Les gorges du Verdon
Welcome to Le Mas des Poiriers in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, make yourself at home! Discover the vast pear orchard that lent its name to this exceptional 18th-century home. Cypress trees to the right and veteran plane trees to the left… There’s no doubt about it, you’re definitely in Provence! Next, head out to discover Fort Saint-André standing proudly over the medieval town of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon . Its abbey opens onto magnificent grounds (an official “Remarkable Garden”) and the famous Palais Abbatial , adorned with gorgeous old paintings, stone arches and a monumental staircase. Perched on a hilltop, Villeneuve offers a delightful combination of history and Provencal soul. Its views over the Mont Ventoux and the Rhône river snaking its way through the town are a genuine ode to daydreaming. And in the distance, you can glimpse Avignon and the Popes’ Palace… The Obamas must have loved it!
As you approach Avignon , you’ll discover La Barthelasse, one of Europe’s biggest river islands. Nicknamed the green lung of Avignon, its banks and poplar forests can easily be toured by bike . If you’ve got a keen eye, you might even be lucky enough to spot some beavers! The boat bus sails you under the famous Pont Saint-Bénézet bridge (Pont d’Avignon) straddling four majestic arches, into the heart of Avignon. Take time to admire Hôtel La Mirande***** : this stunning palace owes some of its renown to its unique design dating from the Age of Enlightenment. Follow in the footsteps of the Obamas with lunch in the hotel’s movie-worthy decor before heading to the Popes’ Palace , where you can opt for a Histopad augmented reality tour for a larger-than-life immersion in history!
Wine buffs take heed! You are just a few kilometres from the prestigious Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine region… The wife and daughters of America’s former president fell in love with Château Vaudieu – a family-run domain enjoying international renown – during their summer vacation. Now it’s your turn to savour the 13 grape varieties grown at this exceptional vineyard. Later in the day, Malia and Sasha also roamed the market of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue . An absolute must for anyone touring the area, the market is a genuine picture postcard, overflowing with magnificent colours and perfumes. Finally, it’s time to head to Falaise de la Madeleine cliff at the heart of the Luberon Regional Nature Reserve . Here, the little village of Lioux points the way to the summit, with its breathtaking views over the mountains of Vaucluse.
We hope you enjoyed your escapade in Vaucluse! Now it’s time to head to the Var area, just 2 hours’ away by car. Your first stop is at Château Saint-Roux – named after its orange-tinted soil – and its restaurant “La Table”, serving excellent farm-to-table meals. Enjoy a relaxing overnight stay before getting back on the road armed with a bottle or two of organic wine! Located just 20 minutes away, the town of Les Arcs-sur-Argens is home to Château Saint-Pierre , also visited by Barack. You’ll love learning about the vineyard’s four generations of passionate wine growers while savouring a memorable glass of Côtes de Provence AOC. Next on the list is Château des Demoiselles in La Motte. A driveway lined with veteran plane trees guides you to the château’s delightful B&B rooms. Last but not least, Château de Taulane is the ideal place for perfecting your swing on an illustrious golf course designed by Gary Player.
Leave the Préalpes d’Azur Regional Nature Reserve and delve into the Verdon , home to the magnificent and world-famed Verdon Canyon. Just down the road, you’ll come to Bastide du Calalou , a four-star hotel-restaurant where home cooking rules. Step out from this preserved haven to discover the treasures of Provence. Further West, 20 km from Aix-en-Provence , lies Château La Coste , a genuine ode to the senses where you can revel in cellar tours, wine tasting, fine dining and a contemporary art itinerary in the vines… An absolute must! You’ll even find a Spa & Wellness Centre at the adjacent Villa Lacoste.
Let’s raise our glasses to this fabulous foray into Provence at the Michelin two-starred L’Oustau de Baumanière in Les Baux-de-Provence, where Jean-André Charial and Glenn Viel masterfully concoct dishes combining traditional Provencal cuisine and French high gastronomy… Bon appétit!