Join OLLI French Instructor Bern Terry, Statewide OLLI Coordinator Cathi Cody Hudson, Lane Series Director Natalie Neuert, and a group of peer learners for an unforgettable “Insider’s Tour of Provence”.

***Registration is now closed***

See Provence through the eyes of locals. Stay in a French home in a small village in the Luberon, visit the local open air markets, a winery, a goat cheese farm, an 800 year old abbey, go for a walk near Mont Ventoux, visit a pottery maker, a lavender field and an olive grove. Cook with locals or try out their favorite restaurants. This is a unique opportunity to get an insider’s view of one of the prettiest areas of France at one of the best times of the year.

We will be based in the Luberon Region in the beautiful perched village of Saignon, near Apt. There will be daily optional French Instruction, private tours of local attractions including museums, food, flower, and antique markets, lavender and olive farms, Roman ruins, small villages and larger cities such as Avignon and its famous Palais des Papes. And, of course, the food and wine: locally sourced and produced, and prepared and presented to showcase the culinary glories of Southern France. Bern has traveled extensively in this area, and knows the locals so we will have unprecedented access to the beauties and adventures the region has to offer.


  • Round trip high speed train from Paris to Avignon and return
  • All transfers
  • 9 nights lodging – based on double occupancy: we will stay at the restored village home of Bern’s mother and 2 of her neighbors. If you would like a single room, there will be a single supplement of $405.00 ($45 per night)
  • Meals: All breakfasts, 6 dinners (some we will cook from our market outings, some will be in restaurants and cafes), 6 lunches (many picnics, some cafes). A few lunches and dinners will be on your own.
  • Admissions to attractions and museums
  • In country transportation by small passenger van
  • Optional French Instruction in the mornings, covering the vocabulary and topics/ discussion of the day’s adventures, and many opportunities to practice!

NOT Included

  • Airfare: once we’ve met our minimum registrations we will notify participants and suggest the flight and airline to book. There will be the option to use the UVM Travel Agent to help with this process. The plan is for the group to arrive in Paris on the morning of September 21, 2011. If you wish to spend additional time in Europe before the trip, we can arrange a meeting spot for you at de Gaulle Airport in Paris (our train to Avignon departs directly from de Gaulle).


Day 1

  • Arrive in Paris in AM.
  • TGV (High Speed Train) to Avignon
  • Lunch on own (available on train, or can purchase in advance at airport)
  • Arrive Avignon afternoon
  • Ride to Saignon via little villages
  • Relax/unpack
  • Walking tour of Saignon
  • Welcome aperitifs and group dinner

Day 2

  • Breakfast, and a review of useful French phrases and vocabulary for the day
  • Discussion: An overview of Provence – history, geography, culture
  • A drive through the Luberon to the stunning village of Isle sur la Sorgue and its wonderful collection of antique stores and provencal market.
  • Lunch at the Café de France
  • Return to Saignon for walking, relaxing and dinner

Day 3

  • Breakfast, and a review of useful French phrases and vocabulary for the day
  • We will venture to Avignon, a beautiful and busy small French city.
  • Lunch in Avignon
  • Visit to the Palais des Papes and a boat ride on the Rhone River
  • Return to Saignon stopping at small villages like Cavaillon (where we can sample the famous melon de Cavaillon) along the way based on our whims.
  • DINNER ON OWN or in small groups in Saignon or nearby Apt

Day 4

  • Breakfast, and a review of useful French phrases and vocabulary for the day
  • Market Day in Apt: this huge market, selling everything from homemade soaps, to superb produce, to blue jeans, has been operating continuously in the same location since the 12th century.
  • Lunch in Apt
  • Cathedral and Crypt in Apt
  • Group cooking using our gleanings from the market: we will cook a traditional Provencal meal.

Day 5

  • Breakfast, and a review of useful French phrases and vocabulary for the day
  • A visit to a Lavender farm/distillerie where we will learn all the beneficial properties of lavender and pick lavender for sachets right from the fields
  • Visit plateau de Claparettes / mines de buoux: a dramatic landscape of caves and mines into which we can venture with a guide.
  • Light dinner featuring melon de Cavaillon and local charcuterie which we will purchase in advance.

Day 6

  • Breakfast, and a review of useful French phrases and vocabulary for the day
  • Drive via van to the famed red ochre village of Roussillon through the mountains and ochre quarries of the stunning Colorado Provençal
  • Village visit galleries, pottery, markets
  • French pique-nique gathered from local vendors including a local patisserie dessert
  • Group Dinner at local Saignon Restaurant

Day 7

  • Breakfast, and a review of useful French phrases and vocabulary for the day
  • Explore Le Vin Provençal
  • Village visit galleries, pottery, markets
  • Travel via van La route des vins – Cotes du Luberon, Cotes du Rhone, Chateauneuf du Pape: one of the finest wine growing regions in the world. We’ll visit wine makers and tasting rooms in some of the areas Chateaux. Guided day led by Pierre Bounhol, a retired wine maker.
  • Back to Saignon for some time to relax before we gather to cook another homemade dinner.

Day 8

  • Breakfast, and a review of useful French phrases and vocabulary for the day
  • Visit to the wild and beautiful village of Sault on its high plateau
  • Visit to Chateau de Javon
  • Picnic near the magnificent Mont Ventoux: famed as the most grueling climbs on the Tour de France
  • Dinner on your own

Day 9

  • Breakfast, and a review of useful French phrases and vocabulary for the day
  • Visit to Gordes: one of the most beautiful villages in France. In the village are small museums, a beautiful chateau, an olive oil mill, and lovely shops and cafes.
  • Side trip to Bories – an all stone village famed for its medieval houses
  • We will visit a Local sculptor and retired U Michigan professor in his home.
  • Lunch at a local auberge
  • A visit to the beautifully preserved 12th Century Senanques Abbey nestled in the lavender fields
  • Then we will all join together for a Gala dinner

Day 10

  • Travel to Avignon, train to Paris, and flight home to the US.

Other activities as time permits:

  • Visit to cheese making farm near Saignon
  • Visit to the local bakery for lesson and samples of croissants, éclairs
  • Learn to play boules (petanque) – the traditional bocce game of Provence.
  • Lunch in Montmirail and visit to local lace maker
  • More small museums that highlight the influence the light of Provence has had on painting and art.