GPX tracks for offline use and follow the route with your phone with the assurance that you will not get lost.


Baggage Transfers

Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you limit your luggage to one bag of up to 48 lbs per person.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.



 

Getting to and from Avignon

Most international airlines fly into Paris Charles de Gaulle. From here, take a TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse), France’s intercity high speed railway service, to Avignon. The journey takes approx. 3.5 hours. Timetables can be found at : www.sncf.com. It is important to note that Avignon has two train stations, the TGV station on the outskirts of the town and the Central Avignon Train Station. A private transfer is included from Avignon TGV station to your first hotel, and from your last hotel back to Avignon TGV station, in the cost of you trip. If you require to be picked up at Avignon central train station instead please let us know.




We can also arrange transfers from Marseilles airport or train station should this suit your travel arrangements better, there may be a small supplement to pay in this case.

For general planning information, we recommend the very helpful site: www.rome2rio.com



Included

  • 7 Nights accommodation in hand-picked 3*, 4* and 5* hotels
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 2 Dinners
  • Luggage transfers
  • Transfers from and to Avignon
  • Transfer on Day 7
  • Information Pack, GPX tracks, access to the Macs smartphone app
  • 24/7 telephone support from our UK office

Excluded

  • Travel insurance
  • Travel to and from Avignon Train Station
  • Lunches and 5 dinners
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Public transport if required
  • Personal equipment

Extras

  • Single room if applicable
  • Additional nights

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalized as the region is extremely popular especially during the summer months. It is always better to book as far in advance as possible, however, we will always try our best to accommodate your plans.

How fit do I need to be?

This itinerary is graded easy to moderate, however the terrain can be tricky at times with rocks underfoot, so you will need to be sure-footed.

How do the baggage transfers work?

Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 44 pounds per person.

What equipment do I need?

Your detailed information pack will be sent to you after you book. This has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.

What happens if I can't walk a stage?

You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.

Outstanding

5

Excellent track notes, accommodation selections and restaurant recommendations

Doug

Adelaide Australia

true

Absolutely Perfect.

5

Great trip! Hotels were perfect. Distances of walks were good. Villages chosen were great. A beautiful area of the world. Last day is a very long slog with few views or distractions. If I had to do it again I would likely have skipped the last day walk. We had a great time.

Robin

Seattle

true

Beautiful Region, Lovely Time

4

All the accommodations were excellent. In Bonnieux, we were booked into an alternate lodging (Terrasses du Luberon) because the advertised hotel was full, but we were delighted with the B&B and its charming and helpful hosts. The whole region is beautiful and has such scenic and interesting villages. Would have given the trip five stars except that the walking directions were sometimes confusing and the last day's walk was unpleasant, especially the last half, which included VERY difficult footing on loose rock with little scenery except for the last kilometer or so. We would recommend taking a taxi to Fontaine de Vaucluse, where the walk ends, and visiting the tourist center for information on walks in the area. If you take this trip, note that the evening meal is included on your first nights in Rousillon and Gordes. This wasn't mentioned in our literature (for Rousillon), and the hotel in Gordes wasn't aware of the arrangement and had to contact Macs Adventure for confirmation. However, both restaurants were wonderful! All in all, this was a splendid trip and will remain a treasured memory.

Ann and Rod

Indiana

true

Classic Provence in Style

4.7 3

100.0

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