The beautiful French region of Provence combines an impressive past with a vivid present.
Enjoy the unspoilt countryside, learn about its rich history whilst admiring its interesting architecture and appreciate why the colourful scenery and landscapes charmed the likes of Van Gogh, Cezanne and Chagall.
With so many highlights of the area it is difficult to know what to include in your itinerary, but we recommend a good mix of the art, museums, architecture and countryside. There are, of course, the must see’s of Aix, Avignon and the Pont du Gard, but don’t miss the lesser known; St Remy where Van Gogh’s asylum should be visited; and Bibemus Quarry, Cezanne’s inspiration for many of his pieces.
All tours are tailor made to suit the itinerary and budget of the society. However we highly recommend the following:
- A minimum of 4 nights is required
- Travelling in March or November can still offer mild weather and good hotel prices
- Being based in Arles or Avignon
- Include a wine tasting and a chateau visit
What to Do
Aix en Provence, former capital of Provence. Referred to by the locals as “town of water, town of Art,” Aix en Provence is a bustling and lively city with picturesque tree-lined avenues, 17th and 18th Century buildings and a wonderful old town. Home to Paul Cezanne, the city still prides itself on his name, and his studio has been kept as it was when he died, and is available to visit as well as Mont St Victoire, which was his inspiration for many of his paintings. Cezanne themed walks are available in the town, but there is also a 13th Century Gothic Cathedral, an array of impressive museums, including the Granet Museum and the Tapestry Museum.
Arles, noted for the wealth of its Roman and Romanesque heritage. The city’s monuments were listed as UNESCO world heritage monuments in 1981. Loved by artists, Picasso visited to paint the bullfights and Van Gogh and Gauguin lived and worked together here.
Camargue, one of France’s many regional Nature Parks and one of its most beautiful. Located between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the Rhône River delta, this nature reserve covers 820 km² that are some of the wildest and most protected in all of Europe.
Avignon is a beautiful city with superbly preserved walls, seven gateways and architecture steeped in papal history. Of course famous for 14th century Palace of the Popes, but the old town has wonderful streets, churches and the Cathedral. There are some excellent museums too.
Pont du Gard, one of the most remarkable Roman ruins in the world. Both an aqueduct and a bridge, this 2,000 year old wonder once supplied nine million gallons of water a day to the city of Nimes. The Pont du Gard was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site in 1985.
Les Baux de Provence, dramatically situated on the edge of the Alpilles Hills where the views over the mountains and plains are simply breath-taking.
Orange is well worth a visit for the incredible Roman theatre dating from the 1st Century AD.
Nimes, not strictly in Provence, but close enough to visit and with plenty to fill your time. Important monuments here include the 2000 year old impressive Roman Arena, the best preserved Roman amphitheatre in the world and the Maison Carree, the main temple of the Gallo-Roman city, and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Chateau de Lourmarin is a wonderful 15-16th Century Chateau, and the very first Renaissance castle built in Provence. The old wing of the castle was built in the late 15th century by Foulques d’Agoult. The Italian-style loggia adds a touch of grand elegance, whereas the 16th century Renaissance wing is completely furnished and houses 15th to 19th century art collections.
Gordes is exceptionally charming thanks to its privileged position and typical architecture. Whilst strolling through its tiny streets discover beautiful old doorways, arcades and perfectly restored stonewalls against the stunning backdrop of the valley and mountains of Luberon.
Saint-Rémy de Provence, another must-see when in Provence thanks to its beautiful landscapes and, for those with an interest in Van Gogh, it is possible to visit St Paul de Mausole hospital where he spent a year.
Bibemus Quarry. The Quarries are hidden in a pine forest high on a sandstone plateau where the majestic setting inspired Cezanne to paint a number of canvasses. The Quarries have only been open to the public since 2006 and remain in a wild state – intentionally so. The plan is to make minimal changes and preserve the site as an archaeological dig.
Any of our tours can be tailored to suit your particular groups requirements.
For further details please contact one of the team on 01225 764205 or email@example.com