France: Provence

Guided Walking Tour, France: ProvenceGuided Walking Tour, France: Provence

France

Provence

overview

Come experience all that the Provençal countryside is famous for and something more—a simpler way of life. You’ll see it in rural markets bursting with produce, honeys, cheeses, pâtés, breads, flowers, and artisan wares. You’ll find it in the people who inhabit these fertile valleys and forested hills. Let the sights, sounds, and fragrances enchant as you meander up paths to the cobblestone alleys of medieval hilltop villages like Gordes, ranked among France’s most beautiful towns…and to the ruins of the 12th-century castle in Vaison-la-Romaine. Walk to the Abbaye de Senanque and into hamlets like labyrinthine Bonnieux and isolated Sivergues. Perhaps you will join a game of pétanque in a local square, before hiking “Grande Randonnee” trails in the Montmirail hills. And the food! From picnic feasts to gourmet restaurant repasts, the legendary cuisine will satisfy your senses like the perfume of lavender and thyme that drifts on the breezes of Provence.

14 Reasons to Visit Provence ►

Activity Level
Easy to
moderate;
5-7 miles daily
Meet
Hotel Cloître St-Louis, Avignon
Depart
Hotel Cloître St-Louis, Avignon
Daily Itinerary
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itinerary
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
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Guided Walking 
7 days, 6 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Two expert, local guides (for groups of 8 or more), with you 24/7
  • All meals except for two lunches and one dinner; local wine or beer included with dinners
  • All accommodations while on tour
  • Transportation from the meeting to the departure point
  • Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary
  • Basic travel insurance coverage
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the CW staff
per person double occupancy
Solo surcharge + $0
 

2014 Single supplement + $675
2015 Single supplement + $685
Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

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Number of Travelers
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per person double occupancy

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Mazan
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2
Mazan
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3
Mazan
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4
Lourmarin
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5
Lourmarin
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6
Lourmarin
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7
Lourmarin
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Day 1

Mazan

Châteauneuf-du-Pape loop walk; 7 miles, easy to moderate, 180-ft. elevation gain and loss. Domaine visit and wine tasting

Your walking exploration of Provence begins in Avignon. Shortly after meeting your guide(s), you set off for the nearby town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, source of the renowned wine of the same name. Literally translating as the “new castle of the pope,” this was to be the site of the pope’s summer retreat when the seat of the papacy was moved to Avignon from Rome in the 14th century. From the hilltop town, views extend over thousands of acres of vines, originally brought here during the papal period, as well as over the Rhône Valley, Avignon, and Mont Ventoux, providing an excellent visual introduction to the week’s itinerary. Your walk is on undulating farming tracks used only by the locals to work the surrounding vineyards, and trails linking two estates, each with a different character.

Later this afternoon, you make your way to one of the 55 producers of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, where you stop for a tour to learn more about its cultivation and classification. You finally arrive in the medieval town of Mazan, your home for the next three nights. A welcome aperitif awaits on the outdoor terrace, perhaps a chilled pastis, the anise-flavored drink of the South of France, accompanied by locally grown olives.

Dinner is a medley of Provençal cuisine, flavored by a true Mediterranean blend of olive oil, herbes de Provence, and tomatoes.

Château de Mazan

A former residence of the Marquis de Sade turned four-star hotel, featuring 30 elegant rooms, a lovely garden, and a stone swimming pool. The property perfectly highlights the castle's ancient features such as 19th-century tile, a massive staircase and fireplace, and an original library, while offering a warm family welcome and modern amenities.

Day 2

Mazan

Vaison-la-Romaine market. Séguret loop; 6.5 miles, easy to moderate, 720-ft elevation gain and loss

This morning you transfer to the picturesque town of Vaison-la-Romaine. Today is market day in Vaison: outdoor markets are set up in the small squares throughout the town. They offer the fresh bounty of the nearby farms and hillsides, seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as local specialties such as truffles, lavender honey, and olive tapenades. Here there is time for you to explore on your own and choose local delicacies for your independent picnic lunch—perhaps a bit of Picodon goat cheese and a fragrant olive fougasse, a flat loaf similar to focaccia. You will eat your picnic lunch during this afternoon’s walk.

Late morning, your marketing complete, a short drive takes you to the start of the afternoon’s walk in the sleepy town of Sablet. Your walk takes you along quiet tracks to Séguret, a medieval village perched in the hills. Séguret is synonymous with the red wine grown in the shadow of the low chain of mountains known as the Dentelles de Montmirail, named for their lace-like profile. Among its yellow stone buildings are the medieval castle and several ancient gates.

Here a very special activity takes place: a wine specialist joins you and guides you through a wine tasting. The aim of the encounter is to discover wines and understand some of the reasons why each wine tastes different by following the life of each wine from the vineyard to the bottle. Olivier (the wine expert) explains the exclusive concept of terroir and demonstrates, in a fun and accessible way, how different terroir, grape varieties, vine-growing, and winemaking methods determine the characteristics and quality of the wines that you taste. After this amazing experience, you continue on with the walk, which climbs through the hillside vineyards and Aleppo pines, opening onto dramatic views, and descends on equally rugged trails, back into the valley.

Back in your hometown for the night, you may sip an aperitif by the poolside, before dinner on your own.

Château de Mazan

A former residence of the Marquis de Sade turned four-star hotel, featuring 30 elegant rooms, a lovely garden, and a stone swimming pool. The property perfectly highlights the castle's ancient features such as 19th-century tile, a massive staircase and fireplace, and an original library, while offering a warm family welcome and modern amenities.

Day 3

Mazan

Château de Le Barroux loop walk; 6 miles, moderate, 980-ft. elevation gain and loss, including a short steep section

Fortified with excellent coffee and buttery croissants with jams, you begin the morning’s outing with a drive to the town of Le Barroux. The walk starts at the fortified castle that dominates the town, offering splendid views of the surrounding plains and Mont Ventoux. You follow a rocky path up and down through vineyards and pine forest before reaching the charming hamlet of La Roque-Alric, with a population of only a few dozen inhabitants. Steep narrow lanes lead to the church and the highest point of the peaceful village, which feels almost like a private estate. This is a part of Provence that few tourists reach, other than the handful of travelers who venture off the beaten track. You walk through the undulating hills at the foot of Mont Ventoux, Provence’s highest mountain, its bare limestone peak soaring 7,000 feet above an otherwise flat Rhône Valley. Old farmhouses and dilapidated stone huts dot a countryside blanketed by olive groves, vines, and fruit orchards, while thousand-year-old medieval villages remain on their rocky platforms.

This evening, dinner may feature delicately prepared fish or seafood, followed by lamb flavored with the same herbs that dotted the path of today’s walk.

Château de Mazan

A former residence of the Marquis de Sade turned four-star hotel, featuring 30 elegant rooms, a lovely garden, and a stone swimming pool. The property perfectly highlights the castle's ancient features such as 19th-century tile, a massive staircase and fireplace, and an original library, while offering a warm family welcome and modern amenities.

Day 4

Lourmarin

Transfer to the Luberon region. Abbaye de Sénanque to Gordes; 6 miles, moderate, 920-ft. elevation gain and loss

Today, you move south to the Luberon region of Provence. The landscape is comprised of the Petit Luberon and Grand Luberon mountain ranges and ridge-top medieval villages contrasting with open plains, creating a mosaic of subtle shades of earth and stone, cultivated fields, orchards, and open meadows. Begin in the majestic village of Gordes, listed as one of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France” (“The Most Beautiful Villages in France”). There are 152 such villages in France, chosen for their beauty, authenticity, and ambiance. Here, as the day unfolds, there is time to explore Gordes, which is perched on a rocky spur. It has always been a strategic military site and the current castle, Renaissance in style, dates from the 15th century. The adjoining church was first built in the 12th century and later restored in the 18th century. During the Wars of Religion, Gordes successfully withstood a siege by the Baron des Adrets, and it was a center of leather, wool, and silk industries in the 17th and 18th centuries, including weaving, carding and tanning. In 1887, part of the village was destroyed by an earthquake, which tended to hasten the already declining local industries.

From Gordes we head south through the heart of the Provençal countryside and reach the sleepy village of Saint Pantaléon, whose timeless auberge restaurant awaits us for lunch in a setting that seemingly winds the calendar back several decades. After lunch you traverse farming tracks and ochre sands to reach the perched village of Goult, huddled as a tiny labyrinth of cobbled streets above the Calavon Valley.

Enjoy a café in a scenic square before a transfer to Lourmarin, the location of your welcoming inn for the next three nights.

Le Mas de Guilles

Lourmarin, France

This pretty hotel is set in the heart of the Luberon region and has an authentically Provençal atmosphere. It has 28 unique rooms, and you will be charmed by its quiet location, large outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, and huge terrace, which has a beautiful view.

Day 5

Lourmarin

Lacoste to Bonnieux; 3.5 miles, easy to moderate, 760-ft. elevation gain, 200-ft. elevation loss

This morning begins with a short drive to Lacoste, one of the classic Luberon villages. For a short distance, you wander under white stone arches, along cobbled lanes, past art galleries, and continue along Lacoste’s ancient walls. The rest of the trail winds through a combination of cultivated and wild landscapes. Continuing on past orchards and bories (traditional stone farmers’ huts), the trail culminates at the county seat of Bonnieux, perched high on a hill. With archaeological evidence from as early as the Bronze Age, the first formal settlement here was established by the Romans in the 1st century AD. In the Middle Ages, Bonnieux was raised to higher ground for defensive purposes, and ramparts and superb residences remain, testament to its strategic position in the region. You climb its labyrinth of alleyways and shaded lanes, overlooked by the combination Romanesque and Gothic Église Haute, or “High Church.” Today you may enjoy an independent lunch in one of the local restaurants. Sit on a terrace that has spectacular views over the valley. Alternately, time permitting; there may be time to visit the farmers’ market to select your own local produce for a picnic lunch.

This evening, just a short stroll from our hotel, and nestled against the foot of the Luberon mountain, you visit a working herb farm. Here, you learn about the culinary and medicinal virtues of Paula Marty’s vast gardens, including rosemary, thyme, sage, and lavender. Settling into her cozy farmhouse, you become her guests as she prepares a meal of local dishes using the herbs from her farm.

Le Mas de Guilles

Lourmarin, France

This pretty hotel is set in the heart of the Luberon region and has an authentically Provençal atmosphere. It has 28 unique rooms, and you will be charmed by its quiet location, large outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, and huge terrace, which has a beautiful view.

Day 6

Lourmarin

Sivergues loop; 5 miles, easy to moderate, 790-ft. elevation gain and loss

After a leisurely breakfast, you transfer to what locals refer to as the “village at the end of the world”—Sivergues, a tiny isolated village that once provided refuge to Protestants fleeing persecution. The name Sivergues comes from “six vierges,” meaning “six virgins.” Legend has it that this tiny hamlet, now home to only 30 inhabitants, was first settled by six virgins and a monk. You can draw your own conclusions as to how the town’s population increased! You pass its lovely 16th-century Romanesque chapel before beginning a panoramic walk that offers insight into the history of this region. The fertile Aiguebrun Valley is a canyon that lies below a dramatic limestone cliff. Numerous relics of prehistoric life have been found in this valley, and in early Christian times, Anchorite monks sought shelter in tiny caves carved into the vertical cliff face. This area’s naturally defensive position has been occupied throughout the ages by Ligurians, Romans, Catholics, and Protestants. You stop for lunch at a scenic location on the riverbank.

Your farewell dinner takes place in the hotel restaurant, where you can toast your new friends with a glass of local wine and celebrate the bounty of the region one last time in this wonderfully unique setting. Tonight’s menu varies based on the market’s offerings, as the chef selects only the freshest ingredients. Regardless of the season, you are sure to top off your meal with a taste of delicious local cheese or a dessert made with sun-drenched fruit.

Le Mas de Guilles

Lourmarin, France

This pretty hotel is set in the heart of the Luberon region and has an authentically Provençal atmosphere. It has 28 unique rooms, and you will be charmed by its quiet location, large outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, and huge terrace, which has a beautiful view.

Day 7

Lourmarin

Departure from Lourmarin

After a leisurely breakfast, the trip comes to a close with a one-hour drive to Avignon, where you can make connections for further explorations in Provence or travel to other destinations.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

Guides

Mariska Mourik

An avid mountaineer, certified paragliding instructor, and professional camerawoman and writer, Mariska alternates periods of writing with travel, outdoor sports, and guiding. In 1984 she joined the Dutch National Everest expedition as a radio reporter and camerawoman, and climbed 500 feet short of the summit. The daughter of a Dutch diplomat, Mariska has been submerged in different languages and cultures all her life. Home is currently the South of France, where, between writing and sharing her passions as a guide, she is renovating a stone house in an abandoned hamlet.

Pierre Luneau

Pierre studied at a renowned art school in Paris before joining his brother in a ceramics studio. The ultimate adventurer, Pierre used to drive his vintage car 450 miles across France and back, only to enjoy a weekend of extreme climbing in the Alps. Later in life he left his art venture to become a certified paragliding instructor. He now combines his love for flying with walking the paths of southern France. Pierre is known to share his passion for wildflowers, history, travels, and storytelling with an insatiable youthful energy.

Stuart Sommers

Stuart Sommers is Canadian by birth but Provençal in his heart, having spent the past ten years of his life exploring and leading groups along the trails of Provence. With broad knowledge of the region, he is delighted to share the many aspects of the countryside-from human and natural history, to wine and cuisine. When he's not with guests, he's most likely out scouting and writing about new routes.

Charlotte Luneau

From a family of mountain guides, Charlotte Luneau grew up with an appreciation of nature, walking and hiking, and translated this to guiding walking tours in Corsica and in Provence. Her carpe diem outlook has led her to travel the world and try out a range of jobs from dental hygienist to lumberjack. She is thrilled to share her passion for the natural world with guests, especially her knowledge and love of botany.

Guest Comments

P. Kramek, Texas, June 2013

Again, CW, had an outstanding guide who knew the country and shared it with us. His local knowledge and historical knowledge were incomparable...and that combined with his sense of humor were terrific!

J. Fallon, New Jersey, September 2011

This was my 11th CW tour, and one of the best. There is a reason Provence is a "bucket list" destination, and this tour absolutely rose to those expectations. The food, the accommodations, the culture, and most especially the guides were without equal. I would recommend this trip to a newbie or an encore traveller.

M. Hixon, Massachusetts, September 2011

Fabulous trip—great guides, delicious food, amazing accommodations, and of course, beautiful walks.

A. Morin, Utah, September 2011

The tour was unalloyed pleasure. The guides, Mariska and Pierre, were knowledgeable, entertaining and attentive. The routes we traversed were beautiful. The accommodations were lovely. Every moment of the trip had been planned with care. In fact, the experience was so perfect, I'm almost hesitant to try another trip! Could it possibly be as good?

E. Smith, Virginia, May 2012

This was our 6th trip with Country Walkers. We always know that we're going to have a great experience, but this was one of the best! Every person on our trip was a CW veteran of at least 3 trips so everyone knew what to expect. Our guides were EXCELLENT, the scenery and hikes and daily itineraries were great.

C. Benson, Ohio, May 2012

Mariska and Pierre are both well-trained and informed, and continually demonstrated their sincere interests in both the locale of Provence and in the special needs of their guests. They provided an on-going dialogue with everyone that was both informative and entertaining. Hang on to them as they are very special people!

C. Iversen, Texas, June 2012

This trip was a true hiking adventure. The trails we traveled led to interesting historical sites as well as quaint French villages. I was glad I worked out before the trip as some of the trails were physically challenging, which is something I enjoyed. Our hotels and meals were excellent. I enjoyed the picnic lunches on the trails also. Our guides were excellent. They are very knowledgable and helpful and really strived to make sure we all had a good time. I had a wonderful time!

M. Peschel, Colorado, June 2012

This was my third CW trip. After each one I wonder how it could be topped, but this trip was truly the best so far. The guides were wonderful and the walks took us through vineyards and from hilltop castles to hilltop towns. The picnics on the trail were special with samplings of local cuisine and wine and the scenery was spectacular. This was a trip that I would recommend to anyone.

J. Nabity, Nebraska, June 2012

Our guides went above and beyond to see that we saw France like the French do.

P. Beyer, Nebraska, June 2012

Absolutely the best guides, spectacular scenery, top notch accommodations and food—especially the wonderful lunches the guides prepared for us. Worth every penny.

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