Walking Provence-West is the perfect mix of light walking [with one moderate day] and serious cultural insight. Enjoy the fruits of five years’ research and the very best that Western Provence has to offer compacted into six gloriously-indulgent days.”
Mass tourism has thankfully ignored this part of Le Midi and we have no desire to alter that. Nevertheless, our love for this region led us to research its hiking trails over a five-year period with the aim of allowing our enlightened customers to see its most splendid sites as part of a relatively-light and easy-going multi-centre walking tour. We have succeeded in knitting together western Provence’s most remarkable landscapes and geological features in a way that enables you to enjoy them during six relatively-short, ‘day journeys’ of discovery on foot. You average nine miles-14½ kms a day, over undulating, bucolic terrain with ascents and descents that are within the capabilities of the vast majority of social hikers.
En route you will visit seven fascinating and under-explored Provençal villages, including the Venice of Provence; three impressive limestone gorges and some fabulous falls; and on the megalithic trail, you will visit both dolmen and the tallest menhir in the south of France. Built in the 13th century, you will also enjoy a visit to a fine thirteen century Carthusian monastery.
Your accommodation for the tour includes a range of charming, family-run hotels and guest houses, flaunting the stone facades and vaulted ceilings that are so much a part of the fabric of western Provence. Three out of the four accommodations have open-air swimming pools. And this is a multi-centre tour – so you benefit from not having to move on to a different hotel every night.
Walking Provence-West allows you to enjoy the culinary delights of Provence in a fashion that is tailored to the requirements of both your budget and diet. We include bed and breakfast for your convenience, whilst the options for dinner are such that you decide where to eat out.
Finally, you get to spend your last two nights in vibrant Uzès, First Duchy of France – and why not time your trip to coincide with Provence’s number one Saturday market, a must for those end-of-tour souvenirs?
- 7-night tour:
£890.00 Pounds Sterling or €990.00 Euros
[per person, shared double or twin-bedded room]
- 7 nights B & B and all hotel taxes.
- Luggage transported and seven people transfers integral to the programme – see itinerary below.
- Hiking Insight Notes™ that empower & make orientation easy
- 1:25,000 scale maps & themed vacation dossier.
- Emergency telephone help-line service with native-English speaking local backup.
- Discover Megalithic Man’s footprint – dolmens, grotto and southern France’s tallest menhir
- Enjoy fine scenery and stunning gorges bewteen Ardeche and the Cèze Valley
- Escape the crowds
- Hike Western Provence’s best trails and most fascinating hill-top villages
- Stay in superior countryside accommodation.
- multi-centre tour – you do not move on to a different hotel every night
- 7-night, self-guided, multi-centre tour – you do not move on to a different hotel every night
- Start any day, beg. April to end-September.
- Tour starts in Pont St Esprit and finishes in Uzès
- Best access: Avignon or Nimes airports or Avignon SNCF
- Superior accommodation.
- average 9 miles/14.5 kms per day.
- We transport your luggage, you just carry a light day pack.
- Excellent levels of character and comfort, with outdoor swimming pools throughout, except in Pont St Esprit.
- Mix of 3-star standard hotels, residences and chambres d’hotes du Charme.
- Choice of restaurants to suit different budgets and tastes – information provided in dossier.
- One night in Pont St Esprit.
- Two nights in Aigueze
[possibly four if our Roque accommodation is unavailable].
- Two nights in Roque sur Ceze
[or two extra in Aigueze with corresponding transfers].
- Two nights in Uzès. Our alternative Uzès
accommodation does not have a swimming pool, but offers a slightly higher level of comfort.
- Nearest airport or SNCF station is Avignon [3.5 hrs on TGV from Paris or Lille] with onward journey to Pont St Esprit by bus or transfer – please ask for details.
- Next-best access is via Nimes airport or SNCF station [4 hrs on TGV from Paris or Lille] with onward journey to Pont St Esprit by bus or transfer – please ask for details.
- Alternative convenient options are via Lyon or Montpellier airports, with onward TGV to Avignon – 30 and 60 minute journeys, respectively.
- Hot, dry summers; warm and sunny spring & autumn
- Undulating Mediterranean lowland and Garrigues punctuated by historic villages & hamlets and the Ardeche and Ceze valleys
Walking Provence-West – Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival at Pont St Esprit and check in. Early arrivals can enjoy a short urban hike around this busy town located at the confluence of the Ardeche and Rhone rivers. Night in Pont St Esprit.
Pont St Esprit to Aigueze
[7½ miles-11 kms, 4 hrs, +140 ms -85 ms]
The Ardeche Gorge
You start your week hiking The GR4 as it wends its way along the right bank of the Ardeche and up to the remarkable village of Aigueze, as if hewn out of the sides of the gorge itself.
Night in Aigueze.
Aigueze to Valbonne
[8 miles-13 kms, 4 hrs, +240 ms -125 ms]
The Forest of Valbonne
A charming bucolic hike as you meander through the Valbonne forest en route to the impressive site of the Carthusian monastery. Enjoy its majestic aura, take the free tour of the site, and perhaps a short botanical walk around its perimeter.
Collection late afternoon and transfer back to Aigueze. Second night in Aigueze.
Valbonne to La Roque
[8½ miles-13½ kms, 4 hrs, +100 ms -235 ms]
Across Martel Bridge
After-breakfast transfer back to Valbonne. You discover the fascinating Sautadet ‘waterfalls’ en route to the imposing hilltop village of Roque. ‘Flaneur’ through its ‘ruelles’ and imbibe its rich ambiance.
Night in La Roque-sur-Ceze.
Roque-sur-Ceze to Goudargues
[8½ miles-14 kms, 4 hrs, +160 ms -160 ms]
Ceze Valley Panorama
A memorable sweeping tour of two of the valley’s finest villages, juxtaposed in contrasting fashion on either side of the Ceze. A feudal castle, an outstanding view over the lower Ceze Valley and a tree-lined canal are just some of the day’s highlights. Late afternoon collection and short transfer.
Second night in La Roque-sur-Ceze.
Montclus to Les Concluses
[11 miles-16½ kms, approx. 6 hrs, +440 ms -375 ms]
Megalithic Man and Les Concluses
Transfer to Montclus after breakfast. You set off in search of dolmen and well-hidden menhir, despite its six-metre-high stature. The walking is scenic and the day’s highlight is a descent into the depths of the Aiguillon gorge to its gateway and superbly-potholed limestone channel. Your collection point is nearby for your onward transfert to Uzès.
Night in Uzès.
Uzès circular walk.
[5½ miles-8½ kms, approx. 3 hrs walking, +/-165 ms].
Le Gorge d’Alzon
Enjoy a bucolic trail through the Garrigues, past water-mill, castle and the relative heights of the Alzon Gorge, with fine views over the Uzes skyline en route to the source of the Eure that fed the Roman Pont du Gard.
Second night in Uzès.
Day 8: Departure day – Bus or taxi to either Avignon or Nimes. Bon retour et a la prochain!
Independent testimonials about The Enlightened Traveller can be read here:
- 'Gorge' yourself on the splendours of the Ardeche, Aiguillon, Alzon and Ceze valley canyons
- Superb 'vrai pierre' accommodation in hilltop villages
- Visit a Carthusian monastery, the Sautadet waterfalls, Cornillon castle, the 'Venise Gardoise' and much more.
- Too hot to handle from mid-June to late August - best in early-to-late spring and from September to mid-October
- No evening meals included - but local options abound to suite your tastes and budget
- Your biggest challenge is likely to be the heat!
Rarely has so much beauty, history and culture been laced together by a majority of off-road trail than is the case with this light-walking trip through forgotten Western Provence."
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