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Friday 7 April - Provence
Midday arrival at Marseilles airport and transfer to our hotel in Gordes for a delightful week spent exploring the picturesque towns, hilltop villages and stunning countryside of Provence. This afternoon we acquaint ourselves with the village, its picturesque streets, unusual church, mysterious passageways and its many shops including a painter's workshop and galleries. We visit a local wine producer for a wine tasting seminar before dinner together this evening.

Saturday 8 April - The Luberon, Rousillon, Bonnieux
Taste Provencal olive oil at the Moulin des Bouillons. Admire the rows of lavender at the 12th century Abbey of Senanque, one of the purest examples of primitive Cistercian architecture, still functioning as a monastic community. Marvel at the vibrant scenery of the village of Roussillon, adored by artists for its striking palette of colours and visit the 'Ochre Conservatory'. Relax in the charming streets of Bonnieux and search for handicrafts in the local shops.

Sunday 9 - April L'Isle sur la Sorgue
Isle sur la Sorgue is a wonderful small Provençal city in the heart of Vaucluse and the the home of France's second major antiques fair. The town quite rightly deserves its reputation as the Venice of Provence, sitting as it does over dozens of springs, streams and tributaries of the River Sorgue. Wherever you go, water's not far away, in fact most of the old town was built on wooden and stone stilts right above the river. Explore the weekly market and village shops for antiques and gorgeous home decorations.

Monday 10 April - Les Baux, St. Remy
Discover the windswept world of limestone peaks, roads lined with pine and cypress trees, olive orchards and vineyards of the Alpilles. Climb the narrow cobblestone footpaths and investigate the castle ruins at the medieval village of Les Baux perched high on a rocky plateau above the mysterious Val d'Enfer. Refresh yourself in the bustling artist's town of St-Rémy and join a local historian on a visit through van Gogh's Provence. Along the way, we stop to visit the Souleiado Fabric Museum and Studio and a selection of garden furniture shops.

Tuesday 11 April - Avignon
Today we transfer to Avignon for a four night stay in the heart of this vibrant, sophisticated, very French, town. Visit The 'Palais des Papes' an architectural 'tour de force' where an opulent palace overlaps a sober fortress. Dance on the Pont St. Benezet! Explore the secret squares and chic shops of the city.

Wednesday 12 April - Cooking Class
Into the kitchens this morning! Get up early with our chef to visit the great covered market - a feast for the senses - and select the ingredients for today's cooking class. Prepare a full Provencal menu in the company of our chef. Spend the afternoon visiting kitchen shops from cabinetry to supplies!

Thursday 13 April - Arles
Stand in the middle of one of the best-preserved Roman monuments in France - the amphitheatre "Les Arenes" where bullfights carry on the ancient tradition. Admire the fine sculpture at the Romanesque church and cloisters of St. Trophime. See the Place du Forum where Vincent Van Gogh painted his Starry Nights. Gather for a glass of pastis at the Café de la Nuit, made famous by Van Gogh. En route, stop to visit the privately owned 18th century Chateau de Barbentane, beautifully furnished with Provencal furniture and decoration.

Friday 14 April - Uzes
A last wander through the delightful villages of central Provence. Uzes is an architectural marvel, famous for its potteries, lots of beautiful shops and galleries. Visit a favourite wine producer for a tasting along the way. Grand farewell dinner this evening.

Saturday 15 April - Departure
Transfer to Marseilles for flight departure or consider extending your stay in Paris just three hours away by TGV train from Avignon!

Itinerary subject to change to take advantage of local events

Barb's Invite
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7-15 April, 2006

9 days/8 nights

$6350 plus airfare

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