Sojourner Tours

A boutique tour company specialized in gastronomic sojourns in France. Go beyond the typical tourist trip: immerse yourself in French culture and discover authentic places loved by the French.

START PLANNING YOUR SOJOURN: JUST CLICK HERE.

READ SOME TESTIMONIALS BY CLICKING HERE.

Book early. SPACE IS ALWAYS LIMITED.

Groups are kept to eight guests so you can visit authentic places, stay in charming boutique hotels and eat in the real restaurants where locals dine. 

LIVE LIKE A LOCAL IN INLAND PROVENCE

STARTING 2017  

(7 DAYS / 6 NIGHTS)

Take advantage of our low prices in 2017 & 2018!

2018      **PRICE $1,995 (Taxes included. Must book before February 15th.)

DATES:   June 10-16, (June 17-23  private group), (June 24-30: see Hill Country Outdoors version)

2019     **PRICE $2,500 (Taxes included.Must book before February 15th.)

DATES:  June 2-8, June 9-15, June 16-22, June 23-29

ENJOY THE LUXURY OF WALLET-FREE TRAVEL: Read more about the all-inclusive price.

**Traveling alone: add $500 for a private room (rates are based on double room occupancy).

(Minimum Age: 21 .)

When you chose to “Live-Like-a-Local,” you’ll sojourn in a charming Provencal manor house, take daily excursions to explore the best kept secrets of the surrounding area, shop in outdoor markets and eat like a resident of Provence!
— Lisa (Sojourner Tours Owner & Guide)

Provence is one of the most popular tourist destinations in France. Sun bathed days, warm breezes perfumed with wild thyme and rosemary, cobble stoned villages perched atop hills, mouthwatering dishes prepared with the local olive oil... it is little wonder people are drawn to Provence.

Did you ever wish you had a friend in France whom you could go visit? Now you do! The owners of Sojourner Tours, Lisa & Francis, will be the friends you wished you had (but haven't met yet) as they host you and your small group of fellow sojourners in a countryside  villa.  They'll invite you to experience "living like a local" in Provence. Each morning you'll enjoy a typical French breakfast with fresh bread and croissants from a local bakery.  Then, you'll go on a day-trip with them to explore their favorite villages and sights in the region. You'll shop in local markets. You'll go wine tasting. And, each evening you'll have time to relax at the villa while they prepare a light dinner featuring local produce and specialties for you. Some evenings you might like to take a dip in the pool, other nights you might unwind with a glass of wine, and there may even be an evening when you decide to pop in the kitchen to pick up some local recipes

On this sojourn you'll unpack your bags in an unexpected corner of the countryside where you can get away from the fast paced life and really enjoy the slow pace of the French Provencal lifestyle.  Each day you'll head out on excursions that go beyond the typical tourist experience: your hosts have selected a collection of their favorite spots in the area to share with you.  These places range from the famous city of Aix-en-Provence and villages with the official title of "Most Beautiful Village in France" to places that many French people don't even know exist because they are tightly guarded local secrets.  If you are looking to really get away from it all and immerse yourself in French culture for a week, this sojourn is for you.

(Be sure to look at the detailed itinerary below the highlight section)

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

You'll be based in a comfortable villa with a swimming pool and outdoor terrace. Sojourning in one house for the whole trip means you can unpack your bags and make yourself at home for a relaxing trip without having to repack or change accommodation. Some of the highlights of this sojourn include:

  • A focus on discovering Provence's charming remote villages which are inaccessible by public transportation;
  • Visits to traditional artisans and producers of local specialties including: wine, olive oil and lavender;
  • A visit to the city of Aix-en-Provence;
  • Shopping in several traditional Mediterranean outdoor markets;
  • Enjoying the French lifestyle in authentic restaurants, cafes and historic town centers;
  • Tours of historic monuments including Roman ruins and a castle;
  • Laid-back breakfasts and dinners served family-style at your villa.
  • A lavish meal in a Michelin star restaurant.

YOUR HOSTS

You will be hosted by Lisa Gustavson (owner, founder and CEO of Sojourner Tours) and/ or Francis Mathieu (Sojourner Tours co-owner)

Francis Mathieu (Sojourner Tours Co-Owner)

Francis Mathieu (Sojourner Tours Co-Owner)

Lisa Gustavson (Sojourner Tours Founder)

Lisa Gustavson (Sojourner Tours Founder)


YOUR BASE

Your base will be a countryside villa or manor house somewhere in the Provence backcountry near the Vaucluse and famous Luberon areas. The exact location will depend on the size of your group and the houses available at the time you make your reservation: PLEASE RESERVE EARLY. Wherever your villa is located, you can expect to have a pool and private bathroom.

Provence, the region where you'll be staying, lies on the Mediterranean sea and stretches from the Rhone River (famous for its wines like Chateauneuf-du-Pape) to the Italian border. Your sojourn focuses on the villages of the mountainous backcountry around the base of the Mt. Ventoux and Luberon Massif. The area is host to the quintessential elements of Provence: red-tiled rooftops, cobblestoned streets, wild herbs, olive trees, lavender... and the cicadas will serenade you during your stay.

 

MEALS

You'll be living like a local, enjoying typical French breakfasts and dinners served "buffet" style at your villa where you can eat together with the group in the dining room or on the terrace --or even find yourself a private spot for some "me" time.

Breakfasts typically consist of a cup of tea or a  bowl of either cafe-au-lait or hot chocolate accompanied by fresh bread and viennoiseries including croissants from a  local bakery. You will also have a selection of yogurt, cheeses, meats and fresh fruit as well as juice to compliment the typical fare.

 Lunches are exciting and full of variation! Lunch is the main meal of the day in France, so this will be your most substantial meal of the day and it will be fun and different each time... You'll have two days when you can explore and eat wherever you want. There will be one day when you shop in a local market with the group to buy local  specialties and produce for an outdoor picnic. One day you will go to a lavish restaurant beloved by the locals. And, the last day, you'll go to a fancy gastronomic restaurant which was awarded one Michelin star (one of the most sought-after culinary distinctions in the world).

Dinners are made from scratch by your hosts at your villa in a very traditional French spirit. Before dinner, Lisa and Francis will put out some nibblies and drinks so you will have the option of relaxing with an aperitif while your meal is prepared. French dinners are typically light meals, somewhat like American lunches. Lisa and Francis will prepare an array of high-quality local items including fresh vegetables, meats, a cheese platter, breads and sometimes soup, pasta or French Tabbouleh made with couscous. You'll be able to assemble a sumptuous meal to your liking. You are always welcome to pop in the kitchen where your hosts will teach you the secrets of making a French vinaigrette, and their other recipes.

 
A picnic of local products.

A picnic of local products.


The Provence Inland itinerary

Sunday:

Arrive at Your Villa

DETAILS:

House in Provence: Sojourner Tours

AFTERNOON: upon arrival, you can settle into your room in a Provencal Villa (housing depends on the size of your group). While other guests are still arriving, you can explore on your own, take a dip in the pool or relax in the villa with a cup of espresso or tea.

RECEPTION & DINNER: In the evening, you will get together with your hosts and the rest of the group to celebrate the beginning of the sojourn French-style with a typical apéritif at 6:00 pm. You will then enjoy a laid-back dinner prepared by your hosts.


Monday

 ROMAN RUINS WINE TASTING the CÔTES DU RHÔNe

 Very light physical challenge: 2-3 miles of urban walking

Recommended clothing: "dressy casual" with city walking shoes.

CÔTES DU RHÔNE & VAISON-LA-ROMAINE

Your first daytrip is truly an escape from the typical tourist trail and an immersion in the local history. Your destination, Vaison-la-Romaine, was once an affluent Roman town.  Locals come here to experience the region's rich history: you'll see Roman ruins and have time to cross over the steeply arched Roman Bridge to wander through the medieval part of town with its 13th century castle. 

You'll go winetasting at a traditional winery that produces the Cote-du-Rhone appellation (Perhaps you've heard of Chateauneuf-du-Pape). The Rhone is a river that flows through Provence. Wine has been produced along the river banks since pre-Roman times. Today, the Rhone wines are some of the most popular ones in the world. You'll recognize the names of some of the local grapes: Syrah, Grenache and Viognier.

French Vineyard

 

 

Details:

Vaison la Romaine: Sojourner Tours

MORNING: You will travel to Vaison-la-Romaine where you will start the day with a tour of the Roman ruins. You will then visit a traditional winery producing Cote du Rhone, which is one of the most famous wine producing regions. There you will sample the local wines, learn about the area’s sun-drenched grape varietals and the ancestral methods used to make them.

LUNCH: You will enjoy sophisticated French food in a fine restaurant, located in a nearby village, chosen for the skills of its chef.

AFTERNOON: Following your meal, you will return to Vaison-la-Romaine for some free time.

  1. OPTION Stroll through the medieval village.  Explore the winding cobblestoned streets at your own pace.  
  2. OPTION Visit the Archeology museum to see the roman mosaics and statues found here. Learn about daily-life in Roman times.

You will then return to the villa where you will relax, enjoy the pool, or have a glass of wine while your hosts prepare dinner.

DINNER: You will have a typical French-style summertime dinner with an assortment of local wines at the villa.


TUESDAY

EXPLORING "THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES" OF THE lUBERON

Light to moderate physical challenge: 2-5 miles of urban walking (and hiking)

Recommended clothing: “casual” with athletic shoes if hiking or "dressy casual" with good walking shoes.

MÉNERBES & ROUSSILLION

The Luberon mountain chain in Provence is home to several villages bearing the official title "Most Beautiful Village in France"and each has a very distinct character. Ménerbes is a humble village perched atop a hill with sweeping views over the lush area and a most quintessential French aesthetic of understated elegance: well-maintained stone homes with shutters and doors painted in sophisticated grey-toned colors and cottage-garden-type landscaping. Those who have read A Year in Provence will thrill at visiting because the author's home, which is featured in the book, was here. Roussillion is a village with an entirely different spunk. The environmental setting, featuring weathered ochre contrasted against deep green vegetation, has earned it the nickname "the Colorado of Provence." What is delightful is that the homes all celebrate this natural pigment. Just over the mountains is a Renaissance castle in the village of Lourmarin (where author Mayle later moved).

Ménerbes, France: Sojourner Tours
Lourmarin, FRance: Sojourner Tours

DETAILS:

Roussillion France: Sojourner Tours

MORNING: Your day will begin in Ménerbes, a lovely hilltop village where you can let yourself be seduced by the panoramic views over the Luberon, the vegetation, the charm of the village. You'll arrive early enough to stroll around, pop in a few places like the church, or perhaps a shop or art gallery.

LUNCH: (FREE CHOICE) You'll be free to find the restaurant of your choice. Options range from simple cafes to a restaurant housed in a  17th century manor featuring truffle mushrooms.

AFTERNOON: After lunch, you'll head to the village of Roussillon. The striking ochre colored earth here is used to color the buildings of the village.

  1. OPTION: Join your guide for  a 60-minute hike through the ochre escarpments to the old quarry.
  2. OPTION: Take the shorter 30 minute trail on your own so that you can divide your time between the hike and village.
  3. OPTION: Skip the hike and enjoy spending all your time exploring the village.

After everyone has had a chance to at least take a peek at the village, you'll head on to the village of Lourmarin, where you'll visit the Renaissance castle and its lovely main street.

DINNER: You will have a typical French-style summertime dinner with an assortment of local wines at the villa.


Wednesday

Off-The-beaten-Path IN The MOUntainous Drôme Provencale

 Very light physical challenge: 2-3 miles of urban walking

Recommended clothing: “business casual” with city walking shoes.

LA DRÔME

Locals generally say that the Drome is what Provence was before the influx of tourists even though it is not technically part of Provence. Here you have all the best of rural inland Provence: the lavender, the wine, the olives and the bonus of having it all to yourself... and the local French residents. The Drome is breathtaking, amidst the mountains you'll see the stone buildings of old Feudal villages clustered atop hills. Spending a day in  the Drome is truly  living-like-a-local.

Lavender in France: Sojourner Tours
The Drome, France: Sojourner Tours

Details:

The Drome, France: Sojourner Tours

MORNING: A scenic drive through the countryside will take you to the town of Sault, where few foreign tourists venture. You will start the day with a visit to a lavender farm to discover one of the trademarks of Provence. You will then head to the town's traditional outdoor market, which will be in full swing, to select local specialties, including wine and produce for today's picnic lunch. After visiting the market you will have free time to stroll through the lovely small town. 

LUNCH: You will travel to a nearby picturesque hamlet where you will have lunch.

AFTERNOON: After lunch, you will head to a hilltop village which bears the official title "Most Beautiful Village of France". You will have free time to explore its ancient winding cobblestoned streets and medieval fortifications at your own pace. Then you will go to another nearby village famous for its scenic eagle nest location and charm. After that, you'll return to the villa to relax, enjoy the pool, or have a glass of wine while your hosts prepare dinner. 

DINNER: You will have a typical French-style summertime dinner with an assortment of local wines at the villa.


THURSDAY

HiGH CULTURE in fashionable Aix-en-provence & WINETASTING

 Light to moderate physical challenge: 2-5 miles of urban walking

Recommended clothing: “dressy casual” with city walking shoes.

AIX-EN-PROVENCE

This sophisticated college town is considered the heart of elegance Provence-style: this is the place to shop or sip coffee on a terrace and people-watch. Outdoor markets, charming public squares, museums, a cathedral... Aix has plenty to discover and its compact historic center make this small city a fun and easy place to wander.  The countryside around Aix has been immortalized in the post-impressionist paintings of Paul Cezanne, who was born here and turned into one of the most significant painters of the 19th century.

 
Aix-en-Provence Cathedral
Vineyard, France: Sojourner Tours

Details:

Aix-en-Provence

MORNING: Thursday is the perfect day to visit the city because it is a Grand Market day with four of the city's markets in full swing in the morning. You will have free time to explore the flea market, the textile market, the food market and the flower market as well as the historic district at your own pace. This is a great opportunity to buy local crafts and souvenirs like honey and lavender products.

LUNCH: (FREE CHOICE) You'll be free to select your own restaurant for lunch. There is no end to the options in Aix.

AFTERNOON: After lunch, you'll have several choices...

  1. OPTION: Continue to enjoy the city on your own --visit the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral, stroll the pedestrian streets and majestic city squares, go to the Granet Art Museum;
  2. OPTION: Do a self-guided "Cezanne-Walk" (using a map provided by your guides) to see the spots associated with the great artist in the city center;
  3. OPTION: Head off with your guides to visit both Cezanne's family home and his workshop.

LATE AFTERNOON: Before heading back to the villa, you'll drive to a winery with your group where you'll learn about another local wine appellation and sample the production. You will then return to the villa to relax, enjoy the pool or have a glass of wine while your hosts prepare dinner.

DINNER: You will have a typical French-style summertime dinner with an assortment of local wines a the villa.


friDAY

DISCOVER MORE "most beautiful villages" In the luberon

 Very light physical challenge: 2-3 miles of urban walking

Recommended clothing: “dressy casual” with city walking shoes.

Les Baux de Provence & Gordes

Gordes is the "poster" village of Provence: a feudal town atop a hill crowned by a fortified castle. It is so charming that it has become a trendy spot for actors and artists to buy second homes. Part of the draw are the narrow cobblestoned "calades" or streets which intertwine and create a fun maze in which to wander. Not too far away, is another exceptional site: Les Baux. Sitting atop a rocky spur, what remains of Les Baux is a cluster of houses and the ruins of a castle, parts of which had been carved right into the rock.

 
Les Baux, France: Sojourner Tours
Provence, France: Sojourner Tours

details:

Gorde, France: Sojourner Tours

MORNING: Traveling through beautiful provencal landscapes, you will arrive in a famous hilltop village which bears the title of one of the "Most Beautiful Villages of France".  You will first have free time to explore its charming cobblestoned streets at your own pace. Then you will meet back up with the group to visit the ancient network of underground halls that is hidden under the village.

LUNCH: You will have a refined lunch in a luxurious gastronomic restaurant that boasts a Michelin star (one of the most sought-after distinctions in the culinary world).

AFTERNOON: Following lunch, you will head to an olive oil farm where you will learn about the traditional production methods of this Mediterranean product. Then you will go to another famous Provence hilltop village which also bears the title  of one of France's "Most Beautiful Villages".  

  1. OPTION: Visit the ruins of the medieval castle that towers above the village at your own pace;
  2. OPTION: Take a ten minute walk down hill to a former limestone quarry to see a light show. Images of famous artworks are projected onto the interior  walls of the quarry and set to music for a monumental effect.

You will then head back to the villa where you can relax, enjoy the pool, or have a  glass of wine while your hosts prepare dinner.

DINNER: The meal will be preceded by an aperitif featuring the most festive of French beverages: real Champagne! You will then have a typical French-style summertime dinner with an assortment of local wines at the villa.


SATURDAYFAREWELLS

Luberon, France: Sojourenr Tours

DETAILS:

End of the tour.

Breakfast at the villa.

Departure.


SOJOURNERS: AT HOME IN THE WORLD