7 days

Images of Provence & the Côte d’Azur

Images of Provence & the Côte d’Azur

Aix-en-Provence - Cézanne's former home

Arles - Van Gogh’s second home

Cote d’Azur

Trip rating
  • Chic elegance and lofty living ooze out of villages along the Côte d’Azur. This is your chance to stroll the hidden trails between villages and follow in the footpath of Cézanne and Van Gogh as they captured this beautiful region on canvas.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Villefranche-sur-Mer

    • Your trip will start today in the seaside hamlet of Villefranche-sur-Mer. While at your discretion, we recommend arriving and departing by train where possible within Europe as this method of transport has minimal carbon emissions.
    • Villefranche-sur-Mer is located on the coast, about six kilometres east of the city of Nice. Villefranche-sur-Mer is a delightful village that was founded in the 13th century and has retained its picturesque charm down the years. Its buildings are painted in warm pastel colours that face out upon the crisp blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
    • No activities are planned this afternoon so you may arrive at any time. Please make your own way to the centrally-located joining hotel (details are in your travel documents).
    • In the evening you will meet your tour leader and fellow travelling companions at a welcome meeting (this is usually at 6pm, but you will be advised as to the exact time and place on a notice, located near the reception of our hotel), where you will be given a briefing on what lies ahead on the tour. Afterwards you will go out in the evening for an included dinner in a restaurant beside Villefranche-sur-Mer's harbour.
    Hotel Provencal or similar
    Dinner

    Day 2 - St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat - Villefranche-sur-Mer

    • After breakfast you will walk directly out from the hotel to beautiful St Jean de Cap Ferrat.
    • Walk on a pleasant coastal footpath around the peninsula that is speckled with pine and eucalyptus trees, small sandy beaches, meandering creeks, small picturesque ports and early 20th century villas containing magnificent gardens…beautiful!
    • You will enjoy a flavoursome picnic lunch along the way and there will be opportunities for a swim as well. The warm climate in this niche on the French Riviera has made it a favourite holiday destination amongst European aristocracy and international millionaires for centuries.
    • This geographic area was part of the Kingdom of Sardinia (now ruled by Italy) until 1860 when the County of Nice was finally ceded by treaty to France. This coincided with the time when the peninsula became a magnet for royalties and wealthy visitors alike. In 1905 Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild chose Cap-Ferrat to build an opulent and exquisite Tuscan-style palazzo, now known as Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.
    • A true highlight for you today is an included visit to the villa and a walk around its impeccable gardens, including a Japanese garden and a splendid rose garden.
    • Your walk ends back in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, another aristocratic vacation resort, before taking a short train ride back to Villefranche-sur-Mer. (3 hours walking/10km)
    Hotel Provencal or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 3 - Menton - St Agnes - Gorbio - Villefranche-sur-Mer

    • After breakfast, you will take a short train ride along the dazzling Mediterranean coastline from Villefranche-sur-Mer to Menton (30 mins).
    • In Menton you will catch a short scenic bus ride up into the foothills for the start of your walk for today. It will take you between the restful hamlets of St Agnes and Gorbio. You will walk on a series of cultivated terraces, which at one time were used for growing olive trees, grape vines and fig trees, en route to Gorbio.
    • After time to explore pretty Gorbio, you will catch a local bus to visit Menton. This city has been called the most beautiful town on the French Riviera and boasts a warm microclimate that is favourable to lemon, tangerine and orange groves.
    • It was under the ownership of the Grimaldi family up until 1848 before breaking away from the principality of Monaco and officially becoming part of France in 1861.
    • Today Menton is popular vacation spot for the well-heeled and a highly appropriate place for us to indulge in 'people-watching' before returning to Villefranche-sur-Mer. (2½ hours walking/5km)
    Hotel Provencal or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 4 - Nice - Aix-en-Provence

    • After breakfast you will take a local bus from Villefranche to Nice (7 min) and enjoy a morning of sightseeing on a walking tour of Nice's old centre, including its maze of staircases and lanes, fine Baroque churches, bustling flower market and the famous Promenade des Anglais.
    • Nice’s Old Quarter is a warren of alleyways, boutique shops, cafes and restaurants awaiting discovery. After your exploration you will have free time for lunch; perhaps you might pick up some fresh local fare and head across to the buzz of activity that is the Promenade des Anglais - a hot spot for street theatre, locals artists, 'beautiful’ people and visitors alike.
    • In the afternoon you will transfer by private taxi, travelling through the heartland that has always attracted Impressionist painters, to the centre of exquisite Aix-en-Provence – a journey of two-and-a-quarter hours.
    • You will then enjoy a walk in the heart of this most ‘Parisian’ of cities, with its wide boulevards, shady squares, enticing cafes and also being the former home of the artist, Paul Cézanne.
    • You will enjoy an included dinner tonight in a fine local restaurant.
    Hotel Saint Christophe or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 5 - Lac Zola - Aix-en-Provence

    • After breakfast you will enjoy free time to wander around Aix-en-Provence's impressive morning market - a wonderful introduction for many into the sights, smells and sounds of typically bustling French produce market.
    • You can buy what you need for your picnic lunch for today's walk. Aix-en-Provence (‘Aquae Sextiae’ in Latin) was founded in 122 BC and was named for its thermal springs that are remarkable for their impressive heat as well as for containing healing properties in the form of lime and carbonic acid.
    • Aix-en-Provence is often referred to as the ‘city of a thousand fountains’ and includes a hot-water fountain that dates back to 1734 and is covered in moss due to its constant 35°C (93°F) water temperature.
    • Possessing a relaxing ambiance Aix-en-Provence's streets and parks are all well laid out. Cours Mirabeau, a wide thoroughfare that is planted with double rows of plane trees, bordered by fine houses and decorated by fountains, divides the town into two sections with the old town lying to the north.
    • This is the most interesting part of Aix-en-Provence with wide but irregular streets and fine old mansions dating back to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Along this avenue you will also find Les Deux Garçons (‘the two boys’), the most famous café in the city. Built in 1792, it has been frequented by the likes of Cézanne and Ernest Hemingway.
    • During the middle of the morning you will be transferred to the start of our walk - a scenic pathway along the foot of the white-peaked Sainte Victoire, where Cézanne walked, mused and painted.
    • You will then stroll through pine forests to the lapping waters of Lake Zola, where you'll enjoy a picnic lunch. It is still likely that you may encounter some artists working with their easels in this ethereal countryside.
    • A short climb leads you to a rim above the deep valley, where the views extend over a countryside draped in thyme and rosemary, with the imposing mountain of Sainte Victoire just a stone’s throw away.
    • After your walk you will be transferred 10 minutes back to Aix-en-Provence for an afternoon at leisure. (2½ hours walking/6 km)
    Hotel Saint Christophe or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - Les Baux de Provence - Arles

    • You will be transferred to the Alpilles Mountains after breakfast (literally meaning ‘baby Alps’), a small range of abrupt limestone crags carpeted with sparse pine, aromatic herbs and wild flowers. Perched above an otherwise flat Rhône Valley, the views are jaw-dropping with the vast plains of the Camargue to the south, a glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea and, to the north, the many villages that dot the plains with the famous Mont Ventoux providing a backdrop.
    • After an hour's stroll along the crest, the medieval village of Les Baux appears with its grey stone buildings huddled in tight formation below the ruins of its imposing castle and the whole lot hovering dizzyingly above the plains.
    • You will enjoy your picnic lunch by a centuries-old limestone quarry before exploring the 1000 year-old village of Les Baux, with its narrow cobbled streets and medieval buildings.
    • Afterwards you will enjoy some free time in a little-known café that has been run by the same family for 400 years - the perfect place to sit and admire this stunning site.
    • You will then travel 15 minutes to Arles where you'll discover Vincent van Gogh's second home, the city's Roman legacy, and its rich historical heritage.
    • What could be more perfect than a coffee or 'pastis' in one of the lively cafes that once paid host to the famous painter.
    • You will enjoy a final group dinner in a local restaurant – a perfect way to bid each other ‘bon voyage’! (2 hours walking/5 km)
    Hotel Du Musée or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - Arles

    • Your trip will come to an end after breakfast in Arles.
    • If you have time before departing, Arles has a good Saturday morning market with many local products that you might like to taste. It is known as one of the most beautiful markets in Provence.
    • Arles is connected by rail to a number of other destinations in France including Nimes (30min), Montpellier (1hr), Marseille (40min), Avignon (20min) and TGV direct services to Paris (4hrs).
    • For those wanting to spend more time in Arles to further explore this fascinating town and its Saturday morning market, additional nights’ accommodation can be booked at the same time you book this tour.
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Peregrine tour leader, transport, sightseeing and entrance fees.

    Not Included

    • International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure taxes, visas, insurance, other meals, drinks, optional additional tours or activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature.
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Images of Provence & the Côte d’Azur

    Jacqueline - New Town, TAS, 28 Oct, 2012
    5
    Overall Rating

    Pierre very good and knowledgable,  and very fit!

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PEPC
Group size 4 - 16
Start City: Villefranche sur Mer
End City: Arles
Style: Small Group

What to know

This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

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