(Southern France)

2014 Itinerary

In seven awe inspiring days, you'll experience some of the very best of southern France. Beginning with a visit to Nimes and Arles with their impressive Roman remains, the Roman Pont du Gard, delightful villages in the Massif Central, the rugged gorges of the Cevennes, the fortified medieval city of Carcassonne, historic holdouts in Cathar country, Collioure the gem of the Catalonian coast, ancient Abbeys and so much more.

Day 1:  Welcome to southern France
We'll meet at around 5 p.m. on the patio of our hotel for a little wine and cheese. After a chance to get acquainted with our fellow travellers we'll venture into the city centre for a walking tour, followed by dinner together. Arles 2 nights. (D)

Day 2: Roman Remains
Our day begins with a visit to Nimes a farsighted city which successfully combines the old with the avant-garde. Visit the ancient temple of the Maison Carrée a fine example of Roman architectural flair with its delicate Corinthian columns. Explore the 2000 year old amphitheatre, then catch your breath in the lovely Jardin de la Fontaine, an 18th century network of terraces, bridges, fountains and water pools. After, we head to the Pont du Gard, one of the finest remaining Roman aqueducts in the world. We'll have a picnic dinner in the shadow of this monumental work before for heading back to Arles for the evening. (B/D)

Day 3: La Camargue and the Massif Central
Today we'll drive through La Camargue, a lively area where pink flamingos, wild bulls and the famous white horses roam freely amid lagoons, marshes and rice fields. Visit the peaceful village Aigues-Mortes, surrounded by the impressive fortified city walls with their imposing towers. After lunch we head up to the Massif Central, Frances 3rd mountain range. Stop at La Cavalier, a fortified village founded in the 12th century by the Knights Templar, located on the plateau of Larzac. We'll walk the ramparts with its towers and battlements before carrying on to Lozere, known as Frances '''Lost department". The evening is all yours to wander the streets and canals of La Canorgue, known as the Petite Venice.
La Canorgue 2 nights. (B/L)

Day 4: La Canorgue and the Gorges du Tarn
It's market day in the medieval village La Canorgue. You'll have the morning to stroll and rub elbows with locals sampling fresh produce and regional specialties while doing their weekly shopping. We'll meet back at the hotel just after lunch, then take a drive through the Cevennes mountains, which offer spectacular natural formations, on our way to the Gorges du Tarn. Situated in the deep gorge gouged by the Tarn river is the picturesque village St. Enimie, We will visit this, the capital of the gorge, and learn of its' legendary spring at Burle, and its' mythical powers. From St Schely you'll embark upon a canoe ride down this tranquil river. Take a short break at your hotel before heading high up into the Aubrac for dinner, enjoying local cuisine.  (B/D)

Day 5: Roquefort, ancient villages and Cathar country
Today we'll make our way to Roquefort, world famous for its ewe's milk cheese. Take a tour of the caves where this delicacy is kept to mature, forming the trade mark bluish-green veins of Roquefort cheese. We head down to the plains of Languedoc, a pleasant journey through fields of grapevines, along the banks of slow rivers and roads lined with plane trees. We'll pause to visit an unusual treasure, Puissalicon, one of a very special series of ancient villages known as 'circulades' that were formed in a circular pattern. Then it's on to our history-rich destination, Carcassonne, the largest medieval site in Europe. Carcassonne 1 night.  (B/L)

Day 6: Collioure the goddess of Roussillon
We'll spend our morning visiting Minerve, surrounded by a sea of vines. Learn of its defiant past, when this Cathar refuge held out against the infamous Simon de Montford during the Albigensian crusade. After a quick drive we'll arrive at the delightful Catalan port of Collioure, where you can take a vacation from your vacation. After an early afternoon walking tour, the remainder of the day is yours to relax and unwind. Stroll the pretty little alleyways lined with colourful pastel houses, lounge on one of the pebbled beaches along this horseshoe-shaped bay. Enjoy one of the sweet Banyuls wines or Collioure red and roses while getting caught up on your journal in this splendid setting that has been the inspiration for artist such as Picasso, Matisse and Chagall. Collioure 1 night. (B/L)

Day 7: Fontfroide and Palavas
This morning we'll follow the Mediterranean coastline, on our way to Fontfroide. Hidden in the depths of a valley full of cypress trees, arbutus and cistus is the beautiful Abbey de Fontfroide. Founded by monks in the 11th century after discovering a cold spring, the Abbey, a massive church, its barrel vaulted nave, sublime Gothic cloisters and a monks dormitory is an oasis of peace and tranquility. We then continue along the coast to Palavas-les-Flots where we'll spend awhile on the strip of sand dunes at this seaside resort. Spend a relaxed afternoon strolling, bathing or tanning. Have a swim and an ice-cream before driving to Arles. We will arrive in time for some last-minute sightseeing before sharing a farewell dinner together. Arles 1 night. (B/L/D)

Day 8: Tour ends after breakfast
For those staying longer, it's outdoor market day in Arles, a truly colourful experience, or today would be a great day to join us on the ultimate tour of Provence. If you're travelling on, your guide will be happy to assist you with any help or planning needs to send you off in the right direction. For those heading home or to different destinations there are transfers available to the train station in Avignon. (B)

Au bientot!

(Itinerary specifics subject to change)



“Thank you so much for a marvelous two weeks. We had an absolutely wonderful experience! The places we visited and hotel choices were superb. The mix of group and free time was just right and the pace was very relaxing. We look forward to taking another trip with your company. Our guide’s love of Europe was infections, Merci beaucoup for the trip of a lifetime!”

Scott and Naoko Swift, Vancouver B.C. .


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