ABOUT THE FOUNDER
Jean Chiotti, a Provence native, founded Provence Antique in 2022 after a long career in international business that took him to 120 countries. Jean is fluent in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and English and dabbles in German and Japanese.
Provence Antique organizes and leads custom-made tours for small groups in the interior of Provence, away from the tourist magnets. Our tours incorporate hikes, bike rides and stays in medieval villages rich in history, traditions & architecture. We finish each day around a good table to enjoy local culinary specialties.
We arrange meetings and mini-tours with local experts in the local fauna and flora, architectural restorations of centuries-old buildings, history of the fratricidal religious wars, the resistance of WWII and visits to local wineries and cheese-makers.
We hike on nature trails away from development in an area unperturbed for centuries; we ride bikes on small country roads with little traffic; for lunch we picnic or stop at one of the many excellent family-owned restaurants before visiting a 12th-century Abbaye or another architectural marvel.
In one spot in Provence, one can see a 2d century chapel, standing next to the well-conserved ruins of a Greek temple built in B.C. while in the near background stands a 21st century bridge built only to accommodate the TGV which passes by at more than 240 mph. Where else can you contemplate 3 building spanning 2500 years of history?
ABOUT OUR TOURS
The one special thing about our tours is that they are designed with you in mind; before booking the tour we will meet and discuss your likes, dislikes and agree on the type of activity you want to enjoy, the intensity and the duration of it. Do you want to hike or bike every day or every other day?
Because we cater only to very small groups of 2 to 4 people (6 if all are from the same party) we can be very flexible, we encourage groups of folks who know each other and enjoy similar activities. While we include hiking and biking, our tours are not marathons. Hikes and ride will be done at your own pace – electric bikes are available to make it a lot easier to pedal and enjoy the trip.
The location, the hub, is always a medieval village with a rich history ready to be discovered on foot. On a 10 to 12-day tour we will stay in 3 different villages for 3 to 4 nights each and will use this village as a hub from which we will venture each day in a different direction to discover the regions’ trails and sights.
We stay in very comfortable lodgings – we have the option to stay in local farms accredited by the French Tourism Ministry – those rural B&Bs are great places to immerse yourself with the local folks and discover not only a new lifestyle and culture but home-made French foods.
We are flexible and can adapt to changing circumstances quickly. On a recent tour the couple traveling asked if we could add a side trip to Italy and Switzerland. We did and took them to Piemonte, visited the Barolo area, before going into Zermatt and finishing the tour in Gruyeres.
Before you book a tour we will meet face-to-face or over a web conference to get to know each other, to answer all your questions and to ensure you are comfortable with me being your lead guide and travel companion for ten to 12 days. I want this to be a very positive and pleasant experience for all my customers and I think that if we are going to spend 10 to 12 days together we must be pretty confident we’ll be getting along.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When is the best time to go to Provence?The best months to visit Provence are April, May, June & September and October. July 15 to August 15 is the busiest tourist season and is best avoided. Provence is a very arid territory and with the rising temperatures of the last few years it had its increasing share of forest fires. The local government can order to close all trails at any time between June and September, depending on the fire danger. We can mitigate this inconvenient circumstance by substituting hiking with bicycle riding (e-bike or muscular bike); we can also move the tour itinerary deeper into the higher altitudes of Provence and closer to the Alps where the fire danger, normally, is much lower and where we can find plenty of hiking above the tree line.
How much does it cost for a party of 2?The cost depends on the length of your trip and the type of accommodation you prefer as well as the time of year you plan to travel – as you get close to the summer months, hotel prices tend to be higher. Unlike other outfits, we do not charge a higher price per room whether you are single or double occupancy. The last trip we did for a couple came to under $1000 for two persons per day all-inclusive. A BackRoads trip will generally cost more than $1000 per person per day. Airfare is not included in the custom-quote you will receive once we have all the elements – number of people, time of year, duration of trip and lodging preferences (high-end luxury or very comfortable lodging, including farm B&Bs).
What do I need to bring?You should bring anything you want to bring – keeping in mind that biking and hiking will probably be more comfortable when done in hiking or biking shorts and shoes. If you want to paraglide solo we recommend you bring your own equipment (wing+helmet+instruments).
What activities can we expect to participate in?Hiking trails (from relatively easy to challenging) is popular in France; the trails are well-marked and maintained. You will seldom travel on flat terrain only, expect to go up and down and repeat. Biking is always best done in a comfortable pair of biking shorts and with a biking shoe with a hard sole – our rental bikes do no come with cleats, cages can be installed if you so desire. Other activities such as paragliding either solo or with a tandem pilot are popular – France is the place where the sport was invented and has multiple sites close to the areas we will tour. Petanque is another local activity you might enjoy (known as bocce in the US). Beside those more physical activities we plan visits to small wineries, cheesemakers, lavender processors, farms for those keen on seeing a real Provencal farm at work (Provence is a big producer of goat cheese) and other small artisans working leather, knives-makers etc.… For folks interested in history, archeology and architecture there is an abundance of monuments dating back 2500 years ago or more; there is a well-preserved Roman town, several large Roman structures including the Pont du Gard, a masterpiece of engineering built to carry water by gravity alone. There are Roman arenas in Arles and in Nimes, there is the old Roman Governor’s building, called the square house, which inspired Thomas Jefferson to design the White House.
What is a typical day? Is there any structure in the itinerary?This is up to you; you are in charge and this is your trip; I am with you only to make sure you have the best possible time doing the things you want to do; we will agree on an itinerary before you book your trip; there will be plenty of flexibility built-in to facilitate changes in your plans. The beauty of having a small group of 2 or 4 folks who have pretty much the same interests is that changes can be made and decided very quickly.
Do we need insurance?Yes, I encourage all to purchase insurance – secondary insurance through a company like WORLD NOMADS. Check their website, they have two types of insurance with different coverage levels. I believe the Explorer level offers the greatest coverage. All clients will have to sign a disclaimer stating that they have purchased their own emergency insurance, on top of their existing health-care insurance. Double check with your provider to make sure your current health insurance covers you overseas.
What kind of lodging do we stay in?We will stay in very comfortable, renovated hotels or in some B&B in agricultural settings; those B&Bs are sanctioned and certified by the French Ministry of Tourism and must all meet strict health and safety standards. Check the Le Nesk hotel and the Ferme du Viguier in our list of lodgings.
PaymentPayment of the trip will be done via Zelle. As we book all lodgings as soon as the client confirms the trip we require 100% payment once you decide to book your trip with us. We are a small company, our suppliers are also small businesses and, in most cases, do not grant any refund.
RefundOur refund policy is very simple – no refund. We encourage you to purchase travel insurance.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
Anyone looking for a unique tour personally geared to your preferences, I highly recommend Provence Antique. Jean Chiotti will work with you and arrange a tour you will not forget.
Experience the authentic beauty of Provence with us
GET IN TOUCH
If you are interested and want to inquire regarding bookings and date availability, please fill out the form with your contact information, and we will get back to you at our earliest convenience.
We are dedicated to providing you with the best possible service and are always available to answer any questions you may have.