In the NE corner of Provence you will find a truly unspoilt rural area still thriving on its vineyards, olives, lavender, fruit and truffles. A mix of tiny medieval villages and bustling market towns, like Nyons, Valreas and Vaison la Romaine all provide their own history and character. With our expert local guide, discover the history, fables, culture and characters of this region. Understand the use of the plants and herbs of the region. Visit the truffle farms, the silk museum and enjoy the lovely halfday walks that combine all the above offer a chance to find out more about the ingredients that make Provence so special.
Walks: 2-3 hours - Moderate grade
Arrival. Your host will be waiting to settle you in with an aperitif and chat about the week. Dinner at the Guesthouse
Our walk today starts high on the Dentelles de Montmirail - home of the famous Gigondas Wine - and circles around to a lovely view of Mont Ventoux at 1900m. We then continue on to a delightful picnic spot where we have lunch in the shade. After lunch we descend to Gigondas for a drink and possibly a degustation before driving back to Valreas via the very attractive village of Seguret, whose name is derived from the latin 'securitas' or secure and it is a very attractive fortified provencal village. 6km walk/2hrs30. Dinner at the Guesthouse
This morning travel to Nyons, the capital of Olive growing for this region. This morning's walk follows a trail for 4kms through some of these famous groves where many trees are over 400yrs old. We then visit a local family-run olive producer where the subtle differences in quality and taste of olive oil are explained. A picnic lunch is prepared in the garden and there is time for a rest before our local guide leads a comprehensive tour of the historic centre of Valreas. Steeped in the history of its links both of the Papal presence in Avignon and the Knights Templar it is a fascinating tour of the town. After coffee (approximately 5pm) we return to the Guesthouse for dinner. There are aperitifs before the meal and wine provided during the meal as a little 'extra'.
Visit to Vaison la Romaine. A slightly later start this morning for the 20 minute transfer to Vaison for a visit to the large market in the morning, lunch in town and then a chance to visit first the medieval hilltop part of the town and then the famous Roman remains, the amphitheatre and the museum. There are plenty of excellent places to eat and shop. Do visit the Cathedral and the Roman bridge, the latter being the sole survivor of 13 bridges destroyed in the floods of 1992. Dinner is at t he Guesthouse.
The Gorge de St May. A 30 minute transfer leads to a totally different part of Provence. Rugged cliffs, dramatic gorges and plateau covered in Lavender and thyme. Our 2hr walk this morning is over one of these plateaux to a superb cliff where a colony of European vultures have been reintroduced. These dramatic birds with a 3m wingspan soar and swoop directly in front of our 'ringside' seats. This and the outstanding views of the mountains of this region make this a very popular morning. Our picnic table is set right on the top of the plateau among the lavender fields. After lunch we return to Nyons for a stroll through the town. After, we visit the Olive Mill and the local lavender and herb distillery, both are guided by English speaking guides and both are family run concerns.
Walking the Vinsobres plateau. A delightful morning walk of about 3hrs leads up from the valley onto the famous Vinsobres lavender plateau. The walk along the ridge provides good views over the whole region with Mont Ventoux ever present in the background. After a shady picnic.... local cheeses, salads, pate, fruit and wine are standard. We drive to Grignon for a visit to the chateau and the village. After this short visit we meet up with a local truffle farmer and his dog and he will explain the truffle history and take you on a truffle hunt. He is the 4th generation of his family to farm here. We end the day back at the guesthouse in time for a relax before dinner.
The Garde Grosse Mountain at 950m and botanical walk. A walk which climbs up through forest with superb views of the whole area, Mt Ventoux, Nyons and the hill country culminate in distant views of the Alps. Accompanying the group will be a local herb and flower expert who will explain the medicinal and culinary benefits of the plants. After a great picnic on the top and quick descent via a small road lead back to the vehicle. We then drive to the beautiful hill village of Buisson to local wine experts. A visit to an organic farmer who uses powdered horn and the moon's influence to grow grapes is followed by some wine tasting . .... all good fun!! Suitably inebriated we then drive back to Valreas for a good rest by the pool for another great provencal meal...lots of fun and laughter as we discuss the week...
Your tour ends after breakfast with a transfer to Avignon.