Day 1 : Villefranche on the Mediterranean Sea
Villefranche sur mer
Your Provence walking tour begins with a welcome meeting with your guide at the hotel in Villefranche sur Mer, set on the shining Mediterranean Sea. Set just beside Nice, Villefranche has a little town feel, with its small fisherman’s port lined with cafés and local restaurants. The streets of the town have a distinct medieval flair, especially its 14th century rue obscure, a covered and vaulted street, dimly lit, haunting and majestic in design. Don’t forget to visit the citadel and its gardens, and the 14th century Romanesque chapel. Dinner and night in Villefranche.
Day 2 : Saint Jean Cap Ferrat
Beaulieu>St Jean Cap Ferrat>Villefranche
- walking time about 4 hours (no hills) -
Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, a 300-hectare peninsula that jets out into the Mediterranean Sea, is an eden of luxurious villas and finely manicured gardens. Despite the wealth and exclusiveness, a superb walking path is at your disposal, set alongside the entire length of the peninsula. The sounds of the sea will be with you all day, while the wealthy homes of stars and royalty are within grasp. The most astonishing is the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild: formerly owned by the Baroness de Rothschild, set atop of the hill, the villa is open to the public, and is surrounded by some of the most magnificent gardens on the Côte d’Azur. Nearing the end of your walk, the port area is full of quaint cafés by the seaside, where you can contemplate the sheer beauty of the French Riviera. Dinner on your own. Night in Villefranche.
Day 3 : Nice’s back country: breathtaking perched villages
- walking time about 4 hours +50/-300m
A lovely train and bus transfer will guide you to the town of Sainte Agnès, perched like an eagle’s nest high above the sea, and listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Its colourful granite stone houses and cobbled streets are a marvel to walk through, complete with small artist shops and local and traditional restaurants. On a walking path high above the waters, with marvelous panoramic views of the Côte d’Azur, you begin your gentle descent through the untamed hills of wildflowers and sparse trees. The path leads you to the equally beautiful town of Gorbio, where you are first welcomed by the 300 year-old elm tree in the main square. The old grey stone homes and churches give the town a true feeling of timelessness and authenticity, a far cry from the glitz of the Riviera below. Before heading back to Villefranche you will have time to explore Menton, its shaded medieval streets, its architecture, and its exceptional gardens. The Côte d'Azur at its best. Dinner on your own. Night in Villefranche.
Day 4 : Cannes and its Islands.
Cannes>île de Lérins>Nice
- walking time about 4 hours (no hills)
A short journey takes you to Cannes, home to the world’s most coveted film festival; it’s a small town but a magnet for the ritzy and the glamorous. The shops are filled with items whose prices defy all reason, while the cafés and restaurants are an invitation to sit and watch time go by. A short ferry ride off the shores takes you to the island of Sainte Marguerite, one of four small islands off the coast of Cannes. Here, on a quaint walking path that spins gently around the island, with the waters of the sea nudging at your shoes, you’ll be overcome by the quiet and unbuilt shores, so peaceful, and most of all, such a contrast to the lights and action of the French Riviera. Evening transfer to Nice. Dinner and night in Nice.
Day 5 : The Wonders of Nice.
Your walking tour continues with free time to explore the marvels of Nice, and there is so much to see and do. Begin with a climb up the winding ramps to the hill where the castle once stood, just steps from the old town: the view extends to the entire city of Nice, new and old, its entire coastline, and the lengthy Promenade des Anglais that frames the Mediterranean. The old town boasts a labyrinth of tightly encased and lively streets, stretches of homes with their pale yellow façades and green shutters, and an endless number of historic and religious buildings. In a great and wonderful juxtaposition, the new Nice, just recently renovated, boasts a main square of enormous proportions, with state-of-the art buildings, modern architecture and shopping centers. The Marc Chagall museum in Nice is also well worth the visit. A café lunch is included in the old town. Afternoon transfer to Buoux, in the heart of the Luberon Mountains, to a 17th century goat farm hidden at the base of a deep canyon... Dinner and night in Buoux.
Day 6 : The untamed Luberon hills
- walking time about 4 hours +200m/-200m
You set off from Buoux by foot and walk in the Aiguebrun valley, along a river at the base of the canyon. The vegetation is thick and lush compared to the parched hills of the slopes above. A winding path leads you out of the canyon, and via the ancient stone walls of abandoned terraces you reach the forgotten hamlet of Sivergues, just a handful of homes set along its cobbled streets. Here the hills are laden with thyme and wildflowers, the views extend to far-reaching mountains and plains, and small goat farms dot the landscapes. This is the off-the-beaten-path Luberon, far from the grasp of excessive tourism. Dinner and night back in Buoux, where you will enjoy family ambiance and authentic Provençal cuisine.
Day 7 : The Luberon of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence.
- walking time about 5 hours +400m/-450m
Behind the Auberge, a secret and ancient cobbled path zigzags gently up the slope, and soon you find yourself above the imposing canyon, looking down at the auberge and the valley below. Here, on the plateaus, you discover another secret: truffle oak plantations: rows of planted oak trees harbouring the coveted “black diamonds”. Past the hamlet of Buoux and its Romanesque chapel, and through vast lavender fields you reach the town of Bonnieux, its 12th century church crowning the village. Sit and enjoy a cool drink in one of the many town squares, and we'll enjoy a bistro lunch (included) with great views of the plains below. In the afternoon, a short walk will lead you to the perched village of Lacoste, via hidden walking paths, its old stone homes overlooked by the ruins of the castle of the Marquis de Sade. Transfer to the town of Avignon, city of the Popes, with its imposing gothic palace, 14th century ramparts, and famous bridge. A jewel of Provence. Dinner and night in Avignon.
Day 8 : Au revoir in Avignon
Your Provence walking tour ends after breakfast.