- Explore France’s oldest city in Marseille
- Ride horseback to Sainte-Croix Lake
- Search for wildlife with a professional photographer
- Climb a via cordata along the side of the Verdon Gorge
|Day 1||Arrive in Marseille||Marseille|
|Day 2||Soap Atelier & Marseille to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie||Moustiers-Sainte-Marie|
|Day 3||Horseback Ride from Moustiers to Sainte-Croix Lake||Moustiers-Sainte-Marie|
|Day 4||Rafting on the Verdon River||Moustiers-Sainte-Marie|
|Day 5||Verdon Wildlife Photography Session||Moustiers-Sainte-Marie|
|Day 6||Via Cordata & Route des Crêtes||Moustiers-Sainte-Marie|
|Day 7||Return to Marseille & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Marseille
Welcome to France! Your journey starts in Marseille, a historic Mediterranean city. "Historic" might even be an understatement—with 2,600 years of history, this is France’s oldest city, founded on the site of the ancient Greek colony of Massalia around 600 BCE.
We recommend exploring Marseille's most impressive and historic neighborhoods, like the colorful district of Le Panier. This is the "old Marseille," where the city was founded. 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 facades on tenement buildings. You'll also find street art on the walls in the form of colorful frescoes.
Other must-visit areas of Marseille include the waterfront, the hilltop basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, and the Roman monastic foundation of Saint-Victor Abbey. You can also follow a walkway to Fort Saint-Jean, a fortification dominating the port that was built in 1660 by Louis XIV. Be sure to pay a visit to the fascinating Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MUCEM), which features permanent exhibits devoted to the history of these regional societies from ancient times to the present day. You'll want to end the excursion in Vieux Port, in the heart of the city, where you can finish the day by enjoying a good pastis or beer as the sun goes down.
Day 2: Soap Atelier & Marseille to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
In the morning, explore a different art form as you learn about the region's emblematic "Savon de Marseille." A master soapmaker will teach you about soap history along with its manufacturing process and historic secrets. After you've been introduced to the making and mixing procedures, you'll create and personalize a soap of your own.
In the afternoon, set out for Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, the gate to the Gorge of Verdon (approximately a 2.5-hour drive away.) It's the biggest canyon in Europe, drawing nature-lovers from around the world. Verdon is home to the small villages of Bauduen and Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon, as well as the hilltop villages of Aiguines, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (known for its fine porcelain), and Castellane.
There's no shortage of activities in the park, from relaxing on the beaches to canoeing on Sainte-Croix Lake and hiking in the mountains. At the height of the flowering season, the Valensole Plateau is awash with color as the lavender blooms, covering the hillsides in spectacular purple swaths.
Day 3: Horseback Ride from Moustiers to Sainte-Croix Lake
Explore the Verdon region on horseback with today's full-day tour. You'll meet up with a local expert in the morning who will prepare the horses for you, and you for them. Ride along rivers and forests up to a wild beach that isn't accessible by car to stop for lunch.
Picnic on local wine and cheeses along with canapes and desserts, then relax on the beach or go for a swim. Once you've finished basking, get back on your horse to keep riding through the wilderness for another hour and a half before you return to the equestrian center.
Day 4: Rafting on the Verdon River
Drive to the ancient city of Castellane for your morning adrenaline rush. Start off by rafting through the Verdon Gorge, the best way to truly grasp the scale of the canyon. Paddle your raft down the river for 2.5 hours of fast-flowing water, with sections of rapids spanning more than 8 miles (14 km).
Slow down your pace in the afternoon as you break for lunch and an exploration of the village of Castellane. The town is dominated by the Roc, a giant limestone rock that towers nearby. Wander the streets surrounded by the colorful facades characteristic of Haute-Provence villages and visit the three key monuments of the St. Victor Church, the clock tower, and the Pentagonal Tower. Then follow the Roc path toward the chapel and take in the views over the rooftops with the Verdon Valley in the distance
You'll return to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie in the evening.
Day 5: Verdon Wildlife Photography Session
Enjoy the natural spirit and landscapes of the Verdon region with the help of a professional photographer on today's bespoke photography course.
Your professional photographer guide is a frequent organizer of photoshoots to share their passions for photography and nature. Follow them around the edge of the Verdon canyon to get some expert insight into capturing the birds and other wildlife of the region for roughly 4-5 hours to make sure you get the perfect photo souvenir.
From golden hour to specific locations, today's tour is fully customizable.
Day 6: Via Cordata & Route des Crêtes
Start on a high note with a climbing experience on the mountain rocks. You'll follow a via cordata, a mix between climbing and walking with a rope attaching you to the route, along the "Fox Hole" section of the landscape. Follow passages along the wall with abseils, a zip line, pendular jump, and monkey bridge to take in the nature from a new vantage point.
After your climb, discover the villages of La Palud Sur Verdon and Rougon with a drive above the canyon. La Palud was once a potters' village and is now home to a wealth of local products including trout, crayfish, lavender honey, truffles, ham, and country bread. It's also the starting point for a scenic drive along the Route des Crêtes, 14 miles (23 km) of views of the canyon. Go through Point Sublime overlook with one of the best views of the gorge, then to the village of Rougon. The petite village offers a view of Point Sublime from its castle ruins, where you can see how it earned its name.
Day 7: Return to Marseille & Depart
After breakfast, depending on your schedule, you'll make your way to the airport in Marseille to catch a direct flight or head to the nearest TGV station to board a high-speed train to Paris or Nice. This concludes your grand Provençal adventure. Au revoir!