We have set out below a sample itinerary which could work well as a four day tour in Provence. If you have an extra day or two, you could consider the small and picturesque Mediterranean town of Cassis (a great favorite with the painters and which has retained much of its late 19th century charm) and/or Nice and Menton in order to retrace the life and work of Renoir.
Take the TGV, arriving early afternoon in Aix-en-Provence, where you can enjoy a visit of the town’s lovely historic centre before dinner.
The second day could be devoted to Cézanne and the inspiration he found in and around Aix for the majority of his paintings.
The excursion retraces Cézanne’s life in Aix and the settings of the landscapes he painted, including the Atelier de Cézanne and the Jas de Bouffan (the property, which was owned by the Cézanne family from 1859 – 1899, was the source of inspiration of some 40 paintings and has been reopened to the public), the Domaine de la Marguerite, the Carrières de Bibémus, the road to Tholonet and the famous views of the Sainte-Victoire associated with Cézanne.
Lunch will be taken in the Relais at Le Tholonet which was a favorite with Cézanne – he would often lunch here alone or with friends.
Visit the World Heritage town of Arles. After strolling through the famous Alyscamps, the guided walk is devoted to Van Gogh, visiting the settings of ten of his most famous Arles-period canvases, from the gardens of the Maison de Santé to the so-called Pont Van Gogh.
At the end of the visit of Arles, a short drive takes you to the small town of St Remy de Provence, setting of some of Van Gogh’s finest works painted while he was a patient in the Hospice Saint Paul de Mausolée.
Wander along the Van Gogh Way which helps the visitor appreciate the settings of some twenty of his greatest works and the extraordinary interpretive gifts and sensibility of the artist.
Return to Aix by driving through one of the most spectacular parts of Provence, Les Baux de Provence, with its historic village and ruined medieval château.
Take a short drive to the outskirts of Marseille to what was once the small town of L’Estaque. Very closely associated with the new trends in European painting at the end of the 19th and early 20th century.
Tour along the Chemin des Peintres – the settings are still sufficiently picturesque to evoke the paintings.
Return to Aix for lunch in the most famous brasserie in Aix, Les Deux Garçons.
With décor classified “historic site”, (and many famous clients in the past including Churchill, Picasso and Piaf) it was especially favoured by Cézanne who would pass several hours there in the early evening with his friend Emile Zola. After lunch take the TGV back to Paris.