Home » Special tours » Walking in artists’ footsteps : Cezanne, van Gogh, Pagnol & Giono

In artists’ footsteps : Cézanne, van Gogh, Pagnol & Giono



Walking in Cézanne’s footsteps near Aix


Nature landmark of the countryside around Aix en Provence, with its white limestone cliffs, 10 kilometers in length, and a drop over 1,500 feet (470 meters) on its south-facing side, Mont Sainte Victoire has not ceased to inspire artists, before and after Paul Cézanne. Probably this one is the painter who has the most intensely immortalized the rocky mount, so emblematic of Provence. Trying to capture the ever changing contours, he painted more than 80 pictures of the mountain. Along this trail, with your local guide, you too will have the opportunity to admire the different views of Mont Sainte Victoire, like the famous painter used to. 


Walking time : 3 hours
Rating : leisurely (stony ground)




Walking in van Gogh’s footsteps near St. Remy


During his five years in France, Vincent van Gogh spent one year in St. Remy de Provence, that lies only 12.5 miles from Avignon. It is in the old town that this beautiful hike begins and gets its name from the fact that it takes you to many of the places where the Dutch painter set up his easel ; he painted here more than 70 works, transfixed by the luminous nature sceneries. Your local guide takes you to the outdoors through plains where vineyards and olive groves carpet the landscape, before walking amidst a vegetation and surrounded by an avifauna both typical of the Mediterranean nature of the South of France. As you climb up to the Alpilles crest, in the middle of a pine grove, you can soon enjoy outstanding 360° views. This hike could also have been called the Rocher des Deux Trous (Rock with two holes), due to a rock formation at the base of which two big circular holes, invisible for long, suddenly appear, as you are getting closer. Before the end of the walk, you pass near the site of Glanum, Greco-Roman remains of a settlement that developed 2,200 years ago.

Walking time
: 3 hours
Rating : moderate (steep and rocky sections)

                                  Van Gogh’s Provence
(Photographs of sceneries that could have inspired the Dutch painter)




 In the footsteps of Marcel Pagnol
through the craggy hills above Marseille


Marcel Pagnol, who was one of the very first filmakers in the history of talkies, was also the first one who used to shoot pictures on location. Between 1933 and 1954, in a dozen of his films, he shot most of the scenes in the rugged hills outside Marseille, where he used to spend his childhood holidays with his family. This hike through the garrigue will take you to the location of three different movies’ sets : the abandoned village of Aubignane, Angèle’s Farmhouse and Manon’s Cave. You will also explore the landscape that some people describe as the ‘backdrop’ to his childhood memoirs ‘My Father’s Glory’ and ‘My Mother’s Castle’. In these books, nature is not a ‘backdrop’ : it is the main character ; and the local guide will try, by telling you of the young Marcel Pagnol‘s stories through hills with his friend Lili, to convey the sensuality of the writer when he describes nature. The views of the towering crags : Barres de St-Esprit, Tête Rouge, Taoumé or Garlaban and the smelling of rosemary and thyme will help.

Walking time : 4.5 hours
Rating : moderate (steep and rocky sections)





In the footsteps of Jean Giono in Montagne de Lure


This hike takes place in a part of Provence out of the tourist way. The south-facing slope of Montagne de Lure that nourished Giono‘s dreams is partly made of these highlands “where deserts are really desert lands”, as he wrote ; a limitless stretch of barren land, a region of shepherds, dry stone walls and wind ; a land of uncountable starry nights, where winters are harsh and soils stubborn. In addition to the tales about Giono‘s works, two other moments will probably remain engraved in your memories : the panorama from the ridge and the sight of the Jas des Terres du Roux, this 150-year old dry-stone sheepfold, built of half a million stones without any binder. Giono‘ s world: truly a world apart.


Walking time : 4.5 hours
Rating : moderate