On this walking holiday we stay in
the pretty town of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue for six nights then stay our seventh
night in magnificent Avignon. From
Isle-sur-la-Sorgue our private transportation
takes us to the start of the walks and picks us up at the end to return to
our hotel. Most days we divide into two walking groups - one easy (tranquille) and one more
Pick up at Nice Airport at 3.00 PM and transfer by private coach to the town of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
(about 2 hours). Criss-crossed by the Sorgue River, this pretty town is an
artistic and cultural centre of the Luberon region and is noted for its antique markets, shops and art
galleries. After checking in at our hotel we gather for a welcome reception
with a refreshing glass of "kir" (sparking wine with blackberry juice - a
Buoux and the Aiguebrun
Valley - Today is a full day of walking with options of two levels. In the
morning we transfer by coach a short distance to the beautiful Luberon National Park.
Our walk starts at the historic Fort of Buoux and we hear stories about how
this fort centred in the bloody religious wars of Southern France at the time of
vantage point we see the impressive canyon carved by the Aiguebrun River.
Our walk begins high above the Aiguebrun Valley and gradually winds its way
down rocky trails lined with wild orchids to a lovely wooded valley. We
descend into the valley with its interesting prehistoric caves and troglodyte
dwellings and relax over a picnic lunch in an idyllic setting by a cool
stream. Our afternoon walk ends at the tiny hamlet of Sivergues (six
virgins) founded (according to local legend) by six nuns in the 5th century. After a
day of history and spectacular hiking there is a chance to relax in the
hotel's riverside garden before
dinner. Tranquille walk 10
km / Sportif walk 16 km
Ménerbes to Lacoste -
Our walk today includes the famous Luberon villages of Lacoste and Menerbes.
village of Lacoste was once the home of the infamous Marquis de Sade and the
remains of his castle still crown the top of the hill with his ghost
rumoured to still be haunting the ruins. Rebuilt by the late Pierre Cardin to
house a cultural centre, the castle now hosts fashion shows and
concerts. From Lacoste we walk to the 12thC St Hilaire Abbey. One of
Provence's best kept secrets, this private
sanctuary has been lovingly restored and is a lovely place for a picnic in the lee of the abbey.
We then continue by
strolling along quiet paths through gently rolling terrain covered with vineyards to
the village of Menerbes (made famous by Peter Mayle in his book "A Year in
Provence"). In Menerbes there is
wine-tasting at the "Maison de la Truffe et du Vin". Here one can
sample AOC wines from the regions of Ventoux and Luberon.
Abbey of Senanque and
Gordes - This is a lovely walk starting at a beautiful 11th
Abbey, the Abbey of Senanque, set in a remote valley amid lavender fields. A
community of monks still live here making lavender crafts and herbal cures
that are for sale in the monastic shop.
along with their delicious lavender honey.
From here, we head out on foot along old mule trails passing through wild "garrigue" and stopping to see "Bories" which are stone
dwellings thought to have been inhabited by prehistoric man. By lunch time
we reach the village of Gordes, one of the most spectacular of Provence's
hill-top medieval villages. History abounds. During WWII the town was a
centre of resistance. Many villagers were killed and houses destroyed in
retaliation for the resistance fighters killing a German soldier.
After the war the town became a chic place that attracted many famous
After lunch we continue through Gorde's vaulted
passageways, past the Renaissance chateau and back into the countryside
along stony paths to the village of Roussillon. Classed amongst the "most
beautiful villages in France", Roussillon is a picturesque maze of
alleys and small squares. Tranquille walk 6 - 7 km Sportif
walk 12 km.
This is a non-walking
day. You may choose to explore Isle-sur-la-Sorgue with its cafes, art
galleries and antique shops. Thursday there is a street
market where wine merchants, fruit and vegetable sellers,
bakers, craftsmen and artists fill the streets. It is an
opportunity to sample gourmet delicacies. Or you may choose to take an optional tour (by train) to the
interesting town of Arles. Here, one finds something for everyone. History buffs
head for the Roman arena where Roman gladiators once fought and great
spectacles took place. Shoppers enjoy the town's market and boutiques.
(train fare not included - approximately 20 euros)
St Rémy and Les Baux -
Full day walk - After a 30 minute drive we arrive at the flower-filled town of St Remy
which was made
famous by the painter Van Gogh. Just outside the town we find the Roman
archaeological site of Glanum. Nearby is the St-Paul-de-Mausole asylum
where Van Gogh was interned and where he painted many of his famous works.
Later converted to a psychiatric clinic, there is a fascinating exhibit on the evolution
From here we walk up a long slow incline amid pine and
oak forest to the top of the Alpilles hills. Once at the top the route
spectacular as we head to the medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence. Here we
explore the village with its castle and dungeon and listen to legends about
the "Court of Love". We then have an optional short walk in the lower
regions of Les Baux amid its famous olive groves. The Alpilles region is
noted for producing some of the finest olive oil in France. Tranquille
walk 8 km Sportif walk 13 km.
This morning we go to the sleepy, unspoiled hamlet
of Sauman, nestled in the woods above Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. On our walk
we see landscaped terraces and cratered patches of rock where millstones
were carved. At Fontaine de Vaucluse we see the Vauclusian spring
with its mystical origins and unique geological features. Water gushes
from a source so deep that no man or machine has been able to fathom its
depths. In medieval
times Fontaine de Vaucluse was a retreat for the wealthy of Avignon to
escape from plague and our walk takes us by parts of the "plague wall" built
to keep out infection. At the end of our walk we continue by private coach to Avignon where we stay for the
night. After checking in we have time for a walking tour of this
fascinating city, Our hotel is near the medieval walls as well as the famous Pont d' Avignon and the Papal
Palace . Built in the 14th century, the magnificent palace was home to six
popes who lived in luxury. In the evening we enjoy a farewell dinner at
an Avignon restaurant.
Buffet breakfast (at
your leisure) and the holiday ends. If you are travelling later in the
day you may leave your bags in the hotel's luggage room. There is plenty to
do and see in Avignon with its gourmet food market, shops, museums, the
famous bridge and the interior of the Papal Palace.
From Avignon there are trains to Paris Airport as well as to other major
centres in France.
selection of walks is made by the guides. It is possible that the itinerary
may vary due to weather, local conditions and the abilities of each group.