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A week in Provence
Enter a landscape of historic cities and stunning hilltop villages, where ripening vineyards, summer's lavender and sunflowers bathe in golden sunshine. Stay in Avignon, and explore Aix, Arles, tiny coastal Cassis and the vast wetlands of the Camargue, as we spend seven days uncovering the beauty of the very south of France.
Fly into Nice or Marseilles where our coach will be waiting to carry you through the countryside to Avignon and your hotel, where your Tour Manager will be waiting to greet you.
Day One: Fly to France
On today's included tour we'll discover Avignon - once protected by 40 stone towers (just one remains). Dominated by the monumental Palais des Papes, Avignon is centred on the cafe-lined Place d'Horloge. Don't miss the celebrated Pont d'Avignon across the Rhone or the opportunity for lunch in one of the famed hostelries.
Day Two: Explore Avignon on a guided tour
After the tour and a visit to the Palais des Papes, you'll have time to explore, and perhaps head to the city's Les Halles food market to pick up some local specialities for an improvised picnic lunch.
Aix-en-Provence, the "city of a thousand fountains", is one of the great jewels of Southern France. At its heart lie the aristocratic mansions and fountains of the Cours Mirabeau and the old town - a labyrinth of narrow lanes. Birthplace of Paul Cezanne, Aix is home to museums, art schools and galleries, as well as specialist shops and boutiques.
Day Three: Visit Aix-en-Provence and the Mediterranean resort of Cassis
Our second stop, today, is the lovely little Mediterranean resort of Cassis. Stroll around the harbour, stop for a drink at a cafe on the quay, or perhaps take a boat trip up the coast to explore the narrow inlets and gorges of the Parc National des Calanques (payable locally).
Spend today relaxing, or join our optional excursion to Nimes and Montpellier, with a stop en route for views of the magnificent aqueduct, 'Pont du Gard'. Sometimes called the French Rome, Nimes became a Roman colony in 28BC and still boasts a two-tier amphitheatre, and one of the best-preserved Roman temples in the world - the Maison Carree.
Day Four: Enjoy the chance to visit Nimes and Montpellier
A little way to the south-west, Montpellier is the fastest growing city in France - thanks largely to its three universities and other colleges. Pay a visit to the Musee Fabre (entry payable locally) to view one of the greatest collections of art in France, and wander the pedestrianised city centre, which radiates out from the oval expanse of the Place de la Comedie (often simply called l'Oeuf).
Our final included excursion takes us to Roman Arles. Here, the superb archaeology includes a baths, a chariot racetrack and the famed Les Arenes arena. The great cathedral of St-Trophime and several museums add glamour to a city that inspired both Van Gogh and Gauguin.
Day Five: Visit Roman Arles and the Camargue
In the afternoon we'll head into the untamed marshland of the Camargue to explore a landscape of islands and lagoons where flocks of flamingoes sweep across the sky, and herds of black cattle are still protected by traditional herdsmen (gardians) from atop their white horses.
Make the most of your last full day in France - either in Avignon's streets and squares or on our optional excursion into the landscape immortalised in Peter Mayle's 'A Year In Provence'.
Day Six: Enjoy the chance to explore the Luberon Mountains
Spend a relaxed day exploring sun-soaked medieval villages and market towns like Apt, Gordes and Bonnieux, and make the most of your final opportunities to enjoy the local produce.
Transfer back to the airport to check-in for your flight home.
Day Seven: Fly back to the UK