Tailormade tour Provence fly-drive touring holiday France

8 nights/9 days

Crillon-le-Brave • Joucas • Luberon • Aix-en-Provence • Arles

This touring holiday of Provence has been designed to both delight in the landscapes and scenery it displays to you, but also in the rich cultural traditions of this ancient and very beautiful land. Limestone peaks, ancient Roman sites, the landscapes of Cezanne and Van Gogh, fields of vines, olives, sunflowers and lavender and perched hill villages. You stay near Mont Ventoux and in the Luberon, Aix-en-Provence and Arles.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £2,160 per person.

Luxury fly-drive tailormade touring holiday to Provence

This 8-night fly-drive touring holiday of Provence begins in Marseille. Collect your hire-car and drive north, viewing the impressions Montagne Sainte-Victoire in the distance. You pass Avignon and reach your first stop in the pretty village of Crillon-le-Brave, in the foothills of Mont Ventoux and just a short distance from the renowned wine villages of Gigondas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Beaumes-de-Venise and Vacqueyras. In the three nights you spend here there is time to explore the wine country nearby or to drive into the papal city of Avignon, or the towns of Orange or Nimes, both rich in Roman history. As you leave Crillon-le-Brave heading for Joucas in the Luberon, you pass through the beautiful landscape of olive groves, orchards, lavender bed and sunflower fields, so often associated with Provence. Joucas is a charming hill-village, not far from its more famous neighbour, Gordes, enjoying a reputation as one of the most beautiful villages in Provence. There are local markets to visit in the villages of the Luberon most days of the week. The journey from Joucas to Aix-en-Provence crosses through the heart of the Luberon. Aix-en-Provence has amazing character and verve; it is truly Provencal in its architecture and vegetation, yet it is renowned for its cultural sophistication with excellent restaurants, shops and music and art. Cezanne’s atelier is here in Aix. After your night in Aix, we recommend a slight detour on the way to Arles, and a visit to the Alpilles region south of Avignon. This is a region where local traditions have been well-preserved and there is the charming Roman town of St Remy de Provence and a mediaeval, pedestrianised hill village of Les Baux de Provence. It is an area rich in literary and artistic associations, made famous by Van Gogh and the writer Alphonse Daudet. Your final two nights are spent in Arles, famous for its well-preserved Roman architecture, as gateway to the marshlands of the Camargue and home to Van Gogh during a very productive period in Provence.

Highlights

Crillon-le-Brave • Visit Mont Ventoux • Wine-tasting in the Gigondas area • Visit Petrarch’s Fontaine-de-Vaucluse • Joucas • Luberon • Aix-en-Provence • 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

Your fly-drive touring holiday of Provence starts when you arrive in Marseille, collect your hire-car and drive for about an hour and a half to the pretty village of Crillon-le-Brave, situated in gently undulating countryside of fields and orchards, with magnificent views of Mont Ventoux in the near distance. The village is very attractive with houses of golden stone, small squares and narrow streets. It is in the Cotes du Ventoux wine region. You stay here for three nights at the Hotel de Crillon-le-Brave, perched at the very top of this traditional French village, it is a charming, luxury hotel, composed of converted stables, a school, a presbytery, and houses, and sitting on multiple levels, affording fantastic views of the Provence landscape all around.

You have two full days to explore this part of the Vaucluse. If wine-tasting appeals then venture out to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Beaumes-de-Venise or Vacqueyras, to taste the best wines of the region. The base of Mont Ventoux is clustered with small market towns such as Caromb or Carpentras. Drive the short distance to Avignon to witness its wealth of impressive ancient and mediaeval architecture. From the Palais des Papes, the largest gothic palace in the world, to the multiple hidden gardens that are scattered along the old city streets, Avignon is a place of veritable beauty. In the summer months your visit may coincide with the Avignon Theatre Festival, founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar 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. 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 Joucas where you spend two nights.

Today should be spend exploring the landscape and the neighbouring villages of the Luberon. Just 20 minutes from Joucas 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. Explore along the Sorgue River and the surrounding countryside by bike or on foot. Local markets take place in the villages every day: Lourmarin and Bonnieux on a Friday, Gordes on a Tuesday and Menerbes on a Thursday, for example.

Continue your tour through the villages of the Luberon before you reach the delightful city of Aix-en-Provence, overlooked by the Montagne Saint-Victoire, recognisable from the works of Cezanne. Recognised as a cosmopolitan hub of the south of France, the streets of Aix-en-Provence are lined with boutique shops specialising in art, jewellery, and fashion. Fine dining is also an attractive in Aix with exclusive cafés and Michelin-starred restaurants, many on the Cours Mirabeau. Yet, it is the historical heritage of the town that really makes its chic cosmopolitan side come to life. A haven for Paul Cézanne, his ‘atelier’ is available for viewing, recreating the artistic and productive space in which he used to work. A short walk from the ‘atelier’ is Les Lauves, the spot from which Cézanne developed his love affair with Montagne Sainte-Victoire. On Saturday mornings there are busy farmers’ markets and the Musee du Calisson, where you can learn about the famous sweets. The main art gallery is the Musee Granet in the Mazarin district, full of elegant 17th and 18th century townhouses. You spend one night in Aix-en-Provence.

Today you travel from Aix-en-Provence to Arles but we suggest you take a slight detour north of the obvious route, to head into the Parc Regional des Alpilles and witness yet another landscape of Provence. Les Alpilles are 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.

Today, continue to explore the town of Arles, depending on the time of your return flight from Marseille to London.

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 £2,160 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRFD01

Luxury fly-drive tailormade touring holiday to Provence

Your fly-drive touring holiday of Provence starts when you arrive in Marseille, collect your hire-car and drive for about an hour and a half to the pretty village of Crillon-le-Brave, situated in gently undulating countryside of fields and orchards, with magnificent views of Mont Ventoux in the near distance. The village is very attractive with houses of golden stone, small squares and narrow streets. It is in the Cotes du Ventoux wine region. You stay here for three nights at the Hotel de Crillon-le-Brave, perched at the very top of this traditional French village, it is a charming, luxury hotel, composed of converted stables, a school, a presbytery, and houses, and sitting on multiple levels, affording fantastic views of the Provence landscape all around.

You have two full days to explore this part of the Vaucluse. If wine-tasting appeals then venture out to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Beaumes-de-Venise or Vacqueyras, to taste the best wines of the region. The base of Mont Ventoux is clustered with small market towns such as Caromb or Carpentras. Drive the short distance to Avignon to witness its wealth of impressive ancient and mediaeval architecture. From the Palais des Papes, the largest gothic palace in the world, to the multiple hidden gardens that are scattered along the old city streets, Avignon is a place of veritable beauty. In the summer months your visit may coincide with the Avignon Theatre Festival, founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar 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. 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 Joucas where you spend two nights.

Today should be spend exploring the landscape and the neighbouring villages of the Luberon. Just 20 minutes from Joucas 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. Explore along the Sorgue River and the surrounding countryside by bike or on foot. Local markets take place in the villages every day: Lourmarin and Bonnieux on a Friday, Gordes on a Tuesday and Menerbes on a Thursday, for example.

Continue your tour through the villages of the Luberon before you reach the delightful city of Aix-en-Provence, overlooked by the Montagne Saint-Victoire, recognisable from the works of Cezanne. Recognised as a cosmopolitan hub of the south of France, the streets of Aix-en-Provence are lined with boutique shops specialising in art, jewellery, and fashion. Fine dining is also an attractive in Aix with exclusive cafés and Michelin-starred restaurants, many on the Cours Mirabeau. Yet, it is the historical heritage of the town that really makes its chic cosmopolitan side come to life. A haven for Paul Cézanne, his ‘atelier’ is available for viewing, recreating the artistic and productive space in which he used to work. A short walk from the ‘atelier’ is Les Lauves, the spot from which Cézanne developed his love affair with Montagne Sainte-Victoire. On Saturday mornings there are busy farmers’ markets and the Musee du Calisson, where you can learn about the famous sweets. The main art gallery is the Musee Granet in the Mazarin district, full of elegant 17th and 18th century townhouses. You spend one night in Aix-en-Provence.

Today you travel from Aix-en-Provence to Arles but we suggest you take a slight detour north of the obvious route, to head into the Parc Regional des Alpilles and witness yet another landscape of Provence. Les Alpilles are 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.

Today, continue to explore the town of Arles, depending on the time of your return flight from Marseille to London.

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,160 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRFD01

Our prices include ● Scheduled British Airways flights London to Marseille return
● Hire of a Group B car for the duration of the holiday
● 3 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 Hotel le Phebus in Joucas
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic room at Villa Gallici in Aix-en-Provence
● 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 fly-drive touring holiday of Provence
Marseille to Crillon-le-Brave 1 hour 25 minutes
Crillon-le-Brave to Joucas 50 minutes
Joucas to Aix-en-Provence 1 hour 15 minutes
Aix-en-Provence to Arles 1 hour
Arles to Marseille 1 hour 10 minutes

Holiday price guide

Prices from £2,160 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRFD01

Luxury fly-drive tailormade touring holiday to Provence

About Provence

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to Provence, the land which is the ancient province of the Romans, offers a rich tapestry of landscapes, culture and traditions. From the sunflower fields of Van Gogh`s Arles, to the sandy marshes of the Camargue, from the Cezanne like landscapes of Aix inland to the olive groves and lavender beds that surround the perched hill top villages, and finally to the dramatic coastline of the azure Mediterranean where the sandy beaches, craggy corniches and fishing villages have been transformed into a sophisticated holiday playground you experience a multitude of contrasting and complementary senses and images. The perfumes of lavender, thyme, rosemary, citrus, pine and olive mingle in the air and the light is bright and clear. Add to all these sensations a wonderful climate, good food and local wine and unlimited sporting and sightseeing activities and you can understand why Provence is not just an ideal holiday destination but a romantic way of life. Provence still has miles of open road across country, tiny, sleepy villages, dramatic hills and craggy peaks, beautiful, sense enriching panoramas and aromas all waiting for you to explore and enjoy.

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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