Walkers' World 
Guided Walking Holidays in
Provence, France    

On this walking holiday we stay in the town of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue for six nights. From here, our private bus takes us to the start of the walks and picks us up at the end to return to our hotel. We divide into two walking groups - one easy and one more energetic. We spend our seventh night in Avignon.

Day One: Pick up at Nice Airport at 2.00 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 noted for its antique markets, shops and art galleries. After checking in at our hotel we gather for a welcome reception.


Day Two: Sunday is market day in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and this bustling event. Wine merchants, fruit and vegetable sellers, bakers, craftsmen and artists fill the streets and town square. Strolling musicians, jugglers and mimes entertain while locals meet and gossip over a coffee and a beignet. It is a cultural experience not to be missed and the perfect opportunity to sample gourmet delicacies. We spend the morning at the market and go walking in the afternoon.


This afternoon we go to the sleepy, unspoiled hamlet of Sauman, nestled in the woods above Fontain-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.  In medieval times Fontaine de Vaucluse was a retreat for the wealthy of Avignon to escape from plague and we see parts of the "plague wall" built to keep out infection.  It was here that the poet Petrarch penned sonnets about his unrequited love for Laura.  6 km.


Day 3: Buoux and the Aiguebrun Valley - Today is a full day of walking with options of two levels. In the morning we transfer by coach to the beautiful Luberon National Park.  Our walk starts at the historic Fort of Buoux and we hear stories about how the fort  centred in the bloody religious wars of Southern France at the time of the Inquisition. 


From this 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 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 before dinner.   Amble 10 km / Ramble 16 km


Day Four: Abbey of Senanque and Gordes -  This is a lovely walk starting at a beautiful 11th C Cistercian Abbey, the Abbey of Senanque, set in a remote valley amid lavender fields. From here, we head out on foot for the town of Gordes 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.  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», this is a picturesque maze of alleys and small squares. Amble 6 - 7 km   Ramble 12 km.


Day Five: This is a non-walking day. You may choose to explore Isle-sur-la-Sorgue with its cafes, art galleries and antique shops or take an optional tour (by train) to the interesting town of Arles.  In the bustling town of Arles 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)


Day Six:  St Rémy and Les Baux - Full day walk - After a 30 minute transfer by coach we arrive at the 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 hospice where Van Gogh was interned and where he painted many of his famous works. Van Gogh's room has been restored and the walls lined with descriptions of his life, work and illness. There is a fascinating exhibit on the evolution of psychiatric medicine. From Glanum we walk up a long slow incline amid pine and oak forest to the top of the Alpilles hills.  We then walk a spectacular route to the hilltop  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. Amble 8 km, Ramble 13 km.


Day Seven: Ménerbes to Lacoste - Our walk today includes the famous Luberon villages of Lacoste and Menerbes. The eerie 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 d Vin". From Menerbes we continue by coach to Avignon where we stay for the night. Our hotel is short walk from the famous Pont d' Avignon and the Papal Palace. Built in the 14th century, the magnificent palace was home to six popes.  After checking into our hotel we have a stroll through the city to a restaurant. 


Day Eight:  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 Papal Palace. 


Final 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.


Each day our walkers divide into two groups: Tranquil and Sportif. 
Tranquil walks - are leisurely walks done at a relaxed pace with lots of stopping to appreciate the views. Although the walk lasts most of the day, this group walks a shorter distance than the "sportif" group thus often reaching its destination first. There is time to have a drink at a café and to explore small villages. Distance is less than 10 km per day with 300 metres of ascent or less. Walking is on country roads, stony mule paths, quiet woodland trails and farm tracks.

Sportif  walks - are more energetic than the tranquil group. Maximum distance could be up to 16 km with up to 500 metres of ascent. These are not athletic events and the emphasis is still on having fun. There may be occasional steep ascents but they will be done at a moderate pace.
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