iExplore France: A Taste of Provence

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  • Privately Guided
  • Starting Price: $6,571
  • Length: 8 days
  • Operator: iExplore Exclusive
  • 1-800-267-33479am - 5:30pm Eastern
    Destinations: Europe, France
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Tour Description

Welcome to Provence! Come and explore Provence on this specially prepared, privately guided program. Visit the magnificent papal stronghold of Avignon and the huge Palais des Papes, where seven exiled popes once resided. Tour the domain in Chateauneuf du Pape and enjoy a wine tasting. Stroll the antique shops in L'Isle sur Sorgue in search of that perfect souvenir. Explore the medieval villages that dot the countryside. See the truly astonishing Cathedral of Images, depicting the life and works of Picasso. Take in the great 12th century Abbey of Senanque and the enchanting village of Gordes. Explore the lesser-known region of upper Provence and visit a distillery that makes the signature aperitif of Provence and enjoy a tasting. Perhaps a private painting lesson? Create your own masterpiece and we will have it mailed home. Follow in the footsteps of Cézanne with a visit to his studio. Try not to miss the Picasso-Cézanne exhibit taking place at the Granet Museum.

Itinerary

Day 1: Avignon

On arrival in France at either Marseilles airport or Avignon TGV station, you will be met by an Akorn representative, shown to your waiting vehicle and transferred to your hotel, just outside Avignon.

Your local France Representative is part of a unique network of over 75 representatives throughout Europe who ensure your vacation operates smoothly and to your absolute satisfaction.  Your Representative is there on the ground to ensure that your travel arrangements run perfectly.  He/she is on the end of the phone for you should you have any queries and is there to assist you. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Le Prieure (B)

Day 2: Avignon/ Chateauneuf du Pape/ Avignon

Today transfer to Avignon city center and  meet your English-speaking local guide for a half-day walking tour (3 hrs) in the magnificent papal stronghold.  Visit the Clock Square before entering the huge Palais des Papes, where seven exiled popes lived between 1309 and 1377 and where the main rooms are decorated with excellent 14th century frescoes.

In the afternoon, travel north to Chateauneuf du Pape with your driver-guide. When touring by private car, we use an experienced driver-guide who will give commentary en-route although generally they are not permitted to enter the museums and historical sites with us.

The town is reknowned for its fabulous wines and is set amongst the hills overlooking its famous vineyards. There are now 35 Chateauneuf du Pape domains strictly controlled by the government. Visit a famous Domaine and enjoy a wine tasting before being driven back to your hotel. If time permits, you may enjoy a stroll in L’Isle sur Sorgue to browse it's antique shops for that perfect souvenir.

Le Prieure (B)

Day 3: Avignon/ Les Baux/ St Remy/ Avignon

Today meet your local English-speaking driver-guide and private vehicle for a full-day (8 hours) sightseeing tour to Les Baux-de-Provence, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Arles.  The medieval village citadel of Les Baux sits high above the surrounding countryside and boasts the truly astonishing “Cathedral of Images”, where large colored photographs depicting the life and works of Picasso are projected onto the walls of a huge cave, accompanied by atmospheric music.  You will also be able to visit St-Rémy-de-Provence with its Roman antiquities.  

OPTIONAL SIGHTSEEING: Private Tour of Avignon and surrounding areas in a Citroen 2CV

Discover Provence with your own private English speaking driver-guide.  Experience the small winding streets of Avignon in a traditional French car and receive a unique view of Provencal daily life.

Le Prieure (B)

Day 4: Avignon/ Lubéron/ Mane en Provence

The Lubéron, inspiration for the book “A Year in Provence,” is a region of rolling hills and verdant nature dotted with churches and rural communities. Your driver-guide will take you to the great 12th century Cistercian Abbey of Sénanque and to the enchanting village of Gordes before heading towards upper Provence. Stop en route in Cavaillon for a 2 hr Melon Discovery Tour (available June to September– this is a public tour). The tour includes a visit to a Melon Farm where full explanations behind the famous Melon de Cavaillon will be given. Tasting of the local delicacies is a must before heading on to the Luberon and upper Provence. 

Later this afternoon settle into the Couvent de Minimes, a former Convent that has been transformed into a hotel nestling below the Alps mountainside. You will be confirmed for three nights at Le Couvent des Minimes in standard accommodations, including breakfast.

Le Couvent des Minimes (B)

Day 5: Mane en Provence

Today with your driver-guide you will travel further into the lesser-known upper region of Provence. In Forcalquier visit an old distillery that makes the signature aperitif of Provence – pastis, where you will enjoy a tasting. Design the rest of your day by taking up one of these options:

OPTIONAL SIGHTSEEING #1:  Private painting lesson

A private painting lesson where you get to create your own masterpiece which your Akorn Representative will mail home to await your return.

OPTIONAL SIGHTSEEING #2:    Visit to the French National Observatory

Tonight you drive to the local French National Observatory to admire privately the bright stars of the night, considered to be the clearest in all of France.

Le Couvent des Minimes (B)

Day 6: Mane/Moustiers Ste Marie/ Gorges du Verdon/ Mane

This morning your driver-guide will take you to the factory of L’Occitane for a private visit to the famous Provence toiletry line, and continue to the charming village of Moustiers Ste Marie wedged in between two rocky bluffs and famous for its “faïence” potteries. Afterwards, drive the spectacular road above and along the awesome Gorges of Verdon. Considered one of the great natural wonders in France, and sometimes all of Europe, view breathtaking scenes of the river cascading along its course thousands of feet below. Later this afternoon return to the delightful Couvent des Minimes.

Le Couvent des Minimes (B)

Day 7: Mane en Provence – Aix en Provence

This morning transfer to Aix, with a stop en route to visit Mont Sainte Victoire, a local landmark made famous by Cezanne, and the renowned Chateau de Vauvenargues, Picasso’s final home and resting place.  Public visits to Picasso’s burial site will be possible for the first time since his death between the months of May and September.

After arrival at your hotel, your local English-speaking guide will meet you for a half day (3 hour) walking tour of Aix, once the capital of Provence. Enjoy the bustling Cours Mirabeau, the heart of the town, and a visit to Cézanne's studio. It was here that Cézanne painted some of his most well-known works and there is also a striking collection of simple objects which were once featured in his still-life paintings. Don’t miss the fantastic Picasso-Cezanne exhibition taking place at the Granet Museum. You will be confirmed for one night at Le Pigonnet in standard accommodations, including breakfast.

Le Pigonnet (B)

Day 8 : Depart Aix en Provence

Today you will be privately transferred to Marseilles airport or Aix train station.

End of Services- Bon Voyage!

(B)

HOTELS

AVIGNON - Le Prieure - 4*

Situated in the heart of the medieval town of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, the 14th Century building holds a lot of charm. The hotel is flavored with refined cuisine and scented by flowers, just minutes from Avignon and Nîmes, on the road to the vineyards of Châteauneuf du Pape. A tasteful blend of contemporary and antique styles, the 26 rooms are equipped with wi-fi, TV and a mini bar. The hotel also offers 4 suites and 9 junior suites.  

MANE EN PROVENCE - Le Couvent des Minimes – 4*

Originally constructed in 1613 as a monastery devoted to the study of nature, the Couvent des Minimes opened as a hotel and L’Occitane spa after a complete refurbishment in 2008.  The 46 rooms and suites overlook the beautiful surroundings and the spa offers a chance to relax in an atmosphere of complete peace and tranquility.  Enjoy dinner in the hotel’s renowned gastronomic restaurant or choose a light lunch beside the swimming pool on the terrace. 

AIX-EN-PROVENCE - Le Pigonnet – 4*

A quintessential Provençal mansion, Le Pigonnet has been a celebrated hotel run by the same family since 1924 and is surrounded by delightful gardens just a mile from the bustle of Aix-en-Provence. It has a unique atmosphere of comfort and hospitality which has been eloquently described as: 'an isle apart, set in the city'. Secluded bowers formed by flowering shrubs and hedges; mellowed urns, fountains and a swimming pool shaded by cypresses, umbrella pines and terracotta-roofed shelters creates a pre-Raphaelite idyll. Entering through its monumental gates, this 19th-century mansion with its Genoese-style towers appears as a breathtaking sight. Inside Le Pigonnet, the 50 hotel bedrooms are decorated in classic style with their regional fabrics and furniture putting you completely at ease. As the bright, Mediterranean sunlight streams through the windows, the colors and detail of comfortable furniture and elegant drapes positively glow. Lovers of Provençal cuisine will have cause to celebrate their discovery of Le Pigonnet.

*** THIS IS A PROPOSAL ONLY AND IS SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY AT THE TIME OF CONFIRMATION. WE ARE NOT HOLDING ANY SPACES FOR THIS ITINERARY AT THIS TIME. ***

Departures

Depart any day April 1-December 31, 2013! Contact an iExplore Adventure Consultant for details.

Pricing Information

2013 Taste of Provence Price per Person (USD)
One person traveling alone $12,377
Two people sharing one double/twin room $6,571

Inclusions

  • Buffet/ Continental breakfast
  • Accommodation at Le Prieure, Avignon
  • Accommodation at Le Couvent des Minimes, Mane
  • Accommodation at Le Pigonnet, Aix en Provence
  • Wine tasting in one of the Château neuf du Pape Domains
  • Melon Discovery Tour
  • Private visit to a pastis distillery
  • Private visit to L’Occitane factory
  • Private transport by Chrysler Voyager or similar
  • Expert local English-speaking guide for stated sightseeing on Day 2 & 7
  • Expert local English-speaking driver-guide for stated touring
  • Entrance fees to all sights and museums
  • The services of a local Representative including airport meeting on arrival in Marseilles (or station assistance in Avignon), telephone monitoring at each hotel and reconfirmation of arrangements with all service providers.
  • Welcome pack
  • All taxes
  • 24 hour emergency contact service of your agent.

Exclusions

  • All air travel and associated costs
  • All meals except breakfast each day
  • Private tour of Avignon in a legendary Citroen 2CV
  • Private painting lesson
  • Private visit to the French National Observatory
  • Porterage
  • Gratuities
  • All items of a personal nature (e.g. beverages, telephone calls, laundry, personal insurance)
  • Anything not specifically mentioned in the “Inclusions” list above.

All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.

Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.

Options and Extras

Tour Notes