FRANCE: Boutique VIP: Luxury Provence & Lavender Women's Small Group Tour - 8 Days.
1st - 8th July 2019 - Expressions of Interest Welcome
Destinations: Avignon, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Les Baux de Provence, St Remy de Provence, Gordes, Rousillon, Ménerbes, Sault, Apt
Tour Grading EASY: Suitable for travellers with an average level of fitness and mobility
Tour Commences In: Avignon
Number of Days: 8 days / 7 nights
Accommodation: Luxury Boutique Hotel
Leaders: Australian Tour Manager and professional expert local guide
Tour Concludes In: Avignon
Tour Style: Luxury Escorted Small Group Tour
Meals: Breakfasts; 7: Lunches; 6: Dinners; 2:
Transportation: Luxury private chauffeur driven air-conditioned vehicles
Join Boutique Tours & Travel on our women’s small group tour to Provence during the lavender season.
Provence is a popular French regional destination with its dry sun-filled summers and mild winters. It is a pot-pouri of wonderful features including fields that abound with lavender, set amongst glorious sunflowers, vineyards and wild herbs. Picturesque mountains, green valleys and large oak trees are the backdrop to the historical medieval towns of Provence. It is located in the south-eastern region of France and is steeped in history.
Provence has retained its traditional rural values and cultures over the centuries and the locals are very proud of that. We visit colourful Provençal markets, lavender distillers and explore the many charming unique limestone villages with their textured centuries-old cobblestones. Experience the environs of famous writers; Somerset Maughan and Peter Mayle (‘A Year in Provence’) and world-renowned artists including Van Gogh, Picasso etc and the movie “A Good Year” with Russell Crowe.
Taste the local delicacies - olives, ratatouille and pastis, (anise flavoured liqueur) Indulge in the gourmet delights of the Provençal cuisine whilst sipping a local wine! The beauty of the area, the warmth of the people, and the relaxed lifestyle will capture your hearts. (As it has mine)
Join us on our delightful cultural and epicurean journey and experience all that is Provence for yourself.
- The joy of being in Provence; it' s charming, picturesque, beautiful and idyllic for a our small group women's tour
- Be entranced with city of Avignon on the banks of the Rhone River and its historical centre (UNESCO)
- Be overwhelmed with the spectacular and beautiful lavender fields, its a joy to behold (in bloom mid-June to mid-August)
- Be enchanted in the charming village of Isle sur Sorgue, (the Venice of Provence) experience its lively and colourful market and discover its famous antique shops
- Be in awe at the beautiful ‘Abbey de Senanque’ – a 12th century Cistercian monastery,
- Discover the most spectacular village of Les Baux de Provence
- Be amazed at the stunning phenomenom of 'Carrieres de Lumieres'
- Visit St Remy de Provence to discover the capital of the ‘art of living’ in Provence
- Walk & shop at the Tuesday market in Gordes
- Explore a picturesque ‘ochre’ village of Rousillon
- Experience one of the most beautiful and charming villages in Provence, Loumarin
- Be captivated at the Lavender museum and watch a distillation demonstration
- Learn all about olive oils…
- Enjoy wine tastings of the famous 'Rhone' label at some lovely Provencal wineries
- Shop at some wonderful Provencal shops that have a fabulous array of beautiful wares
- Experience a Provincial cooking class with a Michelin Star Chef
- Indulge in fabulous local cuisine and the best of fine wines
- Enjoy two beatiful hotels that really make this journey complete
- Private arrival and departure transfers – Avignon / Menerbes / Avignon
- Luxury Boutique Hotels
- Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
- Meals as indicated in Itinerary; B = Breakfast - 7: L=Lunch - 6: D=Dinner - 2:
- Chauffeur driven luxury air-conditioned private vehicle for all transfers & sightseeing
- Fully escorted by our Australian Tour Manager & very experienced professional bilingual tour guide
- Entrance fees to sights, monuments and activities as per the itinerary
- Bottled water whilst touring in vehicle
- An exclusive information travel package
- Day 1: Monday 1st July 2019: Arrive – Avignon – Overnight:
- Day 2: Tuesday 2nd July 2019: Avignon – Provence L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue – Avignon:
- Day 3: Wednesday 3rd July 2019: Avignon – Le Baux de Provence – Saint Remy – Avignon:
- Day 4: Thursday 4th July 2019: Avignon – Gordes – Roussillon – Ménerbes:
- Day 5: Friday 5th July 2019: Ménerbes - Sault – Apt – Ménerbes:
- Day 6: Saturday 7th July 2019: Ménerbes – Cooking Class – Ménerbes:
- Day 7: Sunday 8th July 2019: Ménerbes – Louramin – Ménerbes:
- Day 8: Monday 9th July 2019: Ménerbes – Avignon:
All our hotels are excellent four and five star boutique hotels. We highly recommend our hotels as they have excellent services and facilities. All rooms have modern facilities, private bathrooms with double or twin beds.
Climate & Clothing:
In summer the weather in France is mild to warm, the temperature average between June and July is about 78°F - 26°C. Summers are relatively dry, but rain does occur all year round. The general rule is to bring comfortable clothing including lightweight cottons. Comfortable walking shoes are essential as is a light waterproof jacket. We provide a detailed packing list to all our guests prior to departure.
Currency & Money Matters:
The official currency in France is EURO (€). On January 1, 2002, the Euro became the official currency for 300 million Europeans, in use in 12 countries of the European Union. Traveller’s Cheques can be exchanged at some banks and currency exchange offices, but are not as welcome as cash or credit cards. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas.
The electrical current in France is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. The European two-pin plug is standard.
You must obtain Comprehensive Travel Insurance as a condition of travelling with Boutique Tours & Travel. We recommend that you purchase insurance at the time of Booking.
French is the official language, but English is widely understood in the main tourist areas.
Our hotels offer a wonderful selection of dishes at their buffet breakfasts with a wide variety of both menu and venue for lunches and evening meals.
Medical Services & Facilities:
Our hotels have access to a doctor if required. They can also assist guests with purchasing of medicine. The international hospitals in France are very good and have western trained medical and surgical specialists. Dental care is also available.
Passports & Visas:
To enter France you require a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry and with at least two blank pages. No visa is required for tourists.
Pre & Post Tour Accommodation:
Boutique Tours & Travel suggests that you may like to arrive a day before the start of your tour to allow time to relax and refresh. You are also very welcome to linger longer after the tour is completed.
Boutique Tours & Travel has negotiated special overnight rates at this hotel for both pre and post tour accommodation. Please ask for details at time of booking. Local tour guides are also available on request.
We welcome single travellers and we are able to arrange single accommodation. We negotiate strongly to keep single supplements at a reasonable cost. If you wish to share a room, we will endeavour to match you with another single guest and adjust the costs accordingly and refund any costs after you return home. We accept no responsibility for the suitability of a room partner.
Specific requests such as adjacent or connecting rooms, bedding requests, smoking or non-smoking rooms and special dietary needs or any other arrangement should be advised at time of booking. Please note that every effort will be made to secure your special request; however, they cannot always be guaranteed.
France Standard time is GMT +1 (GMT + 2 during Summer Daylight Saving Time)
Our small group tours provide you with a good balance of group activity and personal discovery.
We generally use modern deluxe minibuses for tours. We also walk where and when it’s suitable.
Water & Beverages:
Our hotels offer bottled water and bottled water is provided throughout the day. Alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost of this tour except for ‘welcome cocktails’ on the first evening.
- Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge (1995)
It wasn’t until the start of the 20th century that lavender was cultivated in fields. Up until then it was picked in the foothills of Provence by hand, but the growing demand from the perfume industry, and later the industrial sector for washing powders, shampoos etc. gave rise in about 1905 to the experimental planting of wild plants. It took many years to perfect the process and after experimenting with cross breeding and grafting with the strongest and most prolific plants, the first successful fields came to be around 1925-30. It was still picked by hand however, and even if taking on a row of lavender with a scythe is easier than picking individual stalks in the mountains, it was still a tough job in the July heat of Provence.
In 1952 the first mechanical harvester saw the day, and things quickly changed. In 1920 the annual production of essential lavender oil was 70 tonnes 90% of which was wild lavender and 10% cultivated. By 1959 the annual production was 130 tonnes but this time 90% was cultivated and only 10% wild. The lavender production moved to areas easy to harvest and they are still there today, mostly on the Valensole Plateau, and on the Plateau d’Albion . Today the production is all cultivated and the annual production is 800 – 1000 tonnes of essential lavender oil.
The main production today is Lavandin whose essential oils are used in industrial products and the main production comes from the Valensole Plateau. To find fields of True Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) used in cosmetics and herbal remedies you have to climb above 800 metres to the Plateau d’Albion around the villages around Sault.
Join us and experience the distillation of lavender first hand.
Day 1: Monday 1st July 2019: Arrive Avignon: (L/D)
Bonjour and welcome to France.
Option 1: This morning you will be met at your Paris hotel by your BT&T tour manager and driver and transferred to the train station ‘Gare de Lyon’ to travel on the TGV high speed train south to Avignon in the region of Provence – the land of old peasant villages surrounded by rich, purple lavender fields and vineyards. (2hrs 40mins) (Price not included)
Option 2: You may wish to meet us in Avignon at the train station if you are travelling from elsewhere in France or Europe.
Our meeting place will be the Avignon Train Station before 12.30pm.
On arrival we will transfer to one of the local restaurants for lunch. After lunch, we will have a guided tour of Avignon which is on the banks of the Rhone River. Our tour includes the historical centre which is classed as a UNESCO Heritage Site, The Popes Palace, Cathedral of Notra-Dame-des-Doms, Avignon Bridge (Pont Saint Bénezet) and part of its Ramparts. We drive to Chateauneuf du Pape for a guided tour of their vineyards and a tasting of several wines.
Dinner this evening is at a Gastronomic Restaurant in Avignon.
Day 2: Tuesday 2nd July 2019: Avignon – L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue – Abbey de Senanque – Avignon: (B/L)
This morning we're up early and after breakfast we drive to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. (The 'Venice' of Provence) Their Sunday market is internationally famous and there's plenty of time to stroll around this lively, colourful and fun Provençal market, it has some great shopping. Be amazed at the array of lavender products, olive oil products, local cheeses and cold meats, flowers, home-wares and here is one of my favorite Provençal linen stores. If time permits we can browse through some amazing antique stores. (Shipping is not a problem) Walking through the streets we cross some of the tiny bridges and you will be overwhelmed with the number ancient waterwheels that are here. After lunch we continue on our scenic drive to the Senancole valley to visit the beautiful ‘Abbey de Senanque’ – a 12th century Cistercian monastery; here is still an active small community of Cistercian monks Here. This beautiful picturesque monastery is surrounded by lavender fields. We visit the church, the cloister and the dormitories with our guide. Later we return to Avignon and enjoy the evening in this charming old town.
Dinner is on your own this evening. You may choose to 'stay in' or join with others at a local cafe.
Day 3: Wednesday 3rd July 2019: Avignon – Le Baux de Provence – St Remy de Provence – Avignon: (B/L)
Today we have a full day excursion of the Alpilles, to the south of Avignon. On the way we stop at a famous luxury House of Linen where we area able to have a brief tour of the hand printing workshop and visit their shop. (Please come prepared with indoor / outdoor table measurements just incase something catches your eye along the way) We continue on to the magnificent medieval village of Le Baux de Provence. Les Baux has to be seen to be believed! Perched high up on a rocky outcrop you will see the ancient Château des Baux and with in it, the Saint Vincent church and many 16th and 17th century mansions, some of which now are museums and artisan shops of the village including a fabulous lavender shop. There is free time to walk the cobbled paths overflowing with it's art and craft boutiques, restaurants and cafés. perhaps buy some olive oil famed from this region or chocolate from the renowned chocolatier. Lunch will be at a local restaurant.
Set in the heart of the Alpilles, the monumental Carrières de Lumières plays host to multimedia shows that are unlike any others anywhere else in the world. This truly is an amazing space to hold such an event. (2016 TBC)
We continue our drive onto St Remy, along the way we will visit a Roman archeological site, 'Le Antiques’ – two monuments dating from 20 to 30 years B.C. This Roman site counts among the major classical sites of the South of France. We also visit Saint-Paul-de-Mausole – the monastery where the painter Vincent Van Gogh lived for one year and which was the inspiration of many of his paintings including ‘The Irises’ and ‘The Starry Night’.
We drive to the beautiful town of St Remy de Provence to discover the capital of the ‘art of living’ in Provence and the birthplace of Nostradamus. It is truly is a lovely place to wonder.
Later we return to Avignon.
Day 4: Thursday 4th July 2019: Avignon – Gordes – Roussillon – Ménerbes: (B/L/D)
After breakfast we leave for a day in the Luberon visiting the medieval village of Gordes, classed as one of the most beautiful old villages in France. it's a must see, a stunning 360-degree photographic treat. Gordes is perched on the southern edge of the high Plateau de Vaucluse. The stone buildings are built in tight against the base of the cliffs and others perched on the rocks above, including the 12th-century castle, they are made of an beige stone that glows orange in the morning sun. The view from the village is a southern panorama, out across fields and forests and small perched villages to the Montagne du Luberon. Tuesday is market day in Gordes and you will have free time to walk around the market and the main streets of the village. Lunch will be at a hotel gourmet restaurant, a magnificent venue.
We continue on to an olive Museum where the owner will take us for a tour in the olive groves and explain the different varieties of olives and discuss the process of fabricating olive oil. The tour finishes with a tasting of the olive oils. The olive mill has a lovely boutique where you can purchase the olive oil you tasted, tapenades, organic Provençal herbs and herbal teas, cosmetics based on olives and more.
Roussillon known as the 'ochre village' is another very pretty village of Provence. it has interesting art galleries, lovely shops, two great ice-cream shops, the gelatos are worth the wait. Roussillon is famous for its
We drive to our lovely hotel near Menerbes and check in. We meet later for dinner and together enjoy a quintessential Provincial evening. Lovely.
Day 5: Friday 5th July 2019: Ménerbes – Sault – Apt – Ménerbes: (B)
Today we enjoy a very beautiful and scenic day on the lavender plateau of Sault. After breakfast we drive to Sault-en-Provence. On route you will pass fields of lavender, wheat and spelt wheat and there will be many opportunities for photo stops. We stop at Sault to visit this lovely small Provençal town where today is market day. Sault is also reputed for its artisanal nougat and we visit the boutique shop where they make and sell it. Lunch will be at a local restaurant within the market. We take a moment after to purchase some of the delicious gourmet products for our evening supper at our hotel, either together or maybe you wish to have a peaceful moment in one of the many quiet courtyards at our hotel.
We also visit a Lavender distillery factory. We continue on the ‘Lavender Road’ on the plateau d’Albion past L’agarde d’Apt to St Christol and on to the pretty village of Simiane la Rotonde for short visit to this village. We continue onto Apt, the most important monument in the town is the baroque style Cathedral of Saint Anne, built over the course of several centuries. (11th to 17th) This afternoon we visit a famous winery
Dinner is on your own this evening.
Day 6: Saturday 6th July 2019: Cooking Class – Ménerbes: (B/L)
This morning there is a cooking class that includes lunch with one of the most famous chefs in the Lubéron. We drive to the authentic small perched village of Ménerbes where Pablo Picasso once lived in the 1940’s and where Peter Mayle lived whilst he wrote his book ’Year in Provence’. Like Gordes, it too is classed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. In the village see the house of Jane Eakin, town hall square, the 16th century Castellet castle, the 16th and 17th century stone houses and the beautifully restored House of Truffles and Wine (Maison de la Truffe et Vin). Here there are wonderful views of the Vaucluse mountains and Mont Ventoux.
Dinner on your own tonight.
Day 7: Sunday 7th July 2019: Ménerbes – Lourmarin – Cucuron – Ménerbes: (B/L)
Today we discover Lourmarin amidst old squares, stone walls, gorgeous stores and clouds of bougainvillea and jasmine. Much of the village is set around a central bell tower built on the remnants of the medieval moated castle that once defined Lourmarin. We will wander through the morning market and around the town visiting the Chateaux de Lourmarin, a handsome 16th century castle, part of which is open to the public. It’s well worth a visit to see the furnished apartments, magnificent stairway and library of 28,000 books.
After lunch we will visit the village of Cucuron and an olive oil mill followed by an olive oil tasting. Later we return to Ménerbes.
Day 8: Monday 8th July 2019: Ménerbes – Avignon: Depart Provence: (B)
This morning, we check out of our hotel after breakfast. It is time to say farewell to acquaintances, new-found friends, adieu la Provence. We take with us some wonderful memories of blue skies, stunning scenery including glorious fields of lavender, vines and sunflowers. The fabulous and delicious food and wine. New found friendships, fabulous times together filled with fun and laughter.
Some guests may wish to stay another day or more in this amazing country-side; please don’t hesitate to contact Boutique Tours & Travel for further travel arrangements.
C’est la belle vie – This is the life.
Our itineraries are carefully planned and well thought out but we often can find some wonderful surprises. The magic of travelling in such a small group allows us to cater for this spontaneity and it is sometimes these unplanned occurrences that can be the most memorable. The rich tapestry of experiences and the characters you meet along the way will make this guided tour something special and one you will remember for a lifetime.