Provence
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France Vacation: From Paris to Provence

This leisurely tour of southeast France is ideal for travellers who love both culture and nature. After starting in beautiful Paris you will take the fast train south, heading for the incredible landscapes of fragrant Provence and sunny Côte d'Azur.

This trip will be customized according to your wishes.

Paris

Arrival in Paris

33 km | 41 minutes
A

Paris

Glamorous metropolis

Paris is more than just a city – the name itself is legend. From the late Middle Ages to the nine­teenth century the focus of the entire country was on Paris, the center of western culture and a major influ­ence on western history.

The city's layout and build­ings reflect its cultural and polit­ical signif­icance: the Champ-Elysées and the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Place de la Concorde and Notre Dame. Paris is also consid­ered by many to be the most beau­tiful city in the world. The museums of the French capital are unpar­al­leled. From the Louvre to the Orsay, from the Centre Pompidou to the Rodin to the Cité des Sciences, each museum offers a unique aesthetic expe­r­i­ence. More­over, names like Faubourg, Saint Honoré and the Avenue Montaigne are remin­ders that Paris is famous for fashion. A shopping excur­sion with a stop for pastries at a picturesque street café is a must in Paris. Whether you prefer the opera, a ballet, clas­sical music, jazz, a night club or a dance revue, the word Paris is synony­mous with night-life. In the surrounding local­i­ties you can expe­r­i­ences aristo­cratic Paris: Versailles, Fontainebleau, Saint-Germain and Vaux-le-Vicomte. Here trav­elers are invited to escape to the glitter of the Louis XIV era.

Accommodation: A small inn near the Louvre

2 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

This enchanting little hotel is situ­ated in the heart of Paris, in the shadow of the Louvre. It is so close to St. Germain l'Auxerrois that you can hear the hymns from the former “King's Church” and see the Gothic windows from your bedroom.

In the cellar there is an old printing press that was used to print illegal leaflets during the French Revo­lu­tion. It is said that the recep­tion area was once the Café Momus (a debating club of the revo­lu­tion­aries) and it was here that Puccini allowed parts of his opera “La Boheme” to be played. Breakfast, true to Parisian custom, is served in your suite. The hotel is air condi­tioned. Sophie Aulnette has managed the hotel for the past 10 years and person­ally attends to her guests' comfort. Tickets to local museums and other attrac­tions can be purchased at a shop near the hotel.

Île-de-France

Cradle of today's France
The metropol­itan area of Paris is like an island between the rivers Seine, Marne, Oise and Beuvronne. However, the name does not derive from the insular posi­tion, but from the Old Frankish name “Liddle Franke”, which means some­thing like “Little France”. The Île-de-France was the nucleus of today's France, as evidenced by magnif­i­cent castles, churches and gardens. The French language of today goes back to a dialect in this region. Today it is by far the most densely popu­lated region in France. Nearly 20 percent of all French resi­dents live in the “Paris agglom­er­a­tion”.

Louvre

From a royal palace to the most visited museum in the world
For centuries, the Louvre served as the palace of the French kings and was the largest construc­tion site in France. Almost every king made changes to it. In the 12th century it was still a proud castle but was expanded over the course of the next two centuries to become a symbolic resi­dence. The four wings around the square court­yard are what remain of the orig­inal palace. When Louis XIV moved his resi­dence to Versailles, the building was left to dete­r­i­o­rate. The Louvre did not become a museum until after the French Revo­lu­tion when the National Assembly decided to use it to collect and exhibit the artistic treasures seized from the nobility. Today, the Louvre receives around ten million visitors every year and is the largest museum in the world. Its collec­tions include over 380,000 pieces, and only about a tenth of them are on display. Its most famous painting is prob­ably the Mona Lisa, which Leon­ardo da Vinci painted around the year 1503.

Quartier Latin

From a student district to a tourist center
The tradi­tional student district in Paris is located near Sorbonne Univer­sity and is known as the Quartier Latin, because Latin had been the language of scho­l­ar­ship for many centuries. Numerous writers lived in the area, including Honoré de Balzac, Gabriel García Márquez and Klaus Mann. During the student riots in 1968, the quarter became the scene of heavy fighting in the streets. Thou­sands of students were arrested and hundreds were seri­ously injured by the police during the “Night of the Barricades.” When the trade unions called for a national strike in support of the students, Pres­i­dent de Gaulle stepped down. Not many students live here today since the rent is unafford­able and they have given way to popular restau­rants and boutiques.

From Paris to Marseille by rail

Your train tickets will not be booked by Umfu­lana. Please book online on www.sncf.com/fr.

Alterna­tively you can book on www.raileu­rope.com, where prices will be displayed in most currencies, but tend to be more expen­sive than on the the local provider's website. Another option is to purchase your ticket on arrival at the station.

B

Marseilles

From a Greek port to a multicultural metropolis

The city on the Gulf of Lion is the oldest and 2nd largest city in France. The orig­inal settle­ment was founded by Greek traders in the 7th century BC, and quickly grew into a colony along the mouth of the Rhone River.

The port lost its signif­icance, however, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, only to return to strategic importance 500 years later during the crusades. Marseilles grew into a true multi­cultural metropolis during France's colo­niza­tion of northern Africa. Worth seeing is the Old Port (Vieux Port), which includes most of the orig­inal Greek settle­ment and is now an exclu­sive marina.

Accommodation: a Hotel near the Harbour

2 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

The small 4-star hotel on the Quai du Port is a bit quaint – with furni­ture in the style of the 1950's. Howev­er ­standing on the balcony in one of the upper floors, you will be overwhelmed by the magnif­i­cent view of one of Europe's oldest ports.

Almost every­thing in the historic town can be reached on foot. Although the hotel is located in the middle of the hustle and bustle, the rooms are quiet – thanks to good windows and quiet air condi­tioning. The staff is friendly.

Côte d’Azur

Holiday destina­tion par excel­lence: Côte d'Azur
The name “Azure Coast” goes back to Stéphen Liégeard's book enti­tled La Côte d'Azur, published in 1887. At that time the southern coast of France had just been discov­ered by wealthy Brits who liked to spend the winter between Menton on the Italian border and Saint-Tropez. The abun­dance of colors and shapes attracted many painters: Renoir, Matisse, Chagall and Picasso are only the well known among them. They left behind a number of museums, which are best visited during winter, when they are less busy. For many, the French Riviera is a holiday destina­tion par excel­lence because of its sun, beach and sea combined with a picturesque hinter­land and a few sophis­ticated cities.

Calanques near Cassis

Vertical cliffs, stunning views
The stretch of coast­line near Marseille is one of the most beau­tiful landscapes that France has to offer. Wildly romantic coves, some of them cutting deep into the country like fjordes, are dominated by enor­mous, almost vertical cliffs. Inside the coves with the bottle-green water are small sailboats. Walks through the white lime­stone rocks will be rewarded with forever changing, breathtaking views. In summer, hiking is prohibited. Then one has to resort to a boat tour.

From Marseille to Beaucaire

Rental car pick-up

From the hotel to the rental car station

2 km | 5 minutes

Rental car pick-up

Rental car pick-up
Broker: Sunny Cars GmbH
Company: Enterprise
Vehicle: Peugeot 308 or similar (CDAR)
Loca­tion: Marseille (Railway Station)

From Marseille to Beau­caire

111 km | 2:00 h

Aix-en-Provence

Magnif­i­cent boul­evards, legendary cafes
The former capital of Provence is consid­ered one of the most attrac­tive cities in France. Founded by the Romans in 122 BC, the ancient city is known for its elegant palaces in Italian Baroque style, its magnif­i­cent tree-lined avenues and its vibrant atmo­sphere. The city is split in half by the Cours Mirabeau, a wide thor­ough­fare lined by fountains, cafés and histor­ical build­ings. One of the most famous cafes in all of France is Les Deux Garçons, once frequented by the likes of Cézanne and Hemingway. The city orig­inally famous for its hot springs boasts 300 days of sunshine a year.

Étang de Berre

Hiking at a pris­tine salt marsh
The Étang de Berre is a salt­water marsh on the Côte Bleue, connected to the Gulf of Fos by the narrow Canal de Caronte. With an exten­sion of over 150 square kilome­ters, the Étang is also consid­ered the largest inland lake in France. Today, it is also acces­sible to large ships from the Mediterranean through the Canal Quar­ante. The hike along its northern shore opens up the last untouched corners of the Ètang, which is other­wise largely indus­trial­ized. The route goes from the starting point to the north and back again in the hinter­land.
(1:30 hrs, 4.4 km, eleva­tion change: 3 m)

Oppède

Romantic village in the Luberon Mountains
The romantic village in the Luberon Mountains orig­inated from a Roman oppidum. In the 11th century the place was devel­oped into a castle. In the 16th century the village expe­r­i­enced a rapid expan­sion. It came to the construc­tion of the church and the fortifica­tion. In 1731 the village was destroyed by an earth­quake. What the natural disaster had left, the revo­lu­tion­aries finished in 1793. The village did not recover from their plun­dering for over a century. In 1936 only ten inhab­i­tants were counted. After the Second World War, the morbid charm of Oppède-le-Vieux was discov­ered by artists. Today, the village is once again a func­tioning commu­nity with a school, sports fields and stores.
C

Provence

Eldorado for painters and artists

The center of the former Roman “Provincia Fallia Narboniensis” forms the Bas Provence around the city of Avignon. It is one of the oldest cultural landscapes of Europe and has written world history more than once.

During the schism of the medieval church, along­side the Pope in Rome there was another one, residing in Avignon and shaping the city and region. Ancient towns nestle in the mountain wilder­ness, deserted villages are being reclaimed by nature. In addi­tion to cities such as Arles, Nimes or Aix visitors can find almost untouched landscapes: Mont Ventoux, the highest massif of the Provence or the endless oak forests of the Luberon. Consid­ering the pleasant Mediterranean climate, it is under­stand­able that this land has always attracted trav­elers, painters and artists.

Accommodation: A country estate near Beaucaire

3 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

The large, friendly estate is situ­ated among fruit trees and vine­yards between Arles and Nimes where the regions of Provence and Camargue meet.

The bedrooms on the top floor are simple yet elegant with white washed walls, cast iron beds and period furni­ture. The over­hanging roof provides welcome shade on hot summer days. A swimming pool is avai­l­able.

Avignon

City of Popes
Today, the city east of the Rhone has less than 100,000 inhab­i­tants. In the Middle Ages Avignon was a city of interna­tional standing. From here seven popes have reigned the Occi­dent during the schism from 1309-1376. At that time the town was a brilliant art center. The “City of Popes” was able to keep its city walls around the old town, the Palace of the Popes, the Bishops' complex and the bridge of Avignon undam­aged to the present day. The old town of Avignon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was Euro­pean Capital of Culture in 2000.

Arles

One of the oldest cities in the Rhone Delta, Arles was founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC, then captured by the Romans in 123 BC, who turned the settle­ment into an important city. Arles enjoyed its greatest period of influ­ence during the 4th and 5th centuries, when it served as the head­quar­ters for Roman emperors conducting military campaigns. The numerous Roman and medieval remains in the city center have been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Van Gogh painted many of his most famous pictures in Arles, which is also consid­ered the gates to the Camargue Delta, the habitat of the Greater Flamingo and the white Camargue horses.

Saint-Gilles

Bene­dic­tine monastery on the Way of St. James
The abbey church of Saint-Gilles, St. Aegidius, was built between 1125 and 1150 and was part of a Bene­dic­tine monastic complex. Because of the tomb of St. Aegidius, it remains to this day an important stop on the Via Tolosana, one of the French sections of the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela. Since 1998, the church has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From Beau­caire to Saint Laurent du Verdon

174 km | 2:30 h
D

Grand Canyon du Verdon

Mighty canyon in the Alpes Provençal

The River Verdon is a trib­utary of the River Durance. Along its 175 kilometer route it has dug a huge canyon into the Alps which is the deepest valley in Europe and one of its most impres­sive natural wonders.

The canyon is 21 km long, 700 m high and only 6 m wide in some places. It repre­sents a constant chal­lenge for climbers, white water rafters and well-equipped hikers. There is a road around the edge of the gorge which leads to splendid view­points.

Accommodation: A former oil mill belonging to a château

2 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

In the hills of Haute Provence, where lavender fields reach down to the steep bank of the Verdon, lies the former oil mill of the castle of St-Laurent-du-Verdon.

Edith and Nicolas, a couple from Switz­er­land, have transformed the vener­able 17th century building into a Mediterranean paradise with ten rooms. The idyllic surround­ings, peace and quiet and a strong organic cuisine char­ac­terize the house, which belongs to the Slow Food network and can be counted among the “Hôtels au Naturel” because of its constant commit­ment to sustain­able tourism.
Bicycles are provided; hiking trails lead directly past the prop­erty. Just as well, one can enjoy the peace and quiet in the shade of the olive trees and read or play boules or billiards.

From Saint Laurent du Verdon to La Croix-Valmer

99 km | 2:30 h
E

Saint Tropez

From a fishing village to the playground for the rich and famous

Named after an early Chris­tian martyr, the harbor town on the Cote d'Azur was a simple fishing village until the 20th century.

The boom began in the 1950s when “St Trop” became a meeting place for the rich and famous. Wealthy vaca­tioners from all over the world spend their summers in the famous beach clubs: Tahiti Plage, Club 55 or similar. Saint Tropez is known for its exclu­sive marina and the Baie de Pamplonne, the longest sand beach on the Cote d'Azur. The numerous shops and gourmet restau­rants are priced for their special clientele.

Accommodation: A hotel at La Croix Valmer

3 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

Those who want to sleep quietly in the proximity of Saint-Tropez and seek relaxa­tion without many frills, are in good hands in the former monastery in La Croix Valmer.

The pastel-colored building from 1900 has lost none of its charm. All 33 rooms have wing windows, four meter high ceil­ings and a great view across the large park to the bay. Breakfast is decent, the pool refreshing and the peace total.

Iles d'Hyères

Archipe­lago between Marseille and the Côte d'Azur
The archipe­lago between Marseille and the Cote d'Azur is located a few kilome­ters off the French coast. Because of its reddish colored rocks, the three islands are also known as the Îles d'Or – islands of gold. The largest of them, Porquerolles, is 7.5 km long and 3 km wide. Espe­cially in the north, near the capital of the same name, one can find a few pretty beaches with crystal clear water. From there, hiking trails lead through the orig­inal macchia to a fort, a vine­yard or to Sémaphore, with its 142 meters the highest mountain on the island. From there one can look far across the sea, to the other islands and to the main­land. Porquerolles is easily acces­sible within minutes from the Giens peninsula by passenger ferry. During high season it runs every half hour. The car can be left in the car park at the ferry terminal over night.

La Garde-Freinet

Provençal village in the Massif des Maures
The Provençal village is located at the top of the Massif des Maures pass. You can reach the place, which has preserved its authenticity, by a picturesque road through a wild and ravishing landscape. La Garde-Freinet is consid­ered the place where the Sara­cens settled in Provence after 890 until they were expelled 100 years later after the Battle of Tour­tour. From the village you can walk to the Croix des Maures, where you will be rewarded with a beau­tiful view over the sea.

From La Croix-Valmer to Nice

Rental car drop-off

From La Croix-Valmer to Nice

102 km | 2:30 h

Mont Vinaigre

Popular destina­tion for mountain bikers
The “Vinegar Mountain” is with 614 meters the highest mountain of the Esterel Mountains. The mountain, which is under nature protec­tion, is partially forested, but the orig­inal vegeta­tion of cork oaks and chestnut trees has been destroyed by numerous forest fires, so that today macchia predom­inates. From the west, a forest road leads to within a few hundred meters of the summit. From here a driveway, then a footpath, leads to the summit. The GR 51 long-distance trail also leads to the summit, where there is an old lookout tower and a trans­mitter. From here you have the most beau­tiful view of the coast to the Italian Riviera, but also of the Alps.

Île Saint-Honorat

Monastery island off Cannes
The small island off Cannes was a nucleus of Western monas­ticism. Around 410 AD, Hono­ratus of Arles founded a hermitage on the island – modeled on the hermits in Egypt and Syria. After a long and eventful history, about 30 monks still live on Saint-Honorat today. The vine­yards belonging to the monastery occupy one third of the island. From the fortress tower you have a beau­tiful view of the sea and the yachts. The landscape around the seven chapels is laid out like a park. The monastery offers homemade wines and the liqueur Lérina for sale. The restau­rant is usually busy despite the quiet monastery life.

Grasse

Perfume Capital of the world
The so-called Perfume Capital of the world is located in the hill country between the Mari­time Alps and the Côte d'Azur. In the Middle Ages, Grasse was a city republic where the tanner's trade was wide­spread. When, around 1600, the fashion arose to perfume gloves, people shifted to the distilla­tion of fragrances. Since the 17th century, Grasse perfumers have special­ized in the extrac­tion of floral juices, espe­cially orange blossom and jasmine. Thus, the most important popular festival is also the Fête du Jasmin in early August. The town became world famous through the novel by Patrick Süskind, The Perfume.

Rental car drop-off

Rental car drop-off
Loca­tion: Nice Airport (Desk at Airport)

13 days
from € 1,949.00
per person based on two people sharing a double room
Services
  • Accommodation in a double room
  • Meals (as listed above)

An- und Abreise: Flüge zum Selberbuchen finden Sie im Internet. Falls Sie mit der Bahn anreisen möchten, buchen wir gern das Ticket für Sie.
You can start this tour on any date.
Best Travel Time: April–October

The prices can vary depending on the season.
Your Consultant
Alina Frielingsdorf

Ph.: +49 (0)2268 92298-25

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