Experience the highlights of France's Provence region, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gorges du Verdon, with this 10-day road trip that perfectly combines outdoor activities with cultural tours. In between memorable experiences like hot-air balloon rides, sailing trips, and cooking classes, you'll have plenty of free time to explore lavender fields, charming villages, famous vineyards, and UNESCO-listed monuments at your own pace.


  • Stroll the ancient streets of Marseille and enjoy a sunset pastis
  • Sail to beautiful beaches and hidden coves in Calanques National Park
  • Travel to the Provence region and sample fine wines and olive oils
  • Enjoy a sunrise hot-air balloon ride in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
  • Go kayaking down the Gorges du Verdon, the largest gorge in Europe

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Marseille, Pick Up Rental Car Marseille
Day 2 Calanques Boat Tour, Drive to Les Baux, Carrière de Lumières Les Baux-de-Provence
Day 3 Countryside Tour, Olive Oil Tasting & Baux Castle Les Baux-de-Provence
Day 4 Drive to Avignon, Afternoon Wine Tasting Avignon
Day 5 Day Trip to the Luberon & Villages Avignon
Day 6 Drive to Forcalquier, Explore Haute-Provence  Forcalquier
Day 7 Hot-Air Balloon Ride, Drive to Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon
Day 8 Half-Day Kayak Adventure in Gorges du Verdon Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon
Day 9 Drive to Aix, Cooking Class & Provençal Lunch  Aix-en-Provence
Day 10 Drive to Marseille, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Marseille, Pick Up Rental Car

The Old Port of Marseille
The Old Port of Marseille, with Notre-Dame de la Garde perched on the hilltop

Welcome to France! You'll be arriving in Marseille, which is the nation's second-largest metropolis. Not Paris, not Lyon—this ancient port city has its own identity defined by a rich cultural diversity with influences from North Africa, Italy, Asia, and beyond. Upon arrival at the airport, you'll pick up your rental car and drive to the hotel. After checking in, you'll have the rest of the day free to explore.

With more than 2,000 years of history, there's much to see in France's oldest city. It's so old, in fact, that it was founded on the site of the ancient Greek colony of Massalia around 600 BCE. A good place to start is in any one of Marseille's many historic neighborhoods, like the district of Le Panier. This is "old Marseille"—the site of the city's founding. It's a working-class enclave on the central port and is the picture of Mediterranean beauty, with old plazas, ancient churches, and brightly colored tenement buildings. You also can't miss the creative street art adorning the walls of local buildings.

Additional highlights include the Romano-Byzantine Notre-Dame de la Garde and Saint-Victor Abbey, which dates to the 5th century. You can also walk to Fort Saint-Jean, a fortification dominating the port that was built in 1660 by Louis XIV. For culture, don't miss the fascinating Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MuCEM), which features exhibits devoted to the history of regional societies from ancient times to the present day. Consider ending your self-guided tour in Vieux-Port, the heart of the city, where you can sip a good pastis (anise-flavored apéritif) or beer as the sun goes down.

Day 2: Calanques Boat Tour, Drive to Les Baux, Carrière de Lumières

Calanque National Park
Calanque is one of the most beautiful protected areas on the Mediterranean coast

Today, you'll enjoy an excursion to Calanques National Park. Established in 2012, this is one of the European continent's newer protected areas, comprising 323 square miles (520 km) between Marseille and the seaside town of La Ciotat and protecting both land and ocean. This is a true natural treasure of France's Mediterranean coast, and the best way to experience it is on a private cruise.

This half-day tour leaves from Marseille on a private vessel skippered by a local expert. It only takes a few minutes to arrive at the park and glimpse its stunning limestone sea cliffs and hidden calanques (inlets). The waters here are an irresistible kaleidoscope of blues that fade to milky turquoise and crystalline the closer you get to shore. You'll have ample time for swimming in these hidden coves, which are only accessible by boat.

Later, leave Marseille and drive north to Les Baux, located in the heart of the famous Provence region. This historic mountain village is renowned for its cobbled streets, medieval buildings, and the Château des Baux, a fortified castle that dates to the 10th century. After checking into your hotel, you'll head over to a nearby limestone quarry, where you'll immerse yourself in the Carrière de Lumières. This unique art installation features 100 projectors displaying larger-than-life images of famous works of art across the quarry walls, including those by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and more.

Day 3: Countryside Tour, Olive Oil Tasting & Baux Castle

See the villages and vineyards of the Provence countryside on a tour

Leave after breakfast on a two-hour tour of Provence's countryside. Known for its lavender fields, historic villages, and green, vine-covered hills, Provence is a little slice of heaven in the south of France. Experience the region at its best with a stop at an authentic Provençal farmhouse complete with a historic olive oil mill.

While here, the friendly owners will lead you on a tour of their home, which dates to the 13th century. After visiting a Romanesque chapel, you'll continue to the mill. Here, you'll learn about ancient methods of extracting olive oil, plus sit down for a tasting of Provence's "liquid gold." Closer to lunchtime, you'll participate in a cooking workshop where you'll learn to prepare a famous Provençal dish.

Upon returning to Les Baux, you'll walk in the footsteps of history on a hike up to Château des Baux. This 10th-century castle is strategically positioned on a rocky outcrop overlooking the town. Once at the top, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views. Explore the castle's many nooks and crannies and, if you're up for it, climb up the tower for even better views of Baux and the surrounding countryside. Afterward, should you choose, you can return to Carrière de Lumières to walk among masterpieces once again.

Day 4: Drive to Avignon, Afternoon Wine Tasting

Visit the top sites in Avignon
The medieval bridge is just one of many highlight landmarks in Avignon

In the morning, continue your road trip with a 40-minute drive north from Baux to Avignon. This well-preserved medieval city on the banks of the Rhône is a bastion of rich history, known mainly for its role as the seat of the Catholic popes in the 14th century. The period when Avignon was the center of the Catholic Church is referred to as the "Avignon Papacy."

Settle in, then join your guide for a half-day tour, visiting highlights like the soaring Palais des Papes—the largest Gothic palace in history and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You'll also have time to wander around Avignon's pretty squares and the medieval bridge over the Rhône. If you're here during July, you'll be one of thousands of visitors who flock to Avignon to enjoy France's largest art festival.

After lunch, you'll drive through the countryside north of Avignon to Châteauneuf du Pape, a famous wine-producing village in the southern Rhône Valley. Here, you'll enjoy a leisurely afternoon of wine tasting. This region produces both red and white wines using 13 different grape varietals. It's especially known for its bold grenache-based blends. At the end of the day, you'll return to Avignon.

Day 5: Day Trip to the Luberon & Villages

Roussillon's surroundings
Roussillon's unusual landscape features ocher cliffs naturally painted in bright colors

It's a "choose your own adventure" day, as this morning, you'll hop back in the car and drive around the beautiful villages, vineyards, and orchards in the fertile Luberon area. This area is renowned for its scenic beauty, which includes rolling hills, forests, and olive groves, all situated around the towering Luberon massif. A good place to start is Fontaine de Vaucluse, a storybook mountain village home to the largest natural spring in France.

Afterward, you can drive to Gordes, a hilltop village surrounded by lavender fields, followed by a visit to the ancient Sénanque Abbey, founded in 1148 by Cistercian monks. Next, head to the village of Roussillon, located in ocher hills that shine yellow, orange, and red. You can wander the town's colorful, centuries-old streets or opt for a horse-drawn carriage ride in the nearby hills before returning to Avignon.

Day 6: Drive to Forcalquier, Explore Haute-Provence 

Visit the town of Sisteron
Drive to Alpes de Haute-Provence and visit the town of Sisteron

Time to hit the road again! Say goodbye to Les Baux in the morning and drive east 2.5 hours to Alpes de Haute-Provence. This geographically diverse area straddles both the French Alps and the hills and plateaus of Provence. During a drive around the area, you can visit its many highlights.

Perhaps stop in the charming town of Manosque and tour L'Occitane's headquarters. This well-known cosmetics and beauty company is based in Provence and makes fine fragrances, soaps, essential oils, and skincare products. Following the tour, trek up to Mont d'Or for panoramic views over the town and countryside.

Later, continue to the day's final destination, the town of Forcalquier. Like many locales in Provence, Forcalquier boasts a rich history, with evidence of human settlement dating to Roman times. After checking into your hotel, you can join an architecture tour to visit well-preserved medieval buildings dating to the 13th and 15th centuries. If you like, you can also drive north to the town of Sisteron and marvel at its famous Citadel. This imposing fortress is located on the banks of the Durance River and is a fine example of medieval military architecture. 

Day 7: Hot-Air Balloon Ride, Drive to Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon

Take a morning balloon ride over the lavender fields of Provence

Get ready for a sunrise adventure you won't soon forget. The day starts just before dawn with the transfer from your hotel to a launch site in the countryside of Alpes de Haute-Provence. There, you'll hop in a basket and ascend high in the air, getting a bird's-eye view of the region's hilltop villages, mountain peaks, and lavender fields.

After touching down back on terra firma, you'll drive over to one of the scenic landscapes you saw from the air: the Valensole Plateau. Meaning "Valley of the Sun," the Valensole is blanketed in fields of brilliant lavender, golden wheat, and almond trees. There will be plenty of time to stroll the countryside and snap copious photos of these picture-postcard landscapes.

Later, you'll continue to your next destination—the charming village of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon, perched overlooking Lac de Sainte-Croix. This stunning turquoise lake is adjacent to the Gorges du Verdon (Verdon Gorges), the largest canyon in Europe. While here, you can enjoy fun activities and watersports like sailing, swimming, windsurfing, or kayaking/canoeing. If you'd rather appreciate the lake's beauty from dry land, grab a seat at a waterfront café and relax with an adult beverage as you enjoy the views.

Day 8: Half-Day Kayak Adventure in Gorges du Verdon

Paddle along the bright turquoise waters that run through the Verdon Gorge

In the morning, you'll meet a local guide/instructor for a half-day kayak adventure through the Verdon Gorge. Transfer to Verdon Regional Natural Park, where the put-in is located on the Verdon River. This is the same river that carved Europe's largest canyon over millions of years.

Once in the water, you and your guide will paddle along the river's bright turquoise waters amid soaring limestone cliffs that rise hundreds of feet. The canyon stretches for 15 miles (25 km), and the entire route is filled with dramatic scenery. After the ride, you'll have the rest of the day free to explore Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon at your leisure.

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Day 9: Drive to Aix, Cooking Class & Provençal Lunch 

Street life in Aix-en-Provence
Aix-en-Provence is famous for its medieval streets and charming plazas

After breakfast, embark on the hourlong drive south to Aix-en-Provence. "Aix" (as it's known locally) is a historic city centered around Provençal villages and a stunning countryside famous for vineyards, lavender-blanketed fields, and the limestone cliffs of Sainte-Victoire Mountain. Once you've checked into your hotel, you'll discover the city's rich heritage through its cuisine. Meet a local guide for a trip to one of Aix's famous city markets to pick up some requisite ingredients for today's cooking workshop. These can include regional items like herbes de Provence, olive oil, truffles, figs, honey, and more.

Then drive a few minutes outside Aix to a country estate. The scenic route you'll follow passes through the famous Montaiguet Forest with its green Aleppo pines. Once at the estate, you'll be welcomed by the friendly host, who will lead you on a tour of the grounds and the on-site organic garden—a great excuse to pick some wild aromatic herbs.

Back at the house, you'll begin the cooking class. During the experience, you and a group of like-minded culinary enthusiasts will prepare a variety of traditional Provençal recipes. After two hours of cooking, everyone will sit down at the long communal table for a fun and rewarding meal. Return to your hotel in Aix-en-Provence in the late afternoon.

Day 10: Drive to Marseille, Depart

Sun setting over the lavender fields of Provence

It's time to say goodbye to Provence and France. Enjoy one last petit déjeuner (small breakfast) at the hotel before driving back to Marseille and the airport. There, return your rental car and board your flight home. This concludes your grand Provençal adventure. Au revoir!

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Map of Provence Road Trip: Marseille, Les Baux, Forcalquier, 	Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon & Aix - 10 Days
Map of Provence Road Trip: Marseille, Les Baux, Forcalquier, Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon & Aix - 10 Days