This culinary tour winds its way from gastronomic Lyon (with a food scene rivaling that of Paris) through the colorful countryside of Provence. Taste famous wines, relax in olive country, and fall in love with the ancient cities and sweeping flower-filled fields that make this region famous.

Highlights

  • Taste the famous culinary delights of Lyon
  • Explore the wines of the Northern Rhône Valley
  • Cycle through lavender fields and charming French towns
  • Visit the famous Pont du Gard
  • Discover the Roman architecture of Arles

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Lyon: the cultural and culinary center of France Lyon
Day 2 Famous wines and unsuspected vintages of the Northern Rhône Valley Lyon
Day 3 At the gates of Provence: the Drôme Provençale Montélimar
Day 4 Relaxing moments in olive country Montélimar
Day 5 Avignon and the Pont du Gard Avignon
Day 6 The Roman treasures of Arles, between river and sea Avignon
Day 7 Exploring Aix-en-Provence and the old port of Marseille Marseille
Day 8 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Lyon, the cultural and culinary center of France

Lyon from above

Welcome to Lyon! From the wine-braised chicken of coq au vin to the city's most famous sausage (rosette de Lyon), Lyon's reputation for culinary excellence is long and well-deserved. Start your day in this gastronomically significant city with a guided walk through UNESCO-recognized Old Lyon, where you'll learn about the local heritage (with culinary anecdotes) and participate in a tasting in the famous Paul Bocuse Covered Market. Next, make your way to the Croix-Rousse neighborhood, in the heart of the weaver's district, to discover the silk workshops and the impressive wall murals of the Canuts.

Day 2: Famous wines and unsuspected vintages of the Northern Rhône Valley

Vineyards of the Rhône Valley

Starting in nearby Vienne - a beautiful town with an ancient Roman history - spend your day discovering some of France's most famous wines. Experience the perfection of the Syrah and Viognier grapes in their original terroir as you taste and learn about the Côtes-du-Rhône wines on three different wine estates in three wine regions. Sip and swish in the middle of terraced vineyards above the Rhône River.

Day 3: At the gates of Provence: the Drôme Provençale

Lavender fields of Drôme Provençale

Make your way south along the Rhône River and into the warmer Mediterranean climate and vast lavender fields south of Montelimar. This is the Drôme Provençale. Continue south as lavender fields become interspersed with olive trees and the sounds of cicadas. Pause along the way to idle in the villages, discover castles, explore churches, photograph abbeys, and meet local potters, wood carvers, glass blowers, upholsterers, and blacksmiths along the way. And don't miss the hilltop village of Grignan, with its Romanesque Provençal architecture and impressive Renaissance castle.

Day 4: Relaxing moments in olive country

Cycling through the lavender fields of the Rhône Valley

Wake to the scent of lavender and the sounds of the countryside and head out for another day exploring the landscapes and gastronomy of the Rhône. The best way to discover the area's hidden gems is by e-bike. So mount your bike, follow your guide onto the quiet backroads, and enjoy a morning exploring typical local specialties like the nougat of Montélimar, olives from Nyons, black truffles from Tricastin, and Gigondas wine. As the day winds toward evening, relax on the terrace of a shady cafe with a glass of rosé. 

Day 5: Avignon and the Pont du Gard

Avignon

Welcome to the captivating Medieval city of Avignon, where, for several decades in the 14th century, Pope Clemente V held his court. Visit 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). Avignon is also known for its famous theater festival. Every year in July, the city's atmosphere turns bohemian as musicians and comedians invade the streets of the City of the Popes.

When you're done exploring the city, make your way to the countryside west of Avignon to visit one of the most ancient aqueducts of the Roman world: the Pont du Gard. This bridge, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built in the first century AD by the Romans and was part of a huge 31-mile aqueduct that supplied the city of Nimes with running water. 

Day 6: The Roman treasures of Arles, between river and sea

Arles

On your sixth day in France, discover the ancient, fortified, UNESCO-recognized Roman city of Arles on foot with a guided walking tour of the historic center. Stop at Roman, Christian, and Medieval monuments, including the arena, the amphitheater, The Church of St. Trophime, Van Gogh’s Hospital, and the summer garden. Shady squares and a unique local culture make Arles an important step between the Rhône River Delta and Camargue Natural Park.

Day 7: Exploring Aix-en-Provence and the old port of Marseille

Port of Marseille

Start your day in Aix-en-Provence, with its picturesque charm and magnificent landscape (immortalized by painters such as Cezanne, Picasso, and Kandinsky). Stroll the labyrinthine streets and thousand tucked-away fountains. Visit the cathedral, Hotel de VilleCours Mirabeau, the Roman remains, and plenty of hidden-away local gems.

Then wrap up your walking tour in Aix and make your way to colorful Marseille, France's oldest city. Visit the characteristic district of Le Panier and stroll along a walkway to Fort Saint Jean and the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MuCEM), an extraordinary mix of old and new. As the sun goes down, relax with a good pastis (the local anise-flavored spirit) on the Vieux-Port, the vibrant heart of the city, and have an al fresco dinner in this fascinating setting.

Day 8: Departure

Bon voyage! Today is the day you bid France au revoir and make your way home.

Map

Map of Culinary Rhône Valley Tour: Lyon to Marseille - 8 Days
Map of Culinary Rhône Valley Tour: Lyon to Marseille - 8 Days