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Classic Provence: Alpilles and Luberon

Classic Provençal Walks: Alpilles and Luberon

Overview

Explore the most beautiful parts of the Provence, taking in both the Alpilles and the Luberon mountain ranges in this more budget-friendly tour. You will walk in the footsteps of Van Gogh on this self-guided tour, beginning in St Rémy a Gallo-Roman town with a marvellous old quarter, nestled in the foothills of Les Alpilles Mountains. You will enjoy walking through the countryside dotted with thick-walled Provençal farmhouses, medieval villages and marvel at the dramatic vistas and the very landscapes that inspired Van Gogh’s brush strokes. You will then explore the Luberon mountains, some of the most beautiful villages in France.

  • Discovering Provence’s most famous mountain ranges: Les Alpilles & Le Luberon
  • Walking across the windswept crest of the Alpilles Mountains
  • Exploring the extraordinarily beautiful perched village of Les Baux-de-Provence
  • Isle sur la Sorgue, also called the Provencal Venice

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: St Remy and the Crest of the Alpilles | 10-18 km

Arrival in Saint Remy (regular buses from Avignon, 30-min ride). You will follow the Van Gogh trail passing through the very scenes that inspired the artist. You can admire replicas of his paintings before exploring the ancient Romain ruins of Glanum with its imposing triumphal arch and mausoleum. You follow a botanical path up to the crest of the Alpilles Mountains, lined with aromatic herbs and wildflowers. On top, you’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping views far into the horizon, a perfect setting for a picnic lunch. Dinner on your own and overnight in Saint Rémy.

  • Walking for the day: 18 km, 6 h ↑550 m ↓550 m (shorter alternative: 10 km, 3-4 h ↑300 m ↓300 m)
  • Accommodation 2023: Chalet Fleuri or similar (charming option: Hotel du Soleil & Spa or similar)

Day 2: St Remy – Maussane | 13 km

You hike on a panoramic forest path which crosses the Alpilles, offering you spectacular views. The trail descends to the pretty village of Maussane. Visit the famous Cornille mill of the 17th century, where you can taste one of the best olive oils in Provence! Overnight in Maussane.

Day 3: Maussane – Les Baux – Maussane/Arles | 12 km

You hike today in a loop towards the Val d’Enfer and the fortified medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence, set atop its rocky perch, voted one of the most beautiful villages of France. Enjoy spectacular views from the Chateau des Baux fortress dotted with the ruins of castle walls. You have the option to visit the exciting Carrières de Lumières museum, famed for its unique audio-visual shows. You then continue through the olive groves back to the village of Maussane. Transfer to Arles at the end of the hike. Overnight in Arles

Day 4: Arles/Isle sur la Sorgue

Free day to discover Arles and its ancient treasures: the arenas, the amphitheatre, the medieval streets, and the market. In the afternoon, take the train from Arles to Isle sur la Sorgue (not included) with your luggage. Stroll in the “Venice of Provence”, have a drink by the river and if you happen to be there on a Sunday, enjoy the colourful food with the antique shops. Overnight in Isle.

Day 5: Lacoste – Bonnieux – Buoux and the Aiguebrun Gorge | 17 km

After breakfast, we transfer you to Lacoste, where you begin today’s walk to Buoux. The medieval streets of Lacoste are worth a stroll before beginning your walk. You head into the plains, through vineyards, cherry orchards and truffle oak plantations to reach the village of Bonnieux. Beyond Bonnieux, you walk on country lanes and paths before reaching the gorge that separates the Luberon into two distinct mountains. In the Grand Luberon, you walk alongside a lavender field before reaching Buoux castle and the village of Buoux (one of the centre-stage villages in Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence) before a spectacular descent to the Auberge des Seguins; an otherworldly place tucked deep in the Aiguebrun gorge, a restored 17th c. goat farm. Enjoy a family-style dinner with home-cooked Provençal specialities.

  • Walking for the day: 17 km, 5-6 h ↑450 m ↓350 m
  • Accommodation: Auberge des Seguins outside Buoux (no charming option available)

Day 6: Buoux – Saignon – Apt | 14 km

Walk at the base of the Aiguebrun Gorge, the only permanent river of the Luberon mountains, with massive limestone walls and lush vegetation. You climb out of the canyon to reach the lost hamlet of Sivergues before crossing the Aiguebrun and climbing up to the Claparèdes plateau, with its lavender fields and truffle oak plantations. Soon after, you reach the medieval village of Saignon and the ruins of its three castles. You then descend to Apt, the Provencal capital of candied fruits, “fruits confits”.

Day 7: Departure

After breakfast end of the trip and departure. There are buses to Avignon.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in charming 2-star hotels and country inns in private en-suite double/twin rooms. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour. Optional hotel upgrade in charming hotels is possible except on day 5. Please note that an additional supplement may be applied in July during the Photo Festival in Arles.

Click to view default hotels

  • St Remy de Provence (Day 1): Hotel Canto Sigalo – a charming 2-star hotel with a graden and a swimming pool, 10 minutes from the city centre
  • Maussane (Day 2): Hotel Les Magnanarelles – 2-star hotel with patio and swimming pool, in the heart of the village
  • Arles (Days 3): Hotel Regence – modern, comfortable 2-star hotel in the heart of Arles; 5-min walk from the train station
  • Isle sur la Sorgue (Day 4): Hotel Les Nevons – a family-owned 3-star hotel with garden and swimming pool, located a 5-min walk from the centre and 10 minutes from the train station
  • Buoux (Day 5): Auberge des Seguins – old renovated sheepfold, located in the valley of the Aiguebrun. Family hostel, with typical stone houses. Simple comfort. There is no TV, Wi Fi or cell phone coverage available.
  • Apt (Day 6): Hotel Le Palais – a family 2-star hotel with restaurant, located in the centre of Apt, close to the bus station. 

Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Click to view upgraded charming hotels

  • St Remy de Provence (Day 1): Le Castellet des Alpilles – charming and elegant hotel, located just 300 m from the historical centre of Saint Rémy. Swimming pool.
  • Mausanne (Day 2): Hotel L’Oustaloun – a family 3-star hotel in the centre of the village with a traditional restaurant. The building used to be an abbey, a town hall, a prison, a carpentry and finally a hotel.
  • Arles (Day 3): Hotel Forum – a family 3-star hotel in the heart of Arles with a swimming pool.
  • Isle sur la Sorgue (Day 4): Same hotel (Hotel Les Nevons), but in a superior room with terrace with a garden view
  • Apt (Day 6): B&B Le Couvent – a family B&B, set in a former convent from the 17th c. with a swimming pool, a garden and a terrace.

Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

All breakfasts are included and dinner on day 5. Lunch packs for the next day can be pre-ordered at each accommodation, or you can buy bread, cheeses and meats as well as fresh fruit and vegetables at local markets. For dinner, you can visit one of the restaurants in the villages or order from the a la carte menu in your accommodation.

Local Markets

  • St Remy: Wednesday & Saturday
  • Arles: Wednesday & Saturday
  • Bonnieux: market on Friday morning
  • Isle sur la Sorgue: Sunday morning big market and a small one on Thursday morning

Difficulty & terrain

This holiday is appropriate for walks with an average level of fitness; average walking time is 3-4 hours per day on marked trails and forest paths with minimal elevation gains, and the only longer and steeper walk (6 h) is optional (read more about difficulty grades). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available on any date from March till June and from the beginning of September till mid-November. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date in the season – so please indicate desired beginning date when booking. In July and August, the trails are usually closed due to forest fire danger. From 1st June to 15th September, access may be restricted if the risk of forest fire is high, and any hikes might be cancelled within one-day notice. Any additional costs because of this (f.ex. additional transfers) will be at your own expense.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended arrival airport for this holiday is Marseille. Alternative airports are Nice, Montpellier, Toulon, Nimes.

By train or bus
  • Train journey by TGV from Paris to Avignon is 3 hours, while a local train from the nearest international airport of Marseilles takes 2 hours to reach Avignon. Avignon is 5.5 hours by rail from London St Pancras (see details). From Avignon you can take a bus to St Remy

Inclusions

Included

  • 6 nights double occupancy with private facilities, in 2-star hotels and guesthouses
  • 6 breakfasts
  • 1 dinner on Day 5
  • Transfer from Maussane to Arles on Day 3
  • Transfer from Isle to Lacoste on Day 5
  • Luggage transfers days 2 to 6 (except on day 4 when you take the train from Arles to Isle)
  • Travel kit with roadbook and integrated maps (1 set per room), vouchers for restaurants & transfers
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Flights and airport transfers
  • Lunches and 5 dinners
  • Train ticket Arles-Isle and other public transport
  • Tourist tax, if due
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Entrance fees for attractions and museums
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights
  • Upgraded charming hotels

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