Itinerary – The Mediterranean Provence Experience
A week with The Mediterranean Provence Experience has an ideal balance of structure and flexibility, time with the group and time on your own. We may also adjust our plans based on weather, the interests of the group members, and unexpected opportunities. If there’s a special event during your week, we’ll likely rearrange things to be there.
We’ll describe a “typical” week in Mediterranean Provence, but no two weeks are ever quite the same! Your week might be organized differently, and experiences may be added or not included. And of course, there are a few surprises that we’ll wait to share with you when we’re together…
After meeting the group at the Aix-en-Provence TGV station on the first afternoon, we’ll travel about an hour to the charming seaside town of Bandol, our base for the week.
Once everyone is settled into their rooms at our comfortable, family-owned hotel in a quiet neighborhood, we’ll head out to play a quick game of boules, a recreation emblematic of the South of France, followed by dinner together in one of Bandol’s seaside restaurants.
Combining a fun icebreaker activity with a convivial group meal, the first evening offers the ideal opportunity for the group to become acquainted and discuss the week ahead.
Today starts with an optional early morning walk along the Bandol coastline. We’ll enjoy the coastal scenery and the tranquil Mediterranean Sea while the town awakens… it’s a great way to start the day.
Later in the morning we’ll embark on a fun day out to the dynamic waterfront city of Marseille. This vibrant place is France’s oldest city, and our group enjoys the dynamic mix of old and new that pervades the urban fabric.
On a walking tour we’ll explore the terrasses of the modern Museum of Mediterranean Civilizations and the 14th-century Fort St Jean, as well as watch the maritime activity at the entrance to the Old Port.
Lunch is at a Marseille institution, one of the oldest pizzerias in the city.
Afterwards, we’ll make our way up to the Notre Dame de la Garde, a majestic basilica sitting atop the city’s highest geographic point. The only thing more stunning than the basilica itself is the panoramic view we’ll enjoy from this location.
Dinner tonight is in Bandol, where we’ll experience North African cuisine.
Day three begins with a visit to an iconic nougat shop. Afterwards, we’ll head to a nearby nature preserve, where we take a scenic walk along a natural lagoon completely protected from human intervention.
We’ll take advantage of the tranquil setting to enjoy a picnic. At lunch we’ll indulge in a typical French spread that includes salads, sandwiches, quiche, local cheeses, pastries, and, of course, Provençal rosé wine.
Following lunch, we’ll board a small boat and head to Embiez Island, a nature reserve owned by Paul Ricard, the famous pastis brand. On the island, our guide will meet us for a private tour of the scenic environs, including breathtaking views from a tower nestled at the top of the island’s summit.
After a full day immersed in nature, you’ll enjoy dinner on your own in Bandol.
Day four brings us to Le Castellet, a quaint medieval village where you’ll enjoy perusing artisans’ shops and boutiques while also exploring the commune’s inviting tangle of narrow, winding streets.
After working up an appetite, we’ll head to a nearby winery for a picnic lunch followed by a tour of the estate, including tastings of their various wines and olive oils.
Leaving the winery, we’ll take a scenic route to our dinner destination, an 18th-century Provençal mansion, where we’re treated to elegant dining in an equally elegant setting. This dinner is one of the highlights of the week!
Today begins with a trip to the fishing village of Sanary-sur-Mer. We’re sure you’ll love its sunny and vibrant atmosphere and its beautiful waterfront. Our visit usually coincides with the weekly farmers market, and everyone will enjoy the lively setting as we amble past market stalls and animated vendors.
Lunch today is on your own; you’ll find plenty of options in Sanary-sur-Mer.
After lunch we’ll reconvene, and head to one of the region’s great and historic gardens, listed by the French Ministry of Culture as one of France’s premier jardins remarquables (“remarkable gardens”), where we’ll receive a private guided tour by the garden’s owner.
Dinner is on your own tonight in Bandol.
We head to Cassis today, another unforgettable and colorful seaside village. The highlight of the morning is a boat tour of the area’s stunning coastline, where we’ll observe the spectacular, fjord-like Calanque coves. Afterward, you have time to explore the village at your own pace.
Lunch is on your own today… maybe a seafood meal on the waterfront? In the afternoon, we’ll take a scenic drive on “La Route des Crêtes. The views down to Cassis and across the sea are breathtaking!
This evening we’ll enjoy dinner together at a convivial bistro in the nearby village of Le Castellet.
On our last full day together, we’ll head to the bustling port city of Toulon, the home of the French Navy’s Mediterranean fleet.
We start our day with a little history, visiting the Provence Liberation and Landings Memorial and Museum while also enjoying the expansive views from the top of Mont Faron.
Afterwards, we enjoy lunch together at a crêperie near the waterfront.
In the afternoon, we’ll take a boat tour of the Toulon harbor, where we can marvel at the splendor of the French naval port.
It’s our final group dinner! We’ll enjoy a farewell apéritif and a hearty meal at one of Bandol’s classic culinary institutions.
This morning after breakfast we’ll return to the Aix TGV station where we’ll say our goodbyes to new friends after a wonderful week together.