In the footsteps of Cézanne, Van Gogh, and A Year in Provence author Peter Mayle, we’ll explore southern France’s exquisite landscape—and dip into its famed culinary culture along the way.
- Trace the history of Vincent van Gogh during his prolific year of painting in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
- Shop for seasonal ingredients at a farmers’ market and cook a meal with a French culinary expert in her Provençal home
- Amble through forests and past vineyards, and climb to glorious views in the Lubéron
- Explore the captivating history of medieval Les Baux-de-Provence
- Quaff delectable organic and biodynamic wines
- Be entertained by a spectacular sound-and-light show of French art projected on the walls of a stone quarry
- Dine at charming bistros and discover creatively prepared Provençal dishes
- Visit the village of Ménèrbes, which inspired Peter Mayle to write A Year In Provence
Our walking tour of Provence is a feast for all the senses. Upon arrival in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in the rugged foothills of the Alpilles, the landscape may already feel familiar. That’s because painters Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh impressionistically captured the quiet charm and fascinating details of this sun-drenched land of lavender and resinous herbs in the late 19th century. The broad strokes of the countryside and village life remain remarkably unchanged today.
From our initial base in Saint-Rémy, we’ll tour the asylum where Van Gogh experienced his most productive year of painting, taste organic olive oil and wines at their source, visit one of Europe’s most skilled chocolatiers, and learn to cook Mediterranean family-style meals. Along the way, we’ll explore village markets and stroll past Roman ruins.
We’ll shift our home base to charming Eygalières from which we’ll amble through the foothills near Lubéron Regional Natural Park. We’ll stop for lunch in Ménèrbes and continueon our way to the picturesque cliff-top town of Gordes. To wrap up this magical visit in Provence, we’ll visit an artisanal goat-cheese producer and explore wineries while walking through the fragrant countryside. Forever after this delightful journey, the scent of lavender will transport you back to marvelous Provence.
Days 1–3: In and Around the Town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
After meeting in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Avignon, we drive to Les Alpilles (Provence’s “Little Alps”), where the countryside and small villages are truly charming. Two popular towns—Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Les Baux—are on everyone’s must-visit list.
In Saint-Rémy, we’ll follow the path of legendary Vincent van Gogh, comparing the scenery now with landscapes he captured on canvas in 1889 and 1890. A tour through the mental hospital where the painter created one of his most famous paintings, The Starry Night, sheds some light on the life of the enigmatic artist. Later, we’ll see some of Van Gogh’s impressionist paintings projected onto the walls of an abandoned quarry during a dazzling sound-and-light show.
Each day, we’ll wander the local footpaths, stopping at pretty villages such as Les Baux-de-Provence and Glanum (built during the Roman Empire), or to savor the wine and fresh olive oil at organic vineyards and huileries. And we’ll drop by the shop of Joël Durand, one of France’s top 10 chocolatiers.
To introduce us to true Provençal cuisine made with products of Provence and Méditerrannée, we’ll savor lavish picnic lunches en plein air and dine at atmospheric bistros that focus on seasonal, local French cuisine.Award-winning chef and food lover Ghyslaine Martin-Castellino will take us on a sensory discovery of food at the Salon-de-Provence market—and then she’ll share the secrets of cooking a meal from the South of France.
Overnights in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Days 4–6: In and Around the Village of Eygalières
While our luggage is being whisked by van from Saint-Rémy to nearby Eygalières, we’ll make the glorious walk to this quiet, well-preserved village. Our home base here lets us soak in more of the Provençal countryside and revel in the sights and flavors of this unique region of France. The village also holds a weekly market, where truffles or lavender might be for sale, depending on the season.
As you can imagine, vineyards, orchards, pastures, and olive groves dot the area—and a good number of them are organic—and sometimes biodynamic, as is the case with Le Château de Romanin winery. We’ll travel by foot to reach many local food producers—and some classic locations—in the Lubéron, considered the most spectacular mountains and valleys in Provence. Here, we’ll enjoy leisurely forest walks through the foothills, meandering to a goat cheese producer and from village to village. Two highlights are Ménèrbes—a walled, hilltop village made famous by Peter Mayle in his memoir, A Year In Provence—and the cliff-hanging town of Gordes, built into the rocks of a mountain.
Local specialties such as soupe au pistou, salade niçoise, goat cheese, fresh seafood, lamb, and veggies lightly drizzled with olive oil are just some of the sensational flavors we’ll discover—along with delectable crème brûlée with lavender, seasonal fruit tarts, and chocolat fondant.
Overnights in Eygalières
Day 7: Departure
Morning transfer to Avignon for departure to your next destination on your own.