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Walking in Provence and the French Riviera

This walking tour in Southern France showcases the unspoiled parts of Provence and the French Riviera.  
Discover picturesque hilltop villages, spectacular landscape of the Southern Alps and Mediterranean Sea and gorgeous architecture, complemented by delicious freshly prepared local cuisine and wines. Designed for the avid walker (and moderate hiker), each day we will enjoy walks ranging from 5 - 12 km with ascents of 100m – 400m, led by experienced hiking guides on good paths (which are sometimes rocky underfoot).

We begin in Provence with 5 nights in charming Gréoux-les-Bains - an ancient Roman town with thermal baths. Our hotel is the Villa Borghese, a member of the prestigious Château Demeures de Tradition group. The hotel has beautiful grounds, a spa, an outdoor heated swimming pool shaded by century old oak trees and a restaurant renowned for the quality of its regional cuisine. 

We spend the next 5 nights in the Riviera’s best kept secret - Menton, known throughout the country as “The Pearl of France”. Menton’s old town with its pastel-coloured buildings, fragrant lemon trees and pristine beachfront is a delight. Situated at the base of the Alps, the town is a hiker’s paradise. We will stay at the lovingly restored Hotel Royal Westminster - a 19th century Belle Epoque style palace located directly on the seafront promenade (all of our rooms are seaview!)  

Tour Highlights:

   • Explore dramatic clifftop villages described as the most beautiful in France
   • Visits of Simiane-La-Rotonde Castle & Banon village
   • Visits of Salagon’s Abbey and Forcalquier Market
   • Visit of Eze Exotic Garden
   • Walking tour of Menton
   • Explore the Mourres Plateau, the Provencal Colorado in Rustrel and Verdon Gorge - Europe’s largest canyon 
   • Guided visit of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
   • An excursion to Italy’s beloved Liguria region, with a typical Italian lunch and guided visit of Dolceacqua  

* Those participating on this walking tour must be able to complete up to 11 km of walking on varied terrain.

Itinerary / Excursions

We depart for Marseille via Paris.
We arrive in Marseille and transfer to Gréoux-les-Bains for a 5-night stay. This evening we enjoy our first delicious dinner in France.
We travel to Rustrel, known for its amazing ochre cliffs and small canyons which gave the village the nickname the “Provencal Colorado”. On our walk we will see an incredible succession of rust-coloured rocks, golden cliffs and red earthen chimneys which rise majestically out of the vegetation. Then we visit Simiane-la-Rotonde, listed as one of the most beautiful villages of Provence. Simiane is a place where Mediterranean and Alpine influences meet. We will enjoy a visit of the medieval castle and free time to wander the charming streets of the village. Our last stop will be in the quaint village of Banon, renowned for its goat cheeses. We will sample some specialties at a goat cheese factory.
We walk along the ridge above the Moustiers-Ste-Marie, listed as one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France. The town has ancient gates, medieval architecture, pottery shops and a gorgeous location at the base of rocky cliffs. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the Provencal Alps and Lake Sainte Croix as we walk on the old Roman path down towards the village.
We begin at the picturesque hilltop town of Forcalquier - home to one of the largest and liveliest Provencal markets. We will explore the market, then visit a typical olive mill and take in the gorgeous views over the Luberon landscape. Then we proceed with our walk on the Mourres Plateau. where mushroom shaped formations resemble human faces - a true geological wonder! We finish the day with a visit of the Abbey of Salagon - a peaceful 13th century priory with lovely theme gardens.
We head to the village of Quinson for a scenic walk along the lower Verdon Gorges. The walkway follows an old canal previously used to carry drinking water to Aix-en-Provence. The views of the turquoise waters of the Canal are wonderful. We return to Gréoux where the rest of the day will be at leisure.
We proceed to sunny Menton for a 5-night stay. On our walking tour of this delightful seaside resort we see the lovely pastel-coloured architecture, the old town, the cemetery where many prominent 19th century English and Russian figures are buried and the wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.
At leisure in Menton to explore this exquisite town, enjoy a swim in the Mediterranean Sea, visit the museum dedicated to the artist Jean Cocteau, or nearby towns like Monaco or Nice.
Our walk begins in La Turbie. Overlooking the Principality of Monaco, this small town resembles a balcony hanging over the Mediterranean and seems to float in the sky. The tall Trophee d’Auguste built 2,000 years ago for the glory of Emperor Augustus is impressive while the rest of the town, with its medieval vaulted passageways, bell tower and baroque fountains is enchanting. Then walk on the trail towards Eze - a fine 14th century village built on a hill. We’ll enjoy a visit of the exotic garden and magnificent views over the coast.
We cross into Italy for a beautiful day of sightseeing. We first discover the beautifully preserved medieval town of Dolceacqua located in the Lugarian Hills. The town enchant visitors with its scenic bridges and small houses that circle the Castello dei Doria. French painter Claude Monet immortalized the town in one of his famous paintings. We will enjoy a typical Italian lunch at a local restaurant featuring fresh locally grown food. Later we visit the perched village of Aprical - surrounded by forested hills it is on the list of the 'Most Beautiful Villages in Italy'. Dinner is on our own this evening.
Our last walk is on the picturesque hiking path along the rocky seaside from Beaulieu and around the main peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. We pass magnificent villas and see how unspoiled Cap Ferrat has remained. We conclude our walk with a visit of the Villa Ephrussi - home of the Rothschild family. The villa’s opulent furnishings, garden with musical dancing fountains and views of the Mediterranean are breathtaking – a wonderful way to end our walking journey! Tonight enjoy a farewell cocktail followed by dinner.
We fly back to Canada via Paris.
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