Tailormade tour Avignon and Provence by rail and car France

8 nights/ 9 days

Avignon • Mont Ventoux area • Luberon • Arles

This touring holiday of Provence includes Eurostar from London to Avignon, 2 nights in Avignon and then a tour of Provence by hire-car so that you can explore the scenery and culture of the region. You stay in Avignon, near Mont Ventoux, at Bonnieux in the Luberon, and Arles.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £2,150 per person.

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to Avignon and Provence

Highlights

Avignon • Crillon-le-Brave • Visit Mont Ventoux • Wine-tasting in the Gigondas area • Visit Petrarch’s Fontaine-de-Vaucluse • Luberon • Visit St Remy de Provence • Visit Les Baux de Provence • Visit the Moulin de Daudet • Arles • Visit Aigues-Mortes • Visit the Camargue

Day by day

This touring holiday of Avignon and Provence whisks you from London St Pancras to Avignon direct by Eurostar. The direct service operates from the beginning of May until mid-September, 3 or 4 times a week. At other times, the holiday can be done with a change in Paris or Lille. The train leaves London at about 07.15 and arrives in Avignon just after 14.00 hrs. You have time to explore Avignon and find a restaurant in the old town for dinner. You spend two nights in Avignon.

You have today at leisure to explore the city of Avignon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is set on the banks of the majestic Rhone river and was the seat of the Catholic popes for most of the 14th century, only coming under French rule in 1791. Its centre, which is surrounded by high mediaeval ramparts, houses the imposing Palais des Papes, the largest gothic palace in the world. The old town of Avignon is home to numerous other architectural gems including the 12th century cathedral, the ramparts, and the famous Pont d’Avignon. Hiding amongst the streets are several gardens and in the summer months your visit may coincide with the Avignon Theatre Festival, founded in 1947 and recognised to be one of the greatest in the world. Watch performances of theatre and dance; listen to readings; and indulge in the vibrancy and colour of the event that makes superb use of the city’s historical buildings and monuments. Other museums are the Calvet Museum and the Musee du Petit Palais, the Collection Lambert and the Musee Lapidaire.

Collect your hire-car today, and drive from Avignon the short distance to the foothills of Mont Ventoux and your stop in Crillon-le-Brave. Instead of going directly there, make the most of your car and perhaps head out to the magnificent Pont-du-Gard and then north to Orange before dropping back through the wine villages to Crillon-le-Brave where you spend two nights.

You have a full day to relax and explore this part of the Vaucluse. The base of Mont Ventoux is clustered with small market towns such as Caromb or Carpentras. Less than 45 minutes away lie the tranquil turquoise waters of beautiful Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. Follow the trail of water exquisite in its clarity and colour through the pools and channels created by this subterranean spring, and water that has inspired poets for hundreds of years. Petrarch lived here in the 14th century and his now is now a museum. There is also a museum of the Resistance, a museum of Provencal ‘santons’, workshops of hand-blown crystal and a mill making paper by hand using 15th century techniques.

Today is a glorious, gentle drive into some of the most beautiful countryside of Provence as you enter the Luberon, a gentle landscape of vineyards, orchards, rolling hills and home to the famous lavender and sunflowers, associated greatly with Provence. Your destination in this region is the village of Bonnieux, one of the finest in the area, where you spend two nights.

From the hill-top village of Bonnieux enjoy the views of the Luberon, wander its pretty streets, taste regional specialities in its cafes and restaurants, and visit its baker museum and the famous Roman bridge in the valley below. Just 25 minutes from Bonneiux is one of the finest examples of the famous Provencal lavender fields at the Abbaye de Sénanque, just outside the village of Gordes. The former Cistercian monastery dates from 1148 and now guests can take tours of the church and cloisters and feast their eyes on beautiful fields of lavender beyond (the lavender is usually harvested by the beginning of August and is in bloom from the end of June). For a more in- depth view of the history of lavender in Provence why not visit the Musée de la Lavande in Coustellet. Gordes itself is one of the most beautiful villages in Provence and nearby is the curious Village des Bories, an open-air museum of stone dwellings possibly dating as far back as the Bronze Age.

Today you should not take the most direct route between the two places but enjoy a detour through the Alpilles, a chain on limestone mountains, full of lots of natural scenery and displaying an authentic Provence. This is the land of the authors Alphonse Daudet (you can see his mill at Fontvieille) and Frederic Mistral and of Van Gogh who lived in St Remy de Provence. The landscape has the limestone peaks, but pine and oak forests, fields of olive trees and avenues of cypress. Dotted around are farmhouse of ancient drystone. St Remy de Provence is the place to head for first, where three civilisations are represented in a single site at Glanum, then to Les Baux de Provence, a mountain-top village with 22 historic monuments and with outstanding views over the countryside below. From Les Baux you are just 8 km from Fontvielle, a pretty village with ancient houses and where Alphonse Daudet wrote his famous ‘Lettres de Mon Moulin’. Arles, your destination for today, is just 7km from here. You stay at Arles for two nights.

Arles is an ancient city on the river Rhone and gateway to the Camargue. Important in Roman times, the amphitheatre is a major landmark of the city today, where plays, concerts and bull flights are held. There is also a Gallo-Roman theatre, an aqueduct and Roman baths. The city and its surrounds inspired Van Gogh when he lived here for 18 months in 1888-1889. From Arles explore the nearby marshlands of the Camargue, at the delta of the river Rhone. The Camargue is approximately a third lakes or marshland and home to more than 400 species of birds. Horses and cattle roam the area. It is worth heading for the fortified, walled town of Aigues-Mortes which seemingly rises from the marshes and saltpans of the Camargue, although not officially in Provence as it is in the department of the Gard in Languedoc.

The direct Eurostar to London from Avignon leaves at 16.00 hrs so you have most of the day to either relax in Arles, or to stop off somewhere on the route back to Avignon. You return your hire-car, and then Eurostar arrives in London just after 22.00 hrs.

All arrangements passed off promptly and smoothly. The hotels were perfect - and your advice at booking was efficient and helpful. Thank you.
Mr B, July 2016

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,150 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and including standard class rail travel. Supplement for standard premier about £220 per person.

Holiday Code FRBR01

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to Avignon and Provence

All arrangements passed off promptly and smoothly. The hotels were perfect - and your advice at booking was efficient and helpful. Thank you.
Mr B, July 2016

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,150 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and including standard class rail travel. Supplement for standard premier about £220 per person.

Holiday Code FRBR01

Our prices include ● Standard class Eurostar from London to Avignon return (standard premier can be booked at a supplement)
● Hire of a Group B car for 7 days
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard room at the Cloitre St Louis, Avignon
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard room at Hostellerie de Crillon le Brave in Crillon-le-Brave
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard room at Le Domaine de Capelongue, Bonnieux
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic room at Hotel Jules Cesar in Arles
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel

Additional information Driving times for this rail-drive touring holiday of Provence
Avignon to Crillon-le-Brave 50 minutes
Crillon-le-Brave to Bonnieux 60 minutes
Bonnieux to Arles 1 hour 20 mins
Arles to Avignon 1 hour

All arrangements passed off promptly and smoothly. The hotels were perfect - and your advice at booking was efficient and helpful. Thank you.
Mr B, July 2016

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,150 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and including standard class rail travel. Supplement for standard premier about £220 per person.

Holiday Code FRBR01

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to Avignon and Provence

Highlights of Provence

Cultural highlights include santons, Souleiado Provençal fabrics, herbs and lavender, wine and olive oil, melons and pastis, boules and berets.

Provence Climate

Average air temperatures in Centigrade: January: 12.2, February: 11.9, March: 14.2, April: 18.5, May: 20.8, June: 26.6, July: 28.1, August: 28.4, September: 25.2, October: 22.1, November: 16.8, December: 14.1. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France.

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