Depart London St Pancras early this morning, after meeting your
group at our Departure Office. Take the direct Eurostar service to
Avignon, then transfer to your hotel.
Day 2 - Les Halles Food Market
Today begins with a guided tour of Avignon, and includes visits
to its most famous attractions. Afterwards, you enjoy some local
culinary specialties in 2 renowned establishments, as well as a
tour of Avignon's Les Halles Food Market, which impressively
features over 40 different stands of seasonal produce.
Day 3 - The Camargue and Arles
Set out on a full-day excursion by coach to 2 of Provence's
picturesque towns. Begin in the Camargue, 140,000 hectares of
natural wetlands that play host to some unexpected wildlife,
including white horses and flamingos. This is a paradise for nature
lovers as the region is also home to some unusual paddy fields
which produce red rice - a fascinating sight.
Continue to Arles, a centre of Provençal tradition and culture.
With a long history dating back to Celtic times, over the years
Arles has been left with a rich variety of architecture, which you
can explore during your visit. Take in the stunning Roman
amphitheatre and enjoy the myriad of Romanesque architecture and
sun-baked houses. Arles was the inspiration for some of Van Gogh's
art and its heritage harks back to the glory days of Julius Caesar.
Once a major Roman port, the town rose to prominence after Caesar
plundered Marseille for backing his political opponent, and
evidence of that prosperity is preserved wonderfully for all to
Day 4 - Pont du Gard
Travel by coach to the remarkable Pont du Gard, built in about
50AD, using solid blocks hewn from the nearby rock - with no mortar
to hold them together.
One of France's most recognisable landmarks, this impressive
structure stands 161 feet above the Gardon River, and spans 902
feet across it. Originally the mighty aqueduct was part of a
30-mile waterway, used to transport 4.4 million gallons of water
from the River Eure to Nîmes every day. The mineral deposits on the
aqueduct indicate that it was still being used in the 9th century,
long after the fall of the Roman Empire.
In the Middle Ages the structure survived in its secondary
function as a toll bridge. Despite of all the interventions of
time, the Pont du Gard has remained in such good condition that, as
late as the 19th century, it was even proposed that the aqueduct
could again be part of an active water network. The bridge even
survived severe flooding in 2002 and suffered no damage. This
miracle of Roman architecture is a UNESCO World Heritage site which
now attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Days 5-6 - Exploring Provence
Embark on a discovery of the villages of Provence and the
Luberon Valley today, a picturesque region, known for its olive
groves, vineyards, and fascinating hilltop villages. Driving
through the idyllic countryside, arrive in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue,
also known as the 'Venice of Provence' for the canals which criss
cross the town. Relax in one of the delightful waterside cafés and
see the attractive waterwheels located throughout the town, all of
which are in good working order.
After your explorations, continue to Gordes, a beautiful old
village built on and around an outcrop of rocky cliffs. The
buildings are packed tightly together, including the 12th-century
castle, with narrow alleyways and stone staircases acting as the
village streets. The views of the surrounding fields and forests
are spectacular from any vantage point in Gordes, which is listed
as one of 'Les Plus Beaux Villages de France' - 'the Most Beautiful
Villages in France'. Another village in that prestigious list is
Roussillon, located only a short distance away. Set on the ridge of
a steep red cliff, it is surrounded by a pine forest, its superb
setting outdone only by the beauty of the village itself. The small
centre is filled with colourful old buildings and a spiralling
network of medieval streets.
On Day 6, enjoy time at leisure to explore.
Avignon is well known for its famous broken bridge, Pont St
Bénezet. All but 4 of its arches were washed away in a devastating
flood in 1668, while those that survived have become an iconic
symbol of the city, even featuring in the famous children's song.
Avignon is also home to the Palais des Papes - Palace of the Popes
- which was the seat of the Papacy for 6 successive Popes during
the 14th century after Pope Clement V escaped the violent chaos and
corruption of Rome. These landmarks now form the heart of a UNESCO
World Heritage site - one that is surrounded by broad space
tree-lined avenues as well as an intriguing network of alleyways,
each connected to open squares and pretty churches.
Day 7 - Return to London
After a morning at leisure, transfer to the station for the
direct Eurostar service back to London.
Please note that while every departure of this tour features the
same excursions, they may not necessarily be in the order listed
The services of a professional UK Tour Manager from start to finish
Hotel Bristol, Avignon
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