Provence Photo Tour | Lavender, Villages & White Horses of the Camargue

Provence Photo Tour | Lavender, Villages & White Horses of the Camargue 2018-10-27T23:55:35+00:00

Provence Photo Tour Details
Only Two Spaces Left!

• July 2 to July 10, 2019 (8 nights)
• $5,995, single supplement $745
• Group size: min 5, max 12 
• Tour starts & ends at Marseille airport

Lavender and sunflowers in full bloom, white horses charging through the surf, flamingos and charming French villages. Join us on our Provence Photo Tour.

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This region of France offers so many photographic opportunities and versatility in such a small area that we could not pass up offering it as a Photo Tour.

The timing for our Provence Photo Tour is scheduled to coincide with the lavender and sunflower bloom. In 2018 we extended the tour to 9 nights, adding two full days (4 sessions) to photograph the famous white horses of the Camargue. In 2019, we will team up again with local photographer Patrice Aguilar who has had years of experience working with the horses and their guardians/cowboys. It is so thrilling (and safe) to rapid-fire shoot when the horses come charging toward us and then pet them between runs when they peacefully rest and munch on marsh grasses. Click here for a more detailed blog post about our experience photographing the horses earlier this year.

In between the photo shoots with the horses, we have plenty of time to also visit the bird sanctuary to photograph storks, herons, ducks, beavers and flamingos and explore the interesting medieval town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

After our photo sessions with the white horses we spend our days following the “Route de la Lavande” as well as  exploring and photographing the many villages and sites along the way. The Luberon region alone has five villages ranked among “The Most Beautiful Villages in France.”

Join us for this nine-day Provence Photo Tour for an experience of a lifetime!

  • The end of June to mid-July is the best time to photograph the vast lavender fields of southern France.
  • The white horses of the Camargue are a natural addition to this popular tour. Wow, lavender, sunflowers, white horses, flamingos and quaint villages!
  • This tour is timed to coincide with the lavender bloom on the famous Valensole Plateau, the Sault Plateau and the Luberon Valley.
  • Sunflower fields are often in bloom at this time of year as well and we find lavender and sunflowers in bloom side-by-side!
  • We visit some of the most beautiful villages in southern France which may include Bonnieux, Lourmarin, Roussillon, Lacoste, Gordes, Saignon, Oppede le Vieux, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt, Viens, Forcalquier, Greoux-les-Bains and Moustiers-Ste-Marie.
  • This region is known for its exquisite cuisine and wines.
  • The outdoor weekly markets in the villages of Provence offer some great photo ops as well as fantastic shopping!
  • We will also take time to share images and learn post processing and in-the-field techniques.
  • In addition to great photography opportunities on this Provence Photo Tour we will have time for photo sharing and critiques. We will also be lecturing on photographic topics including:
    • Composition
    • Digital Workflow
    • Panoramic Photography
    • Depth of Field calculation
    • Focal Blending
    • Blue Hour Photography
    • Filters, Neutral Density and Neutral Density Grads
    • Photoshop and Lightroom Tips and Tricks
    • Nik software
This is a sample itinerary which is subject to change depending on weather and other circumstances beyond our control. Changes in the itinerary are always made to provide the best possible experience for our clients. 

July 2, 2019

Our Provence Photo Tour participants will  meet at the Marseille Airport Best Western Hotel at 10:00 am. There are a handful of other hotels nearby if you don’t want to stay at the Best Western the night before. We will make our way to Roussillon in the Luberon which is our home base for the next two nights. The drive will take about 1.5 hours and after checking into our hotel we have a leisurely lunch and explore the village of Roussillon. Dinner and evening blue hour session in Roussillon.

July 3

Today we visit one of the highlights of this region of Provence, the Abbey of Senanque, a twelfth-century Cistercian abbey which is now inhabited by a group of monks who grow lavender and keep bees and sell their own and other local products in a lovely gift shop. The lavender field in full bloom leading up to this beautiful building is one of the most photographed scenes in all of Provence. We will first visit the interior of the abbey, arriving early at 8:30 am and will have time to photograph before the large tour groups arrive. We will delay our photography session of  the famous exterior for later in the day (the light is better in the afternoon) and head northwest to enjoy another wonderful Provencal lunch and photo session in the charming village of Venasque. This medieval village features steep lanes, creamy stone houses and a magnificent baptistery from the 11th century (it looks very old, indeed).

Mid-afternoon will find us back at the Senanque Abbey to capture some amazing images of this famous scene. For an auditory treat, we can duck into the old church for a moment and listen to the beautiful chanting of the monks. Back to Roussillon. Its amazing ochre colored architecture never fails to reward us with memorable photographs.

July 4

10 am departure heading east for the one-hour drive to Manosque, our home base for the next three nights allowing us easy access to the lavender fields of the Valensole Plateau. Lunch in the delightful car-free center of Manosque with great photo ops of lovely squares and colorful building facades. We will grab some take-out food for dinner and make our way up to the famous Valensole Plateau for our first session in the amazing lavender fields at sunset.

July 5 & 6

These two days we will concentrate on afternoon and early evening photo sessions on the Valensole Plateau. No reason to be there midday as the light is usually not great and the heat can be stifling. Leisure mornings at the hotel with time for photo sharing and processing lessons. We will have lunch in Manosque each day and this will be the main meal as we will grab sandwiches and snacks again for the afternoon/evening photo sessions in the lavender fields.

July 7

10am departure to the southwest to the seaside village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, our home base for the next three nights. After checking in, we will dial in our camera settings for the fast moving horses. We will practice photographing moving vehicles outside the hotel. We encourage you to study your particular model of camera before the tour begins to become familiar with the focus settings to use for fast moving objects. If in doubt, Google it: “Best settings for photographing action for the Nikon d850,” for example. Practice! You don’t want to have to figure this out while standing in chest waders in a foot of water with 8 magnificent horses running towards you.

July 8 & 9

We will have four action-packed sessions with the white horses running through the surf and marshes. Two early morning and two sunset sessions. Our local photo guide, Patrice Aguilar, will be organizing the photo sessions with the horse guardians/cowboys, guide us to the most advantageous and safe spots to shoot from and offer photographic support. Possible excursions during the afternoons to Aigues-Mortes and Pont de Gau.

July 10

Our Provence Photo Tour ends after breakfast (sigh!) and you will be transported back to the Marseille airport, departing at 10am.

Dates: July 2 to July 10,  2019 (8 nights)

Cost: $5,995 | single supplement $745

A $500 deposit will secure your spot. Click here to make your deposit »

What is included in this Provence, France Photo Tour?

  • 8 nights lodging
  • 4 sessions with the white horses of the Camargue
  • rubber waders for the Camargue photo sessions
  • All breakfasts
  • Daily van transportation to photo locations
  • Round trip shuttle between Marseille airport and our hotels at the beginning and end of the tour.
  • All entrance fees and tolls.
  • Jim’s & Magrit’s expertise in guiding and photographic instruction

Provence, France Photo Tour Level of physical difficulty: 2 out of 5

Much of the photography out in the countryside will find us close to our van. The villages will be somewhat more challenging as sometimes we have to park outside and walk up to the villages.

During the horse photo sessions we will sometimes have to walk in our waders for 20 minutes to get to the location. The path can be muddy and uneven.

For Terms & Conditions and insurance recommendations, please click here »

Provence, France Photo Tour Personal Items, Weather Conditions & Camera Equipment Special Notes. *

* Camargue Horses Photo Sessions. 

The horses are moving very fast. Therefore we recommend to bring a camera body that shoots at least 5 frames per second (fps) if possible. Magrit and I both had 7 fps in 2017 which seemed sufficient.  I used the 100-400 mm on my full-frame Canon and Magrit used the 70-200 mm on her crop-sensor Canon. We were both pleased with the results. I also had a second body with a 24-70 mm ready to use when the horses got closer. Most of my keepers were from the longer lens.

You will want to use the focus-tracking AF system in your camera. For Canons this is AI Servo and for Nikon it is Continuous-servo AF (AF-C). We suggest that you find the correct settings before the tour and practice photographing something moving towards you.

For photographing the running horses you will want to have at least a 1/500th shutter speed. To acheive this you may have to bump up your ISO. I used 640 ISO a lot and this is about the minimum you should use. Some photographers like to set the camera to shutter priority to lock in a fast shutter speed. Using Auto-ISO can help here as well. I shot primarily in manual mode and was pleased with my results. Patrice likes to shoot in Aperture Priority at f8 as he likes to make sure that he achieves enough depth of field. At our photo shoot in 2017 I was using a tripod down low, kneeling in the water in my waders. I just felt more stable with the 100-400 on a tripod.  All other 8 shooters, even those using the same lens, were hand holding. If you are not comfortable hand holding a long lens consider using a tripod or monopod. In 2018 on the other hand, I was hand holding most of the time and got great results.

You may also want to try some panning of the running horses where you use a slower shutter speed, 1/15, 1/30 or 1/60. The desired outcome here is relatively sharp horses and a blurry background.

Temperature range for this time of year: 70º to 85º  F.

Average monthly rainfall for this time of year: 1″. We have experienced some torrential afternoon showers and thunderstorms.

Try to pack light, as we will not have room in the van for more than one piece of luggage plus camera bags for each of us. Most airlines are now charging for more than one piece of checked baggage. I love the Osprey Ozone series of lightweight wheeled luggage. Magrit used the Ozone 28 for 2.5 months on the road and found it perfect. You will appreciate the lighter load when you have to haul your luggage up steep streets or stairs.

Two pairs of shoes: One sturdy pair for in the field that you can get wet and muddy. One pair for evenings.

Small umbrella for rain and shade. I use an umbrella often to block the sun from hitting the front element of my lens. Black is best.

Sweater or light jacket for possible chill on early morning shoots. A light layer underneath a rain jacket can be surprisingly warm.

Hat for sun and rain protection.

Long pants and long socks for the lavender fields. You will want your long socks with normal, sturdy shoes here(no sandals). A very light weight pair of low gaiters can come in handy as well…perhaps like this, https://www.rei.com/product/123031/kahtoola-connect-gaiters-low. Have not used this product before but the idea is something light to keep rocks and plant material out of your shoes. Make sure the gaiters have a strap that goes under the sole of your shoes.

Sun screen and insect repellent.

Bathing suit for the pools in Roussillon, Manosque and Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

For equipment recommendations, please click here »