Discover Avignon, the Rhône, and Provence. Inspiration for
artists including Vincent Van Gogh, this region of France oozes
history, charm, and atmosphere. Staying in the delightful city of
Avignon, we explore Roman Provence and enjoy a lunch cruise along
Enjoy a guided walking tour of Avignon
Relax on a tranquil cruise along the Rhône to Arles
Visit the Pont du Gard, a spectacular ancient Roman aqueduct
Explore the most beautiful villages of Provence with visits to L’Isle sur-la-Sorgue, Gordes and Roussillon
Experience one of France’s most famous exports with a tasting of delicious local wines at Châteauneuf-du-Pape
We meet early this morning at our Departure Office at London St
Pancras. We travel by Eurostar across France to Avignon, enjoying
breakfast on board, followed by a light meal and drinks later in
the day. On arrival, we transfer to our base for the next 6 nights,
the centrally located 4-Star Hotel de l'Horloge, 4-Star Novotel
Avignon Centre or 4-Star Hotel Cloitre Saint Louis before dinner at
a local restaurant.
*Some departures will travel via Lille
Please Note: For
departures AVB2001 and AVB2002 you
will travel via Paris.
Day 2 - A lunch cruise along the Rhône
Today we take a relaxing cruise on the River Rhône, enjoying
lunch as we sail through picturesque scenery to Arles, once home to
Vincent van Gogh. Boasting a beautifully preserved historic centre,
the city of Arles boasts one of Europe's best collections of Roman
ruins - which are UNESCO listed. Initially a Celtic city, Arles
became Roman after Julius Caesar distributed the land among some of
his most faithful soldiers in 46 BC. This was the city's first
golden age, and came to be known as 'Little Rome in Gaul'.
As we arrive in this delightful city, it is easy to see how
Arles inspired van Gogh to produce over 300 paintings and drawings
during his time here. Among the many highlights of Arles' rich
history is the mighty Roman Arena, which would have seated about
20,000 people. It was partly converted into a castle in the Middle
Ages, but is still remarkably intact. We return to Avignon by
Day 3 - A guided walking tour of Avignon
This morning we enjoy a guided walking tour of charming Avignon.
The city is well known for the Pont St Bénezet, its famous broken
bridge. All but four of its arches were washed away in a
devastating flood in 1668 - and today the surviving arches have
become an iconic symbol of the city, and the feature of a famous
song. The city is also famous for the Palais des Papes - Palace of
the Popes - which was the seat of the Papacy for six successive
Popes during the 14th century after Pope Clement V escaped the
violent chaos and corruption of Rome and moved to Avignon.
We admire both of these striking landmarks - which now form the
heart of a UNESCO World Heritage site - as we pass them during our
guided sightseeing tour. The afternoon is free for you to explore
Avignon at leisure. Stoll through the city's broad,tree-lined
avenues and explore the intriguing network of alleyways and
passages that connect beautiful open squares and pretty
Day 4 - At leisure in Avignon
Today you are free to continue exploring Avignon at leisure. For
wonderful views over the city's sights, including the Palais des
Papes, the rooftops of Old Avignon and the Pont St-Bénézet, take a
walk up to the Rock of Domes, where a beautiful hilltop garden is
set on a bluff above the city. The gardens are also home to a
collection of rocky grottoes which are referred to as 'the cradle
of Avignon', where some of the first known inhabitants of the area
settled and lived. You could travel further afield by rail, with
exciting options available including the fascinating port city of
Marseille, one of the jewels of France's Mediterranean
Day 5 - The Villages of Provence
Today we enjoy a coach excursion into the Luberon, a picturesque
region of Provence, known for its olive groves, vineyards and
fascinating hilltop villages. We visit L'Isle sur-la-Sorgue, known
as the 'Venice of Provence' for the canals which criss cross the
town. Here you can relax in one of the delightful waterside cafés
and see the attractive waterwheels located throughout the town, are
all in working order. This afternoon, we visit Gordes, a beautiful
old village built on and around an outcrop of rocky cliffs.
The buildings are packed tightly together, including the 12th
century castle, with narrow alleyways and stone staircases acting
as the village streets. The views of the surrounding fields and
forests are spectacular from any vantage point in Gordes, which is
listed as one of "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France" - "the Most
Beautiful Villages in France". Another village in that prestigious
list is Roussillon, located only a short distance away. Set on the
ridge of a steep red cliff, the village is surrounded by a pine
forest, its superb setting outdone only by the impeccable beauty of
the village itself. The small centre is filled with colourful old
buildings and a spiralling network of medieval streets. After
enjoying time to explore both villages, we return to Avignon.
Day 6 - Pont du Gard & Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Today we travel by coach to the stunning Pont du Gard, the world
famous threelevel stone aqueduct, which crosses the Gardon River
Valley. Built by the Romans in 19BC, the incredible engineering
feat was designed to bring water to the settlement at Nimes, for
use in public baths, fountains and private residences. The gradient
of the slope as it crosses the river is just 1 in 3,000 - a drop of
just 2.5cm - which shows the incredible precision of the Roman
engineers who designed and built the aqueduct with the simple
technology available to them over 2,000 years ago.
The Pont du Gard enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status, as one of
the greatest remaining iconic glories of the Roman Empire. Our
excursion continues to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a medieval village
built on a hillside and overlooked by the ruins of an ancient
château. The village is perhaps the most famous red wine producing
village in the world and is surrounded almost completely by
vineyards, with the River Rhône winding across the landscape.
You have time to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, explore the
village and indulge yourself with an included wine tasting, giving
us the chance to sample some of the region's most celebrated drinks
before we return to Avignon. Here a farewell dinner is served at a
Day 7 - Avignon to London
After a leisurely morning, we leave Avignon mid afternoon and
join the direct Eurostar service to London*, with a light meal and
drinks on board. We arrive late this evening, when your tour
For this tour, we recommend arriving to, and departing from,
London Gatwick or London Heathrow airport (LGW or LHR). London
Gatwick is approximately 30 miles from your start and end point,
and London Heathrow is approximately 19 miles from your start and
It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport,
visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your
itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot
travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with
any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses
which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any
passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be
found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices
& Availability' button. We write to all booked customers
approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise
the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
A very satisfying tour and a most enjoyable time was had with a good friendly bunch of fellow travelers.
Submitted Sep 09, 2019
An excellent tour experience. Commenced with speaking to knowledgeable and friendly staff when booking tour. Eurostar travel good once on train.( was very chaotic trying to check in, go through security etc but this not due to Great Rail Journeys). Well located hotel, pleasant included excursions and superb meals ( except one) at chosen restaurants and on the boat trip. Good balance of free and organised time. Ros the tour manager a real gem and asset to the company. Looking after a large group of 42 is not easy, but she kept and eye on everyone and frequently went above and beyond the call of duty to look after everyone and make sure all was well.
Mr A Woods
Submitted Jul 21, 2019
I have already completed a survey form. Why are you asking again?
Mr C Allingham
Submitted Jul 21, 2019
The bad bit first. We had an early Eurostar train (7.20 a.m.) and have been used to arriving 2 hours early to get our tickets etc. However on this occasion the Great Rail meeting time was for 6.20 a.m. I had telephoned a few days earlier to query this but was told it would be 'fine'. Despite the office opening at 6 we could not access our tickets until 6.20. The queues were a nightmare at security and by the time I had passed through I had to go straight to the train, which I and other group members just made.
The tour itself was brilliant (other than being the hottest town in France during an unseasonal heatwave!); well and thoughtfully organised. The hotel was excellent as were the included meals. All in all really good value for money.
Submitted Oct 28, 2018
Just that our room at the hotel was rather cramped. The bathroom was very cramped. The breakfast room was very restricted by its size. Shame really as the hotel was in an ideal position in the main square. Overall it was a great tour