9 Day South of France Tour
Day 1- Welcome to Southern France!
After picking you up from the airport in the afternoon we will drive you to your hotel where you will have some free time to relax and unpack. You will then have the opportunity to discover the unique landscape and wildlife of the area as well as the hidden historical site of Maguelone's Cathedral, which Pope Urban II declared upon his visit in 1096 as "second only to that (cathedral) of Rome". We will then have our welcoming dinner at a French restaurant in a little village not far from Palavas that offers a cosy-vintage ambiance and excellent food. A real gem!
Pickup, Hotel Check in, Palavas-les-Flots, Maguelone's Cathedral, Welcome Dinner
Day 2- Roman city & Wine Tasting
Today we will spend the morning in Nimes, home to the finest collection of Roman architecture in all of France, including a magnificent amphitheater and a 2000-year-old temple. We will enjoy our lunch in the historical center and then visit the splendid "Jardin de la Fontaine" am 18th century park. Mid-afternoon we will head to the Chateau de Flaugergue winery, built at the end of 16th century by wealthy aristocrats, where a wine tasting will be waiting for you. Vines have been grown on this spot since Roman times and they make excellent wine! We will then return to Palavas-les-Flots, your home base town, where you will spend your evening freely. You will be able to eat at one of the delicious restaurants of Palavas from our recommendations list provided at your arrival. One of our favorites is in a high rise panoramic tower, a gourmet restaurant that lets you have a 360° view up about the town and the beach while you eat! Nimes Roman City, Chateau de Flaugergues Visit + Wine Tasting, Free Evening
Day 3- Magical Provence
On this day you we will visit Les-Baux-de-Provence, a gorgeous Southern France village officially classified as "one of the most beautiful villages of France". The cultural heritage here is exceptionally rich and the landscape and the beauty of the Provençal village will take your breath away. You will have time to explore the medieval streets, look over the artisan shops, or slow down at a cafe and watch the people come and go. After lunch, we will see the fascinating art, light & sound show: Les Carrières de Lumières. The exhibition of 2018 will feature the works of Picasso. To finish the afternoon we will visit the 11th century Saint-Paul-de-Mausole monastary to appreciate the beautiful architecture of the Provençal Romansque style. It is here where Vincent Van Gogh sought sanctuary during his troubled time and also painted his famous Starry Night piece in 1889. If traveling between mid-June and mid-July you will also be able to see the lavender! (Read best time to travel to Provence). After your break, we will then gather for one of the highlights of our tour: a home made picnic catered by Julia's mother! The menu includes Quiches, Tapenade, Charcuterie, Wine and more, a gourmet French meal! You will also get to try your hand at "Petanque", the backyard game of Southern France. Provence, Baux-de-Provence, Light & Sound Show, Van Gogh, Lavender, French Picnic Dinner
Day 4- Avignon & Pont du Gard
Discover the magnificent Avignon's historical center listed as a world heritage by UNESCO for The Papal Palace (1252) home to 7 successive Popes, the Pont d'Avignon which inspired the famous kid's song and also its episcopal ensemble (the ramparts and churches). We will have a fabulous lunch on the main square in front of the entrance to the Palace. Afterwards, we will visit a masterpiece of ancient architecture: the Pont du Gard, a massive 2000 year old Roman aqueduct. It is a milestone of human engineering and one of the greatest monuments of France that stand as a reminder of the tremendous power of the Roman Empire. You will then have the evening free for you to relax and remember this incredible day spent traveling back in time. You can use your evening to stroll on the beach, walk around the busy fisherman village and eat at a restaurant by the port. Avignon, Pont du Gard, Free evening
Day 5- On the Compostela road
We will visit one of the most beautiful villages of France, St-Guilhem-le-Desert, one of the stops along the road of Santiago de Compostela (a Pilgrimage road recognized on the UNESCO world heritage list since 1998). The picturesque architecture and the wonderful abbey will bring you back in time. You will enjoy the peaceful feeling as you wander through the cobbled streets and archways of this medieval village while learning about the life of Saint Guilhem, grandson of Charles Martel and cousin of Charlemagne. In the afternoon we will visit the nearby Château de Jonquières where the owner of the winery will give us a fun and educational lesson about wine-making, give us a wine-tasting, and let us tour the medieval castle on the estate. Early evening we will head over to Aigues-Mortes, the medieval fortified port city where the 7th and 8th crusades were launched. You will wander around and explore the city, shop at the town square and to finish enjoy a traditional South of France meal. St-Guilhem-le-Desert on Compostela Road, Wine Tasting Chateau Jonquiere, Dinner in Aigues-Mortes
Day 6- Magnificent Carcassonne
We will spend the whole day exploring the exceptional medieval city of Carcassonne and its castle. The citadel derives its reputation from its massive double surrounding walls spanning 1.9 miles and 52 defensive towers. Walking atop the ramparts and surveying the lands, you will feel like you are in a movie, maybe because of the Robin Hood movie scenes filmed here! The town has about 5000 years of history and has seen the Romans, Visigoths, Saracens and Crusaders. After this memorable day at Carcassone you will be able to relax in Palavas. Consider relaxing at the wine bar of your hotel or walking along the beach eating some ice cream!
Carcassonne Medieval City + Free Evening
Day 7- Montpellier & Cooking Class
This morning will be free for you to enjoy the local market across from your hotel and discover all the colorful spices of the South. Later in the morning we will go visit the gorgeous downtown of Montpellier: La Promenade de Peyrou, a beautiful scenic park with a statue of King Louis XIV, the Arc De Triomphe monument, a 300 year old Roman style Aqueduct, the Château d'eau, and one of the best views of the city. As we move along we will stop to appreciate the magnificent gothique style of the Cathedral St Pierre and talk a walk inside. After some delicious crepes for lunch, we will finish the city tour by a stop at the museum Fabre. Founded in 1825, this exceptional museum houses one of France’s richest collections of European art. After your break, we will meet again for our cooking class with a local French chef. It's the time for you to master your cooking skills or simply sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the fun ambiance. We will then enjoy the fabulous meal that you made and all go home with the recipes as a souvenir!
Free Morning, Farmers Market, French Picnic, Montpellier Cooking Class + Dinner
Day 8- Aix-en-Provence
One of the most beautiful cities in Provence. We will start our tour with a visit of the "Hotel de Caumont", an 18th century mansion which has been converted into an art center where you will learn about the city's most famous painter Cézanne, visit the exhibitions and enjoy a refined lunch in the magnificent cafe. You will then explore the cozy downtown of Aix and finish by visiting the private workshop of Cezanne. During our tour you will be able to visit an historical factory opened in 1907 and learn the process of Marseille soap making, enjoy the fabulous smell and then explore the cute little boutique to maybe bring back home some of this famous soap.
Soap Factory, Art Center, Aix-en-Provence, Cezanne, Free Evening
Day 9- Arles, Home of Van Gogh
Arles is famous for its many Roman monuments and being the place where Van Gogh called home for 9 years and produced over 300 paintings. Here we will visit the monuments, do the Van Gogh walking tour to discover the places by which Vincent was inspired, see the current exhibition at the Van Gogh foundation, and gaze at the beauty of one of the famous lavender fields of Provence. We will end the night with our farewell dinner. While eating our last French meal together we can share our good memories before our departure.
Arles' Downtown, Van Gogh, Lavender, Farewell Dinner
Day 10- Departure
Unfortunately it is time to leave the South of France. We will drop you off at the airport or train station in the morning and help make sure that everything is well coordinated for you to travel stress free. We hope we will have succeeded our mission of sharing our culture and region for a trip full of memories and smiles and that you will join us again on one of our other tours!
Departure for your train or plane before noon.