Top Reasons to Take a Walking Tour of Provence with VBT

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The Provence region of southeastern France is a scenic and historic area that is perfect for discovering on foot.  Travelers on our France: Slow Road Through Provence vacation will discover the region’s timeless beauty—from ancient hilltop villages to bustling outdoor markets to verdant vineyards that line the foothills of the Alpilles—at a slow pace, which allows you to fully take it all in. With so many amazing sites, friendly locals, delicious meals and epic cycling offered on this week-long walking tour, there is so much to discover. Here are our top reasons why you should talk a walking tour of Provence with VBT.

Strolling in St. Remy
Van Gogh Tour St Remy
Upon our arrival to the historic commune of St. Remy, we’ll learn about the last years of van Gogh’s life and his most famous painting, The Starry Night—which was inspired from his window view in St. Remy—on a guided tour of the village with a local historian. After our informative and inspirational tour, the afternoon is free for you to set out to explore St. Remy on your own. What it lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in atmosphere. It’s convenient, horseshoe-like center invites a delicious stroll around town. Luckily, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to indulge in when you’d like a rest.

Explore Avignon, the fortified “City of the Popes”
Popes

We’ll meet with a local friend for an enlightening guided tour of the famed “City of Popes,” which served as the Papal seat for almost seven decades during the 14th century when seven popes—beginning with Clement V—abandoned Rome and made the city their permanent residence. During our stroll, we’ll tour Avignon’s historical center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and view the Palais de Papes—the magnificent Gothic complex in which the holy men once lived.

Marvel at one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France: Gordes

Gordes, Provence

On Day 4 of our adventure in Provence, we’ll take in the cobblestone streets of Gordes, which is included in the listing of “The Most Beautiful Villages in France.” Take your time exploring before ambling just outside of the village among Provence’s iconic lavender fields en route to Senanque Abbey. Here, we’ll learn how the lavender is cultivated by the Benedictine monks that still work and reside in this peaceful hamlet.

Mingling at le Marche
Provence market
Cultural immersion is a huge part of any VBT tour. On Day 5 of our walking tour of Provence we’ll combine a cultural experience with lots and lots of local food, visiting the market of Vaison la Romaine. Take in the sights, sounds and smells of local life here and maybe pick up a few of the most tempting items to enjoy for lunch.

Hotel Aquabella
Aquabella Pool
A night in this wonderful hotel situated in the heart of the old town of Aix-en-Provence both begins and ends our tour. After a lovely evening of exploring the lively city of Aix, guests may relax in the hotel’s spa or heated pool. The guest rooms are decorated in Provençal style and all are fully equipped with air-conditioning, satellite TV, direct telephone, mini-bar and furnished with bathrobes and slippers.

les beaxLooking Out from Les Baux
One of the most interesting towns that you’ll find on this tour is Les Baux. Built directly into the rocky hills of Les Alpilles, this 12th century town astounds and delights visitors with its quaint shops and majestic views of the valley below. During our visit we’ll have time to explore the fascinating village and the Château des Baux—a fortified 10th century castle that sits atop the historic town.

The Food of France
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On top of all the wonderful experiences that we’ve built into our Walking Tour of Provence, we’ve also left some time for you to wander on your own. Exploring in France is often best done by way of your taste buds. Enjoy free afternoons and evenings to find a perfect bistro to reward your day’s discovery. Best of all, our native Trip Leaders can fill you in on all the local secrets and spots that only residents know about. So you’re guaranteed to find a culinary highlight or two on your VBT Provence vacation.

These are just some examples of the unique accommodations you’ll stay at on our France: Slow Road Through Provence​ walking vacation. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868 or visit www.vbt.com . They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

Best Reasons to Walk the Basque Region with VBT

Basque Panorama
Along the border of Spain and France and framed by the soaring Pyrenees and serene waters of the Bay of Biscay, lies a uniquely autonomous region known as Basque Country. Travelers will find themselves discovering jaw-dropping landscapes, delicious cuisine that draws from a variety of cultures, and friendly and intensely proud Basque people. VBT’s new Spain: A Walking Tour of Basque Country fully immerses you into Basque culture during walks in quaint villages and bustling cities, as well as scenic walking paths in the foothills above the Atlantic Ocean. Keep reading to learn why we think the Basque Country is a must-see destination for any active traveler.

The Basque People
Ox cart
Rather than tell you about the culture on tour, we’ll facilitate interesting encounters with friendly locals so that you may learn about the Basque people in the most authentic way—face to face. During a stop in Hondarribia, we’ll walk the streets with a local guide, who will tell us all about the history of this interesting coastal town and its two identities—one in the port area and the other in the medieval walled town that sits high above.  Although most residents speak Spanish or French, 27% of the population is still fluent in Euskara, the traditional language of the Basque population. During this vacation, a local resident will give us an intriguing lesson about the history of this language and its place in society today. Another cultural highlight is the day we learn pelota! This ancient sport—which is similar to racquetball and tennis—was developed when the Basque people decided that rather than playing face-to-face over a net, they’d prefer to use their hands to hit a ball in a three-walled court—oftentimes using the exterior of the town church to play.

The Food
Seafood Basque
From gastronomic clubs to rural, self-sustaining farms, you’ll have a chance to enjoy all the tastes of the Basque Country. One day for lunch, we’ll visit a charming farm where our host, Pello Urdapilleta, will tell us all about his family’s long history of raising Euskal txerria—a breed of pig found only in the Basque region. We’ll also sample rural culinary delights like alubias de Tolosa—purple-black legumes that turn red when cooked—whose rich, buttery flavor is complemented perfectly by sidra, a local apple cider. We’ll also get to attend dinner at a txoko, which are members-only societies that date back to 1870 in some towns. Traditionally made up of men who got together to share their interests in cooking creative meals, drinking and socializing, txokos became safe havens where members could keep their language and traditions alive when Basque culture was suppressed under the reign of Francisco Franco.

The Walking
walking

We’ll traverse cobbled city streets and rural hillside trails alike on this tour. Perhaps the highlight is the day we walk along the historic “Way of St. James.” This coastal route is thought to be the oldest of all the paths leading to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where many believe St. James is buried. We’ll trace the 1,000 year old path that was the first institutionalized route used by the holy pilgrims. History aside, the natural beauty of this walk will not disappoint either. On our journey to the summit of Mt. Jaizkibel, we’ll soak in views of Bay of Biscay and its numerous rugged coves that dot the shoreline.

To learn more about how you can visit this region on VBT’s Spain: A Walking Tour of Basque Country​ tour please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868 or visit vbt.com. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

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