The sun-drenched region of Provence is a land of picturesque villages, remarkable history and culture. Here you will find the charming hilltop village of Les Baux, the mighty Roman arena at Arles and the golden fields familiar from the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. Pay a visit to Avignon’s medieval Papal Palace and the colossal Roman aqueduct known as the Pont du Gard. Spend a few quiet hours perusing the markets and avenues of the quaint town of Aix-en-Provenceor people watching from Les Deux Garçons Cafe on the famous Cours Mirabeau. Also included is a visit to the little village of Cassis, a small fishing port nestled between the famous calanques (inlets) and majestic Cap Canaille. We’ll sail out to three of the calanques for a close up view of the limestone cliffs that rise and fall steeply into the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean.
Arrive Marseille Airport. Transfer to Hotel Jules Cesar in Arles. There will be plenty of time to enjoy the gentle charms of this attractive town on the banks of the river Rhône. Take a look around the Arena, an immense Roman amphitheatre built in 90 AD and modelled on the Colosseum in Rome. And walk the atmospheric cloisters of the Church of St Trophime.
An excursion today to the Provençal countryside immortalized in the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. First stop is the delightful hilltop village of Les Baux, where you can wander the narrow streets and admire the spectacular views. The nearby hospital at St Paul de Mousole, where Van Gogh stayed for a year in 1889-90 is a fascinating visit. Here Van Gogh painted continually: the doctors and patients, the gardens and the cornfields, vineyards and olive trees all around. This afternoon there is time for a visit to the beautiful town of Aix-en-Provence. Pay a visit to the studio of Paul Cézanne, spend a few quiet moments in the 900-year-old gothic cathedral or explore the shops and cafés of the elegant Cours Mirabeau.
A full day excursion today takes you first to charming town of Nîmes, where you can see the perfectly preserved Roman temple known as the Maison Carrée as well as its impressive Roman amphitheatre. Continue to Avignon via a quick stop at perhaps the most spectacular ancient Roman monument in the whole of France: the Pont du Gard. The colossal triple-arched bridge formed part of the aqueduct that carried an estimated 200,000 m3 of water a day to the fountains, baths and homes of the citizens of the Roman colony of Nemausus (Nîmes). The fascinating historic city of Avignon is the final destination today. The city centre is dominated by the magnificent medieval Palais des Papes. This dramatic gothic citadel was the residence and seat of power of a series of rival Popes during the 14th and 15th centuries.
Down to the coast today and the pretty seaside town of Cassis. From here take a short cruise on the Mediterranean around the Calanques, a spectacular series of fjord-like inlets. Continue to Marseille Airport for the flight home.