Tastes of Provence

    Avignon, France

    Starting From

    $4,995/person

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    Book this tour through our partner: MT Sobek

    Give in to the irresistible pleasures of French Provence, where century-old trails lead to medieval villages, world-famous vineyards, and enchanting farmlands. Meander through the vibrant stalls of Les Halles market, where locals seek out the best regional produce. Tour Chateauneuf du Pape, with wines famed for their privileged microclimate and terroir, and savor a gourmet picnic among ancient Grenache and Syrah vines. In the sleepy village of Saint Didier, sample yet another Provencal specialty — nougat, and visit Josiane Deal's award-winning fromagerie in Vaison to choose French cheeses for dinner out on the terrace.

    Itinerary

    Arrive at Avignon

    Arrive in Avignon this afternoon and transfer to your hotel in the city center. Perched on the Rhone and crowned by the immense Papal Palace, Avignon is as rich in history as it is in contemporary arts. Explore this enchanting town on foot and walk across the legendary Pont d'Avignon, originally built in the 12th century. This evening, meet your guide and fellow group at the hotel and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

    Indulge in Steak-Frites & Hike to Frigolet Abbey

    After a guided city tour, head to Les Halles covered market, where locals and chefs hunt for the best regional products. Savor lunch at a secret bistro that showcases market-fresh ingredients — try steak or fish picked fresh from the stalls, served with frites made from the market's wonderful organic potatoes. After a short drive across the Durance River to the tiny Montagnette hill, work off your meal on a hike to St Michel de Frigolet Abbey, a peaceful 12th-century chapel with a baroque church. Explore the wonders of Avignon's dining scene on your own tonight.

    Explore the Ancient Wine Region of Chateauneuf du Pape

    Take a short drive from Avignon to the village of Chateauneuf du Pape, home to a hilltop medieval castle and the most famous of the Rhone Valley wines. Unveil the meaning of terroir while strolling the smooth red rocks between the prized vines. Stop by a renowned village wine domaine for a tasting, enjoy a gourmet Provencal picnic among the ancient Grenache and Syrah vines, and continue walking through the vineyards. End up in Vaison la Romaine, a stunningly intact medieval village that sits on France's largest Roman archeological site.

    Browse Vaison’s Street Market & Hike Dentelles de Montmirail

    Explore the weekly street market of Vaison, one of the best in Provence, with colorful stalls selling everything from fresh produce, cheeses, meats and spices to crafts and clothing. Enjoy free time to pick up your picnic fare, then take a transfer to the medieval village of Gigondas, perched high above the plains and second only to Chateauneuf du Pape for its red wines. Hike past the terraced vineyards and up to the Dentelles de Montmirail, a set of sheer limestone cliffs soaring high above the vines. Return to Vaison and have dinner together at a local restaurant.

    Reward a Forest Hike with Provencal Specialties

    Transfer to Mont Serein on the upper slopes of Mont Ventoux, Provence's highest mountain, at just over 6,300 feet. Walk through a serene larch forest and on to a lookout that affords a panorama of the entire chain of the Alps, including Mont Blanc. At a traditional chalet nestled in the meadows, savor the ubiquitous alpine tartiflette: potato-caramelized-onion-and-melted- cheese-goodness. In the afternoon, visit a family-run goat farm to learn how goat cheese is made — and to taste it. Return to Vaison to explore on your own and choose a top restaurant for dinner.

    Visit an Olive Mill in Nyons & Vaison’s Famed Cheese Shop

    Transfer north to the village of Nyons, tucked away in a valley and rarely visited. Enjoy free time to explore the Thursday market. Walk into the hills, through olive groves known for their very mild, almost sweet olive oil. Visit a working olive mill and learn about the cultivation of olive trees and olive oil in Provence. Return to Vaison to visit Josiane Deal's award-winning cheese shop, rated the best in France. Pick up some of her cheeses, grab some wine, and have a feast on the hotel terrace overlooking the main square.

    Try Nougat in Venasque & Take a Cooking Class in L’Isle Sur la Sorgue

    Head southward to the Monts du Vaucluse range, draped with oak forests and muscat vineyards. Walk to the perched medieval village of Venasque, high above the cherry-orchard plains with its stone homes, cobbled streets, and an ancient church. After a gourmet picnic, head to Saint Didier village to visit a shop that specializes in nougat, a Provencal specialty made with almonds and honey. At L'Isle sur la Sorgue, an island-of-a-village surrounded by the Sorgue River, take part in a cooking class with a local chef — and enjoy dinner with the Provencal specialties you've prepared.

    Enjoy Home-Cooked Fare in the Luberon

    Transfer to the Luberon mountains, center-stage in Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence, and see one of its lesser-known villages: Oppede-le-Vieux — a medieval labyrinth of cobbled streets winding up to the church and castle. Walk on a picturesque trail, with orchards and villas in the foothills and jagged limestone slopes of the Petit Luberon mountain above. Enjoy a home-cooked Provencal meal in a sleepy village, showcasing olive tapenade and slow-cooked lamb. In the afternoon, take a lazy kayak journey down the Sorgue River, straight back to L'Isle sur la Sorgue. Enjoy a farewell dinner together.

    Enjoy Market Day in L’Isle sur la Sorgue or Return to Avignon

    The adventure ends today. But it's Sunday: market day in L'Isle sur la Sorgue, and the entire town is filled with one of the best-known markets in Provence. The village also happens to be the antiques capital of Provence, so there are lots of reasons to spend part of the day here, or an extra night. Otherwise take the transfer to the Avignon train station after breakfast.

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    Details

    Duration: 9 Days
    Starts in: Avignon, France
    Ends in: Avignon, France
    Group Size: 4-16

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