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Secrets of Provence

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7 days From £2,395 £1,995 per person
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Sublime, sun-drenched towns and cities rich with history and glittering waterways await on this fabulous cruise holiday through France's elegant Provence region.

Operated by our sister company Great Rail Journeys
Save £400pp

Save £400pp on selected barge summer sailings, when you book by 31st May 2024.

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2024 Tour code: CSR24

About the tour

This fabulous barge cruise brings you the very best of France's elegant Provence region. Uncover the region's hidden gems, from Étang De Thau's shellfish to the medieval treasures of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert.

With each stop, we dive into the heart of Provence. Visit an authentic 'manade' farm, explore medieval Aigues-Mortes, and witness the wild beauty of the Camargue. A guided tour of the fascinating Roman ruins in Arles perfectly rounds off a wonderful adventure.

Unforgettable Experiences

Arles
Arles
Explore ancient architectural masterpieces in Arles on a guided tour followed by a tasting at a traditional olive farm.
Camargue
Camargue
Admire pink flamingos, bulls and famous white Camargue horses on a panoramic guided tour of the region's marshland.
Aigues-Mortes
Aigues-Mortes
Discover the prestigious heritage of Aigues-Mortes with a local guide then board a tourist train through the fascinating salt tables.
Étang De Thau
Étang De Thau
Visit Étang De Thau for a tasting of the lagoon’s famous shellfish and hear about the hard-working shellfish farmers and fishermen.
Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert
Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert
Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Bull-sorting
Bull-sorting
Experience the life of herders on an authentic manmade farm during a wagon tour and take part in a bull-sorting.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 – Welcome aboard in Sete

Early this morning we meet at St Pancras to begin our holiday and board the Eurostar to Montpellier via Paris. Joining our coach, we then drive to Sete. Arriving in the afternoon, we board our home for the next seven days, the delightful Anne-Marie, a stylish hotel barge. Our lovely crew provide us with a welcome drink onboard before we enjoy dinner together this evening.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 2 – A taste of Étang De Thau and beautiful Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert

This morning takes us to Étang De Thau, world-famous for its shellfish. We visit the Étang De Thau Museum, where we learn about the history of the shell-fishing trade and discover how the farmers and fishermen made their living. We sample some of the freshly caught shellfish while savouring the beautiful scenery from a terrace along this unique seascape.

This afternoon we enjoy an excursion by coach to Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, a beautiful French village tucked away in the folds of a verdant valley and boasting a wealth of medieval treasures. Here we embark on an informative guided tour that helps soak up the atmosphere of this destination that feels frozen in time. Some of the town's most impressive sights include its Romanesque abbey and the Devil's Bridge which spans a turquoise stretch of the Hérault River, and dates back to the 11th century. Afterwards, we return to our barge for dinner this evening.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3 – Coastal town of Palavas-Les-Flots

Today we visit an authentic 'manade' farm and discover the life of its herders, taking part in a bull sorting routine. We enjoy snacks made fresh on the farm and sample local produce before returning to the ship. Tonight, take advantage of some time at leisure. You could explore the spa resort of Palavas-Les-Flots, whose rich identity reaches back for more than three centuries.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4 – The gems of Aigues Mortes

After a morning of leisurely sailing, we take a tour of Aigues-Mortes, perhaps one of the most beautiful sites in Provence. Encased by square medieval walls, this ancient fortified city is symmetrically perfect, white-washed terracotta topped houses contrast charmingly with the surrounding green countryside.

The medieval city is also famous for its nearby salt marshes which we discover by tourist train. Interestingly, Roman Legionnaires stationed in the area used to receive a portion of their wages in salt harvested from these very marshes. What makes this sight extraordinary is the marshes' enchanting pink hue, caused by the presence of microscopic algae in its waters.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 – Wildlife in the Camargue and pretty Sainte-Marie-la-Mer

We spend this morning cruising before a visit to the Camargue. With 140,000 hectares of natural wetlands, the region is home to an array of different wildlife making it a paradise for nature lovers as we see wild white horses and even the odd flamingo. The unusual paddy fields here produce red rice which is a fascinating sight.

Continuing to Sainte-Marie-la-Mer, there's time to explore at your own pace. You could visit the fortified church located in a strategic position near the mouth of the Petit-Rhone. It was built in the 9th century as an imposing bastion to deter pirate raiders along the coast. Today, it holds a towering presence over the village and can be seen as far as 10km inland.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 – Historic Arles

Today we enjoy a guided tour of Arles, the home of some of Europe's best Roman ruins. With a long history dating back to Celtic times, Arles' heritage of conquest over the years has left it with a rich variety of architecture, which we explore during our visit. We take in the stunning Roman Amphitheatre and enjoy the myriad of Romanesque architecture and sun-baked houses.

Arles was the inspiration for some of Van Gogh's artistry and its heritage harks back to the glory days of Julius Caesar. Once a major Roman port, Arles rose to prominence after Caesar plundered Marseille for backing his political opponent, and evidence of that prosperity is preserved wonderfully for us to see.

Following our tour we travel inland to learn about olive oil production in Provence and we sample some of the local produce. Back onboard tonight, we enjoy a Gala dinner back on board the Anne-Marie, as a perfect way to round off our wonderful French adventure.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7 – Home

This morning we enjoy breakfast onboard before making our way to Nimes by coach. Here we board the train to Paris, then change for our Eurostar service back to London. After saying goodbye to new friends and fellow travellers, it's time to head home.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Shore Excursions - Included in your Tour

Arles

Our fabulous guided tour of historic Arles takes in the Roman Amphitheatre and a grand collection of other Romanesque architecture. We also have a chance to sample some of the local produce in Arles.

Aigues-Mortes

We enjoy time in the walled city of Aigues- Mortes. This city's walls are contrasted against the pink glowing salt marshes nearby and make for a marvellous sight.

Palavas-Les-Flots

Our time here is spent visiting a fascinating 'manade' farm, where we discover the lives of its herders and have chance to sample some of the produce made on site.

Étang De Thau

The shellfish capital of Étang De Thau comprises the largest stretch of lagoons along the French coast and is a prime spot for the local shell-fishing trade. We have a chance to sample the locally caught shellfish.

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We will write to you around 10 weeks before your departure date with the precise meeting times for your tour group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Trains

Eurostar
The TGV

Ship

MS Anne Marie

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Upgrades

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UK rail connections
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