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11 days walking in France.

ITINERARY - difficulty grade A ( height gains of up to 600 m, 2,000 ft a day )

Day 1:

Meet in Nice - Route Napoléon :
A convenient central train station and an international airport link it to the rest of the world.
A short drive in the hills and here is St Paul de Vence. Contemporary art is a key component of Saint-Paul de Vence's identity where famous contemporary painters continue to keep the village's artistic vocation alive Lunch stop and then we continue to Grasse, perfume capital of the world. Visit to a perfume factory. On a winding road in the hills, we'll follow Napoleon's footsteps to Castellane, a medieval town on the banks of the Verdon river. Cosy hotel and a succulent welcome dinner.
Hôtel du Commerce ***
Day 2: Verdon canyon right bank :
Our scenic trail travels high above the river through abandoned villages and grassy terraces to reach Chasteuil, a restored hamlet busy with craftsmen, in time for lunch. We follow an ancient Roman way along the northern rim across meadows and ridges to Point-Sublime. A short drive keep us to La Palud sur Verdon, an old farming town, for two nights in a marvellous hotel.
Hotel des Gorges ***
Hiking time : 5 hours
Day 3: in the canyon :
An incredible trail follows the gorge through tunnels, across safe ledges, along sandy beaches and up and down stairways. From La Maline we hike for 6 hours the Sentier Martel through the canyon, with a lunch on the river bank, until we exit and taste a welcome beer back at Point Sublime. Road transfer to La Palud sur Verdon . Hotel des Gorges ***
Hiking time : 6 hours

Day 4:

Moustiers Sainte-Marie :
For our last day in the area a pleasant hike across the top of the rim, just where Verdon spills out in lake of Sainte-Croix. The blue lake and the large lavender plateau offer interesting contrasts. A rocky trail descends to the road, and there, nestled in the cliffs, is Moustiers, a famous centre of ceramics for centuries. Great town to visit an incredible Romanesque church, a romantic chapel above the village perched in the cliffs, a small museum about the ceramics, and of course plenty of shops. Overnight at a charming “chambre d’hôte” , situated in an old house of the town. Chambre d'hôte l'Escalo .
Hiking time : 6 hours

Day 5:

Colorado Provencal :
Morning drive across the plateau of Vallensole to Roussillon for lunch. In the afternoon we take a great hike in a colourful pastel landscape, straight out of a Van Gogh painting, first around the village and then in the countryside to arrive at one of the prettiest villages in France, Gordes. It is clinging to the cliff, the perfect spot to fight off the enemy on the plains. Our lodging tonight and for the next four days is a beautifully ‘mas’ (‘mas’ is the provencal word for house) offering wonderful comfort and cuisine. Our first night in real Provence. Mas de Carcarille **
Hiking time : 3 hours

Day 6:

the Vaucluse :
Private estate of the Popes during the 14th century until the French revolution, Vaucluse never ceases to amaze visitors. Featuring plague walls built 300 years ago, mystic Cistercian abbeys and dry stone dwellings special to this region, we’ll have a field day of visiting. Our hike is from Fontaine de Vaucluse to Senanque where we visit a medieval abbey.
Mas de Carcarille **
Hiking time : 5 hours

Day 7:

the Luberon :
From the unusual cemetery in Robion to the walled village of Oppede-le- Vieux, the trail meanders along and up to the crest of the Luberon range for a panoramic view of Provence. Downhill on the south side our trail goes through a pretty narrow canyon. The entire Luberon area is very scenic, the perfect haven for artists and writers, a magnificent example of nature at its best mixed with millenniums of history. Overnight and dinner at the same hotel. Mas de Carcarille **
Hiking time : 6 hours

Day 8:

the Alpilles :
Saint-Remy de Provence is located at the foot of small mountain range known as Alpilles or "small Alps", a short hour's drive away.The hike to Les Baux is worth it for the astonishing views and the many archaeological treasures that dot the landscape. It is the birthplace of Frederic Mistral, an author whose books have captured the essential Provence of yester-years.
Mas de Carcarille **

Hiking time : 4 hours

Day 9: Cotes-du-Rhone :
Morning drive through the wine country to reach an unusual line of serrated peaks that tower above the plain, the "Montmirail laces" which we tour until mid-afternoon. What better way to end the day than a tasting in a wine-cellar to improve our knowledge of the local products and tease our appetite. Our inn is next to Gigondas and the Chef will be our best friend for our two final nights in Provence. Superb food. Hôtel les florets **
Hiking time : 5 hours
Day 10:

Mont Ventoux :
The giant of Provence, Mont-Ventoux (6.000'), can be reached on foot or by road. It towers above the plateau and everything else, providing views all the way to the Alps. We hike up on the dry southern side and come down among vineyards, orchards and picturesque hamlets built in stone on the other side, ending at Malaucene.
A quick transfer and we take a break visiting Vaison-la-Romaine before driving to Gigondas, where a succulent farewell dinner awaits us at the hotel to make us want to stay forever. Hôtel les florets **
Hiking time : 5 hours
Day 11: Avignon :
Our bus will take you to Avignon, a famous cultural city on the Rhone river, where you can connect with the French train system. It is a great walled town with a lot of art and history which could deserve a longer visit. ( or any other solution, back to Nice  or Lyon airport with the minibus is around 3 hours drive).

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Based on:
2 people sharing a twin room in 2-3* hotels.
A single-room supplement is readily available if you prefer.

What is included:
Inclusive of everything, i.e. airport transfers, bed and breakfast (nights 1-9 inc), big picnic lunches (days 2-10), minibus transport and 2 guides.

What is NOT included:
Insurance, alcoholic drinks and your postcards and obvious personal spending, including medical supplies. Lunches on travel days (days 1 and 11).

Key points:
* Everything is included in the price. There are no "local payments" and your picnic lunches are included.
* We have time to enjoy the scenery, in comfort, with very good quality accomodations and food.
* We have minibus support, and 2 GUIDES, throughout the trip.

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Trip Facts:

hiking: This is typically 4-6 hrs. per day. The Gorge de Verdon is more strenuous with more vertical gain, however the rest of the tour is light to moderate hiking. The trails are well kept but rocky in areas, good hiking boots are needed. As the trip is bus supported we are able to enjoy the wonderful scenery with only light day packs.

accommodation: We stay at small quiet hotels, where we get comfortable rooms with private bathrooms. Carefully selected locations and pleasant hosts will make your stay in Provence unforgettable. In central Provence we stay two or more nights in the same spot as our hotels and hosts are terrific and an experience all to itself.

weather: Spring is the perfect time of year to be in Provence, its warm to hot and the wild flowers and lavender are in bloom. However Europe has a climate that can vary rapidly, particularly in mountain areas. In Provence we never go above 2,000 feet but wind or mediocre weather (rare) makes it cold sometimes.

equipment: While warm temperatures are expected cold weather and raingear should be brought.

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