Walking in Provence
and the
French Riviera

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 perched 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 walkers, each day there will be a choice of two walks, ranging from 7 – 16 km with ascents of 100m – 400m, led by experienced hiking guides on good paths (which are sometimes rocky underfoot).

We begin in Provence with 6 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 6 nights in the French 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!) The hotel restaurant is known for its tasty Mediterranean cuisine.

Tour Highlights:

• Explore dramatic clifftop villages described as the most beautiful in France.
• Visit of Simiane-La-Rotonde Castle.
• Visits of Salagon and Valsaintes Abbey.
• Visit of Eze Exotic Garden.
• Enjoy amazing views of the Verdon Gorge – the largest canyon in Europe, and of the Provencal Colorado.
• Visit of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
• An excursion to Italy’s beloved Liguria region including a typical Italian lunch.

*** Those participating on this walking tour must be able to complete up to 8 km of walking on varied terrain.

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1: Departure

We depart for Marseille via Paris.

Day 2: Greoux-Les-Bains

We arrive in Marseille and transfer to Gréoux-les-Bains for a 6-night stay. This evening we enjoy our first delicious dinner in France.

Day 3: Plateau of Valensole (Walk 5km with 150m ascent OR 9km with 250m ascent)

On our first walk we will discover the charming narrow streets of Gréoux, with its old castle, city walls and thermal baths. Then a short transfer takes us to the top of the Valensole Plateau. With its many lavender fields, the scenery on the plateau is magnificent with wide sweeping vistas of lavender and olive plantations framed by towering mountains. Enjoy some free time in town or a swim at your hotel before tonight’s dinner.

Day 4: Rustrel / Simiane la Rotonde / Banon (Walk 3km with 100m ascent OR 5km with 150m ascent)

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.

Day 5: Forcalquier / Mourres Plateau / Abbey of Salagon (Walk 7km with 200m ascent OR 11km with 400m ascent)

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.

Day 6: Moustiers Sainte Marie (Walk 6km with 100m ascent OR 10km with 350m ascent)

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.

Day 7: Verdon Gorges (Walk 8km with 150m ascent OR 16km with 550m ascent)

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.

Day 8: Menton

We proceed to sunny Menton for a 6-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.

Day 9: Cap St

Martin / Roquebrune (Walk 8km OR 10km (no ascent). After a short transfer to the perched village of Roquebrune and some time to explore the winding cobbled streets, deep vaulted passages and take in the lovely vistas, we walk along the Le Corbusier coastal path along Cabbé Beach Promenade and around the rugged landscape of the Cap Martin Peninsula - home to some of the most beautiful villas on the coast.

Day 10: Menton

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.

Day 11: La Turbie / Eze (Walk 5km with 100m ascent OR 10km with 300m ascent)

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, with an exotic garden and magnificent views over the coast.

Day 12: Cap Ferrat / Villa Ephrussi (Walk 5km with 100m ascent OR 10km with 150m ascent)

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 journey!

Day 13: Italy / Dolceacqua / Aprical

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 towns 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'. Tonight enjoy a farewell cocktail followed by dinner.

Day 14: Home

We fly back to Canada via Paris.


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