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Van Gogh's Provence

Walking in Van Gogh’s Provence

Overview

Boasting over 300 days a year of sunshine, the natural light of Provence has inspired many artists. Van Gogh arrived here in the late 19th century, and this beautiful region inspired some of his greatest work: the Alpilles that soar high above the Rhône Valley, the sunflower fields, the olive groves, the Mistral winds that rhythmically sweep the lone cypress tree.

During this Provence walking holiday, you will follow Van Gogh’s footsteps into the most beautiful of the Alpilles landscapes. You will spend time in the artistic town of Saint-Rémy, the spectacular perched village of Les Baux, the lovely little village of Maussane, and finish in the Roman city of Arles.

  • Awe-inspiring vistas atop the Alpilles mountains
  • The vineyards and olive groves of Provence
  • The cafés and restaurants of Saint Rémy de Provence
  • The perched medieval village of Les Baux de Provence
  • The Roman ruins in the city of Arles

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Avignon

Arrive in Avignon and explore the medieval town and its cobbled streets, famous Papal Palace and St Benezet Bridge. Dinner on your own and overnight in Avignon.

Day 2: St Remy de Provence

Free morning in Avignon. In the early afternoon, a taxi will transfer you to St Remy de Provence (20 min), where you’ll spend the next two nights. Free afternoon in St Remy, with the option to follow Van Gogh’s walking trail. Take the time to explore the town, taste local specialities (candied fruits, olive oil, wine). Visit the Roman ruins and walk up the Van Gogh trail, lined with reproductions of his paintings facing the very scenes that inspired them. Dinner on your own and overnight in Saint Rémy.

Day 3: Van Gogh’s Provence Circular Walk | 10 km

From St. Rémy, you pass St. Paul de Mausole, the former monastery where Van Gogh spent the last year of his life. From there, you head up a quiet valley, following a botanical path,  to the ridge of the Alpilles mountains and the Rocher des Deux Trous, from where the views are outstanding. You then have two options: either a stroll back down the mountain or a breathtaking path on a rocky crest, adding a bit of adventure to the day’s walk (followed by the same stroll back down the mountain). Note that the second option is a more challenging walk in an otherwise relaxed walking holiday, and you may not feel comfortable completing it unless you have some walking experience on jagged and uneven paths. Dinner on your own and overnight in Saint Rémy.

  • Accommodation: Castellet des Alpilles 3* or similar (option upgrade: Gounod or similar)
  • Walking for the day: 10 km, 2.5-3 h, ↑250 m ↓250 m (optional extended walk: 18 km, 6 h ↑550 m ↓550 m)

Day 4: Saint Rémy to Les Baux | 10 km

Once again, you leave St. Rémy by foot and walk up to the crest of the windswept Alpilles mountains. A rolling track atop the ridge is complete with awe-inspiring 360° views: these accompany you as the trail gently undulates towards the medieval village of Les Baux de Provence, set atop its rocky perch. It is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. Dinner on your own and overnight in Les Baux.

Day 5: Les Baux de Provence – Maussane – Les Baux | 13 km

You dip down into the plains, where the olive groves carpet the landscape, their silvery leaves glistening in the sun. You can taste some of the local olive oils and specialities in Maussane, a quaint Provençal town and pump up some energy to climb back towards Les Baux on a hidden path behind the village. Dinner on your own and overnight in Les Baux de Provence.

Day 6: Les Baux – Chapelle St Gabriel – Arles | 16 km

After climbing to the rounded summit above the village, it’s an undulating stroll along the ridge. You walk along the entire western edge of the mountain, and until its very end, as it descends into the plains, to the Romanesque St. Gabriel chapel. Transfer to Arles. Dinner on your own and overnight in Arles.

Day 7: Departure

End of the trip after breakfast.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in comfortable 2 and 3-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 is possible. Please note that an additional supplement may be applied in July during the Theatre Festival in Avignon and the Photo Festival in Arles.

Sample standard hotels

  • Avignon (Day 1): Hotel Boquier 2* – located just a few steps from the Papal Palace, ideally situated to explore the town; friendly welcome guaranteed!
  • St Remy de Provence (Days 2 and 3): Castellet des Alpilles 3* – this quaint and modern accommodation is located just a few steps from the historical centre of Saint Rémy. Swimming pool.
  • Les Baux de Provence (Days 4 and 5): Mas d’Aigret 3* – at the foot of the Village of Baux-de-Provence, the Mas d’Aigret welcomes in one of the elegant 16 rooms. Swimming pool
  • Arles (Day 6): Hotel Le Forum 3* – a beautifully restored old house, now a family-run hotel. Swimming pool.

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.

Sample upgraded hotels

  • Avignon (Day 1): Hotel Horloge – 4-star hotel in the centre a few steps from the famous Popes Palace
  • St Remy de Provence (Days 2 and 3): Gounod – a family-run hotel with 25 rooms surrounded by a vast park close to where Van Gogh lived. Swimming pool.
  • Les Baux de Provence: (Days 4 and 5): Mas d’Aigret – at the foot of the Village of Baux-de-Provence, the Mas d’Aigret welcomes you in one of the elegant 16 rooms; most of them have a balcony or a terrace, from where you can appreciate the incomparable view on the Alpilles, Valley of Baux and the Castle. Swimming pool.
  • Arles (Day 6): Le Calendal – a beautifully restored old house, now a family-run hotel. Spa facilities.

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. 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

  • Avignon: Les Halles indoor covered market every morning except Monday
  • St Remy de Provence: on Wednesday and Saturday morning
  • Maussane: market on Thursdays
  • Arles: market on Wednesdays & Saturdays

Difficulty & terrain

This holiday is appropriate for walks with an average level of fitness; average walking time is 3-4 hours per day with minimal elevation gains, and the only longer and steeper walk (6h) 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 until the end of June and from the end of August 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. From the 1st of June until the 30th of September access to forest paths may be forbidden or partially restricted (access until 11:00 h) if the risk of forest fire is high. It is the customer’s responsibility to inquire every day for the next day by phone Tel: 0811 20 13 13 or on the website TRAIL CLOSURES ALPILLES. Any extra cost for extra transfers due to those restrictions (or for any personal reason) will be at your own charge.

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).

Inclusions

Included

  • 6 nights double occupancy with private facilities in 2 and 3-star hotels and guesthouses
  • 6 breakfasts
  • Luggage transfers days 2 to 6 (1 piece up to 20 kg per person)
  • Day 2: Taxi transfer from Avignon to St Remy (~30 min)
  • Day 6: Taxi transfer at the end of the walk from St Gabriel Chapel > Arles
  • Travel kit with roadbook and integrated maps, vouchers for restaurants & transfers
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Flights and airport transfers
  • Lunches and dinners
  • 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 before or after the holiday
  • Upgraded hotels with a supplement

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