Days
8
Price from
£2,810GBP

Wine and dine your way through beautiful Provence, from Avignon to Marseille

Provence is famed for its abundant locally-grown produce, wonderful cheese, world-class wines and traditional artisanal recipes. Featuring a special visit to the iconic Veraison Wine Festival, this tour takes in the very best of the region. Experience the medieval festivities at Chateauneuf du Pape, visit the bustling markets of Avignon, dine in the ancestral home of a villager in Robion, and sample goat's cheese from the thyme-laden hills of Le Rove. Discover the cultural melting pot that is Marseille and learn how to prepare some delicious local delicacies. Eat your way to the heart of Provence on this gourmet adventure.


Start
Avignon, France
Finish
Marseille, France
Country
France
Style
Peregrine
Theme
Gourmet
Code
PEFF
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
1 review
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 4, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Attend the Opening Ceremony and Gala Dinner of the Chateauneuf du Pape Veraison Wine Festival, hosted by local winemaker Olivier

  • Take a guided tour with Olivier through the renowned Chateauneuf du Pape vineyards, learning about local wine-making techniques along the way

  • Savour a French cheese and wine dinner, with cheeses specially selected by a celebrated local cheese-monger with carefully matched wines

  • Sit down to a home-cooked Provencal lunch at a traditional table d’hote, where your host’s family has resided for several generations

  • Taste locally produced goat’s cheese direct from the farm

  • Walk from one of France’s most beautiful villages to the top of the Alpilles (the baby Alps), and sip a glass of sparkling while enjoying the view

  • Purchase ingredients for a picnic from St Remy’s delightful weekly market, then walk in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh, through the landscapes captured in some of his most iconic paintings

  • Peruse the seafood markets of Marseille and cook up the signature dish of the city – bouillabaisse – with a local chef

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip aims to give you an exciting, diverse and well-rounded experience of a country’s cuisine. While we endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements, some meals and food activities are set in advance and may be difficult to adjust. Please be aware that in many countries dietary restrictions are not common or well understood. If you have dietary requirements, simply contact your agent at the time of booking for further information on how this may impact on your ability to take part in included activities and meals. Come with an open mind and open mouth, and you won’t be disappointed!

Itinerary

Your trip begins in Avignon. This charming city is located on the left bank of the Rhone River in the south-east of France. You can make your way to the hotel anytime before your evening welcome meeting, which is usually at 6 pm (check the hotel reception or notice boards for more details). Afterwards, take part in an evening petanque game while savouring an aperitif, then dine on a provencal dinner. Taste regional specialties such as ratatouille, bouillabaisse and pistol – a hearty vegetable soup with basil and garlic.
Accommodation
  • Le Cloitre St Louis Hotel, or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
Please note we recommend arriving and departing by train where possible in Europe, as this method of transport is efficient and has minimal carbon emissions.
After breakfast perhaps enjoy a morning stroll through the streets of Avignon, and then later pay a visit to the celebrated plant-covered market of Les Halles. Discover the building blocks of Provencal cuisine as you wander past the colourful market stalls. While you're here, take the opportunity to savour locally produced olive oil, admire regionally grown vegetables and enjoy the aroma of fragrant herbs. Your guide will help the group select seasonal ingredients to take to a nearby café, where a chef will cook the selection for lunch.

In the early afternoon, catch a taxi to the village of Chateauneuf du Pape (approximately 30 minutes). Located in the Rhone wine region in southeastern France, Chateauneuf-du-Pape means ‘the Pope’s new castle’ and refers to the castle’s papal patronage since the 14th century. The village is widely known for its quality wines and the Veraison Wine Festival, which celebrates the ripening of the vineyard grapes and the coming harvest. Experience the atmosphere of the opening parade, complete with medieval costumes, drums and wine (of course), then get ready for the Gala dinner. Our local wine expert, Olivier, will guide you through the night's festivities. Transfer back to Avignon for the night.

Similar festivals to the Veraison Wine Festival are held throughout southern France however Chateauneuf du Pape is considered the best in the region – and for good reason. The whole village gets together and welcomes people near and far to celebrate in the streets. The festival is modeled on a medieval-style carnival, so expect plenty of live street performances, wine tastings, jousts, horse riding, jugglers, sword fights and fire eaters. A special fountain in town also spouts free wine for visitors throughout the festivities.
Accommodation
  • Le Cloitre St Louis Hotel, or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Avignon – Les Halles market tour and lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Enjoy breakfast then return to Chateauneuf du Pape, meeting with Olivier, our wine expert, for a two-hour walk through the vineyards. Olivier’s 16 years in viticulture means he is well placed to explain the processes and operations of the vineyard. Stop for an included picnic among the vines. In the afternoon, pay a visit to an estate and explore its underground caves before enjoying a guided wine tasting. Later the group will journey north to Vaison la Romaine, a cobble paved village known for its arched Roman bridge crossing the river Ouveze. Spend a night in the village and savour a special cheese and wine dinner with a celebrated cheese monger.

Our wine expert, Olivier, fell in with Provence at an early age. His mother was French and his grandmother spent many years in southern France. Despite growing up in the UK, he spent his summer vacations in the south of France and Olivier recalls being bowled over by the fairy-tale beauty of the surrounding countryside. He decided then that Provence was his home and that he would someday move back there. Olivier worked as a financial controller in London and started a part-time wine importing business with a friend in Cambridge. It was this business project that inevitably led to his growing passion for wine and so, keen to put some of his theoretical knowledge into practice, he made his first wine in the Languedoc in 2000. In 2003, Olivier and his wife succumbed to the irresistible urge to leave London and move permanently to Provence. He has been making wine ever since.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Le Burrhus, or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
In the late morning, take a taxi to the village of Robion (approximately 20 minutes), which sits nestled among the verdant slopes of the Luberon Mountain. Here you will enjoy lunch at a traditional table d’hôte. In France, this term refers to a communal meal offered in a chambre d’hôte (bed and breakfast), prepared by the hosting family for their guests. Your hostess will be preparing your meal in her ancestral home which originally belonged to her grandmother.

In the afternoon pay a visit to Gordes, a beautiful old village with spectacular views of the Luberon region from its seat atop the Vaucluse Plateau. The village’s exceptional location and white and grey stone architecture have earned it a reputation as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Take a stroll through the tiny streets and, if time allows, see the Abbey of Senanque – a splendid white-stone monastery set beside rows of provincial lavender that is still occupied by Cistercian monks. Later, transfer to St Remy and enjoy a free evening to stroll along the boulevard, or unleash your inner gourmand at one of the town’s many gourmet restaurants.
Accommodation
  • Hotel du Soleil, or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Robion - Lunch at a table d'hote
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Drop in at a goat’s farm situated in the Alpilles Mountains, learn about daily life on the farm and the process of making goat’s cheese, then sample some of the cheesy wares yourself with a tasting. Afterwards, transfer to Les Baux, a picturesque Medieval village at a fortified site between Arles and St Remy. Take the time to amble through the streets and find lunch at a local cafe.

Make sure to recharge at lunch because in the afternoon the group heads out on a walk from Les Baux to the top of the Alpilles, which means the ‘baby Alps’. The walk leads to some spectacular views of the valley and makes the perfect scene to stop and enjoy a glass of sparkling. Soak up the sweeping views of Provence, with its mix of craggy mountains and manicured vineyards, before making the return descent.

In the afternoon visit an olive oil mill and sample some fresh, locally produced olive oil. There is also the option to visit a former quarry turned art-based media show, Les Carrieres de Lumieres, which uses projections of famous paintings and music to create a unique multimedia experience. This additional experience is approximately EU 15 per person.

Later, catch a return transfer to St Remy and enjoy a second free evening to explore this historical town.
Accommodation
  • Hotel du Soleil, or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Marseille - Tasting trail and city walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today the group will head out on a leisurely walk along the famous van Gogh and Glanum trail. Stop in at St Remy’s famous morning market beforehand and shop for picnic ingredients to enjoy on the way. In the afternoon, transfer to the port city of Marseille and take a stroll around Vieux Port. After working up an appetite, stop in at La Maison du Pastis for a pastis tasting. Pastis is an anise-flavoured aperitif popular in Marseille. Aperitifs are usually served before a meal, so head out afterwards and find dinner at one of the many restaurants lining the harbour of Marseille’s Old Port, perhaps followed by a walk past the many impressive boats and yachts docked here.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Le Grand Tonic, or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Marseille - Fishing Village Food Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Prepare for the bustle of Marseille’s fish market, where a local chef will guide the group through purchasing ingredients to be used for a bouillabaisse – a traditional Provencal fish stew originating from the port city. Learn how to prepare this iconic dish at a cooking class and then feast on the delicious results. In the afternoon, perhaps head out on a boat tour to Cassis, a provincial fishing village in the heart of the Calanques National Park. The national park is filled with narrow, steep-walled dolomite inlets that frame idyllic hideaway beaches with brilliant turquoise waters. These swimming spots are a spectacular local secret, with a new swimming spot to be found in every fissure along the coastline. Enjoy a second evening to explore Marseille.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Le Grand Tonic, or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
This trip comes to an end today after breakfast. Marseille is a convenient location to finish as it's connected by rail to many other destinations in France, including Aix-en-Provence (30 minutes), Nice (2.5 hours), and Paris (3 hours via the high-speed TGV services, which depart hourly). For those who wish to spend more time in Marseille, additional nights’ accommodation can be booked at the same time this trip is booked.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Taxi, Private vehicle

Accommodation

Comfortable hotel (7 nights)

Included Activities

  • Avignon – Les Halles market tour and lunch
  • Robion - Lunch at a table d'hote
  • Marseille - Tasting trail and city walk
  • Marseille - Fishing Village Food Tour

Reviews

Our Gourmet Explorer Provence - Limited Edition trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 1 review in the last year.

Gourmet Explorer Provence, June 2016

Jocelyn McLeish

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Essential Trip Information

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