Become immersed in the landscapes of Provence during leisurely hikes that showcase such historic towns as Avignon and Gordes. Plus, savor traditional cusine and wine of the Rhône River and Luberon Valley, meet with vintners and cheese purveyors, and talk with a truffle expert.

Starting at: $5,795 Register Interest or Call 833-254-6678
 Palais des Papes, Avignon  Couple hiking in Provence. Credit: age fotostock / Alamy  Traditional Provencal cheese market  Senanque Abbey and lavender fields  Typical Provencal street, Gigondas  Typical flower market in Provence. Credit: Sundrenched Gardens/Alamy  Cheese tasting in Provence. Credit: Atout France / Michel Angot  Preparing truffles. Credit: Atout France / Michel Angot  Provencal hill town of Gordes, Luberon Valley  Landscape of sunflowers in Provence  Avignon, France

Hikes and Cuisine of Provence

9 days from $5,795

Become immersed in the landscapes of Provence during leisurely hikes that showcase such historic towns as Avignon and Gordes. Plus, savor traditional cusine and wine of the Rhône River and Luberon Valley, meet with vintners and cheese purveyors, and talk with a truffle expert.

or Call 833-254-6678

Overview

Level 3: Moderate / Active

Expectations: This trip is part of the Smithsonian Active Journeys collection. These trips feature a daily schedule of physical activities—such as walking, hiking, kayaking, rafting, or bicycling—in addition to activities designed to offer cultural or historical context. Each trip entails a different level of physical expectations. Please review the following activity level description—and feel free to contact an Active Journeys Specialist to discuss the trip at more length—to ensure this Active Journey is right for you.

On this trip, daily hikes of 2 to 3 miles (from two to three hours a day) cover varied terrain ranging from Provencal cities and towns with uneven surfaces to established trails on hilly landscapes. These short hikes generally do not offer support vehicles, but it is feasible to skip a day's activities and relax at the hotel, if desired. Sturdy shoes or light hiking boots and daypacks to carry daily necessities are a must; some travelers may wish to bring hiking poles for hilly walks.

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, expect a slightly vigorous pace, are comfortable participating in up to three hours of walking/hiking per day, and enjoy challenging themselves physically.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart for Avignon, France

Day 2 — Avignon, France

Upon arrival, this afternoon, transfer with your guide to your comfortable hotel conveniently located near the city center. Join your guide and fellow travelers in the hotel lobby this evening for introductions.

After a briefing and an apéritif, enjoy dinner in the heart of Avignon for your initial taste of French cuisine. (D)

Day 3 — Avignon

This morning take a historic tour of the city center with a local expert to unveil the secrets of its streets, including a climb up to the gardens with far-reaching views. The tour will lead you straight to Avignon’s coveted Market Les Halles: a bustling covered market with fragrant stalls and the region’s best local specialties. You’ll partake in a little-known market secret: the inconspicuous bistro set in the back of the market will cook up the fresh fish and steaks purchased at neighboring stalls – prepped and served right before your eyes. It’s possibly the best – and certainly the freshest – steak-frites in France.

This afternoon, visit the Palais des Papes. The “Popes’ Palace” is one of the most important medieval sites in Europe. It was the seat of Catholicism during the 14th century when Pope Clement V left Rome for Avignon. The immense palace still contains many important artworks and frescoes. Dinner is on your own tonight. Walking 3 miles, 2 hours. (B,L)

Day 4 —Châteauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, and Beaumes de Venise

This morning, transfer to Chateauneuf du Pape, unrivaled king of the Rhône Valley wines. Spend time meandering through the parcels of Grenache and Syrah, learning all about the 850-year history of winemaking in the village. You’ll learn about secrets of terroir, the untranslatable French word that has governed French wine-making for a century. And of course, visit one of Chateauneuf du Pape’s most celebrated estates, including some tasting.

After a gourmet picnic lunch including some Provençal specialties, head to the village of Gigondas, perched high above the wines, also well-known for its powerfully spicy red wines. Beyond Gigondas reach the quiet village of Beaumes de Venise, where you’ll taste some of the village’s naturally sweet white wine made from Muscat grapes.

This evening, arrive in the village of Mazan to settle into your hotel, once owned by the Marquis de Sade, for the next three nights. Enjoy dinner together at the hotel. Hiking 2 miles, 2 hours. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Vaison la Romaine

It’s market day in nearby Vaison la Romaine and the town streets are filled with colorful and fragrant market stalls selling fresh produce, cheese, meat, and regional products. You’ll have some free time in the morning to explore the market before embarking on a tour of the historic town. Learn about its complex history from Roman to present, and how the civilizations were built – quite literally – upon the foundations of each other.

After the tour, enjoy free time for lunch. In the afternoon, you’ll take a gentle hike through the countryside and head to the tiny village of Le Crestet with great views of the towering Mont Ventoux, Provence’s highest mountain. Hiking 3 miles, 2 hours, approx. 600 feet elevation gain. (B,D)

Day 6 — Carpentras

Truffles are the coveted black diamond of Provence, and you'll spend the day learning the secrets behind finding these elusive jewels. Meet with an experienced truffle hunter and their dog that will join you for a walk through the truffle-oak plantations, showing you how to locate and identify these morsels. Along the way, learn the science behind the mysterious fungus and its storied history in Provence, culminating in an elaborate lunch featuring the very truffles found on the farm. When truffles are not in season, they are frozen to retain their unique, earthy flavor.

Later this afternoon return to the hotel where tonight you will be treated to a special wine and cheese evening hosted by a celebrated local cheese shop. Walking 1 hour. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Gordes

This morning, transfer to nearby Sénanque, the famed 12th-century abbey framed by majestic lavender fields during the summer months and into early autumn. Enjoy a private guided tour of the still-active monastery, jewel of Romanesque architecture after 850 years.

Afterward, head through the garrigue vegetation of aromatic herbs on a breathtaking trail that leads you to the town of Gordes. Enjoy lunch in Gordes and then have time to visit the village, considered one of the most beautiful in southern France.

This afternoon, head towards Lourmarin, nestled at the southern slope of the Luberon Mountain. Tonight, enjoy dinner together at the hotel. Hiking 2-3 miles, 2-3 hours, approx. 500 feet elevation gain. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Lourmarin

Transfer to the otherworldly Aiguebrun Gorge, literally at the end of the road, where the limestone walls soar high above the Luberon’s only river. Hike along centuries-old mule tracks with stunning views before reaching the tiny village of Sivergues, lost in time, with just a handful of homes hidden in the Luberon Mountains.

You will then follow the scenic river to reach a 17th-century goat farm to savor a lunch of regional specialties, way off the beaten track. Return to Lourmarin in the afternoon and enjoy a tour and tasting at a local olive mill, producing some of the region’s most coveted olive oils.

Enjoy a farewell dinner together at your hotel. Hiking 3 miles, 3 hours, approx. 600 feet elevation gain. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Return to the U.S.

After breakfast, begin your return trip home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)