Quintessential purple landscapes glimmer like amethysts in this picture-postcard paradise of lavender fields radiating violet-twinged views, where the soft natural light and timeless landscapes have been used by artists and writers to create iconic masterpieces.
So what is it that makes Provence so special?
· Picturesque hilltop villages hosting weekly markets selling fresh local produce, colorful textiles and original artworks.
· Fresh and flavorful Mediterranean-inspired cuisine: olive oil from the sun-drenched olive groves, ‘caught that day’ fish, home-grown tomatoes and garlic. The Provencal countryside is rich with the aroma of fresh herbs.
· Rich in medieval history: Provence is a living museum of some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in Europe, from amphitheatres, châteaux and monasteries to stone fountains and lavoirs.
· Verdant vineyards: stop off for a wine-tasting, visit wineries and experience the subtle nuances of how topography, climate, geography, and soil affect the flavor of the tremendous vintages.
· Interesting fact: more than 25 years after his book, A Year in Provence, was first published, Peter Mayle is still receiving fan mail from strangers delighted by his tale of a 50-something British couple and their two dogs moving into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the Luberon.
Take a look at a couple of our most popular waking and cycling tours in Provence….
Cycle through the verdant vineyards covering the patchwork landscape of the Vaucluse and the ever-present shape of Mount Ventoux, ‘the Giant of Provence’ that’s silent and ever watchful on the horizon. Taste the fresh local produce as you venture to the foot of the mountain.
6 nights | All breakfasts | All evening meals | Luggage transfers | Wine service
Why we love Umbria’s Green Heart…..
The only Italian region with no coastline and no bordering countries, Umbria, sitting at the heart of the boot, is picturesque, green and unique. Slowing right down to walking and cycling pace is the perfect way to fully appreciate the charms, hidden treasures and distinctive character that makes this timeless part of Italy a medieval green masterpiece.
So what is it that makes Umbria so special?
1. Its fine food and wines
Food is a fundamental part of any travel experience and the Umbrian people certainly know theirs. One of Italy’s most fertile corners, its rich countryside is responsible for some of the country’s finest food and drink. Delicacies include their highly-prized black truffles, fine olive oils and lenticchie di Castellucio (tiny, sweet lentils), along with tasty hams, wild boar, mountain sheep cheeses and many types of grains and beans.
2. The ‘green heart’
Umbria is a sun-drenched region of beautiful lush woodlands, winding valleys, rolling hills and mountains. You’ll enjoy passing through olive groves, sunflower fields, vineyards and apricot orchards and admiring the dazzling views of majestic lakes and ancient villages.
3. Its art
Home to many talented artists throughout the centuries, it was an Umbrian art school that taught famous artists such as Raphael, della Francesca and Perugino. In quiet hilltop towns you’ll marvel at old paintings and frescoes proudly hung on the walls of tiny churches.
4. Medieval towns and villages
Nestled among the luscious greenery is a host of historic hillside towns and villages, where you can meander through cobbled squares filled with traditional trattorie and imposing castles. Assisi is the jewel in the Umbrian crown, home to stunning churches, a Roman arch, C14 aqueduct and other architecturally famous buildings.
St Francis Way is a pilgrimage that spans around 215mi/350km, covering the places that St Francis visited during his life. Millions pass through the valleys and mountains of Umbria, as well as the small town of Assisi, which is one of the most important pilgrimage sites because of its Basilica di San Francesco.
Although Umbria is a relatively small region, it is jam-packed with musical events and festivals, one of the most famous being the Umbria Jazz Festival that has been held in Perugia every July since 1973. Spoleto is also famous for its Two Worlds Festival that celebrates classical and opera music.
Take a look at our tours in Umbria on foot and by bike….
Follow a circular loop exploring the rich rolling countryside of the Assisi Valley, one of the most beautiful corners of Italy and the true ‘green heart’ of the country. It’s a sun-drenched region of deep lush forests, impressive limestone gorges, majestic lakes and stunning medieval villages seemingly unchanged over the years. The views are superb!
8 nights in 4**** hotels | Self-guided | All breakfasts | 6 evening meals | Luggage transfers | Route notes and maps | Local On-Site rep | 24hr support
Does that sound like a little slice of heaven right there? Can you picture yourself walking through breathtaking countryside with the sun on the back of your neck or strolling through rolling vineyards with pretty hilltop villages, serving the local vintages as your reward for the days walk, before heading back to your hotel for a fine dining experience of local gastronomic dishes, washed down with the region’s fantastic wines?
Our gastronomic holidays ensure you experience the best of your destination, and this includes the local cuisine and wines and first-class hotels with fabulous restaurants. Let’s take a look at three holidays that we think you’ll like the taste of – sorry, sound of…
Our relaxed walking route runs parallel to the central part of the famous Route du Vin where every delightful village has its own vineyard and east-facing ruined castle. The walks follow the sentiers viticoles (paths through neatly-groomed vineyards) and shaded forest tracks, with countless opportunities to taste the local wines along the way. Almost every village has its own cave where the friendly Alsatian vignerons will insist you sample their entire range! In the beautiful villages awash with half-timbered buildings, often painted in pretty colors, geraniums spill from the window boxes and balconies. Historic Riquewihr is a highlight of the tour, an enchanting medieval village, nestled among sloping hills of vines that produce the exceptional aromatic Riesling wine.
8 nights | Self-guided | All continental breakfasts | 2 evening meals
Luggage transfers | Experienced Local rep | 24hr support |
Detailed route directions and maps | Walking transfers
Just west of Madrid, the Sierra de Gredos is Spain’s secret heartland: a vibrantly contrasting montage of mountainous peaks, thundering waterfalls, verdant plains, fragrant fruit orchards and glacial lagoons. And the food is equally as stunning! The cuisine is simple but tasty. Local specialities include roast lamb (cordero asado), haricot beans cooked with chorizo sausage (judías del barco) and cochifrito, which is a pork stew with aromatic herbs. At the Hotel El Milano Real, expect gastronomic menus and culinary delights such as venison with wild berries or beef carpaccio with foie gras shavings and mustard vinaigrette. Fresh seasonal produce is the prime ingredient so menus change depending on what is in season and available locally.
7 nights | Self-guided | All gourmet breakfasts | 5 á la carte picnic lunches
All evening meals | 24hr support | Detailed route directions and maps |
Managed by Hotelier | Car rental included
Nestled in the heart of Italy, west of the Apennine mountains, the enchanting region of Tuscany boasts beautiful landscapes and delicious food and wine. Think traditional, hearty, simple meals prepared using fresh local produce and meat from the region’s gentle rolling hills. At the Locanda Senio, run by Ercole and Roberta, which includes a small saltwater pool, sun terrace, jacuzzi and sauna, you’ll dine each evening in their highly prized restaurant that enjoys a long-standing reputation (not least among Breakaway guests!). The menu offers the best seasonal produce available including mulberries, cherries, sage, tarragon and rosemary, straight from the hotel gardens. Also included is a cooking demonstration, a wine and olive oil tasting as well as six picnics.
7 nights | Self-guided | All buffet breakfasts | 6 picnic lunches
All evening meals | Single-centre | Walking transfers | 24hr support