Enjoy superb scenery celebrated by Van Gogh, amazing Roman monuments, a sunny Mediterranean late summer, and excellent food and wine during a relaxed exploration of France’s southern Provence between two great urban poles, Marseille and Nimes. The tour will be escorted by historian Jacques R. Pauwels, PhD, who will lecture on the history and culture of the area.
October 07 - 18, 2016
based on double occupancy (plus approx. $625 in airport taxes and related fees) "Land only" (from/to Marseille Airport): $2,400 Single room supplement: $675
*If the tour is SOLD OUT, please contact us to be added to the waitlist.
Early evening departure from Toronto for Paris with Air France. Dinner and a light breakfast will be served on board.
Early morning arrival in Paris, and short connecting flight to Marseille, France’s second biggest city, a major Mediterranean seaport, and the great metropolis of the Provence. Arrival around 11AM, and transfer to the centrally-located first-class/4-star Hotel Mercure Centre in the historical heart of the city, the district of the old harbor or Vieux Port, bisected by the famous Canebière Avenue (www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-1148-mercure-marseille-centre-vieux-port-hotel/index.shtml). Free time to settle in and get some rest after your overnight flight. In late afternoon, short introductory walk in the Vieux Port district, followed by welcome dinner in the hotel or in a typical restaurant.
Morning visit to MUCEM, the new (2013) Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations; this museum was established here because Marseille is one of the oldest cities in Europe, having been founded by Greek colonists around 600BC! Afternoon free to shop and/or enjoy the city on your own. Group dinner in a typical restaurant.
Departure after breakfast. We motor along the shores of the lagoon known as the Etang de Berre to the village of St. Chamas, where we pause to admire the Pont Flavien, an impressive Roman bridge, dating back to the first century AD. On via the Crau landscape, a kind of stony desert, to Les Baux, an amazing medieval ghost town perched high on a hill in the curious Alpilles Mountains. Our next stop is the quintessentially Provençal town of St. Rémy, boasting twin Roman monuments known as Les Antiques as well as memories of Van Gogh, who spent time here in an asylum. Crossing the mighty Rhone River at Tarascon, dominated by a mighty castle associated with the legendary 15th -century “Good King René” of Provence, we arrive in Nimes in late afternoon. Dinner and overnight in the centrally located first-class/4-star hotel Novotel Atria (www.novotel.com/gb/hotel-0985-novotel-atria-nimes-centre/index.shtml).
Morning walking tour of Nimes, with focus on the city’s amazing Roman monuments, including a very well preserved temple, the socalled Maison Carrée, as well as an amphitheatre (or arena) where bullfights are now occasionally performed. Dinner in a typical restaurant.
Full-day excursion to another urban pearl of Provence, Orange, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also famous for its impressive Roman monuments, in this case a fine triumphal arch as well as what is possibly the best preserved of the handful of Roman theatres that still exist. In the afternoon we briefly stop in the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape to taste the world famous, high-quality wine, and before arriving back in Nimes we visit the Pont du Gard, an amazing Roman acquaduct, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated in the middle of a wonderful Provençal landscape.
Full-day excursion to nearby Avignon, a medieval city still surrounded by its old walls, and situated on the banks of the mighty Rhone River; the historical centre of Avignon has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Higlights will be our visits to the huge Papal Palace and the ruins of the monumental old St. Bénézet Bridge, made famous by the song “Sur le Pont d’Avignon” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yrtsgcvm9zs). Also some free time before our late-afternoon return to Nimes.
Day entirely free day to explore Nimes on your own, shop at the morning market, take a walk in the beautiful Jardin de la Fontaine, and/or visit museums such as the Musée du vieux Nîmes, the Archaeological Museum, and the Fine Arts Museum.
Departure from Nimes after breakfast. We head for Arles, located on the banks of the Rhone River, an ancient and charming Provençal town featured in many paintings by Van Gogh, who lived here for some time. Our walking tour includes all the monuments that earned this town the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site: the fine Romanesque St. Trophime Church and Cloisters; the Roman necropolis known as Les Alyscamps; the Roman theatre, very impressive amphitheatre, and baths; and the quaint Place du Forum, where the café featured in Van Gogh’s ‘Café Terrace at Night’ is just perfect for a coffee break! Also free time to explore on your own or shop. In late afternoon we continue to our hotel at the Marseille Airport, the Golden Tulip or similar. Our final group meal will be either lunch in a country restaurant OR dinner in the hotel or in a nearby restaurant.
- Return flight Toronto-Marseille, via Paris, with Air France; - Accommodation in first-class/4-star hotels, based on double occupancy; the single room supplement is $675; - Breakfast daily and a total of six 3-course dinners or lunches; - Overland transportation by private coach; - All sightseeing as outlined in the itinerary, including admission to museums and monuments mentioned. (Meals included: B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
-***The usual combination of airport taxes, security fees and fuel surcharges, presently (February 2016) approximately $625, but subject to change. - All items of a personal nature. - Beverages with dinners, and meals other than those outlined above. - A gratuity for the coach driver(s), normally $30 or equivalent in local currency - Travel Insurance, available upon request