Arrive Marseille Tour begins: 3:00 PM, Le Pigonnet, Aix-en-Provence. A transfer is included from Marseille Provence Airport to Le Pigonnet in Aix-en-Provence. Our local guide personally introduces you to "Aix" (as the locals call it) on a guided afternoon stroll along its storied boulevards, following in the footsteps of counts, kings and many a great painter. This evening, join us for cocktails, canapés, and French fare in your 18th-century mansion hotel, the perfect appetizer for your sensory Culturious feast in Provence. Stay Two Nights: Le Pigonnet (D)
Aix-en-Provence Paul Cézanne was so inspired by the sights in and around Aix-en-Provence, he spent years chronicling his impressions on canvas. Discover what he saw, where, when you follow his footsteps down fountain-lined streets in Aix, pausing to see Mont Sainte Victoire in its timeless, oft-painted pose, and drive through town past artists' studios to a sculpture park boasting work by some of Europe's greatest living artists. Take a walk in the park or visit France's most modern organic winery to learn about its au naturel wine-making techniques. Lunch is al fresco (weather permitting) at a country vineyard where art, architecture and wine production blend beautifully into the landscape. (B/L)
Gordes Discover the high life, past and present, in fortified Luberon villages perched atop scenic Provençal hills for centuries. Stroll through the vaulted lanes of medieval Gordes to the local market, tempting with cheese, olives and aromatic lavender bouquets. Pick up some savory treats for a picnic lunch amidst picturesque valley views, then continue on through the countryside to your boutique hotel in Gordes, overlooking the lovely village and the valley beyond. Provence romances your senses with an idyllic take on life in the south of France. Dine this evening at the hotel, which sports a restaurant by Michelin Star chef Pierre Gagnaire. Stay Two Nights: Hotel La Bastide de Gordes (B/L/D)
Roussillon Your boutique hotel is ideally set amidst rolling hillsides of white chalk, red ochre cliffs, cedar forests, moorlands and river hewn gorges that are home to history and myriad habitats. Get a glimpse of the natural treasures that surround the monks residing in harmony at the 12th-century Abbaye de Senanque - in summer, fields of lavender blanket the grounds here. Continue on to Ménerbes, made famous by Peter Mayle in A Year in Provence. Today's lunch of typical French fare is followed by an easy hike in the colorful quarries of nearby Roussillon, steeped in 17 shades of ochre. Return to your hotel in Gordes, where the evening is yours to spend as you wish. (B/L)
St-Rémy-de-Provence Deep beneath the hills of Provence, the most powerful spring in France bursts forth at nearly 20,000 gallons per second to feed the Sorgue River, emerging in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, once the home of the Italian poet, Petrarch. Next, visit St-Rémy-de-Provence, home to the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, where legendary Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh went to heal and hide out... and where he created over 150 works, including Starry Night.
After time to explore and enjoy lunch on your own in St-Remy, you'll glimpse inside the artist's troubled mind as van Gogh scholar Mathilde Duvilliers shares insights on his complicated life, and reads from his letters, while you walk in his footsteps at the asylum and its grounds. The ancients roamed here too; explore the ruins of the Roman city of Glanum, one of the largest and oldest archaeological sites in France. Arrive late afternoon at Auberge de Cassagne & Spa in Le Pontet-Avignon for a three-night stay. In addition to its lovely gardens, the hotel's Michelin-starred restaurant, where you'll enjoy dinner tonight, is a real treat! Stay Three Nights: Auberge de Cassagne & Spa (B/D)
Avignon There is no better way to get a real taste of Provençal lifestyles and customs than to experience a trip to the local markets. Accompany our chef on a buying trip in Avignon, where you can see, feel, smell, and taste farm-fresh produce, freshly baked baguettes, fragrant herbs and seasonal specialties; pick out the ingredients for today's hands-on cooking lesson, then help prepare a traditional meal for lunch. We will be joined by a professional sommelier who guides us through a tasting and pairing of fine Rhône wines for your midday meal - savor the experience!
The remainder of the day is free for you to explore the sights on your own or join us on an insider's visit to the 14th-century Palais des Papes, dressed in beautiful frescoes and tapestries, and boasting Cistercian and Gothic architectural details. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Avignon has a past full of intrigue and history as the home of the pontiffs who reigned here for almost 70 years. Today, you can stroll along its cobblestone streets and find cultural riches that span the centuries, including medieval ramparts, artists' studios, and the world's most serenaded bridge; the Pont d'Avignon, built in the late 1100s, is the place schoolchildren have been singing about for generations. Dinner tonight is on your own. You can return with us to your hotel or you can dine in Avignon; our shuttle will bring you back from town to the hotel. (B/L)
Pont-du-Gard A three-level, 2,000-year-old aqueduct spanning the River Gardon, the Pont du Gard stands as testimony to the Romans' amazing engineering skills and love of baths. Learn more about it as you walk the "pont" - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - and visit its new museum. After lunch on your own in Avignon and some more time to explore this history-rich town as you wish this afternoon, travel to nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape - one of the country's premier wine-growing regions - to celebrate the flavors of Provence with cocktails, canapés and local wine, followed by a spectacular dinner of Provençal specialties... a perfect finis to your Culturious trip! (B/D)
Depart Marseille Tour ends: Marseille. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Auberge de Cassagne & Spa to Marseille Provence Airport. Allow 3 hours for check-in. (B)