Published on April 14th, 2014 | by Ann Rickard2
Provence Tour – Itinerary
Day 1 – Saturday
Meet your hosts, Ann and Geoffrey (that’s us) in the arrivals hall (near the tourism information office) at Avignon TGV at 5 pm.
We’ll get you into an air-conditioned mini-van for the 40 minute pleasant drive to our destination in Uzes.
When we arrive your bags will be exchanged for a glass of champagne.
Ann will give you a briefing in the garden while your bags are whisked away to your rooms.
Explore the house, unpack and settle into your room. All the bedrooms are comfortable. Bathrooms are modern and light-filled.
The property is right in the heart of Uzes with its labrythine streets, the leafy plane trees, the abundance of coffee shops, boutiques, wine bars and restaurants.
Yet it is private behind the walls, the pool big enough to do laps.
When you are refreshed, back into the garden for welcome cocktails before a gourmet dinner – it might be at the property or if there’s a festival in town, we’ll go out.
(Note). Our cooks for these two weeks are not all restaurant chefs but passionate foodies. We will eat local produce and enjoy typical dishes from the region while drinking the wines from the area.
Day 2 – Sunday
Breakfast each morning will be baguettes (you’ll swoon over the quality of the bread), croissants (chocolate, stretchy waist bands required), jams, yogurt, fruit, coffee and tea.
Over breakfast, we’ll go over a few basic French words, just enough for you to greet people.
It’s Sunday and we’ve planned a casual morning so not to overwhelm you. We’ll drive you around the nearby town and villages to let you get your bearings.
We want to immerse you slowly into the French culture.
Back at the house, our sommelier and gentleman host, the irreplaceable Geoffrey, will pour the rose wine. It is perfectly acceptable to drink wine during the day in France.
You will be drinking mostly pink rose wine as this region is famous for it – although they do crisp whites and bold reds.
While we sip the wine by the pool, a local foodie will prepare lunch. We usually have a goat cheese salad or tarte tatin on this first day. You’ll be delighted at how high-flavoured the produce is in France.
After lunch, relax by the pool.. You’ll be feeling a little French already having heard the locals talk and seen the signs for patisseries and boulangerie all over the place.
Road stalls selling abricots (apricots) and cerise (cherries) will be a common sight.
We are thrilled to base you in this region surrounded by orchards and grape vines.
If we’re lucky, the sunflowers will be out showing us their happy faces.
We will also see scatterings of wild red poppies. The smell of lavender will be everywhere.
In the evening a local foodie will prepare a typical Provencal meal while the sommelier Geoffrey chills the wine.
Day 3 – Monday
Today we go to Roussillon and Gordes. Situated in the heart of one of the biggest ochre deposits in the world, Roussillon is famous for its red cliffs and ochre quarries.
The red, yellow and brown shades of the earth form a striking contrast to the lush green pine trees.
The vivid blue of the Provençal sky and the exceptional quality of light make this a magical site.
The village is a picturesque maze of streets and squares. The ochre façades of the houses vary in shades subtly from light yellow to dark red, set off by the brightly painted shutters and doors.
From the base of the village to the summit of the Castrum and its splendid view, Roussillon is a delight.
Then to Gordes
Standing on the edge of the plateau of Vaucluse, Gordes is one of the prettiest villages of the Luberon.
Its houses of white and grey stone rise up in a spiral around the rock to the top where the church and castle face the hills of the Luberon.
This is one of only four days you lunch on your own, but there are dozens of baguette and ice-cream shops and little cafes. You will not need to spend much.
Dinner by the pool prepared by a local chef
Day 4 – Tuesday
After the day of touring yesterday, enjoy a free day. We think reading by the pool is the go but there is all of lovely Uzes outside the door. A walk through some of the lovely streets maybe? Or coffee in one of the ubiquitious cafes? There’s a whole lot of lovely French stuff out there.
We’ll lunch by the pool on something French, fresh and fabulous.
Tonight we visit a local restaurant where the host will prepare a typical Provence menu especially for us.
Day 5 – Wednesday
Today it’s market day in Uzes. After we discover more delightful laneways brimming with glamorous boutiques – there is much to tempt, from gorgeous French fashions to ceramics, jewellery and stylish object d’art – we will meet for lunch at one of Uzes many bistros.
Tonight, we’ll eat a multi-course dinner by the pool prepared by local cook while listening to Ann’s music and watching the beautiful Provence twilight turn into a deep blue night sky.
Day 6 – Thursday
We go to Les Baux de Provence.
The village, painstakingly restored and like a living museum, is situated in the heart of the Alpilles on a rocky plateau 245m high. Views of Arles, la Camargue and the Alpilles can be seen from the look-out points.
Lunch on your own today at one of the inexpensive baguette shops or small cafes.
In the afternoon we visit the Cathedral of Images, a spectacular dis-used bauxite quarry where artworks from some of the great masters are displayed on the vast walls to the magical sounds of dramatic music.
This is a highlight. The memory of the famous art against the stirring music in the dramatic setting will stay with you forever.
Enjoy another multi-course dinner in a restaurant in Uzes.
Day 7 – Friday
Today we go to Avignon.
City of history and theatre, the fortified city of Avignon is most known for its papal history.
Through the preserved city walls you’ll discover the Palace of the Popes built in the 14th century. Not far away stands the famous Pont d’Avignon.
It’s a beautiful city with a fascinating history – but there are shops…and cafes and market stalls. Lunch on your own today.
Back at the house, you might want a little rest to prepare for a night of music while a guest cook/foodie prepares a gourmet dinner.
There will be candles, beautiful wines, dancing and merriment. (Ann might even sing.)
Day 8 – Saturday
Today it is market day.
You’ll be escorted around the Uzes markets, having the highlights pointed out and then you’ll be free to wander among this cornucopia of produce and products. If you are ever going to feel French, it will be on this day.
Ann will buy the market produce for our lunch back at the house but before we head home we will enjoy freshly shucked oysters and a glass of Picpoul wine (perfect with oysters) at a local café.
We will have to fight for a seat at the café on this busy market morning but that’s all part of the fun.
Because we will linger over a long lunch after a big morning, dinner this evening will be a casual affair.
Geoffrey might turn on the barbecue while Ann tosses the salads and bring out the cheese and baguettes.
Day 9 – Sunday
Get ready to kayak on the River Gardon.
The kayaking is easy, although you’ll have to paddle for an hour and a half. However, we will have the reassuring gentleman Geoffrey trailing us to ensure nobody gets left behind.
After we reach the 2,000 year old Roman Pont du Gard we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch with wine. You deserve it after all that kayaking.
Dinner tonight by the pool.
Day 10 – Monday
Today we go to L’isle-sur-la-Sorge – famous for its antique markets and canals.
It is one of those places you must see. Called the ‘island city’ it lies at the foot of the Vaucluse plateau in the plains of Comtat Venaissin. The river Sorgue surrounds the city. Canals, bridges, narrow ancient streets and mossy blades turning in the river make this town enchanting.
After we’ve wandered and maybe bought some object d’art or antiques to ship home (it’s irresistible) we will lunch together in an inviting bistro by the water.
This evening, low-key entertainment with our dinne.
Day 11 – Tuesday
A free morning.
Sit by the pool or go with Ann for a walk to the Pont du Gard. It’s a thrill to walk across the 2,000 year old Roman aqueduct and look down on the river.
A light lunch will be served poolside.
Tonight we visit a fine dining restaurant in the nearby charming village of Castillion, known for its gourmet cuisine and fine wines.
Day 12 – Wednesday
Today we visit Arles home to a 2,000 year old colosseum where once chariot races took place.
After weexplore the colosseum we’ll wander the town, get the feel of the history of Arles and the Van Gogh factor (he lived and painted there for a year, and this was the town where he cut off his ear.)
Lunch on your own today.
Tonight, back at the house, brace yourself. Michel, local foodie and charming gentleman, will put on his mini skirt, slip into his stilettos and cook magnificent paella for us.
Although Michel delights in sending himself up, he is a true gentleman, very witty and funny.
His paella will come to life before your eyes as he cooks over the giant pan outside in the garden.
We’ll be musically entertained while this is going on. Make sure you have your camera ready.
Day 13 – Thursday
A free day – it’s been a hectic two weeks.
A light lunch will be served and by now you will know the area well so you’ll want to wander Uzes some more or we can take a walk to discover the springs the Romans used to transport water from Uzes to Nimes.
Tonight we will re-visit the lovely medieval hilltop town of Castillon for a farewell dinner in a delightful restaurant.
Day 14 –Friday
In the morning, there will be hugs and sad goodbyes.
You’ll have new friends and memories to last a lifetime.
You will be driven back to Avignon TGV station to make your way on home or towards more merriment.