The Experience

Food and art are passions in Southern France and key ingredients. Mix a chef, a food expert, a sommelier, trips to local markets, a cooking class and a wine tasting in one of the world’s great wine region and what follows is a mouth-watering portrait of Provence. Paint in idyllic walks down lanes that inspired Cezanne in Aix, contemporary art on the grounds of a classic Proveneal chateau, an insider tour with a van Gogh art scholar in St. Remy, a picnic in a lavender meadow, exploring the Roman ruins of Glanum, soft landscapes changing hues in the waning sun, and a farewell in Chateauneuf-du-Pape… and the palette of your Provence tour becomes richer still. DAY 1 Arrive Marseille, transfer to Aix-en-Provence for art and a mansion hotel MEALS D Our Culturious Provence tour begins: 3:00 PM at Le Pigonnet, Aix-en-Provence. A transfer is included from Marseille Provence Airport to Le Pigonnet in Aix-en-Provence. As it has millions of wayfarers before you, and not a few sailors from all corners of the glob, the old “port” of Marseille welcomes you to the south of France. And so commences a sensual journey through Provence,¦ past lavender fields and ancient stone walls,¦ a true feast for the senses. To the locals, Aix-en-Provence is simply Aix., Strolling its boulevards with a local guide, you’re taking in the same views that inspired Cazanne,¦ Gauguin,¦ van Gogh,¦ Zola,¦ no doubt ready to share your own ,“ um ,“ impressions of this charming old university town with the world. Aix’s grandest boulevard, the Cours Mirabeau, dates back to the 17th century. Lined with plane-trees, elaborate fountains and opulent mansions, it invites a leisurely bike ride, a brisk walk, or a cognac in one of its many popular cafes. So what will it be a drawing? A painting? A novel? Take your time to decide; there’s no hurry. But first, join us for cocktails, canapas, and a sumptuous dinner in your 18th-century mansion hotel as we begin the ultimate Provence tour… for the Culturious. Lodging Le Pigonnet DAY 2 C’est Cazanne, Chateau La Coste and more in “Aix” MEALS B, L Follow the footsteps of post-Impressionist painter Paul Cazanne through his hometown today. See the landscapes he painted, the fields where local residents became his subjects, the views of Mont Sainte-Victoire that so inspired him, and the studio where he worked. Garner a few handy phrases en francais from your Tauck Director as you explore. Head just north of “Aix” to Chateau La Coste, a classic Provensal chateau, vineyard and estate whose heart ,“ a 17th-century Venetian-style villa ,“ is surrounded by olive groves, hilltops covered by oaks and almond trees, and hundreds of acres of lovingly tended vines. Discover works by some of Europe’s greatest living artists on a walk through the chateau’s expanding sculpture gardens, or visit its working organic winery, and enjoy lunch al fresco (weather permitting). Then return to Aix for a free afternoon and evening with dinner on your own in this inspiring city… and perhaps become inspired yourself to create a masterwork of your own… Lodging Le Pigonnet DAY 3 Gordes, a Provensal picnic and on to Joucas MEALS B, L Savor a visual feast of fairy-tale villages, meadows and moorlands as you explore Gordes today. Stroll the town,™s arcaded medieval lanes and stop by a market to pick up the makings of a traditional picnic lunch ,“ perhaps a baguette, fruits and meats, cheese, olives and, naturellement, wine,¦ whatever tempts your palate! Rich with color, chalk and red ochre cliffs, cedar forests and river-hewn gorges surround. Enjoy your picnic lunch in a Provensal meadow, then join your local guide for a walking tour of Bonnieux’s narrow streets and 13th-century walls; spend some time wandering among its art galleries and medieval buildings on your own. Continue to your lovely inn in Joucas, set on parklike grounds within what was once a stone farmhouse. Lodging Hostellerie Le Phabus DAY 4 Time stands still in the Luberon ,“ Abbaye de Senanque, Ménerbes and Roussillon MEALS B, L, D Some call the hilltop villages of the Luberon the sentinels of time., No wonder. Looking out over wild stretches of cedar and oak, they seem to have been here forever. Enjoy a morning walk to the medieval Abbaye de Senanque; founded in the 12th century, it is still tended by a small community of Cistercian monks. Next, visit Manerbes, which author Peter Mayle made world-famous in A Year in Provence; enjoy a delicious lunch of typical French fare, then follow it with an easy hike through the quarries of Roussillon, where the deep ochre used in the town’s architecture harmoniously blends into the warmth of the natural surroundings. Dine tonight at the hotel, where the chef / owner was recently awarded the “Rising Chef” award by Relais & Chateaux. Lodging Hostellerie Le Phabus DAY 5 Fontaine-de-Vaucluse on the Sorgue and the Pont du Gard MEALS B, D Deep beneath the hills of Provence, the most powerful spring in France bursts forth at nearly 20,000 gallons per second to feed the Sorgue River, emerging in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, once the home of the Italian poet, Petrarch. See the paper mill and the old water mill, mirrored in amazing emerald green water; the village is the perfect place for lunch on your own. A three-level, 2,000-year-old aqueduct spanning the River Gardon, the Pont du Gard stands as testimony to the Romans’ amazing engineering skills and love of baths. Learn more about it as you walk the pont, ,“ a UNESCO World Heritage Site ,“ and visit its new museum. Arrive late afternoon at Auberge de Cassagne & Spa in Le Pontet-Avignon for a three-night stay. In addition to its lovely gardens, the hotel,™s Michelin-starred restaurant, where you’ll enjoy dinner tonight, is a real treat! Lodging Auberge de Cassagne and Spa DAY 6 A day of wining and dining in Avignon. On market day in Avignon, partake in the process of bringing great Provensal food from the market to the plate. Join a chef on a buying trip to an Avignon market ,“ smelling, tasting, and feeling your way through the fresh produce, breads, meats and cheeses. Learn the chef’s kitchen secrets firsthand as you help prepare a traditional meal in a hands-on cooking lesson. And after a professional sommelier guides you through a tasting of fine Rhine wines, it’s time to eat, drink, and be very merry. For much of the 14th century, the Roman Catholic popes ruled from Avignon. Take an insider’s look at the ten-towered Palais des Papes they built for themselves ,“ more fortress than palace ,“ or if you wish, explore lovely Avignon on your own. You’ll have free time today to spend as you wish. A bicycle ride? A walk? A long afternoon drink in a cafe? Whatever you choose, add it to your list of memorable Culturious Provence tour moments. Tonight, dine on your own in an Avignon cafe or restaurant; our shuttle can take you back from town to the hotel. Lodging Auberge de Cassagne and Spa DAY 7 Van Gogh’s footsteps in St-Remy, Glanum and Chateauneuf-du-Pape MEALS B, D Art and beauty are one… shared with the world by Vincent van Gogh, whose work personified the region’s extraordinary light. This Provence tour visits the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole in St-Rémy-de-Provence, where van Gogh went to heal and hide out… and where he created over 150 works, including Starry Night. Glimpse inside the artist’s troubled mind as van Gogh scholar Mathilde Duvilliers shares insights on his complicated life, and reads from his letters, while you walk in his footsteps. The ancients roamed here too; explore the ruins of the Roman city of Glanum, one of the largest and oldest archaeological sites in France, before enjoying lunch on your own. Indulge in the luxurious amenities of your resort during a free afternoon, then travel to nearby Chateauneuf-du-Pape ,“ one of the country’s premier wine-growing regions ,“ to celebrate the flavors of Provence with cocktails, canapes and local wine, followed by a spectacular dinner of Provensal specialties… a perfect finis to your Culturious Provence tour! Lodging Auberge de Cassagne and Spa DAY 8 Au revoir, Provence. Your Culturious Provence tour ends in Marseille. The warm, inviting colors,¦ sun-kissed meadows, those amazing Provensal flavors, intangible sensory imagery that linger not only on the return to Marseille and on your flight home, but far beyond, A transfer is included from Auberge de Cassagne & Spa to Marseille Provence Airport; allow three hours for check-in… au revoir!

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