Essence of the Luberon - Overland Trip
1 week: to (IMT-PEEL)
IntroOutstanding walking in Provence and the Luberon – hilltop villages, crumbling castles and expansive meadows filled with wildflowers and lavender
From hilltop towns of the Luberon to the herb-scented trails of Mont Ventoux, we savour dramatic vistas and wonderful Provençal hospitality. Discover the Dentelles de Montmirail, the foothills of the Mont Ventoux and the world-famous Côtes de Rhône vineyards of Beaumes-de-Venise, Vacqueyras, Gigondas and Séguret. Vaison-la-Romaine affords us plenty of attractions to tempt during our three days here. Her lazy market square, Gallo-Roman remains - including a 6000-seat Roman theatre – the largest archeological site in France and oodles of time to sip refreshing beverages and people-watch. From the Dentelles we travel to the Luberon where the beauty and variety of the scenery is exceptional – from ochre mines to orchards as far as the eye can see. Explore Gordes, Provence’s best-known hilltop village – a town of silk painters, weavers and potters, where houses built of golden stone rise to the Renaissance château crowning the top. A true highlight for all will be our three days in the hidden hamlet of Buoux - from our 12th-Century \'Feature Stay\' base we undertake magnificent walks and are sure to enjoy the perfect marriage of activity, gastronomy and well earned relaxation beside the welcoming pool. Savour an intimate glimpse into this distinctive region of France under seemingly permanent blue skies.
IncludedPeregrine tour leader, transport and sightseeing.
ItinerariesDay 1 - Avignon
Your journey begins this afternoon in Avignon. This walled city can be easily and efficiently reached by rail. Should you be flying internationally before your trip commences Paris and Nice are both convenient gateways. From Paris' Gare de Lyon or from Nice you can board a fast train (TGV) and disembark just under three hours later in Avignon. From Nice it is less than a two and a half hour journey. There is also an ever increasing number of 'budget,' airlines operating from within Europe into cities nearby Avignon that may be convenient and cost effective. At time of writing RyanAir had many departures into the city of Nimes (c. 40km from Avignon) from the United Kingdom and Brussels or an extensive network of arrivals into Marseille (c. 75kms to the South East) from multiple points across Europe and Great Britain. A rail journey from these two gateway cities will be approximately 30 minutes from Nimes or 40 minutes from Marseille with many departures daily. Whilst at your discretion, Peregrine recommends arriving/ departing by train where possible within Europe due to this method of transports minimal carbon emissions.
This cultural city was the seat of the Papacy (seven popes resided here) for almost 70 years in the 14th Century. A place of history and of theatre, this fortified city will not leave you unmoved. We recommend you take the time to visit the 'Palais des Papes,' with walls 18-feet thick rendering it all but impregnable to attack! Make sure to include an evening visit too - it is even more impressive when floodlit. Extra nights accommodation can be booked in Avignon for those wishing to fully explore this great city.
Please make your own way to the joining hotel which is centrally located within the walls of the city (further details are in your travel documents). In the evening we meet our tour leader and our fellow travelling companions at a Welcome Meeting (this is usually at 6pm, but you will be advised as to the exact time and place on a notice, placed near the reception of our hotel), where our leader will give us a briefing on what lies ahead on our tour.
After breakfast, we transfer from Avignon to Gigondas by private taxi (35 min). In Gigondas, a village whose name is derived from jocunditas, the Roman word for joy, you may experience some joy of your own when tasting various varietals of the superb Gigondas wines. You’re now in the Dentelles de Montmirail, the foothills of Provence's highest peak, Mont Ventoux. Dentelles (meaning lace) refers to a group of limestone mountains whose serrated ridges reach dramatically towards the sky. The photographers amongst us will be kept busy! We then walk from tiny Gigondas and it's yellow stoned buildings to Séguret through famed Côtes du Rhône vineyards, and promenades of cypress trees. A short bus transfer from Séguret brings us to Vaison-la-Romaine and our base for the next 3 nights. (20 min transfer; 4 hours walking).Day 3 - Free day - Vaison-la-Romaine
Vaison-la-Romaine is a lively town nestled along the banks of the Ouvèze River. Resting on the former site of the ancient Roman city of Vasio Vocontiorum, Vaison-la-Romaine is perhaps best known for its wealth of ruins dating back to the 2nd century. The centre of town, the Haute-Ville, is crowned by the ruins of a medieval castle and lined with old stone houses, chic boutiques and artists’ studios. Today is a free day and also market day in Vaison-la-Romaine, so it’s a great opportunity to rub elbows with the locals and hunt for a few local foods, such as Picodon cheese and lavender-scented honey. Discover (with your guide’s suggestions) Vaison’s Gallo-Roman remains, spread over several sites. Take time to explore the remains of Roman villas, thermal baths, mosaics and a restored amphitheatre, where you can imagine yourself sitting in an amphitheatre among 6000 spectators during the first century and you will relive the comedies, mimes and pantomimes of the era. This afternoon, you also the option (not included) for a walk to the Drome Provencale, from the pretty stating point of Les Plaisians, in the heart in the Barronies mountains.Day 4 - Le Crestet - Vaison-la-Romaine
Transfer out this morning by private taxi to the start of your walk (30 min). A constant companion on our walks today will be the magnificent views of the rocky Mont Ventoux, the 'Giant of Provence.' This dominant feature is perhaps best known for its occasional appearance in the Tour de France and the fear that it strikes in the hearts of even the most seasoned professional cyclists, with its 21 Km, 1912 metre and 7.5 percent gradient climb. However we can rejoice in the fact that we will not be faced with such a daunting challenge! Walk to the charming medieval village of Le Crestet nestled at the base of Mont Ventoux. Perched on a crest, the old village is easily visible from afar and is a perfect base for our foray into the Dentelles. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way prepared for you by your guide! (4½ hours walking).Day 5 - Gordes - Buoux
This morning we journey from Vaison to Gordes by private taxi (one hour). Gordes is a picture-perfect village clinging to the southern face of the high Vaucluse Plateau. Here old stone buildings stand in orderly terraces atop fawn-coloured cliffs; cobblestone lanes lead to shady squares and relaxing cafés and all the while a massive 12th century castle keeps watch over all beneath her. Keep plenty of film aside and have your camera batteries fully charged as impressive Gordes and its multitude of scenic, architectural and cultural allures will not disappoint. Our circular walk takes us to the incredible Abbaye de Sénanque, a 12th-century abbey situated in the Sénanque Valley amid oak groves and lavender fields, a fine example of primitive Cistercian architecture and even today inhabited by a community of Cistercian monks. Returning to Gordes, we have a short transfer to Buoux, a tiny village (pop. 119) situated among rolling hills in the Parc Naturel Regional du Luberon - our base for the next three nights at our magnificent ‘feature stay’ property. Accommodated in renovated 12th Century sandstone buildings and situated at the base of grandiose cliff faces this scenic location “par excellence”. An inviting large pool and renowned restaurant serving fine fare cap the myriad of appeals of ‘Les Seguins’ hotel. (4 hours walking)Day 6 - Sivergues – Fort de Buoux
A day of history and beautiful landscapes awaits us today as we walk the Buoux Gorge to Sivergues - a tiny village of 39 inhabitants snuggled up on a cliff overhanging the Aiguebrun valley. Lost in the Luberon hills, the village is not on the way to anywhere; put quite simply you go to Sivergues for Sivergues. After exploring, we walk back along the Aiguebrun river bed, the only permanent river of the Luberon Mountains, where you’ll find a large stone basin with very clear water which served as a reservoir for the region's drinking water. Along our walk the river valley's walls are bespeckled with caves. Some of these caves were so called 'cave-dweller's,' settlements. We enjoy your picnic along the trail. Before the day’s end we will visit the splendid hilltop ruins of Buoux Fort, at the top of the rocky spur, which served as a refuge for the local population during the Wars of Religion. In 1660, King Louis the 14th ordered the fort's destruction and from this date, the nearby village abandoned its defensive vocation. In the grounds of the Fort you can discover pieces of the rampart and walls of the chapel, which are all that survive of the fortress today. (4 hours walking)Day 7 - Buoux - Bonnieux
On our last loop walk today we follow along the ridges of the Petit Luberon mountains affording sweeping views across thick cedar forests below and passed quaint and traditional 'bories,' (a type of farmers’ hut built from stone) en route to Bonnieux. With testament to habitation as early as the Bronze age the first formal settlement was established by the Romans in the 1st Century AD. In the Middle Ages Bonnieux was raised to higher ground for defensive purposes and still maintains this position centuries later. With this dominating locale came power and superb residences dating back to the 16th, 17th, and 18th century serve as a reminder of this rich past. Enjoy navigating through its labyrinth of alleyways and shaded lanes which are overlooked by the half Roman half Gothic 'Eglise Haute,' or High Church. (6 hours walking)Day 8 - Avignon
Our journey ends today after breakfast. You will be transferred back Avignon or alternatively, to Avignon TGV for departure. Please do not book onward travel for before 11am.