Day 1 : Avignon, city of the Popes.
Your Provence walking tour begins at 5pm with a welcome meeting with your guide at the hotel in the heart of Avignon. City of the Popes, Avignon boasts the largest gothic palace in Europe, built in the 14th century during the reign of the papacy. You’ll be awestruck by the old city walls, still intact after 700 years, forming a complete circle around the centre of town. And of course the 12th century pont d’Avignon, the bridge that today only spans partway over the Rhône river. In the evening, enjoy a Cotes du Rhone Wine tasting as an aperitif. Dinner and night in the heart of Avignon.
Day 2 : Châteauneuf du Pape, king of the Côtes du Rhône
Avignon>Châteauneuf du Pape>Gigondas
- walking time about 4 hours +100m/-100m
Your walking tour begins in Chateauneuf du Pape, literally translated as New Castle of the Pope; it was the Popes of Avignon, over 700 years ago, who first brought the famed vines to the region. And today you’ll have a chance to walk through them, guided by a wine specialist: the gnarled vines lay low to the ground, covered by the smooth red stones brought down the Rhône during the Ice Age. A veritable sea of vines covers the hillsides of Châteauneuf du Pape – used to make the most prestigious reds of the region. In between the parcels of vines we’ll find the farming tracks that lead from one estate to the other, most of which have been in the same families for generations. We’ll also get the chance to try some of the best Châteauneuf wines, and perhaps pick up a bottle for a leisurely picnic amongst the vines… after all, what would walking in Provence be without the wine? We will be transferred to the town of Gigondas, to a hotel lost in the vines, our base for scenic walking. Dinner and night in Gigondas.
Day 3 : The reds of Gigondas and the Dentelles de Montmirail
Gigondas>Dentelles de Montmirail>Gigondas
- walking time about 5 hours +250m/-250m
Leaving your hotel, a short climb takes you to the foot of the imposing Dentelles de Montmirail, a set of chiseled limestone teeth hovering dizzyingly above the ground. You are surrounded by the vines of Gigondas, their old and twisted branches proudly displaying bunches of Grenache and Syrah grapes, used to make a Grand Cru of Côtes du Rhône wines. You walk on paths laden with aromatic herbs and boxwood, while the oak trees provide shade from the Provençal sun. Soon you find yourself atop the hills, from where views extend across the entire southern Rhône plains, seemingly carpeted by one gigantic vineyard: some of the most scenic walking in France. You descend back to Les Florets through the vineyards. In the evening, a short transfer will take you to Vaison la romaine, with its Gallo-Roman remains, the largest archaeological site in France. Dinner on your own in Vaison. Transfer back and night in Gigondas.
Day 4 : An endless sea of vines
Gigondas>Dentelles de Montmirail>Gigondas
- walking time about 5 hours +250/-250m
It’s another day in the idyllic landscapes of the Dentelles de Montmirail, where we contemplate the terraces carved into the hills, walk among the wildflowers and sparse cedar trees, and enjoy some of the best walking paths in Provence. Under the shade of a lone almond tree, enjoy a picnic while the wine specialist describes the vineyards and guides you through wine tasting. At the end of the walk we visit the medieval village of Gigondas, its cobbled streets leading up to its church and ruins of its 14th century ramparts. Best of all is the cellar in the main square: housing the wines of most of the 70 producers in the tiny appellation, you are more than welcome to try any number of wines made in the village, tasting the subtle nuances between the different estates: it’s a good thing there’s only a short walk back to the hotel. Dinner and night in Gigondas.
Day 5 : The ideal Provencal market
A morning transfer takes us to the town of Carpentras to admire its Friday market, one of the best of its kind in Provence: the entire centre of town is filled with colourful market stalls, while the smells, sights and sounds of Provence guide you through the narrow streets; a memorable end to your Provence walking holiday. Enjoy a bistro lunch in town before a transfer to Avignon. 2pm end of the trip.