June 6th - 18th, 2020
Time to travel to beautiful southern France! The Provence region is alive with colors and medieval architecture. From the iconic white Camargue horse private photo shoots, to pink greater flamingos, to red-ocher houses, to fields of lavender row after row, this trip will be filled with images begging to be captured.
We’ll photograph some of the same scenes that Vincent van Gogh painted, explore the picturesque villages and countrysides of southern France, sample local wines and food at the farmers’ market, and explore cobblestone alleys lined with shops and restaurants in quaint hillside villages. Smell the lavender everywhere in Provence!
Tour Gothic cathedrals and wander around natural areas—the schedule allows for time to explore on your own. We will experience luxury while staying at some spectacular four and five star chateaus… OK, we even included two nights at a boutique castle 🙂 We’ll indulge in an exclusive cellar wine tasting and lunch in Châteauneuf-du-Pape with a Master Sommelier. This is a true photographic vacation. Non-photographing spouses are definitely welcome!
Meet Daniel and Tanya Cox
2020 Camargue and Provence France Photography Tour Travel Plans
Saturday, June 6
Sunday, June 7 (D)
Arrive at Marseille Provence airport or by train from Paris any time of day. We suggest a local taxi to transfer to the hotel; it is the most efficient and easy. Spend the day at leisure to recover from jet lag or explore Marseille on your own. Welcome dinner at a nearby restaurant this evening. Overnight Intercontinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu
Monday, June 8 (B, D)
This morning is at your leisure, time to explore the waterfront of Marseille. Early afternoon we’ll meet up to depart for the town of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer in the heart of the Camargue area, about a 1.5-hour trip.
Saintes Maries de la Mer was a Roman era fishing village, built on an island, where the Petit Rhône joins the sea. It’s now a bustling seaside resort full of shops and activities. Vincent van Gogh painted several paintings here, including Street in Saintes-Maries in 1888.
In the late afternoon we’ll have a photo shoot at the 2000-year-old Roman aqueduct of Pont du Gard. We’ll picnic here for dinner while snapping photos of sunset over the aqueducts, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight at Chateaux & Hotels Collection’s Hotel Mangio Fango
Tuesday, June 9 (B, D)
We’ll start the day with a sunrise photo shoot of the famous Camargue horses. These white horses evolved and adapted to the wet environment of the marshes and wetlands in the area and can run through water with the same gracefulness most horses exhibit on land. They are indigenous to the Camargue and generally considered one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world. Two models will ride horses in the sand dunes and along the Mediterranean Sea for our photographing pleasure.
After a couple hours we’ll head back to the hotel for free time. We’ll have several bouts of on-your-own-time during this trip in an effort to avoid the heat of the day. But if you’d like to get out and explore Saintes Maries de la Mer, there is plenty to see!
- Walk along the shore on the edge of town, or watch windsurfers in “The Canal,” AKA the “French Trench,” built especially for speed record-breaking sailing.
- Explore the Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer church. Its location and fortress-architecture help defend the town from pirates during the 9th-12th centuries.
- The Musée Baroncelli showcases the traditions of the Camargue. It has collections dedicated to the zoology in the Camargue, the archaeology in Saintes Maries de la Mer, and the regional folklore.
- The museum is located in the former town hall and court of justice and peace, built in 1876 by Veran, an architect from Arles, which replaces the first town hall built in 1655.
Since this is a seaside town, be sure to sample the wide variety of fish and shellfish dishes. “Terrines à la Provençale” is made with tiny clam-like shellfish. There’s a Spanish influence here, too, and good paellas are a specialty.
Early dinner at hotel before our photo session at the Pont de Gau Bird Park, known for its greater flamingos and great diversity of birds. Each night the flamingos fly in to feed, making it the perfect time to capture them with our cameras.
Overnight Hotel Mangio Fango
Wednesday, June 10 (B, D)
We’ll start the day with a thrilling photo shoot of sparring, young stallions just wanting to play. Have your cameras ready as the Camargue horses rear and clash! Another shoot following with the horses running through the water.
As with yesterday’s schedule, you’ll have mid-morning to relax, swim, or edit photos before gathering for lunch in the medieval town of Aigues-Mortes.
Aigues-Mortes sits on the flat marshes of the Petite Camargue and is considered the purest example of 13th-century military architecture. Today it looks much like it did in the Middle Ages. A crenelated wall with five towers and ten fortified doors surrounds the town of neatly rectilinear streets.
One last photo session with the white horses running through water before dining in Les Saintes Maries de la Mer. A wonderful dinner will be prepared by our hotel. The Camargue is known for its black bulls (taureaux), so there are good steaks for the carnivores among us. Overnight Hotel Mangio Fango
Thursday, June 11 (B, L, D)
We say goodbye to the Camargue region and head to the interior scenic part of Provence this morning.
The Provence region was the first Roman province beyond the Alps. They called it Provincia Romana, which evolved into the present name. While it has been part of France for more than 500 years, it still retains a distinct cultural and linguistic identity, particularly in the interior of the region.
First stop of the day is the Roman city of Arles! Roman treasures, sultry stone squares, and a festive atmosphere are all part of the backdrop to the amazing photos we will take. We’ll see the colorful houses that show up in some of van Gogh’s paintings. We will visit the Arenes D’Arles Amphitheatre dating back to 90 AD. This amphitheater was capable of seating over 20,000 spectators and was built to provide entertainment in the form of chariot races and bloody battles—very impressive! You will have some time to explore Arles on your own. We will meet for lunch at iconic Cafe van Gogh.
Next, the medieval hilltop village of Les Baux de Provence to shop, or sit and have a nice glass of wine and enjoy the spectacular views.
Les Baux de Provence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of the most beautiful villages in France. Especially photogenic, the town is filled with small squares, well-shaded terraces, narrow streets, and small shops. We’ll have views of Arles, the Camargue, and the low hills of the Alpilles Mountains from lookout points in the stone fortress.
We’ll then head north to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the hub of the Rhones wine making region. Tonight we will enjoy the Chateau Des Fines Roches, a castle built in the late 19th century, high on a hill and surrounded by vineyards. Enjoy the views, gourmet food and wine, or take a swim in the pool, bike ride through the vineyard… OK, we will be a little spoiled on this tour! Wine tasting nearby prior to dinner at the castle.
Friday, June 12 (B, L)
Today beautiful opportunities to photograph right outside your bedroom window! We will photograph around the castle’s vineyards and rolling hills before breakfast. Take a bike ride through the vineyards on your own.
A late morning winery visit followed by a visit to the ruined medieval castle that sits above the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Built in the 14th century for Pope John XXII, the ruins dominate the landscape to the south. Today we will have a special private lunch and cellar wine tasting with one of the top Master Sommeliers of the region. Wine can be shipped home if you desire. Mid-afternoon there will be time on your own to walk around the village. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is on the menu, and to truly indulge, we’ll spend one more evening at Chateau Des Fines Roches.
Saturday, June 13 (B, D)
Get up early to catch the light on the vineyards and have breakfast outside in the courtyard. Today we start our adventure through the heart of lavender country, which should be in full bloom during our trip. Photo shoots and stops along the way.
A trip to France would not be complete without a visit to a local farmers’ market; we will visit and photograph one of the largest farmers’ markets in the Luberon region. This market has been going for over 900 years in the heart of old Apt, France. It sprawls and swirls through several alleys and squares, full of vitality and color. Lunch on your own—taste the local cuisine including aged cheese, fresh berries, and French pastries. A special dinner is planned with incredible views of the Gordes valley. Tonight we overnight at the beautiful and historic La Bastide de Gordes, one of the “The Leading Hotels of the World,” set in the hillside village of Gordes.
Sunday, June 14 (B, L)
This morning we take in the sights and scents of the lavender fields surrounding Notre-Dame de Senanque Abbey. The Cistercian monks, who still occupy the abbey, welcome us to their home. The lavender fields backed by the 12th century abbey make for lovely photographs.
We will enjoy time exploring the village of Gordes after breakfast. Standing on the edge of the Vaucluse Plateau, Gordes is home to movie stars and artists. Its tall houses of white and gray stone rise up in a spiral around the rock where the village is set, topping out at a church and castle. Evening shoot in the lavender fields and surrounding area. Overnight at La Bastide de Gordes
Monday, June 15 (B, D)
Morning photo shoot near the village followed by breakfast and check out. We will meet for an afternoon and evening photo session in the lavender fields around the plateau of Sault. Situated on the border of a great wooded plateau, immense blue fields, alternating with golden wheat fields, stretch out as far as the eye can see.
In addition to dining in the fortified village of Sault, we can wander the village and taste local products including nougat, macaroons, and lavender honey. Tonight we will stay just outside the mountainous village of Moustiers Saint-Maire at Hotel le Colombier.
Tuesday, June 16 (B, D)
We’ll spend the morning in the lavender fields around the plateau of Valensole. Lavender fields and lavender distilleries are scattered about an area of 800 km², filling the frame of any view.
Lunch is in the village of Moustier Sainte Marie. The village is surrounded by the Gorges du Verdon – one of the deepest canyons in Europe, known for its natural beauty and green water– Sainte-Croix Lake, and the lavender fields of the Valensole plateau.
Moustiers, as it’s known, has a rich history in ceramic craftsmanship. Brought to France by a monk in the Middle Ages, the faince (earthenware) is renowned for its fine decoration.
The afternoon photo session takes us back into the lavender fields, this time around the Sault Plateau where we shot yesterday.
Amidst the neatly restored homes in the village of Valensole is where we will have our farewell dinner. The houses are decorated in lovely Provençal colors and often outlined in a soft grey trim. We’ll see many picturesque old shutters, little wrought-iron balconies, and ancient doorways that make this bustling town so photo-worthy. Overnight at Hotel le Colombier
Wednesday, June 17 (B, L)
We will have a free morning to explore and photograph the nearby village of Moustiers Saint Marie, maybe even a hike above this mountainous village. We will depart after lunch back to Marseille with a stop at the L’Occitane en Provence factory for last minute shopping and gifts.
Tonight we stay at the Hotel Pullman Marseille Airport. Time to say goodbye to our new friends, repack, and early to bed!
Thursday, June 18 (B)
Depart any time of day. Complimentary airport hotel shuttle provided for transfer to the airport.
Professional photographer Patrice Aguilar will be leading this tour, assisted by Natural Exposures hosts Tanya Cox and Jill Mangum. Patrice has helped to organize and assist our past France tours. He is from the Marseilles and Provence region and knows all the best places for photography. This year we have decided to use vans (for greater mobility) to work the lavender fields and for transfers between villages versus a large bus. It won’t be “as roomy” as a big bus but makes more sense in this area on smaller roads and pulling over to photograph.
We will be staying at some BEAUTIFUL hotels in France. This is a true photographic vacation and great for non-photographing spouses. We did not want to over schedule this trip and have included free time to explore on your own or relax. You will have many opportunities for early AM and late PM shoots for the best light. All is optional and flexible!
On the lavender… We know you want to come during prime time for lavender. The lavender region is a huge area with lots of rolling hills and lowlands. All is planted and harvested at different times, and the weather changes from year to year, so you’re never going to have the “ultimate” day or week. You will always see fields full, partly full, and those harvested or getting harvested. The best time to see the lavender is mid-June to mid-July (a 3-4 week period). For this trip, we’ll hit the lavender region June 13-17. With increasingly unpredictable weather—typically summers being more hot on average and also arriving earlier in many places—it’s hard to know exactly what we’ll see, but we’re going during the time it is typically vibrant in this area. July and August have the highest months with tourists in the region and also the hottest temperatures of the year—not an ideal time to go.
We had two trips back to back in 2017 with essentially the same itinerary, the first trip around the same time as this one. Both trips were very good for lavender, but one area was good on the first trip and another was good on the second. Most of the images in the slideshow above that show people in the lavender were taken June 19-21, 2017.
Some people say the best time to go is in July. We feel comfortable going in mid-June, but if you feel it’s too early, we don’t want to encourage you to join us if you’re concerned. It’s your vacation and should be something you get excited about, not stressed. We wish we could predict the weather for many of our trips – the salmon run for bears, fall colors changing, and the lavender blooms and harvesting, but all we can do is work with what we know. We have been to this area and had great lavender mid-June while at the same time enjoying the less crowded atmosphere. We want to give you the best trip possible and hope to meet everyone’s expectations.
SCROLL DOWN THE PAGE TO SEE IMAGES FROM EXPLORERS ON PAST NE FRANCE TOURS.
12 Guests Maximum
EXPLORER RATE: 7211 per person, based on double occupancy
NON-EXPLORER RATE: ADD 300
Single Supplement: Please inquire for rate, limited availability
Less than 10 guests booked: ADD 500 per person
Pricing in US Dollars
$2000 Per person due at time of booking
Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover, or check accepted
Deposits are non-refundable. If cancellations are necessary, we require this request in writing. We will do our best to resell your space. Only if we can resell your space, we will refund (minus deposit and discounts given to sell your space). No partial refunds are possible for unused services.
June 1, 2019: $2000 per person first installment
December 10, 2019: Final Payment
Check only for first and final installments. Please make checks payable to Natural Exposures and mail to our office:
810 N. Wallace, Suite E
Bozeman, MT 59715
- Private small group travel in vans with professional photographer Patrice Aguilar, assisted by NE hosts Tanya Cox and Jill Mangum
- Shuttle transfer from hotel to airport on departure day June 18th
- Entrance fees for various locations included on itinerary
- Meals where indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
- Beverages (house wine, beer, and non-alcoholic drinks) with included meals.
- 11 nights of accommodations as noted in itinerary
- Wine tasting fees
- Water and snacks on bus
- International airfare
- Laundry, Internet, and other personal miscellaneous expenses
- Any optional activities (including some wine tastings and culinary classes)
- Any activities not listed in itinerary
- Travel insurance
Flights to Book
Saturday, June 6, 2020
Sunday, June 7, 2020
Arrive at Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) or by train any time of day. Upon arrival, the best transportation to the hotel is by local taxi. Group welcome dinner tonight.
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Depart Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) any time of day. Complimentary shuttle provided by airport hotel.
Travel/emergency evacuation insurance is not required for this photo tour, but we always recommend purchasing it for any trip. We recommend one or more of the following, depending on your needs:
(use code natexp)
Allianz Global Assistance
(use travel agency ID F203564)
Terms & Conditions
Natural Exposures cannot control nor is responsible for abnormal weather, natural disasters, or any other disaster that might affect the trip. Travel insurance should be purchased to cover any missed flights or medical problems that may affect/delay your travel. National Parks have the right to change our itinerary.
By booking a trip with Natural Exposures, you agree to the following CANCELLATION AND LIABILITY POLICY
Accommodations for 2020 Camargue and Provence France Photography Tour
June 7 (1 night)
InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu • Marseille • 5-star
Hotel Dieu is perched atop Panier Hill in Marseille at the gateway to Provence. Next door is the world-famout Vieux-Port, the cultural and historic center of France’s second largest city.
Hotel Dieu has two restaurants, a magnificent terrace for meals, and a large Spa by Clairns, complete with indoor swimming pool.
White leather headboards, an embroidered Provencal throw, and the old-style bathtubs remind visitors that this is an old, venerable building that has been gently, but efficiently modernized. Before it was renovated into a great 5-star hotel, the building weathered centuries of history. The building served as a hospital from 1188-1993. Today the hotel’s facade and intricate wrought iron stairways are on the inventory of Listed Monuments.
June 8-10 (3 nights)
Mangio Fango • Les Saintes Maries de la mer • 4-star
Set among the wild landscapes of the Camargue, the gentle charms of Hotel Mangio Fango will woo you. The traditional white farmhouse is outlined against blue Provence skies. Surrounded by unspoiled nature and greenery, we won’t want to leave this 4-star hotel.
The refined rooms and suites with their natural colors and elegant furnishings provide a high level of comfort and serenity. Overlooking the garden, the pool, or the marsh, each room has its own private terrace or large balcony.
The Mangio Fango restaurant draws inspiration from seasonal Mediterranean produce and traditional Camargue region meat and fish dishes.
The hotel also has a Decléor spa, heated outdoor swimming pool, steam room, and sauna.
June 11 and 12 (2 nights)
Chateau Des Fines Roches • Chateauneuf-du-Pape • 4-star
This 11 guestroom castle is part of the “Chateaux & Hotels Collection” and located in the heart of the prestigious vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Built in the late 19th century, it was inhabited by the Marquis de Baroncelli and frequented by many Provencal poets. Both fantasy and medieval neo-Provencal style, this castle was built high on a hill with a panoramic terrace surrounding the vineyards offering timeless moments to rest and relax. Indoor and outdoor pool for your enjoyment along with rentals available for bike and electric bikes.
Chef Nicolas Jay, a disciple of Escoffier, and his team work for your culinary pleasure to showcase the products of the region and to create an inventive seasonal gourmet cuisine from local Provence Fine cuisine, accompanied with the gusto of a local wine (there are more than 50 vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape represented in their wine selection including older vintages). Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is in the middle of the famous vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône in Provence. Enjoy the France’s wine country!
June 13 and 14 (2 nights)
La Bastide de Gordes • Le Village Gordes • 5-star
Set atop a rocky outcrop at the center of the village, La Bastide de Gordes offers all the splendor of a former stately home and is now part of “The Leading Hotels of the World” Collection. Carved into the very rock face of the hill and built on 12th-century ramparts, the chateau is integrated into fortifications of the village. Combining charm, elegance, comfort, and luxury, the hotel features intimate, welcoming, and restful interiors.
The hotel’s restaurant serves cuisine that showcases Provencal and Mediterranean produce. Sisley Spa is a natural environment dedicated to serenity and the well-being of the body and mind. Multiple pools, free WiFi, fitness center, and electric bike rentals.
Handsomely appointed in a refined yet relaxed style, with appealingly rustic touches, the rooms provide unparalleled and memorable views over the fabled Luberon Valley and mountains.
June 15 and 16 (2 nights)
Hotel le Colombier • Le Village Moustiers-Saint-Marie • 3-star
Feel at home in the dreamlike setting of Provence! At the gateway to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and just 10 minutes walk to the center of the village, Hotel le Colombier offers true family ambiance at the heart of a lush, green wonderland. Enjoy a beautiful bucolic view over the countryside full of olive trees and lavender amid a comforting, calming environment.
You’ll be welcomed by an attentive team who will be delighted to help you discover the great features of the hotel, and who will be on hand to advise you of all the things to see and do here at the gates of the Gorges du Verdon.
June 17 (1 night)
Hotel Pullman Marseille Airport • Marseille • 4-star
Located three minutes from the airport and ten minutes from Aix-en-Provence TGV train station, the Pullman Marseille Provence Airport hotel invites you to come and relax in its spacious, air-conditioned rooms. The 4-star hotel has a restaurant-lounge bar featuring a fireplace. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel. For even greater comfort, you can use the 24-hour hotel-airport shuttle service.
Helpful Information for 2020 Camargue and Provence France Photography Tour
We will be traveling between villages in two small sprinter vans with nine seats each (six guests max per van). We used a bus in the past (roomier and bigger), but on the smaller village roads it was difficult to stop. The drives are not long most days, and we feel the vans make more sense in this region.
We have provided for a fair amount of free time to explore on your own. We’ll have snacks during some early AM shoots and then go back for a late breakfast, so some lunches are not included. Some days we will have early dinners or late dinners, depending on location. We will mix dinners with French “picnic-style, in the field” to multiple course gourmet dinners, wine and beer included during meals.
Please Note: The schedule may change if circumstances out of our control/weather permit.
Each day there will be moderate walking which might include elevated areas in the villages or through the lavender fields. Remember this is Europe! To enjoy these medieval villages you’ll likely be doing a lot of walking, sometimes on cobblestone and up and down on uneven surfaces. Please be prepared.
WEATHER and HOTELS
Temperatures this time of year could be in the mid-70’s up to the 90’s. All hotels will have air-conditioning and Wi-Fi; most will have pools too. This trip is not a standard photo tour; we have included some of the most beautiful accommodations to make this truly enjoyable! Not all accommodations will look like that of your fellow travelers. Since we’re staying in smaller boutique-style hotels, room sizes and views will vary.
PASSPORT and VISAS
Your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months at the time of entry and valid for an additional three months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area. Please note that “emergency passports” issued by U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas may not be accepted for entry into France. One empty page is required for the entry stamp. Visas are not required for stays of less than 90 days.
No vaccinations are required to enter France.
France’s currency is the Euro.
230-volt, Type C Europlug (CEE 7/16) – the plug used in most other European countries, or Schuko Type F (CEE 7/7). Plug adaptors will be sufficient for most laptops, cellphone chargers, and digital cameras. A voltage converter/transformer would be needed for appliances such as a hair dryer or electric shaver.
Testimonials from Natural Exposures' Explorers
"If you ever want to travel to another country and you want to go first class, travel with Natural Exposures. They are number one in showing their guests the best time ever in the classiest way. I would recommend Natural Exposures Tours to everyone. If you want to go in style, go with NE!"
Michelle Duggan, Massachusetts
"Tanya and Dan’s logistic skills provide a seamless photo tour where one can truly enjoy the experience. With unlimited photographic opportunities Dan’s instruction has taken my photography to a higher level."
Linda Henry, Oregon
"I just wanted to again thank you for a wonderful week of photography and relaxation away from the office. It was a really a good group."
Sue Wolfe, Texas
"What a trip
What a group
What a fabulous everything
To our next encounters with nature"
Maud and Leon Soriano, Florida