Roman Legacy Tour: Ancient Provence
Immerse yourself in the sun-kissed landscape of Provence while exploring the cultural and culinary legacy of the ancient Romans.
The sun kisses everything in Provence; from the scenery and cuisine to its art and people. The Mediterranean sparkles with an endless, changing palate of azure. Provence glows soft in the evening soleil. It’s no wonder artists and conquerors alike have been drawn to the area for millennia. This intimate, fully guided Roman Legacy Tour- capped at ten guests – allows you to discover in depth the history and food of a region heavily influenced by ancient Roman culture and Italian cuisine.
We begin in the ancient cobbles of Arles, visiting France’s first official Roman city, Marseilles, Nîmes and perched villages, ending in the fountain city of Aix-en-Provence. Along the way, we sample regional Italian-inspired specialties and visit some of the world’s best-preserved Roman monuments; meet artisan wine and olive oil producers- two products introduced to Gaul by the Romans.
Features & Attractions
- Tour of Pont du Gard, UNESCO World Heritage site: one of the world’s greatest Roman aqueducts
- Guided tour of UNESCO district of Arles’ Roman monuments: Les Arènes, Théâtre Antique, Cryptoportico, the Roman cemetery Les Alyscamps
- Tour Nîmes’ Roman sites: Maison Carée and Amphitheatre
- Tour of St. Trophime Cathedral’s famous sculpted cloister, Arles
- Tours of villages: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Les Baux de Provence
- Tour of Vaison-la-Romain Roman sites
- Tour of Cassis
- Tour of Uzès
- Tour of Orange’s theater and triumphal arch
- Tour Glanum archeological site
- Tour Marseille’s spice and fish markets
- Marseille’s Roman Docks Museum
- Food and Drink Tastings
- Pre-travel consulting services with one of our Travel Consultants
- Full-time services of two travel guides
- First-class accommodations of cultural or historical interest
- All meals noted in itinerary
- Limited wine with meals
- Food or drink tastings
- Tour guide book and reading list
- Itinerary with an emphasis on history, culture, and regional cuisine
- Luggage transfer between destinations
- All ground transportation as noted in itinerary (taxis, private vans, trains, etc.)
- All taxes and gratuities at hotels and restaurants
Arrive in Marseilles, France’s first permanent settlement. Private transfer takes us to Arles, where we spend four nights in the heart of Roman Provence. After a welcome cocktail and general orientation of Arles’ Old Town we share a light dinner together.
Our first full day is spent exploring in-depth our home base- the ancient city of Arles. This UNESCO designated World Heritage site was founded in 123 B.C. and boasts many extraordinary Roman monuments- all within a few blocks on each other. Your private guided tour leads through winding streets to the theatre (1st century BC), Arena (1st century AD), fourth century Baths of Constantine, and the sprawling Roman graveyard, Les Alyscamp – immortalized in a painting by Vincent Van Gogh. After a café lunch, strike off on your own to visit the museum’s Roman collections or the great sculpted cloisters in the medieval church of St. Trophime. Dinner at one of our favorite mom and pop restaurants gives a true taste of Provençal cuisine and local wine.
Today, we make a beautiful detour north of Arles to the Haut-Vaucluse region where the village of Vaison-la-Romaine (as its name suggests) retains many Gallo-Roman remains of family dwellings, archaeological sites, and a fantastic Roman bridge linking the two sides of town across a deep gorge. Take some time at the market before we have lunch together. We move on to nearby Orange, visiting its Roman Triumphal Arch, a symbol of imperial glory, and taking a guided tour of the Théâtre Antique Orange (1st century AD), one of the best preserved theaters in the western Empire. The theater’s monumental stage wall, which remains impressively intact, caused King Louis IX to dub it “the finest wall in my kingdom.’ En route back to Arles, we stop for a wine tasting at a Châteauneuf-du-pape winery and learn of the viticulture legacy left by the Romans. Dinner is taken together at a fun bistro in Arles.
The morning is spent in one of Provence’s most vibrant markets in Uzès, where we have lunch near the market. Later, we bask in the engineering genius of the ancient Romans at the Pont du Gard aqueduct then spend the afternoon in Nîmes’ old town centered around an amphitheater and ancient temple. Take time to explore or enjoy a café in the shadow of architectural masterpieces. Dinner on your own in Arles.
Transfer from Arles to Aix-en-Provence, where wonderful daily markets, grand boulevards and squares, gentrified neighborhoods with great people watching define the lifestyle. After lunch on your own, we take a culinary walking tour of the town, including wine, cheese and olive oil tastings. Take the afternoon to tour the fountains, churches, or studio of Cézanne. We share an Italian dinner together.
From gentrified Aix to gritty Marseilles, we spend the day in France’s first permanent settlement with guided tour of the fabulous fish and spice markets. Lunch showcases the city’s diversity, after which we visit the Roman Docks Museum, a few of Marseille’s great monuments and port. Our dinner in Aix-en-Provence is a smörgåsbord of local delicacies.
Enjoy a leisurely morning on your own. The afternoon is spent the picturesque fishing village of Cassis, which once sat along the ancient Roman Maritime trade route. After a late lunch in Cassis – yes, the famous fishy stew bouillabaisse is on the menu! We make one more coastal stop before returning to Aix, where you have dinner on your own.
Our first mountain village stop is to Saint-Rémy, with free time to wander within its medieval walls. After lunch, we go off-the-beaten-path to nearby Glanum, a Roman city built atop of even older Celtic town. Our final stop is to the magical mountain village of Les-Baux-de-Provence for panoramic vistas and other cultural sites. After a day of village-hopping, we share a farewell dinner together in Aix-en-Provence.
Join us for an optional morning tour of Arles’ archaeology museum. We are happy to help you make arrangements from the hotel to your next destination or airport.