Assuredly French, yet Altogether Provençal: Discover Provence Posted September 4, 2019
If you’ve explored Paris’s arrondissements, sampled Burgundy wines, seen the Loire Valley’s chateaux country, and reflected upon the beaches of Normandy, you’ve still got a few select pockets of France to uncover. And our new Discovering Provence tour, a 12-day exploration starting at just $3,997 (air & land inclusive), helps uncover this remarkable region. You’ll have the opportunity to gain an appreciation for the Provençal life, with its own particular charms and rhythms.
The first region that the Romans conquered beyond the Alps, Provence was originally called Provincia Romana or Provincia Nostra (“Our Province”). And though France has claimed ownership of this swath of coastal plains, medieval villages, and atmospheric cities for more than five centuries, Provence takes pride in its singular culture. Among the highlights of our touring in this region:
Dinner (and wine) at a winery near Aix-en-Provence
We are treated to scenery like this on our winery visit.
It wouldn’t be a trip to France without a visit to one of the country’s many fabulous wineries, and on Day 4 of our tour, we head outside the town of Aix for just such an excursion. We enjoy a warm welcome here, and savor dinner and a perfectly paired selection of homemade wines, allowing us to experience the delicately balanced flavors and aromas of this region’s cuisine.
Hands-on cooking demonstration in Avignon
Our small group allows us to engage in hands-on activities, like this Provencal cooking class.
One of the benefits of traveling in a small group is the ability to meet, and learn from, the master craftspeople in a destination. On this tour, we join a local chef in Avignon for a cooking class, where we learn a few traditional Provençal cooking techniques. Our appetites sufficiently whetted, we follow up this demonstration with a dinner together.
Visit to a working ranch in the Camargue
We meet and marvel at the cowboys in Provence. Source
Though not traditionally thought of as a farming and ranching area, Provence is home to a number of manades, traditional ranches where gardians (cowboys) raise bulls both for meat and for performance in Provence’s arenas. We tour one of these ranches and learn from the gardians about this traditional way of life, then watch them demonstrate how they manage their herds on horseback. Before we leave the ranch, we enjoy a lunch of local specialties, giving us more time to appreciate this seldom-heralded yet fascinating lifestyle.
Birding at Pont de Gau
Hundreds of pink flamingos greet us at Pont de Gau.
Not to be confused with the Pont du Gard, the iconic Roman aqueduct which we also see on this tour, Pont de Gau offers some 150 acres of ponds, swamps, lagoons, marshes, and meadows perfect for observing the diverse birdlife of this region. This ornithological reserve sits in the heart of the Camargue Regional Natural Park, and on our visit we’re likely to see the pink flamingos for which the park is known, as well as species of heron, birds of prey, and seasonal migratory birds.
Immersive sound and light show at Carrieres de Lumiere
Sit back, or wander through, and let the exhibition transport you. Source
There are multimedia exhibitions, and then there’s the Carrieres de Lumiere, an enthralling experience set inside a 19th-century stone quarry dug into the hillside near Les-Baux-de-Provence. This otherworldly setting provides the perfect canvas to showcase the photos, videos, and artwork of Provence, expertly blown up to larger-than-life proportions. It’s an experience unlike anything else, and has to be seen to be believed.
Two nights along the idyllic French Riviera
We enjoy two nights in Nice, capital of the Cote d’Azur
There’s no better place to finish a tour of Provence than the storied French Riviera, known in their language as the Côte d’Azur, or the “Azure Coast.” Known for centuries as a resort destination and playground for Europe’s elites, this region’s offerings include restorative sea breezes, marinas filled with gleaming yachts, and miles of seaside promenades and boulevards. We tour hilltop Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a medieval village once home to many prominent artists including Marc Chagall; then spend two nights in Nice, the Riviera’s gorgeous capital city.
If Provence piques your interest, as well it should, be sure to join us in 2020 on our Discovering Provence small group tour!