Gather on the patio of our hotel at around 5 p.m. for orientation and an opportunity to meet your fellow travellers. After enjoying a little wine and cheese we'll make our way into the city centre on a walking tour, followed by dinner together.
Today we'll visit Nimes a farsighted city which successfully combines the old with the avant-garde. Visit the ancient temple of the Maison Carrée, a fine example of Roman architectural flair with its delicate Corinthian columns. Explore the 2000 year old amphitheatre, then catch your breath in the lovely Jardin de la Fontaine, an 18th century network of terraces, bridges, fountains and water pools.After, we head to the Pont du Gard, one of the finest remaining Roman aqueducts in the world. We'll have a picnic dinner in the shadow of this monumental work before for heading back to Arles for the evening.
After an early start, we'll arrive in the capital of this region, Avignon, a walled city of history and culture. In the 14th century the popes moved here from Rome, and for 70 years Avignon was the centre of European religion and art. You'll tour the magnificent Palais des Papes, superb inside and out with its silent cloisters, cavernous halls and imposing ramparts.We'll head into Cotes du Rhone wine country and enjoy some of Provence's most amazing scenery. We spend the afternoon wine-tasting while visiting the ancient villages of Gigondas and Seguret on our way to the medieval hill town Vaison la Romaine.
Spend the morning amongst the locals at Vaison-la-Romaine's weekly market before exploring the evidence of the splendours of this town's past, when it was a fortified city allied with Rome. After lunch we'll make our way to Mount Ventoux, known as the "giant of Provence". Rising 2000' above sea level, it looms over the high plateau of the Vaucluse and the Carpentras plain like some mythical sentinel, providing views extending from the lower Alps to the Phare du Planier lighthouse off the coast of Marseilles.See the lavender growing wild on the southern slope of Mount Ventoux as it has since time immemorial, carpeting vast areas in early summer in various shades of violet and blue. We take a scenic drive, winding our way through Haute Provence. We arrive at Les Baux our destination perched atop a cliff overlooking inhospitable marshes and watching over the Alpilles hills.
It's a short drive to the delightful town, St Remy de Provence, famous for its market and its ruins of a once-thriving Roman city, located at the crossroads of ancient trade routes between Italy and Spain. The afternoon is spent visiting some of Frances most appealing and popular hill towns: take in the dramatic view from the hilltop town of Roussillon with its picture perfect square and incredible rock formations of red ochre, from a steep promontory nearly 900 feet high the charming village Gordes overlooks the Coulon Valley and offers a dreamlike view over the Luberon Massif.With its houses built into the rocks, and narrow, gently sloping streets that snake along, clinging to the hillside, recounting thirty centuries of history and legends this village is among the most beautiful in France. A few miles away, in the heart of a green valley, lies the Abbey de Senanque, an exceptional example of twelfth-century Cistercian architecture.
This morning we'll visit the charming town of L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Discover one of the most popular towns of the Vaucluse, the European center for antique shops and second-hand stores. With the river Sorgue flowing alongside its avenue of plane trees and under bridges, this romantic town resembles a miniature Venice and has a particular charm all of its own. On our way to Arles, we'll pass the Abbey de Montmajour, a massive example of Romanesque architecture and stop at the ruins of the 2000 year old Roman aqueduct that once served Arles. We'll arrive at our destination in time for a break before dinning alongside the Roman Amphitheatre in Arles.
Today we'll drive through La Camargue, a lively area where pink flamingos, wild bulls and the famous white horses roam freely amid lagoons, marshes and rice fields. Visit the peaceful village Aigues-Mortes, surrounded by the impressive fortified city walls with their imposing towers. After lunch we visit the small fishing village Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, the capital of the Camargue, built between sky and sea, where the petite Rhone meets the Mediterranean Sea.Take a casual stroll through the village before relaxing on one of the longest beaches in Provence, with kilometres of white sand and shallow water. This evening we enjoy a final dinner together, and reflect on the inspirational week we shared.
For those staying on, it's outdoor market day in Arles and today would be a great day to experience this truly colourful event. If you're travelling on, your guide will be happy to assist you with any help or planning needs to send you off in the right direction. For those heading home or onto different destinations there are transfers available to the train station in Avignon. Au bientôt!