The Secrets of Provence
This holiday provides the best overall view of all that makes Provence what it is…
For E650 stay in our village house and explore the Drome Provencal. This unspoilt corner of Provence is famous for its wine, lavender, fruit, truffles, herbs and olives. Half-day walks are combined with a chance to find out more about the ingredients that make Provence so special. The holiday includes tours, bed and breakfast, some picnic lunches and 3 evening meals. NOTE...For clients who prefer to just use our accommodation without guiding or transport we can offer Bed and Breakfast for E70 per night per double/twin room. In addition we can provide guide books, maps and advice plus some evening meals on request.
(Saturday PM to Saturday AM - 7 nights accommodation and 6 days of activities)
Dates 2019...All weeks available from early April until the end of September.
Please note that we are happy to work with couples and small groups. Your holiday is GUARANTEED by us.
TRANSFERS. There are regular trains direct from Marseille Airport to Orange where we will collect clients. Collection from Avignon regional airport and Avignon TGV Station is by prior arrangement and an extra charge is made
In the NE corner of Provence you will find a truly unspoilt rural area still thriving on its vineyards, olives, lavender, fruit and truffles. It is a mix of tiny medieval villages and bustling market towns, like Nyons, Valreas and Vaison la Romaine, each providing their own history and character. With our expert local guides find out about the history, fables, culture, and characters. Understand the use of the plants and herbs of the region. Visit a truffle farm, olive mill and grower, lavender distillery, and above all, enjoy regional walks that combine the sights, scents and tastes of the area.
ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS: .
Clients will enjoy our village home in Vinsobres complete with pool and wonderful views . Our home is a modernised, to a degree, 18th Century mansion set at the top of the renowned village of Vinsobres, with pool and aircon.Vaison has many attractions , including the famous Tuesday market, the Roman excavations, the medieval town on the hill and the cathedral plus lots of restaurants and shops.This magnificent 18th Century property combines wonderful views, large bedrooms, terrace garden, heated indoor/outdoor pool, AC, WiFi, art gallery and atelier and is in the village of Vinsobres itself. The bistro is 5 minutes walk from the house. Please note that the photos below are about to be replaced. See the accommodation page for photos of our new home up in the village.
We can also help with accommodation if you wish to extend your stay.
Day 1 Saturday. Transfers arranged from Orange or Avignon, the later on request. The drive from Orange takes about 35 minutes and from Avignon is 1 hour. After a welcoming drink there is plenty of time to settle in before your evening meal either in our house or in Vaison la Romaine for those staying there. We pay for that.
Day 2 Sunday. This morning we begin around 9am for a walk on the Dentelles de Montmirail, home to the famous Gigondas wine. Our walk starts from a col at the base of the Dentelles, circling to a lovely viewpoint over the Massif with a view to the ‘giant of Provence’, Mont Ventoux at 1900m. Throughout this holiday the famous Mont Ventoux is ever present. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, it has unique plants and ecosystem. Ferocious winds have scoured the summit area leaving stark white limestone scree or rock fields. It is also an intimidating area when the Mistral wind blows, often up to 100km per hour. We then descend to Gigondas at 1pm for a home made light lunch in a local bistro. Before driving back home we stop at the very attractive fortified provencal village of Seguret. Seguret's name is derived from the latin 'securitas', or secure. The area around the fountain is a must for artists. Distance 6km/3hrs with stops.
Day 3 Monday. Today we begin in Vinsobres, the capital of top grade wines for this region and our walk follows a trail for 4kms through the village and then through the vines and olive groves. Many of these trees are over 400yrs old. Time is taken to stop for a coffee at the village bistro before we return to our house for our picnic lunch in the garden, with time for a rest. After lunch we drive to Buisson, a really attractive old provencal village. Here we meet Francoise, a local herb expert, for an insight into the many uses of Provencal herbs. Distance 5kms/2hrs with stops.
Day 4 Tuesday. Beginning slightly later this morning you will be transferred to Vaison la Romaine for a visit to the large local market in the morning. The remainder of the day is yours to explore the medieval hilltop part of the town and then the famous Roman remains, the amphitheatre, museum, Cathedral and Roman bridge, the sole survivor of 13 bridges destroyed in the floods of 1992. There are many excellent cafes or restaurants for you to purchase lunch, along with a variety of shopping outlets. The Tourist Office in the town centre has a useful resources centre and the entrance to the Roman ruins is next door. At 4pm Paul, our local wine expert will tell you all about the famous Cote du Rhone wines and you will taste some of them !
Vaison la Romaine medieval town with Mont Ventoux behind.
Market day in Vaison..a whole street given over to food stalls alone ! Just the place to buy provencal souvenirs.
Day 5 Wednesday. Today a 30 minute transfer takes us to a totally different part of Provence, the Gorge de St May, with its rugged cliffs, dramatic gorges and a plateau covered in lavender and thyme. The superb cliffs are also home to a colony of European Vultures. These dramatic birds with a 3-metre wingspan soar and swoop directly in front of our 'ringside' cliff top seats. This, and the outstanding views of the surrounding mountains, make this a very popular morning. Our picnic lunch table is also set on the plateau among the lavender fields. After lunch we return to Nyons for a stroll through the town, including visits to the local family run olive mill and the wine cooperative. Dinner will be in either our village or Nyons... Distance 5kms/3.5hrs with stops. or a shorter walk of 2hrs.
Our region is blessed with some of the best red wines at very reasonable prices.
Day 6 Thursday. Today we drive to Grignon. There we meet a local 4th generation truffle farmer and his dog. He explains the truffle history prior to you embarking on a truffle hunt. We then go back to his superb farmhouse for a truffle tasting with wine, of course. His truffles and truffle oil are available for purchase. Later a short drive takes us to the village itself with its famous Chateau where we will enjoy a good lunch. This is followed by time to explore, unguided, the ancient village and the chateau.We then return to the accommodation for a swim and rest plus tea before driving to Nyons for a guided visit to the Lavender distillery. Supper is provided on the terrace under the parasols in our house.
Our farmer with his labrador 'truffle sniffer'..
One of our groups is accompanying the farmer through the truffle oak wood in search of the 'black gold'. At the end of the morning the dog has a biscuit and we have the opportunity to taste some of the fine truffles. We end the day back at the guesthouse/ hotel in time for a relax before dinner.
Friday. For our last day we will walk tothe top of a local mountain above Nyons, the Garde Grosse with superb views over the hills to Mt Ventoux. The walk itself involves an ascent of about 200 metres up through forest to the rocky summit for a picnic. The descent is via an easy trail back to the minibus.Time now for a chance to stroll through Nyons and enjoy a cooling drink. Dinner is provided by us this evening in a provencal restaurant.
Please note that we can offer an alternative walk with less ascent to the summit of garde Grosse via a scenic forest trail.
Saturday...Depart after breakfast, usually for mid morning connections.
Throughout the holiday the famous Mont Ventoux is ever present.The 'Giant of Provence', at 1900 metres , is now a UNESCO world heritage site. It has unique plants and ecosytem .Ferocious winds have scoured the summit area leaving stark white limestone scree or rock fields.An intimidating area when the Mistral wind blows..often up to 100km per hour.