- Wander the maze of stalls in Lyon's Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse market
- Experience a wine tour of the Northern Rhône Valley
- Discover Avignon's impressive Pont du Gard
- Bike through lavender fields and olive groves to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
- Kayak along the southern French coast in Calanques National Park
|Day 1||Arrive in Lyon||Lyon|
|Day 2||Culture & gastronomy tour||Lyon|
|Day 3||Day trip to Northern Rhône Valley & wine tasting||Lyon|
|Day 4||Drive to Avignon; Visit Pont du Gard||Avignon|
|Day 5||Drive to Arles; Discover Roman architecture||Arles|
|Day 6||Drive to Les Baux-de-Provence||Les Baux-de-Provence|
|Day 7||Electric bike tour to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence||Les Baux-de-Provence|
|Day 8||Drive to Bonnieux - Explore the Luberon hill-top villages||Bonnieux|
|Day 9||Drive to Aix-en-Provence||Aix-en-Provence|
|Day 10||Drive to Marseille; Kayak in Calanques National Park||Marseille|
|Day 11||Hike in Calanques; Explore Marseille||Marseille|
Day 1: Arrive in Lyon
Welcome to Lyon! Lyon is France's second-largest city and offers urban explorers a wealth of enticing experiences. Leading museums, vibrant cultural life, busy clubbing and drinking scenes, a thriving university, and fantastic shopping all lend the city a distinctly sophisticated air, while adventurous gourmands can indulge in their wild gastronomic fantasies.
Upon your arrival, transfer to your hotel in the heart of the city, in time for a welcome dinner at a traditional restaurant in the Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) neighborhood.
Day 2: Culture & gastronomy tour
You'll get to experience all that Lyon has to offer from the history and culture to the food on today's walking tour of the city. Start at Lyon's heart in the UNESCO-protected historic Presqu’île, before working your way through the narrow alleyways and past Renaissance-era mansions in Vieux Lyon. It's here where your foodie tour begins, as your local guide reveals the city's gastronomic heritage via culinary anecdotes and tastings at the Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, a labyrinthine municipal market whose various food stall offerings are a delight for the taste buds.
Your guide will then lead you to the colorful houses and tree-filled plazas of the historic Croix-Rousse ("The Hill that Works") neighborhood. Here you will discover Croix-Rousse's lasting cultural legacy: silk weaving. As many houses in this riverfront neighborhood were formerly weavers workshops, you'll have the opportunity to visit one as well as observe a silk printing demonstration.
Day 3: Day trip to Northern Rhône Valley & wine tasting
Together with your guide, you'll head south from Lyon toward Vienne (30 minutes) to discover the surrounding northern Rhône Valley as well as to sample the area's famous wines.
The first stop on this private, half-day tour is the prestigious Cote-Rôtie vineyard. Here you'll quaff delicious varietals, like Syrah and Viognier, on terraced vineyards overlooking the Rhône River. Throughout the tour, you'll have an opportunity to taste and learn about seven different varietals of Cotes-du-Rhône wines.
Day 4: Drive to Avignon - Visit the Pont du Gard
This morning you will drive to the fascinating medieval city of Avignon (2.5 hours). Explore the UNESCO Heritage Sites of Le Palais des Papes and the St-Bénézet medieval bridge, the subject of the famous song, Sur le Pont d’Avignon. Discover the countryside to the west of Avignon where you will cross another bridge, the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct built in the 1st century and located in a beautiful setting.
Day 5: Drive to Arles - Discover Roman architecture
Today you'll continue your journey south to explore the ancient city of Arles (1 hour). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Arles sits between the Rhône River delta and the Camargue Natural Park wetlands and is defined as much by its historic Roman architecture as it is by its quintessentially French shaded squares and café-lined streets. Begin your self-guided tour at the unremarkable Le Café Van Gogh in Arles' historic core and visit the exact spot where Vincent Van Gogh painted his 1888 masterpiece, Café Terrace at Night.
Meander the old streets, stopping to check out some of Arles' most famous Roman, Christian, and medieval sites and monuments, including the well-preserved amphitheater and the 11th century Church of Saint Trophime. For artistic insight into the contemporary face of Arles, don't miss the photography exhibits at the Luma Foundation which holds the Les Rencontres d'Arles—one of the most revered photo festivals in the world—every summer since 1970.
Day 6: Drive to Les Baux-de-Provence
After breakfast, you have the option of returning to the Avignon train station or heading to the Marseille airport to rent your vehicle for the next leg of your tour. Drive into the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional des Alpilles and directly to your country-house hotel in the picturesque Les Baux-de-Provence. Settle into your accommodation taking the afternoon to tour its gardens of lavender and olive and pine trees. Relax poolside before it's time for your gourmet dinner of traditional southern French cuisine.
Day 7: Electric bike tour to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Meet your guide today for a half-day e-bike tour of the Alpilles region. Ride along the small country roads, discovering the peaceful Provence landscape as you follow trails that lead you from Les Baux-de-Provence to nearby Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Explore Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, a charming, typically Provençal village that inspired the works of Van Gogh, before returning to Les Baux-de-Provence to wander its medieval streets. If there's interest, sign the kids up for a treasure hunt for a unique way to discover the village.
Day 8: Drive to Bonnieux - Explore Luberon hilltop villages
Today you will carry on east to Bonnieux, stopping along the way to explore the medieval town of Lourmarin. Take the rest of the day to visit the nearby sites and drive through aromatic lavender fields (in summer) to visit the 12th-century Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, a Cistercian abbey that lies just outside of the famous hilltop village of Gordes. Dominated by its fortified castle and church, wander Gordes' cobblestone streets taking in the enchanting views over the valley and surrounding hills.
You will then visit one of Frances most beautiful villages, Roussillon, home to significant ochre deposits (yellow to red pigments found in the clay), before returning to Bonnieux.
Driving duration (Les Baux-de-Provence - Roussillon): 2.5 hours
Driving distance: 67 miles (108 km)
Day 9: Drive to Aix-en-Provence
This morning you'll drive south to Aix-en-Provence. Here, you'll join a two-hour walking tour to uncover the rich heritage, art, and culture of the city as you stroll through a labyrinth of winding narrow streets. You'll stop to visit historic sites like the national monument of France, the Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur, a Romanesque and Gothic church built on the site of an ancient Roman temple and the 14th-century town hall, Hôtel de Ville. Walk along the Cours Mirabeau, a busy thoroughfare lined with plane trees and bustling markets and cafés—perfect for people watching.
The rest of the afternoon is yours to discover Aix-en-Provence at your own pace.
Driving duration: 1.25 hours
Driving distance: 34 miles (54.7 km)
Day 10: Drive to Marseille - Kayak in Calanques National Park
Drive the short distance to Marseille on Frances southern coast to check into your hotel before venturing out to Parc national des Calanques for your kayaking excursion. Together with your guide, you will paddle along the protected coast, stopping in narrow inlets to explore the charming fishing villages, like Cassis just outside of the park. Enjoy the stunning scenery of the area, taking in the towering limestone cliffs and crystal clear waters. Amplify the experience and schedule your excursion for later in the day to catch a Mediterranean sunset from the vantage of your kayak.
Driving duration: 1 hour
Driving distance: 29 miles (47 km)
Day 11: Hike in Calanques - Explore Marseille
Meet your guide this morning for a private trekking tour in the Calanques National Park. Enjoy the encompassing vistas over sheer cliffs and pristine waters as you work your way along the circuit.
Return to your car and make the short drive back to Marseille. Leave your car behind and walk to Marseille's Vieux-Port (Old Port). Relax with a pastis (anise-flavored French apéritif) in hand as you take in the sights and sounds of France's oldest city. Stroll through the Le Panier quarter and along the footbridge to reach Fort Saint-Jean and the Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM) for exhibits detailing the history and culture of the region.
Day 12: Depart
Take the morning to enjoy one last café in southern France before you return your rental in Marseille or Avignon and board a train to Paris for your scheduled flight home. Au revoir!