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This France culinary tour is designed as a unique and very different kind of tour: one that makes you feel like traveling with knowledgeable and fun friends, which includes hidden places and different experiences. In other words, a tour that does not seem like a tour. Come not just to visit Luberon in Provence, but actually experience it. Take a marvelous, different kind of European vacation, spend great days in a beautiful setting in the countryside, originally learn about a different culture and way of life, dedicate your time to simple pleasures, and find a leisurely and relaxed pace.
This Luberon experience is based in a beautiful small guesthouse in the heart of Bonnieux. This traditional Provenal property is over 200 years old but has been restored to high standards of comfort and style. You will enjoy special attention from the friendly local hosts. You will enjoy the beautiful garden, the swimming pool, and the unforgettable view. All rooms offer one big bed, and five rooms can be configured with twin beds. Two rooms are on the ground floor, involving only two or three steps. The rest of the rooms are on the first floor, accessed by stairs.
The Luberon experience is a one week immersion experience in this very special part of Provence, France. You will experience a slower, more relaxing way of traveling, very unlike most group tours. Staying one week in one place means you can settle in and really get to know the local area. This is not a typical sightseeing tour; it truly is an experience, and it is one you will always remember. You will get to know local residents; enjoy the cafes and restaurants, shops, artist galleries, and shop at the Friday morning market. Bonnieux will feel like home. At the end of the week, you will not want to leave.
On this tour, you will be busy with plenty things to experience, but, of course, you will not end each day exhausted. This specially designed schedule is fulfilling, but not too full. There is always time for happily relaxing, enjoying your vacation, and downtime when you can be away from the tour group. You will not waste time on long day trips, driving several hours from one hotel to another, or having the boring job of unpacking and repacking. You will experience the life of a real vacation and cultural experience. You can forget about rushing from one place to another just see the sights.
One of your holiday guides will meet you on the afternoon at the Avignon TGV station or the Marseille Provence Airport. You will soon arrive in the Luberon countryside and then the village of Bonnieux, and the charming guesthouse that will be your home for the week. You will have time to unpack and refresh yourself, and then you will join the group for an orientation walk around the lower part of the village. This evening, you will enjoy a welcome aperitif at your guesthouse and a traditional Provenal meal prepared by your host Pierre. Over dinner, you will get to know you group and discuss your plans for the week. Tonight, a good nights sleep is especially important.
Today, you will really begin to experience the culture, history, and beauty of the Luberon. This area is known for its lively and colorful outdoor markets, and today you will be at one of the most famous: the morning market at L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. The town is idyllically set on several branches of the River Sorgue and known as the Venice of Provence. The Sunday market has hundreds of vendors selling fruit and vegetables, cheeses, sausages, olive oil, wine, flowers, fabrics, soaps, pottery, olive wood cutting boards, and so much more. This market is recognized throughout the world for its large emphasis on brocante (antiques and bric-a-brac). You will have an early breakfast at the guesthouse so you have a full morning to enjoy the market.
Later in the afternoon, you will explore the ancient history of Bonnieux. Charley, your guide, will lead a walking tour around Bonnieux, the summer home of the Popes when they left Rome for Avignon in the fourteenth century. The church at the top of the village dates back to the twelfth century. You will see the old ramparts (village walls) and many impressive buildings several hundred years old. You will also visit the unique home of Jean-Camille and Michele to see the ancient caves underneath their home, where early residents of Bonnieux lived more than 1500 years ago. Dinner tonight is at a special restaurant in Bonnieux, known for its fine cuisine.
This morning, you will travel across the isolated Clapardes Plateau (a major location for lavender growing) to the foothills of the Grand Luberon and the village of Saignon. Saignon, perched high on a rock overlooking the busy town of Apt, is one of the oldest villages in France. Your explorations of the village include a visit to the ruins of the old castle and the unusual rock formation that provides a 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside.A goat farm is in the countryside beyond Saignon. Goat cheese is an important part of the cuisine of Provence.
You will spend an hour with Marianne and her goats, learning how the cheese is made and about her life as a cheesemaker. You will also have the opportunity to taste a variety of her wonderful cheeses.You will return to Bonnieux for lunch at a cafe, usually out on the pleasant terrace overlooking the Luberon Valley. This is a good day for a salad or an omelet, and perhaps one of their wonderful desserts. In the afternoon, two choices of activities are usually offered. One group visits the Fôret de Cèdres on the crest of the Petit Luberon mountain above Bonnieux. From this vantage point you will see much of the Luberon and fully appreciate its physical setting.
From the forest road there are spectacular views of Bonnieux and the Luberon valley. If the skies are particularly clear, you might see the Mediterranean or the Alps. This group usually takes an easy hike to a southern viewpoint. Travelers who are up for a more physical adventure will visit Fort de Buoux, an ancient settlement perched high in the Grand Luberon. This is a memorable hike of about four miles, involving some steep and rocky sections. You will make a detour up to the Petit Luberon on your way back to Bonnieux. You will have a simple dinner tonight at a little restaurant / pizzeria a few minutes walk from your guesthouse. You will love their pizzas, made in a wood-fired oven.
The village of Gordes enjoys a spectacular setting on the opposite side of the Calavon Valley and is designated one of the most beautiful villages in France. Tuesday is market day in Gordes; although smaller than L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, this is still a substantial market, with some good permanent shopping too. After visiting to Gordes, you will travel a short distance to the Abbaye de Sènanque, a twelfth century monastery in a deep, rocky valley that is still active today. This is one of the most photographed spots in France. You will then travel over the rocky and remote Vaucluse Plateau, sharing some spectacular scenery that most tourists never discover.
You will have a picnic near the tiny village of Lioux, and you will enjoy a leisurely and simple lunch in the countryside. After your picnic you will head to Chateau la Canorgue, one of the leading wineries in the Luberon. You will be part of the only group invited to tour the vineyard and winery. Of course your visit includes a tasting of several of Canorgues excellent wines. Tonight's dinner is on your own.
Today, you travel on a longer day-trip to another area of Provence beyond the Luberon, normally within about an hours drive. The Alpilles is another mountainous region to the west of the Luberon. The scenery is incredible. You will visit extensive Greek and Roman ruins at Glanum, just outside the village of Saint Remy-de-Provence; spend a quiet hour at Saint Paul de Mausole, the monastery and sanitarium, where Van Gogh painted some of his most famous works; and discover the ruins of a Roman aqueduct hidden in the fields at Barbegal.
You will stop in the lovely village of Maussane and enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants that share the large square around the fountain. At the end of the afternoon take a scenic route back to the Luberon on little roads that twist through the Alpilles, a landscape that is very different from the Luberon. This day is used to take advantage of some special event, opportunity or interest in another part of Provence or you can spend this day more leisurely at the guesthouse or in the village of Bonnieux. Other travelers rent bikes or go hiking in the area. You will be back in Bonnieux by 17:00. Tonight's dinner is on your own.
Today, you will focus on getting to know two of Bonnieuxs neighboring villages: Lacoste and Roussillon. Some of the group will choose to leave early to walk through forests, vineyards, and orchards to the bottom of Lacoste. The walk takes about an hour. The other option is a visit to the exquisite, privately owned Abbaye St. Hilaire, dating to the thirteenth century. You will meet up at the top of Lacoste next to the ruins of the Marquis de Sades castle and then walk down through the medieval streets to the church. There is usually time for a coffee at a pleasant caf.
You will have just a short drive to Roussillon, known for its multi-colored ochre cliffs and distinctive and colorful buildings. Many artists base in this village, and there are several galleries and artisan pottery shops. Lunch today is on your own in Roussillon; there is a variety of eating possibilities there and you will receive some suggestions. On your way back to Bonnieux, you will stop at the Pont Julien (the Julien bridge), built by the Romans in 3 B.C. Dinner this evening is at a beautiful home on the plateau above Bonnieux. You will have the option to go up early to help prepare the meal or relax in the peaceful environment, or you can enjoy the guesthouse and Bonnieux and join the group for dinner.
You will begin your day with a couple of hours in the village. This is an opportunity to enjoy the lively Bonnieux market, relax over a coffee at your favorite caf, chat with new friends, and finish your shopping. Later, you will travel back roads along the slope of the Petit Luberon to a small family-owned winery in a beautiful setting. Your visit is hosted by Christophe, a talented chef and wine journalist.
You will gather in the enchanting courtyard for a wine tasting and a wonderful lunch prepared by Christophe. On your way back to Bonnieux, you will stop at the ruined village of Oppde-le-Vieux, where you will stroll the quiet pathways to the thirteenth century church, savor the views, and perhaps even climb among the castle ruins. After your aperitif in the garden, you will enjoy your farewell dinner at your guesthouse, cooked by Pierre and served family style.
This tour will take place in the village of Bonnieux, Luberon, and Provence region, France. The Luberon consists of a long, narrow mountain range and the area that lies around it, located in Provence in the south of France, north of Frances Mediterranean coast. The Luberon mountain range is about 35 miles long and runs east to west. This area was designated as a regional natural park in 1977 to protect its heritage and natural beauty. The protected area covers about 230 square miles on either side of the mountain and includes 77 villages and towns. In 1997, the Luberon was designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve, one of 10 such areas in France.
Bonnieux, with a year-round population of over 1400 people, is centrally located on the north side of the Luberon mountains and is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. This is the village European Experices call home in Provence. Bonnieux offers panoramic views of the valley, farms and vineyards, neighboring villages, the Luberon mountains, and the 6263-foot peak of Mont Ventoux. The surrounding area is rich with discoveries including evidence of prehistoric life and a 2000-year old Roman bridge. You will find a small grocery store, two bakeries, a butcher, a pharmacy, a post office, ATM machine, and many cafes, restaurants and shops.
During this wine and food tour, you will be delighted with delicious breakfasts, memorable lunches, and very special dinners, where you will experience the famous specialties and cuisine of Provence, including bountiful picnics, and pizzas made in a wood-fired oven. France is known for its wonderful cuisine, and Provence has many local specialties that take advantage of the abundant fresh produce: melons, strawberries, cherries, apricots, tomatoes, zucchini, olives, lettuces, cheeses, and more. Your meals are a highlight of your week and involve a variety of settings and styles.
You will have a bountiful breakfast at your guesthouse on each morning and also enjoy your first and last nights dinner there, cooked by your host and served family style. European Experiences' picnics are especially popular. You will have a special picnic after your Sunday market visit, featuring various foods purchased that morning from Kathys favorite sellers. Later in the week, youll enjoy a picnic in the countryside, at a spot with a fantastic view. European Experiences seeks out a variety of dining experiences that capture different aspects of Provence.
You will eat at simple cafes, small intimate bistros, award-winning restaurants, and private homes. If you are interested to know more about Provencal cooking, you can help prepare the evening meal to be hosted for your group one evening.The Luberon is a major wine region, surrounded by some very important wine-producing areas. You will sample a variety of local wines with your meals. Several outstanding wineries are located near Bonnieux. You will have special visits to two of the most interesting wineries, where you are going to be hosted by the winemakers.
Please book your flight to arrive at Marseille Provence Airport (MRS). European Experiences will pick you up from the airport. The pick-up is included in the price.
Please arrive at the Avignon TGV station. European Experiences will pick you up from the TGV station. The pick-up is included in the price.