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15 days with car in Provence & Cote d''azur

15 days with car in Provence & Cote d''azur

Old Jan 25th, 2022, 10:23 AM
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15 days with car in Provence & Cote d''azur

I've revised our itineray for the first 2 weeks of May. We will have a car. We are Americans in our late 60's who like history, scenery, a few beautiful villages, gardens, easy hikes. We are not interested in wine, not very interested in art museums. The only thing I don't like about this itinerary is changing hotels so often.

Day 1: arrive from US in Marseille, drive to Cassis eat and sleep - stay 2 nights

Day 2: Boat to see Calanques

Day 3: to St. Remy - visit Les Baux - stay 3 nights

Day 4: Arles

Day 5: Nimes and Pont du Gard

Day 6: to Roussillon - hill towns - stay 2 nights

Day 7: Hill towns; (an easy hike recommendation would be welcomed)

Day 8: to Moustiers - not sure what to do this day,. Easy hikes would be ideal - stay 2 nights

Day 9 Moustiers - Gorge du Verdun; I think the hiking is too steep, perhaps a kayak or just driving around it?

Day 10: to Villefranche via Grasse for perfume class; this is a must for my husband - stay 5 nights

Day 11: Cap Ferrat hike and gardens

Day 12: Monaco (i'm going to surprise my husband with a Ferrari driving experience)

Day 13: Eze - drive middle Corniche; any recommended stops?

Day 14: Hill towns like St. Paul de Vence other recommendations welcomed

Day 15: Drive to Marseille and stop at Antibes en route because I really have no interest in Marseille.

Day 16: Cry because it's over and fly back to Georgia, USA

Any suggestions for easy hikes, places to see gardens, or changes to the itinerary?

ellenofthelake is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2022, 11:31 AM
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Just be careful about where you are on Sundays when most/all non-food shops will be closed - except in super touristy villages

Eze & Grasse have pretty much the same perfume museum.

Attached is my 35 page Provence & cote d'Azur itinerary

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 25th, 2022, 08:59 PM
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Day 4 you probably could fit in a stop in Glanum or another place.
Day 6/7 you can probably fit any number of villages in these two days. There is a circular hike between Lacoste and Bonnieux to check out.
Day 6: to Roussillon - hill towns - stay 2 nights
Day 10: Note these routes can take more time than you expect. Many places to stop, narrow lanes, and some twisty windy ways depending on which route you take
Day 11/12/13 - you actually might have time to add another destination, like Nice or Antibes in the latter part of the day or for dinner as the choices in Villefranche sur Mer can get limiting (even a quick hop over to the port brings some great choices). There is also a walk at the top of the hill to Fort Alban, with a number of mostly flat and easy interconnected trails (you drive up and there is a parking lot). Part of the route will take you past Elton John's house. You can also walk around Mont Boron and the park and batteries there.
Day 13: Just beyond Eze is La Turbie, with the Trophee des Alpes. There is a loop that hits Peille and Peillon but you might just go somewhere else, like towards St. Agnes or into the border towns (or Menton)
Day 14: Beyond St. Paul you have Vence and the Matisse Chapel. But you can also continue on to Tourrettes sur Loup and Gourdon. There are also a number of hikes here but we're starting to get into hilly territory. You can drop down to Cannes or Antibes. From Cannes there is a ferry that goes to St. Honorat or St. Marguerite.
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Old Jan 26th, 2022, 07:12 AM
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I do not think that kayaking is possible in the Gorge du Verdon. For raft trips, check out providers in Castellane.


Michael is offline  
Old Jan 26th, 2022, 10:44 AM
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Near St Paul de Vence, other hill towns are Tourette sur loup and Haut de Cagnes. Seems like you've got a great itinerary except that I wouldn't worry about the Gorge of Verdon unless you plan to hike
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Old Jan 26th, 2022, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by shelemm View Post
Near St Paul de Vence, other hill towns are Tourette sur loup and Haut de Cagnes. Seems like you've got a great itinerary except that I wouldn't worry about the Gorge of Verdon unless you plan to hike
I actually prefer Tourrettes over St Paul.

And I'm not a big fan of the Gorge du Verdon - too few lookouts. The best lookouts are on the narrow, winding, no-gardrails Route de Cretes. The various gorges around the Gorges du Tarn are more accessible & interesting, IMO, because you can drive along the water & look up & see more stuff at close range instead of the Verdon Gorge where you might be looking into the face of the sun or there is haze in the gorge. The gorges just inland from Nice (see my itinerary) are more interesting too, IMO.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 26th, 2022, 05:29 PM
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From the gorge side at Lac de Saint Croix (far opposite side behind the dam, the opposite side, just south of Moustiers), you can rent canoes and kayaks and explore the lower part of the Gorge. Here's one firm: LINK
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Old Jan 28th, 2022, 12:09 PM
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Hikes, don't know how serious a hike the OP is looking for but she will have plenty of opportunities.

1. Cassis -- You can hike the peninsula on the western side of the Bay of Cassis. On the eastern side are the Falaises de Cassis, the cliffs looking down on the bay and the town. You seek bicyclists up there so for those who are hardcore, they will climb. Otherwise, you can take the car and then it kind of flattens up at the top so you can probably hike there, just along the cliffs or along the roads possibly.

2. Les Baux de Provence - When I went last July, I didn't try to park closer to town than the Carriers de Lumiers. From there it's a bit of an uphill hike into town. By the time you walk through town and reach the southern point, the open space with the cliffs overlooking the plains below and then back to parking, you'll easily put in at least a couple of miles.

3. Moustiers - depending on where you stay, you could be hiking up almost a mile up into town center. From there you can walk up to the church overlooking the town, a real uphill hike.

4. Gorge du Verdon - I didn't hike it, instead drove on a day trip from Moustiers to La Palaud du Verdon, where I drove to the Route des Cretes, which have all these overlooks at the canyons. You can probably do some hiking there, maybe park at one of these overlooks and keep going up and then back to where your car was. My recollection is that the best views were in the first leg, where you're heading south before turning back northwards. So if you look in Google Maps, you will see several Belvederes on the eastern part of the Route des Cretes loop. You're sharing the road with cars and bicyclists though so maybe hiking isn't strictly recommended there.

5. Villefranche/Cap Ferrat - definitely do the loop around the peninsula, very scenic, plenty of places to stop if necessary. Honestly though, I think the western to the southern tip are scenic. Eastern coast is scenic but maybe a bit less so. Still if you're going to head back towards the port anyways, because you would likely park around where the peninsula begins.

6. There are hikes between Menton and Cap Martin along the coast and from Cap Martin towards Monaco, the famous Sentier des Douaniers (name used in other parts of France as well).


I didn't do the whole walk, just walked along parts of Cap Martin. Problem is that you have to probably time it with the train or maybe the bus, in order to not have to retrace it. I had a car and my main goal was photography, not hiking for hiking's sake. So without a car, you can take the train to one point, hike, then take the train from the end of the hike back to wherever you're staying.

I stayed in Villefranche sur Mer, so great views, not so close to the train stations though. I could have taken a bus or Uber to the train station (because Villefranche is along a hillside overlooking the bay so a lot of up and downhill walking). But like I said, the priority was photography, not hiking.

5. Eze drive - I didn't drive there, have visited before. Instead, I booked a tour where they took you to Eze and Monaco. Back in July, Monaco required people to have a PCR test before entering. So I booked the tour and left the car at the hotel. Certainly not ideal if you have specific things you want to do in Monaco. But in Eze, the parking was a mess because there's a lot of construction going on, maybe some to increase parking. But the normal parking lot along the Moyenne Corniche was a mess.

Instead, I drove on another day from Villefranche to Cap Martin going up to La Turbie and instead going to some places which on Google Maps appeared to have views down to Monaco.

I would think rather than backtracking from Villefrance to Marselle that the OP should try to see if they could fly into Marseille but fly out of Nice. My one-way car rental, Nice to Marseille airport wasn't that bad last July.

As for whether Marseille is worth visiting, I want to check out the western part of the Parc National des Calanques. This part is south of Marseille, not too far and appears to have an area called Les Goudes. Looks like probably a lot of hiking paths there too.

Last edited by scrb11; Jan 28th, 2022 at 12:19 PM.
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