The rolling countryside of Provence
Discover atmospheric hilltop villages, cities rich in history and seasonal lavender fields as far as the eye can see. Stay in beautiful river-side Avignon and visit the university town of Aix, Arles - the city that inspired many of Van Gogh's finest works - the small coastal town of Cassis and the wildlife-rich wetlands of Camargue, on this great-value seven-day escorted tour.
Board the comfortable and fast Eurostar at London's St Pancras International, and enjoy a scenic journey to Avignon. Upon arrival you'll transfer to your hotel and meet your Tour Manager.
After breakfast this morning your Tour Manager will introduce Avignon. Wander the cafe-lined Place d-Horloge, see the medieval ramparts and the Gothic masterpiece Palais des Papes - which played host to six papal conclaves during the 14th Century. Be sure to take in the magnificent Pont d'Avignon, which still spans part of the Rhone, despite being some 900 years old. Later, stop for coffee or lunch in one of the city's famous hostelries and buy some local specialities at the Les Halles food market.
Begin today with a tour of the 'city of a thousand fountains' - Aix-en-Provence. Birthplace and home of post-impressionist artist Paul Cezanne. This small city boasts a host of museums, galleries and art schools. Wend your way through a maze of delightful narrow streets, visit unique boutiques and relax by one of the beautiful fountains on the tree-lined Cours Mirabeau.
In the afternoon you'll head for the coast and to the pretty town of Cassis. Take in the habour, people watch with a coffee in one of the quay's numerous cafe and enjoy the lapping of the calm waters. Alternatively, take a boat trip along the coast to explore the myriad inlets and gorges of the Calanques national park (payable locally).
The first stop on today's optional excursion offers excellent views of the magnificent aqueduct, 'Pont du Gard'. We'll then continue to Nimes, a city with a history stretching back well over 2,000 years. See the two-tier amphitheatre and the Maison Carree, one of the best-preserved Roman temples in the world.
In the afternoon, travel south-west to the fast-growing coastal city of Montpellier. Visit the Mussee Fabre (entry payable locally), to see one of the finest collections of French art in the country and stroll through the vibrant pedestrianised city centre.
Enjoy a final included excursion today, as you visit Arles, a city famed for its first-class Roman ruins. Discover a painstakingly unearthed baths, a chariot racetrack and the evocative Les Arenes. You'll also have time to see the grand St Trophime cathedral and any of a number of museums in this city that inspired both Van Gogh and Gauguin.
Spend the afternoon exploring the unspoiled Camargue marshlands, spot flocks of flamingoes and see herds of black cattle - still watched over by traditional herdsmen known as 'gardians', from atop their brilliant white horses.
Enjoy a final day of relaxation in Avignon today, or choose to join an optional excursion to see the landscape immortalised in Peter Mayle's 'A Year in Provence'. Explore sun-drenched medieval villages and the beautiful market towns of Apt, Bonnieux and Gordes, giving you a last chance to enjoy some of the area's world-class produce.
After breakfast, this morning, take a short transfer to the train station and begin your scenic journey back to the UK.