Barack Obama and his family recently visited Provence, choosing a village near Avignon as their base for exploring the region. Follow in their footsteps with this 7-day trip inspired by their itinerary—you'll dine at the Michelin-starred restaurant where the presidential family enjoyed a celebratory meal, shop in the same off-the-beaten-path village known as the "Provençal Venice" for its charming canals, visit the region's best vineyards, and more.

Highlights

  • Follow the Obama family’s vacation itinerary through Provence
  • Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site in medieval Avignon
  • Discover little spots such as L'Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue
  • Enjoy gourmet food and wine in the French countryside

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Avignon Avignon
Day 2 Avignon, City of the Popes Avignon
Day 3 Gourmet tour of Avignon Avignon
Day 4 Discovery of l'Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue Avignon
Day 5 Chateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas Wine Tour Avignon
Day 6 Van Gogh and Roman monuments Avignon
Day 7 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Avignon

The famous Pont d'Avignon, Avignon, France
The famous Pont d'Avignon, Avignon, France

From Paris, you'll head to the Provence region by train (a pleasant 3.5-hour ride), arriving at the Avignon train stationThis beloved city, full of sidewalk cafes, shopping, and historic architecture, is centrally located in the Provence region and its countryside, medieval cities, and sunny coast. Your first evening will start on a high note—after getting settled at your hotel, enjoy a welcome dinner at Michelin-starred La Mirande, where the Obama family celebrated Father's Day during their visit.

Day 2: Explore Avignon, City of the Popes

The Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), in Avignon
The Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), in Avignon

Today you'll explore the medieval city of Avignon on your own. There's quite a bit of history here, as this is where Pope Clemente V moved his court in the 14th century, and for several decades thereafter it was the seat of the Catholic popes. You'll visit the UNESCO Heritage Sites of Le Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) and the Pont Saint-Bénézet medieval bridge, which is the subject of the famous song Sur le Pont d’Avignon, composed in the 15th century. 

For dinner, stroll to the city's well-preserved historic center to enjoy a meal and drinks at one of many fine local restaurants.

Day 3: Gourmet tour of Avignon

The oldest bakery of Avignon
The oldest bakery of Avignon

This morning, you'll enjoy a gourmet tour of Avignon. With your local guide, walk through the old streets of Avignon and meet the culinary artisans of the city. You'll go from posh food markets to hidden shops, visiting a bakery, chocolate factory, fromagerie, and more—discovering sought-after delicacies and products of Avignon as you go. 

At the end of the visit, you will have a meeting for a tasting of a Châteauneuf du Pape wine, chosen by an expert (a fun preview of your upcoming wine tour on day 5). In the afternoon, you'll have some time to relax or continue exploring Avignon on your own.

Day 4: Discovery of L'Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue

L'isle-Sur-la-Sorgue
L'isle-Sur-la-Sorgue

Less than an hour from Avignon, north of the Luberon, you'll find the hamlet of L'Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue—this is where you'll be spending the day. Stroll the open-air market in the morning to taste some fresh produce. In the afternoon, you can pick up some authentic souvenirs in the local shops, following in the footsteps of Sasha and Malia Obama.

This little town is nicknamed the "Provençal Venice," as it's constructed on the Sorgue River that separates in different little canals all over the place creating islands. Follow the river paths and lose yourself in this very charming spot.

Day 5: Chateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas Wine Tour

Chateauneuf du Pape, in France's Provence region
Chateauneuf du Pape, in France's Provence region

Today you'll enjoy a full-day wine experience in the Provence countryside, surrounded by lavender fields and the vineyards of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Not only is this an important wine-making region, but its historical legacy of viticulture can be traced right back to the Papacy.

That's because Avignon was the seat of the Catholic popes from 1309 to 1377. You can see this heritage in the city's Palais des Papes, a palace and fortress that was the hub of Western Christianity in that era. It was during the papal schism here that the Avignon Popes encouraged the development of viticulture. Under the guidance of an expert oenologist, you will discover the fruits of Avignon's legacy on a wine tour of the nearby village Châteauneuf-du-Pape. With its characteristic pebbly topsoil, this area produces some complex and top-rated red wines (as well as the occasional delicious white, too). 

After the experience, you will have some free time to enjoy lunch in the village (not included). Then, the tasting tour continues with a drive 40 minutes north to Gigondas, another wine-producing appellation (region), which is considered to be a little brother to Châteauneuf du Pape. The vineyards of Gigondas sit in the southern Rhône Valley beneath the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range and near the highest mountain in southern France, Mont Ventoux. This jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery will complement the day's final tasting perfectly.

You'll then be driven back to Avignon in the late afternoon.

Day 6: Van Gogh and Roman monuments

Street in Arles
Roman amphitheater in Arles

In the morning, depart from your hotel and head to Arles for a guided tour. Start the visit with a cup of coffee at Le Café La Nuit, then follow the footsteps of Van Gogh with your local guide. You will not want to miss the Arena of Arles, the historical UNESCO-listed monument from the glory days of Arles.

Then, head to Saint Rémy de Provence, another village where Van Gogh spent one creative year. You will visit Mausole de Saint Paul, and see the olive trees around the abbey, Van Gogh’s room, and wheat fields from his famous paintings. The tour finishes with a visit to Glanum, the antique Greek and Roman city.

Day 7: Departure

Say goodbye to Provence
Say goodbye to Provence

In the morning you'll head to the train station and transfer to Paris, where you'll catch your flight home. This concludes your grand Provençal adventure. Au revoir!