Hiking Provence: Hilltop Villages to Les Calanques

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Experience quintessential Provence on this adventure away from tour-bus crowds and head out on foot along the sun-washed countryside's hidden trails. Take in a true hiker's Provence, from the dramatic white limestone peaks of the Dentelles de Montmirail to medieval villages nestled in olive groves to the great vineyards of the Cotes du Rhone wine domains. Wander through fields of poppies, lavender and wild herbs, stop in at wineries of worldwide repute, visit medieval abbeys, hike amidst the coastal calanques' limestone inlets, and enjoy a luxurious private boat ride. Vive la Provence!

Details

Duration: 12 Days
Starts in: Avignon, France
Ends in: Cassis, France
Group Size: 4-16

Operated by:

MT Sobek

MT Sobek, the originators, innovators and leaders in adventure travel for more than five decades, crafts journeys to the world's most memorable places.

Itinerary

Welcome to Avignon

An MT Sobek representative will meet you at Avignon TGV station at 2:30pm today and transfer you to your hotel. After a welcome group meeting, complete with local wine, it's time to explore the wonders of this ancient city. Meander through a labyrinth of cobbled streets, discover 14th-century ramparts, and the Papal Palace - all within its historic UNESCO-listed town center.

Hike from Saint Rémy to the Alpilles

After breakfast, take a 30-minute transfer to Saint Rémy de Provence, nestled at the foot of the Alpilles Mountains. Follow Van Gogh's footsteps through an aromatic landscape of wild herbs and sun-baked pine trees up towards the jagged ridge of the windswept Alpilles. Enjoy panoramic views from the summit and a gourmet Provencal picnic before completing the loop back to Saint Rémy. Savor a group dinner in town tonight.

Hike to Les Baux de Provence

Start the day at Saint Rémy's morning market with its bounty of fresh regional produce - perfect for today's picnic. From there, follow a path up a shaded valley laden with cedar and pines, back up to the crest of the Alpilles. From here, take an easy trail along the ridge, enjoying wide-sweeping views. Perched atop the ridge is the 1,000-year-old village of Les Baux de Provence - a few dozen stone homes huddled together high above the valley. Meander through its narrow, cobbled streets, then stop at a working olive mill for a visit and a tasting. In the evening, enjoy dinner together back in Saint Rémy.

Journey from Gordes to the Senanque Abbey

After breakfast, transfer from the Alpilles to the Luberon mountains, dotted with lofty medieval villages such as Gordes, its golden-stone homes rising in vertiginous circles above the Calavon valley. Explore its steep labyrinth of cobblestoned streets and pick up picnic fare before heading out along thyme-laden hills toward Senaque Abbey, a collection of 850-year-old Romanesque structures hidden among lavender fields. Enjoy a private guided tour, then hike up for aerial views before returning to Gordes for dinner together at the hotel.

Walk in the Landscape of Cezanne

Today begins with a transfer to nearby Bonnieux, a village nestled between the two Luberon Mountains that took center-stage in Peter Mayle's best-selling memoir A Year in Provence. Head out for a long gradual climb up the northern slope of the Luberon, through a forest of white oak and shrub. At the ridge, take in magnificent views across the valley, and have a Provençal picnic. Walk to the medieval village of Lacoste, crowned by the ruins of the Marquis de Sade's castle. Visit a family farm to sample traditional Provençal fare.

Discover the Dentelles de Montmirail

This morning head north to the chiseled limestone formations of the Dentelles de Montmirail. Set above the vineyards that blanket the Rhone Valley, these small mountains are dotted with remote villages and crisscrossed by hiking paths. Take a seldom-used trail, eventually reaching the tiny medieval village of Le Creste, to enjoy a drink at a rooftop café before hiking on. A shady path leads to the medieval town of Vaison la Romaine, set on the largest Roman archaeological site in France — and home for the next three nights. Enjoy dinner together.

Hike the Vineyards Above Gigondas

Today set out for the tiny medieval village of Gigondas, nestled under the imposing limestone cliffs of the Dentelles de Montmirail, and renowned for its rich red wines. Walk between the gnarled vines, and above them into the heart of the Dentelles de Montmirail. Trails crisscross the dramatic rock formations and lead to the top of a ridgeline that soars above the village. After the hike, enjoy wine tasting at one of the local estates. Back in Vaison, join a special wine and cheese event at the hotel's rooftop terrace.

Summit the Lofty Mont Ventoux

Today's hike begins on the upper slopes of Mont Ventoux. Cross majestic and barren rockslide formations, get a chance to spot local wildlife like chamois, and reach Ventoux's fabled moonscape - bare limestone, with alpine and even arctic flowers peeking out from between the stones. Take in the 360-degree view from the summit, showcasing the Alps and the Rhone River snaking its way to the Mediterranean Sea. Enjoy a restaurant lunch at the summit and then return to Vaison. Dinner is on your own at one of the town's great restaurants.

Hike the Calanques de Marseille to Cassis

After breakfast, venture south toward the Mediterranean Sea to explore the Calanques de Marseille, France's newest national park. The calanques are a set of dramatic limestone inlets spanning nearly 13 miles from Marseille to Cassis — an unspoiled playground of cliffs and hiking trails. Begin on a trail above the calanques and head down to the jagged limestone paths leading from one spectacular inlet to the next. Enjoy a picnic lunch, and hike to lovely Cassis, a small Riviera town on the calanques' eastern edge — home for the next three nights.

Explore Parc National des Calanques

Today head into the heart of the Parc National des Calanques, hiking to turquoise inlets with plenty of swimming opportunities along the way. Contemplate the vast blue Mediterranean Sea in the most secluded of spots and enjoy a gourmet Provençal picnic by the water. A vast network of trails runs through the calanques; your expert guides will choose a hike based on the group's interests and fitness levels. Explore Cassis on your own this evening and choose a local eatery for dinner.

Cruise the Calanques & Feast in Cassis

As a reward for all of the miles hiked and vertical feet ascended, trade your hiking boots for deck shoes. Pamper yourself with a private boat excursion in the calanques, starting from Cassis and navigating lazily from one calanque to the next. Enjoy a chance to swim off the boat and time to recount the week's adventures, before lunch onboard. After some free time to relax in Cassis this afternoon, we'll stroll to the port to sample the Riviera's most coveted delicacy — bouillabaisse, made fresh from fish caught that day!

Depart from Cassis

After breakfast, take a morning shuttle to the train station in Cassis for your onward journey. If you are departing from the Avignon TGV Station, we will transfer you back to Avignon, arriving in the afternoon.

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Starting From

$5,995/person

Add your business today to reach The Outbound's audience of adventurous travelers.