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12 days travelling in South of France - HELP !!!!

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Sep 30th, 2013, 03:31 AM
  #1
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12 days travelling in South of France - HELP !!!!

The south of France is doing my head in. Please HELP us by suggesting itineraries and places of interest for our family. I have posted before but need more help. After leaving Paris we are heading to South of France. We have 12 nights before flying out from Nice to Venice. We thought we'd leave Paris by train to Montpellier. We are a family of 5 ( kids are 14,11,9 ) Our thoughts we to hire a car from Montpellier, and stay a few nights in a couple of towns and make our way through Provence etc and over to Nice where we will drop car off and stay here for last few nights.
All suggestions are most appreciated. thank you so much
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Sep 30th, 2013, 03:53 AM
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Twelve days is a good amount of time for that area and I would have two, maybe three bases in that time - but I don't think Motpellier would be one of them. I've been to the region three times and still haven't made it to Montpellier because there is so much else that sounded 'better.

This past July I had 10 nights in the area and had a wonderful time. Here is my trip report - http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...swiss-alps.cfm

We did 5 nights in St Remy with day trips to Avignon, Arles and Antigues Mortes, Uzes and the Pont du Gard, the Luberon Villages and lavender fields, and Les Baux. Then I had two nights in Aix, then three in Vence, just outside of Nice. You have two extra nights so I would add them to the Nice area. I had just been there a few years ago so that's why I didn't feel the need for more time there.
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Sep 30th, 2013, 04:50 AM
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Great Isabel, I am going to check our your trip report now. Great suggestions and thanks for being honest. We don't necessarily have to go to Montpellier and if like you said there are better towns = Happy !!. Would you suggest train from Paris to ? and obviously you had a car too. Again, thank you and off to read your report.
Looking forward to receiving views of other France experts
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Sep 30th, 2013, 05:29 AM
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Before you write off Montpelier, you may want to have a look at the photos posted in this current trip report:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...d-toulouse.cfm
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Sep 30th, 2013, 05:34 AM
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I agree with Isabel. Much more charming places to base yourself in for seeing even more charming places. Aix and Montpelier are off my "go back to" list, as a frame of reference--for me.
Isabel's itinerary looks great.
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Sep 30th, 2013, 02:09 PM
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Started reading Isabels trip report. It's really good [ thanks Isabel & such great photos and we are heading over to Italy from Nice so great to read what you did]
Yes Gretchen I agree lots of charming places to see and I was hoping some one could guide me as we really have no idea. We thought we could drive to Millau [ from Montpellier ]the next day and see the viaduct, also visit Pont du guard, Uzes. Arles, Nimes, Avignon, Aix and make our way over to Nice, Not sure where to stay or base ourselves. Heard Montpellier is a lovely city too. We will have a car too. Arhh so many places.
Look forward to receiving more suggestions.
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Sep 30th, 2013, 02:18 PM
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I would base in St. Remy. You can do Uzes, Pont du Gard, etc. one way. You can do Roussillon, Gordes, Avignon on other days. These are smaller towns than Montpelier or Aix and easier to navigate and enjoy.
Then head south and see those places. You don't really give an exact timeline.
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Sep 30th, 2013, 08:03 PM
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we had a wonderful trip to the south of France last summer with kids aged 6, 14 and 15. We based our first week in Villefranche sur mer (10 min east of Nice by car) in an apartment and did day trips:
1. Did a Nice boat trip from the port and then walked around old Nice, lunch in the Cours Salaya area, and shopping on rue Messena, and strolled along the Promenade des Anglais next to the sea.
2. Monte Carlo: We walked by the palace and cathedral de Monaco and visited the oceanographique museum, where you can have a nice lunch at the café on the roof which has a lovely playground next to it and a gorgeous view of Monte Carlo and the Mediterranean. We then took Bus#1 to the Casino and Hotel de Paris and strolled around taking in the famous sites with an ice cream. We also walked along the harbour past some of the most impressive yachts in the world (kids liked that).
3. We had a day in St. Jean Cap Ferrat on the beach with a picnic (which we bought at the bakery in St jean). We took the bus into St. Jean and walked back by the most beautiful path along the sea back to Villefranche after the day at the beach, it goes from St. Jean to Beaulieu and is one of my favourite walks (went to school in St Jean for a year when I was a teenager!). From Beaulieu you can cut through a little path past Mick Jagger's Mansion (NellCote) and take the stairs down to the Villefranche beach.
In St Jean the Rothschild mansion is worth a visit and has beautiful gardens, and a garden café where you can get sandwiches and a glass of wine. St. Jean also has a stunning walk around the coastal tip.
4. My very favourite village: Eze Village. we took a bus up there from Villefranche (had to change in Eze Bord de Mer but the adventure was fun). It is an old medieval village which is beautiful to stroll around and have a meal at one of the wonderful restaurants. After our visit, we walked the famous Chemin de Nietzsche path down to Eze Bord de Mer. very steep but so beautiful. The entrance is right at the top of Eze Village. Took about 45 minutes (would take longer going up which I have also done). The kids did great, and the view is so amazing. It ends right near the train/bus stop.
5. Day trip to Vieux Antibes... a wonderful town. Has a nice sandy beach, great restaurants, the Picasso museum and some nice shops. A walk around the International Yacht Club is worth it even if you don't like boats!!
We then headed up the the Luberon in Provence for a week where we rented an old stone house with a pool in Bonnieux.
we did day trips to the Sunday Coustellet market, the Abbaye de Senanque which was gorgeous with the lavender out front, and a wonderful photo opportunity, Gordes (maybe watch "A Good Year" with Russel Crowe first), Roussillon which we loved, the kids liked le Sentier des Ocres walk (don't wear white shoes!), we had a day to visit the Pont du Gard (took a picnic and the kids went swimming in the river) and Avignon, also did a canoe trip down the Sorgue River through 'Canoe Evasion' which was so amazing... beautiful and nice and cool when the weather is hot (kids loved this too), we hiked the Foret des Cedars north of Bonnieux and took a picnic, also very lovely. We visited Lacoste (hiked to the top and there is a chateau at the top you can visit, refurbished by designer Pierre Cardin) as well as Lagnes, and Galt (lovely), We went to the Chateau la Canorgue, a small winery but again in the Russel Crowe movie and it was just down the street from where we stayed, My favourite little village and hike was Oppede-le-Vieux, we walked up the hill of winding cobblestone laneways to the church at the top with a spectacular view of the Coulon valley and the Vaucluse plateau & Mont Ventoux in the distance. One of the best views we had.
Of course in this area there are lots of markets you can stop by and get fresh picnic lunches and explore from there.
Maybe this gave you some ideas. lots to do for the kids, we loved every minute of it.
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Sep 30th, 2013, 08:45 PM
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People don't realize how huge the "South of France" is. You can basically divide it up (in big parcels) between the Côte d'Azur and inland Provence. With your timeframe, you probably need to decide which you want to visit, because both would be a stretch.

Get the Michelin Green Guide to Provence and the Côte d'Azur and READ so you know where you're headed. There are loads of choices. I like the Alpilles. Others like the Med beaches and such. You have lots to learn and decide about before you go.
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Oct 1st, 2013, 03:58 AM
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Thank you so much Gretche, StCirq, and Waterloo12, you have given me so many places that I have not heard of. I love the movie - A good year because of the scenery. I didn't know where it was filmed and this maybe just put on our list of places to visit. We will be there around 20 July next year. Would you think catching the train into Avignon and working our way back to Nice perhaps. Thanks so much, I will get out the maps again. Any accommodation places that anyone has previously stayed in would be most appreciated.
thank you so much. so excited to get some replies too.
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Oct 1st, 2013, 05:02 AM
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If you do the hike to Oppede le Vieux, there is a good pizza Place, Pizza Bella, in tiny Oppede. You can even get an escargot pizza there!
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Oct 1st, 2013, 06:09 AM
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My wife and I took a different approach and route but ultimately spent about a week in the Dordogne Valley which was incredible. We stayed in Beynac-et Cazenac and spent time enjoying many of the small medieval villages in the valley and the considerable interesting things to see and do there. I suggest that you research this incredible area first and if you do visit make a stop in Rocamadour on your way to Nice.

You can also visit my travel blog at www.mytb.org/whirl-traveller
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Oct 1st, 2013, 04:09 PM
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Thanks guys. Just a question. If we based ourselves in St Remy for 5 or so nights. Would we rail from Paris to Avignon and pick up car from here. Is this the best way?
The places we thought we'd visit would be Uzes, Pont de guard, Nimes, Arles, Gordes, and around this general area, then leave this area to travel to Aix for a few days then onto Nice. Love your suggestions on this itinerary. thanks again. Tracey
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Oct 3rd, 2013, 10:44 AM
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yes, that would be the closest big rail station to St Remy.
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Oct 3rd, 2013, 12:31 PM
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Hi Familyfive!

I recently walked the entire coast (and some inland points). I agree with someone to avoid Montpellier (tho it has air service), and fly instead to Marseille. From Marseille Vitrolles train station (right at the airport), take a local train to Arles for a couple of days or more.

Then train to Cassis (about 90 minutes by train via Marseille St. Charles). Do not stop in Marseille.

Cassis is an extremely picturesque town and old port, with enough walks and restaurants etc to keep you busy.

Then head for Nice, which is a good choice in that it has everything. You can get there by train from Cassis with an enroute stop.

You do not need a car for this itinerary. While it gives you freedom, it's also a headache, and gas is expensive, with parking tricky too. Local trains are not expensive, and have cheaper rates in offpeak hours. Do not buy tickets in the U.S. My website below has lots of pictures of Arles, Cassis and local towns around and including Nice.

Daryl May
http://mylongwalk.com/france.html
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Oct 3rd, 2013, 02:02 PM
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Thanks DarylMary and Christina, We have decided to base ourselves in St Remy for 7 nights and see the area. We will have a car to get around. Alot easier with3 kids in tow. From here we will drive to Nice and leave the car and stay 6 nights. I have found a self contained apartment in both places that should suit us all.
Now onto Italy then Greece to book our accommodation in. Will post on these two sites for assistance.
Thanks everyone for there help. this site has been really great.
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Oct 3rd, 2013, 03:42 PM
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familyfive, just so you know, "A Good Year" was filmed for the most part at the domaine du Château La Canorgue, in/near Bonnieux in the Lubéron. The restaurant scenes were mostly filmed in Gordes.
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Oct 3rd, 2013, 06:24 PM
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You need to read Hotel Pastis--the novel he originally went to Provence to write before he got caught up in the "non-fiction" of living in Provence. It is WONderful--just a perfect farce, with the right amount of Provencal geography/life added.
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Oct 4th, 2013, 01:06 AM
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thanks StCirq, that house was magnifique and the scenery breathtaking.
I looked it up on the map and its quite close to Gordes. So perhaps we can visit the area.
Flight tickets paid today.
I have been wanting to go to France ever since year 8 and now finally going. so excited. Especially the south of France
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Oct 4th, 2013, 03:14 AM
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We really enjoyed the market in St Remy.
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