Day 1 - Depart U.S./Fly overnight to Marseille
Depart from the U.S. and travel to France. The particulars
of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline
Day 2 - Arrive in Marseille and transfer to your Aix-en-Provence hotel
Upon arrival at Marseille (MRS) Airport, claim your luggage
and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, fill in a PIR form before leaving
the customs area -- VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area.
Make sure that your VBT luggage tags are attached to your bags. This helps the
representative identify you.
After exiting customs, enter the arrival hall and look for
your VBT representative, who will be holding a VBT sign. Your representative
will welcome you to France and arrange for your transfer via taxi or van
(approximately 45 minutes depending on traffic) to your Aix-en-Provence hotel.
(Please verify with your VBT Trip Leader the time of your transfers at the end
of your trip, from your Aix-en-Provence hotel to the Marseille airport, or your
Nice hotel to the Nice airport if you are taking the post-trip extension).
Important: If you are delayed in meeting your VBT representative at the
Marseille Airport, please call 04 42 93 01 44 from within France. Outside of
France, call +33 442 93 01 44.
VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel
Booklet that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in
Aix-en-Provence during your stay. Use the rest of the day to relax or to begin
exploring the city. Please note: If you arrive early, your hotel room may not
be available until 2 p.m. You may store your luggage with the Reception Desk.
Day 3 - Meet Trip Leaders/Transfer to Vaison la Romaine
VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet in the lobby of the Hotel
Aquabella, Aix-en-Provence at 12:50 p.m. for a 1:00 p.m. departure and transfer
with the group to Vaison la Romaine. Please have lunch on your own before
meeting your VBT Trip Leaders. Your VBT Trip Leaders will be wearing VBT staff
garments, so they are easy to recognize. If your arrival in Aix-en-Provence is
later than 1:00 p.m. or if your arrival is delayed, you must make your own
arrangements to the first hotel. Please contact the hotel to let them know if
you are delayed. The hotel will pass your message to your VBT Trip Leaders.
VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: After
breakfast check out of the hotel (luggage can be stored with reception) and
enjoy a morning in Aix-en-Provence. Have lunch on your own before meeting your
VBT Trip Leaders in the hotel lobby at 12:50 p.m. to join the private coach
transfer, departing at 1:00 p.m., to Vaison la Romaine (approximately an hour
and a half).
Upon arrival in Vaison la Romaine, enjoy a walk that loops
from the center of town into the countryside and back. As you make your way to
our hotel in the medieval section of town, walk along cobblestone
streets, through small squares, past fountains and a belfry with a wrought-iron
You then have free time to relax and settle in before
attending a welcome reception and dinner in the hotel.
Day 4 - Abbey de Senanque/Gordes
This morning we make our way into the Luberon region, to the village of Gordes, which is included in the listing of “The Most
Beautiful Villages in France.” An inspiration to artists, its cobbled streets
are full of shops and cafes. From here, we'll walk to the Abbey de Senanque, a
12th-century Cistercian Abbey set among lavender fields and oak groves. The
small community of Benedictine monks of Ile St-Honorat who live and work here
cultivate honey and lavender on the grounds.
Back in Gordes, you are free to browse the shops and enjoy
lunch on your own.
This evening is free for you to walk through the medieval
town and to try one of the wonderful restaurants for dinner.
Day 5 - Market/Walk to Crestet
After breakfast, we walk straight from the hotel to the
market of Vaison la Romaine. Immerse yourself in the wonderful scents, colors
and sounds of Provence. Here, you will find local produce, baked goods, linens,
baskets, cheeses, flowers and plenty of locals to chat with. You might pick up
a few local delicacies for your lunch. Afterwards, we continue the walk through
open countryside to the pretty village of Crestet, stopping to eat lunch on the
way. Weather permitting you will get a magnificent view across the valley to
This afternoon, we join our support vehicle in Vaison la Romaine and
drive 60 minutes to Villeneuve Les Avignon and our next hotel.
Take advantage of some free time to settle in and wander
through the garden or enjoy the pool before tonight's included dinner in our
Day 6 - Avignon
This morning, we walk from the hotel, through the old town
of Villeneuve and across the bridge onto the banks of the Rhône River, with one
of the best views of the magnificent ancient city of Avignon, stopping to take
in the ruins of the historic Pont d'Avignon. Built in the 12th century, this
bridge originally spanned the Rhone, but has suffered frequent collapses from
floods. Only 4 of the original 22 arches remain. Enjoy a short crossing of the
Rhône River on a ferry used by locals before entering the ancient city walls where
we stroll the timeless stone streets.
We'll meet a local guide for a walking tour of this ancient
city. Later, you may decide to explore some of the city's highlights, such as
the former papal residence, the immense Palais de Papes. Now a museum, this
Gothic building has walls up to 18 feet thick.
The afternoon is yours to do with as you please. Perhaps
you'll buy some local pottery or a handmade tablecloth, try lunch at one of the
local bistros or enjoy a picnic by the river. Later, meet back up with your trip
leaders and walk back to our hotel.
Tonight, you are free to enjoy one of the local restaurants in
Villeneuve-les-Avignon or to dine in our hotel's restaurant.
Day 7 - Les Baux/St Remy
Our first destination today is the fascinating village of
Les Baux, perched on a rocky plateau 803 feet high, commanding brilliant views
over the surrounding countryside. The village can only be visited by foot, so
you can wander around, admiring the carefully restored Renaissance facades, art
galleries and many craft shops selling Provençal goods. The 500 permanent
residents surely have the impression of living in a real-life museum.
After a short time to visit the ancient village we transfer
a few minutes to the top of the ridge and start our morning walk in Les
Alpilles. This chain of limestone hills running east-west is where bauxite was
first discovered (named after the village of Baux-de-Provence), and are an
extension of the Luberon mountains. Although the ridge along the top seems
white and barren, the Alpilles have been rich in almonds, apricots, olives and
grain since the Middle Ages. Our walk enables magnificent views along the
surrounding plains before we drop down through the wooded slopes into St Remy
and the home of Odile Mifsud, a renowned pastry maker who invites us into her
home for lunch.
After lunch we meet the second of our local friends,
historian Mathilde Hamel, who will escort us on a walking tour following the
footsteps of van Gogh. His paintings come alive as we visit the very scenes he
immortalized. Perhaps his most famous painting, van Gogh's The Starry Night was
inspired by St Remy's cityscape. After the tour we will drive the short
distance to our hotel for the next two nights, just a mile and a half outside
of St Remy.
Select one of St Remy's many inviting bistros for dinner on
your own this evening.
Day 8 - Walk in Les Alpilles/Wine tasting at Chateau Romanin
Walk directly from the hotel this morning through St Remy to
St Paul de Mausole and onto the footpath that skirts the bottom edge of the
Alpilles. Our undulating walk takes us through olive groves and oak woodlands,
with beautiful views over the valley. We end at the domain of Chateau Romanin
surrounded by vineyards with a backdrop of the white Alpilles Mountains.
Enjoy a tour around the wine cellar, including the
underground “cathedral”, followed by a tasting of a few vintages. Afterwards,
relax and enjoy a picnic lunch prepared by our Trip Leaders.
We drive back to St Remy where you can wander the main
square and its narrow lanes before returning to our hotel to try your hand at
the Provençal pastime of pétanque on
the hotel grounds.
Tonight, celebrate with your fellow travelers during a
farewell dinner in the chateau.
Day 9 - Transfer to Aix-en-Provence/Free Time/VBT No-Air Package ends
VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, transfer to the
Aix-en-Provence Hotel Aquabella, arriving at approximately 11 a.m. Your tour
ends here. If you need to depart at an earlier time, please make your own
VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast, say goodbye to your
Trip Leaders and transfer to Aix-en-Provence. Upon arrival, transfer to your
centrally located hotel. You may spend the rest of the day relaxing and
discovering this magical city on your own. You may wish to head out immediately
to visit the large morning market that sells wonderful fruit, vegetables,
flowers and spices and also Provençal goods (such as soaps, tablecloths,
aprons, pottery) and clothes. There's a flea market, too.
Day 10 - Depart for U.S.
After breakfast*, transfer to the Marseille airport for your
return flight. Please ensure you are ready in the hotel reception area at the
Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are
finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you
extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to
the airport will be at your own expense.
*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast
at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the Front Desk to verify
the times that breakfast is served.