A week will give you a tantalizing taste of Provence and undoubtedly will leave you wanting more. You can take in the highlights of the major cities -- Arles, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, and Marseille -- as well as savor the beauty of the countryside. The villages in the Luberon are so evocative of Provence that it would be a shame to bypass them. The itinerary below is flexible: you can shorten stays in some of the towns and lengthen others. Some might want to spend more time in the large cities such as Aix or Marseille, while others prefer rural tranquillity.

Day 1: Arles

Arles is packed with historical sights, but the city's compact size makes it easy to fit many of them within a day. Start with a walk through the old town that so enchanted van Gogh. Head to the Théâtre Antique/Amphithéâtre (Les Arènes), where you can wander among the ruins of a Roman theater after taking a tour of the impressive arena. Stop at one of the cafes on place du Forum, ones of the liveliest squares in Arles. After lunch, visit the Musée Départemental -- Arles Antique, with one of the world's best collections of Roman and Christian sarcophagi. Try to visit the Musée Réattu, an exciting mix of contemporary art and old masters. If you have time before its 7pm summer closing, also visit Les Alyscamps, one of the world's best-known necropolises. Overnight in Arles.


Day 2: Les Baux-de-Provence & St-Rémy-de-Provence

Leave Arles on day 2, driving 19km (12 miles) northeast to the tiny village of Les Baux-de-Provence in the southern Alpilles. Arrive early to explore this medieval village and its evocative ruins, as large groups of tourists can soon overrun the place.

From Les Baux, drive 10km (7 miles) north to St-Rémy-de-Provence, the birthplace of the French astrologer Nostradamus. It's one of the most pleasant towns in Provence, with a medieval old town full of galleries and shops encircled by a tree-shaded boulevard where cafes and restaurants tempt you to stop for lunch. In the afternoon, you can visit some of the town's major attractions, including the Roman ruins of Glanum and Monastère de St-Paul-de-Mausole, the 12th-century monastery where van Gogh sought treatment and where he was inspired to paint some of his best works. Overnight in St-Rémy.


Day 3: Avignon

On day 3, drive 20km (12 miles) from St-Rémy-de-Provence to Avignon. Its old town encircled by medieval ramparts is full of fascinating sights, but pride of place goes to Palais des Papes, the 14th-century home of the papacy. After a tour of the palace, take a leisurely wander through the old town before heading out to the Pont St-Bénezet, Avignon's ancient bridge that now sits stranded halfway across the Rhône River. Try to catch some of the other sights in the afternoon, notably Musée Angladon, with its splendid art collections, or the Musée Calvet, with its collection of ancient silver displayed in an 18th-century town house. If you can make it here before 6pm, you can also see the Musée Lapidaire, with some of the most intriguing Gallo-Roman sculptures in Provence. Overnight in Avignon.

Day 4: Nord Luberon


On day 4, drive east from Avignon for 47km (29 miles) towards the Luberon village of Bonnieux. You can use this pretty hilltop village as a base to explore the northern side of the Luberon. Along the way to Bonnieux, you can visit two of the best-known hilltop villages in the Luberon, Gordes and Roussillon. If you have time, you can even drop by Ménerbes and Lacoste, but save time for Bonnieux, which has wonderful views of the Petit Luberon from the top of the village. Overnight in Bonnieux.

Day 5: Sud Luberon

The tour of the Luberon continues on day 5, as you drive 13km (8 miles) south toward Lourmarin. Take a tour of the Château de Lourmarin, the first Renaissance château built in Provence, and stroll through the winding streets of this attractive market town. Later, drive the short distances to some of the pleasant neighboring towns, including Cucuron, with its enormous tree-shaded reservoir in the center of the village; Ansouis; and La Tour d'Aigues. Overnight in Lourmarin.


Day 6: Aix-en-Provence

On the morning of day 6, leave Lourmarin and head south 40km (25 miles) to this sophisticated university city. After checking into a hotel, walk along cours Mirabeau, toward the old town, Viel Aix, a maze of narrow streets and tiny squares tucked into unexpected places. Have lunch in one of the cafes in Viel Aix. After lunch, visit the main sights, including the Atelier de Cézanne, the painter's studio just north of the old town. Other attractions worth a look include the city's main art gallery, Musée Granet, and the Cathédrale St-Sauveur. Overnight in Aix-en-Provence.

Day 7: Marseille


For your final day in Provence, head to bustling Marseille, France's oldest city. It's a 35km (22-mile) drive south of Aix-en-Provence. After checking into a hotel, spend the morning wandering the Vieux Port, or Old Port, ducking in and out of its narrow streets. Cross the port to Le Panier, one of Marseille's oldest and most authentic districts, and take the metro up to cours Julien, one of the most vibrant parts of the city.

In the afternoon take a boat to the Château d'If, an island that Alexandre Dumas used as a setting for his novel The Count of Monte Cristo. If you return to Marseille in time, visit the Basilique St-Victor, exploring its early medieval crypt. Overnight in Marseille, one of France's great transportation hubs, with numerous rail and plane connections.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.