In Van Gogh's Footsteps

In Van Gogh's Footsteps

Trip Highlights

  • Walk Through Painted Provencal Landscapes
  • Interesting Hiking in the Alpilles
  • Stay in Beautiful Avignon and Arles
  • The vineyards and olive groves
  • Retracing the life and brush strokes of Van Gogh
  • The cafes and restaurants of Saint Remy de Provence
  • The perched medieval village of Les Baux de Provence

Trip Summary

In 1888 Van Gogh left Paris for Arles in Provence where, after a 16-hour train journey, he started the most ambitious and productive period of his life. He worked under luminescent skies and the bleaching Provencal Sun painting the fields, drawbridges, cypress trees, cafes, local folk and ancient Abbey Ruins. Here he exclaimed ‘My God! If only I had known of this country when I was 25, instead of coming here at 35!’ Living at Arles, his technique modified as he began to use the swirling brush strokes and intense colours that you see in works like ‘Bedroom at Arles’ (1888), and ‘Starry Night’ (1889). He seemed to imbue visible phenomena with vitality. In his enthusiasm he encouraged the painter Paul Gauguin to join him, but within weeks they began to have violent disagreements, culminating in a quarrel in which van Gogh threatened Gauguin with a razor. It was that night, in deep remorse, Van Gogh famously cut off part of his own ear. This walk traces his footsteps through some of the places that he painted and would have known well. More specifically you will be strolling in Les Alpilles, a small massif standing out as its white peaks rise apparently sheer from the plain of the Rhône valley, its slopes covered in vineyards along with olive and almond trees. Along paths dotted with cypress trees and lone chapels. Here you will discover the many images of the Alpilles' landscapes he painted from St-Rémy to the Baux-de-Provence and onto Arles. We are confident that you will have a better time of it than Van Gogh did; for a time he was in a hospital at Arles, he then spent a year in the nearby asylum of Saint-Rémy, working between repeated spells of madness. Just after completing his ominous Crows in the Wheat fields (1890), he shot himself on July 27, 1890, and died two days later.


Fitness is a very subjective matter, Sherpa walking grades presume a certain standard common to similar tours and an individual’s perception of their own fitness in relation to a grading will vary. The walking on this tour is mainly: Easy - some of the days are short, and most are on gravel forest and mountain roads. Note however that some trails are quite rough and stony. The third day we would class as ‘moderate’ as you follow the GR6 for a while along the roller coaster Alpilles ridge, although you can avoid the hardest part of this section if you really want to! You don’t have to be super fit to do this tour, but you should be able to walk for a few hours each day, with some steep ascents and descents. Carry plenty of drinking water and adequate protection against the sun, including a sun hat. Day stages: 3.5 – 6 hours of easy- moderate walking.


Make your own way to Avignon. Hopefully you will have time to explore this medieval bastion of religion and power politics. Try to visit the Palais des Papes one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Once a fortress and palace, the papal residence was the seat of Western Christianity during the 14th century. There is also the famous 'pont' in Avignon, sung about by generations of French children. Its narrow design was in order so that no more than one or two riders abreast could cross the River Rhone at a time and could be controlled. The city is also filled with interesting cobbled streets churches, gardens and of course plenty of restaurants. Accommodation: Our normal hotel is an attractive two star residence very close to the train and bus stations and in a quiet street close to the town's ramparts . It offers rooms designed with different cultural universes in mind: Provencal, Moroccan, African, Indian.

Meals:  Nil

Avignon : covered market very morning, except Mondays Transfer with your luggage from Avignon towards the Alpilles to Saint Remy. On your warm-up walk, discover Saint Rémy de Provence, the adopted home of the Marquis de Sade and Van Gogh. You can visit the Greco-Roman site of Glanum (closed Mondays). Accommodation: Set only a stone’s throw from the old city gates of Saint Rémy de Provence our 3 star hotel where we stay for two nights is hidden in a quiet courtyard, and whose old buildings surround a swimming pool. A simple and very comfortable hotel within a short walk of Saint Rémy’s monuments and quiet landscapes immortalized by Van Gogh.

Meals:  B

St Remy de Provence:market on Wednesdays & Saturdays Walk from St. Remy into the Alpilles, with great views of the Rhone Valley all the way to the Luberon. This is the hardest walk of the tour with some steep, stoney sections but the views are terrific! Walk up to a mountain cliff wall with weathered holes for a different view of Provence. The day can be made easier and a couple of hours saved, by missing out the circular ridge section of the walk. Take the time to visit the Saint-Paul de Mausole monastery where Van Gogh created 150 paintings in a year. Ascent 550m/Descent 550m

Meals:  B

St Remy de Provence: market on Wednesdays & Saturdays. Back to the ridge of the mountain, you follow a track through the brush among thyme and citrus flowers with open views of the mountains to the north and the flat lands to the south.You then descend a winding track through a forestry path and reach the village of Maussane through the olive groves. Ascemt 270m/Descent 290m Accommodation: For two nights we use a family run hotel with great character in the heart of Maussane (with swimming pool).

Meals:  B

Maussane: market on Thursdays From Maussane, you stroll through the golf course and then via a hidden path, you climb up to the Medieval village of Les Baux de Provence. Exiting the village from its medieval gate you descend back into the plains, and via canals and olive groves you return to Maussane. Ascent 250m/Descent 250m

Meals:  B

Morning transfer to Les Baux de Provence to the start of your walk. After climbing to the rounded summit above the village, it’s an undulating stroll along the ridge. You walk along the entire western edge of the mountain, and until its very end, as it descends into the plains, to the Romanesque St. Gabriel chapel.Transfer to Arles. Ascent 100m/Descent 350m. Accommodation: In Arles stay at a charming 3 star family run hotel. A beautiful restored old house with an inner courtyard and a swimming pool.

Meals:  B

Arles: market on Wednesdays & Saturdays Depart Arles after breakfast.

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 6 breakfasts
  • 6 nights accommodation in 2 & 3 star hotels with ensuite facilities
  • Taxi transfers on day 2 from Avignon to St Remy and on day 6, Maussane to Les Baux & St Gabriel's Chapel to Arles
  • Luggage transfer
  • Information pack including route notes, maps & GPX files
  • Emergency hotline

What's Not Included

  • All lunches & dinners & beverages
  • Entrance fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Travel to the start and from the end point of the trip
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Unscheduled transfers required during the trip
  • Upgrades to charming hotels

Upcoming Travel Dates


Well organised and enjoyable trip, lovely flowers. High points circular long walk on Summit of Les Alpilles. Staying in Les Baux and walk back from Maussane. Visit to Saint Paul de Mausole Monastery

J Blackwell, Germany, 30 Apr 2017

We had a great time on this trip. The accommodation was very comfortable, hosts were very helpful and welcoming and the tour notes were very detailed and easy to follow.

D. Zammit, Glass House Mountains, QLD, 18 Apr 2019

In Provence, the walks were most enjoyable and manageable. LOVED Baux de Provence and La Reina Jeanne. Also Carrieres de Lumieres was sensational. The supplied material was excellent: informative, detailed, clearly presented, good maps and in a bound copy. The notes were dependable and distances clearly stated. Restaurant suggestions were a real help, leading us to some fantastic food..particularly at Reina Jeanne and in Avignon at le jardin de Carmes. Brilliant. Many thanks.

G. White, Mt Eliza, VIC, 25 Jun 2019

Four girlfriends took this trip in May, 2019 and loved it! The service and materials were excellent. The hotels were mixed, but mostly great.

S. Taylor, CA, USA, 05 Aug 2019

We enjoyed our walk very much. The accommodation was perfect, food fantastic. Staying overnight meant we were able to wander around without the pressure of time. Avignon and St Remy were terrific, as were Les Baux and Arles. It was wonderful seeing all the places Van Gogh had painted.

R. Allsop, NSW, Australia, 20 Jun 2014


Duration:7 Days
Starting Point:Avignon
Finishing Point:Arles
Activities:Self-Guided Walking
Grade:introductory to moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:JPV
Prices From:GBP£960 Per Person
2021 Single Supplement:GBP£340  Click for more information
2021 Single Supplement - Upgraded Accommodation HS:GBP£370  Click for more information
2021 Solo Traveller:GBP£470  Click for more information
2021 Solo Traveller - Upgraded Accommodation HS:GBP£560  Click for more information
Please do not book any flights or extra arrangements until such time that your booking is confirmed by Sherpa Expeditions by phone or email.