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Best base ideas for the luberon and avignon

Best base ideas for the luberon and avignon

Jan 4th, 2011, 04:16 AM
  #1  
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Best base ideas for the luberon and avignon

Hello all,
My husband and I are planning a trip for two weeks to the luberon area and the french riviera. We will have a two years old son with us.
I need some guidence and help please as last year we went for two weeks to Nice and I just loved it. It was a good base for us to explore Monaco, Cannes, St Paul de Vence...etc. Nice was great as it has all what we needed and was very good for me to go out alone with my son when my husband had to finish some work on his computer and stay in the hotel to meet us later on. Also it was great as some days we were not energetic to go anywhere so it provided us with a lot to keep us busy.
We did not cover Saint Jean cap ferrat or Beaulieux sur mer which I heard was a mistake.
This year we are thinking of spliting the two weeks between luberon and St Tropez (which we have visited for a day last year).
What is the best base which is similar to Nice (using the above sense) in the luberon. I found a great hotel in Bonnieux and Aix en provence. Which one is better for us and similar to Nice?
Do you think we better stay in Beaulieu sur Mer and cover the eastern part till Monton?
Any ideas or comments will help.
We are going there from 24th or 25th of May for two weeks.
Appreciate if anyone can give me some review on the following hotels:
la-ferme-de-capelongue (bonnieux)
Cezane (Aix)
What is nicer Aix or Bonnieux? St Tropez or Beaulieu or St Jean cap Ferrat?
Many many thanks in advance.
Thanks,
May
Misho is offline  
Jan 4th, 2011, 10:29 AM
  #2  
 
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Can't help you on the St Tropez etc beach resorts. But Aix and Bonnieux aren't remotely similar so can't really be compared. The first is a university city and the second a very small village with restricted access. Well, restricted parking anyway, although you can still drive through the center of town, unlike some of those villages.

So where is the hotel, is it really in BOnnieux or in the country around it? I just wondered as I had a budget hotel booked in the center of town last summer which was supposed to have great views and then cancelled after reading reviews about how there is no parking and you have to park in a public lot at the bottom of the hill, etc. When I was there and saw the situation, I was real glad I had stayed elsewhere in a nice budget hotel in Roussillon with free parking right across the street.

Bonnieux is pleasant enough but it is very small, not a lot going on there.
Christina is offline  
Jan 4th, 2011, 10:30 AM
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sorry, I see you want to know which of those two is most similar to Nice? Aix, obviously, as Nice is a very large city, also.
Christina is offline  
Jan 5th, 2011, 03:34 AM
  #4  
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Thanks a lot Christina. I am doing a lot of research but I think I will end up staying in Aix en Provence. Though different from Nice but I am sure Bonnieux being a small village will be much different. I think with a 2 years old son, I would rather be in a city as a base. Maybe I will get other replies as well. Thanks a lot for your prompt response.
Misho is offline  
Jan 5th, 2011, 07:14 AM
  #5  
 
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maybe you will, but if you wnt to have things to do while your husband is in the hotel, etc., you have to choose a place bigger than Bonnieux. There is nothing to do in Bonnieux, it is very small. There are only a few gift/souvenir shops and a couple places to eat. There is one boulangerie museum and some old church, as I recall, up a hill. I don't know if there is even a park where you could play with your son, it's just a small village on the side of the road that goes through it. there are lots of tourists, though, so they will be walking up and down the sidewalks to go into those few places.

I've heard of that hotel, it isn't really even in Bonnieux, it's out in the country , so you'd have to be driving around to do anything, which isn't going to be fun at night when it is dark. It's about 10-15 km away from the center of Bonnieux down some winding roads (which most are around there).
Christina is offline  
Jan 5th, 2011, 09:21 AM
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I agree with Christina on Bonnieux vs Aix.

If you want something similar to Nice, I would also consider staying in Avignon. Although we slightly prefer Aix over Avignon - I think Avignon is much more centrally located than Aix for visiting the "top" sites in Provence.

St Tropez vs Beaulieu sur mer.

Beaulieu is a small village next to Nice, that cascades down a hill/cliff to the sea. I would not want to spend too much time walking around there (you can see everything in 1 hr) with a 2 YO. Being next to Nice, there are good public transportation options. St Tropez is flat, has lots of restaurants/cafes - but gets terribly crowded mid-day. We've stayed there multiple times - including 2 week stays & 1 week stays. Public transportation is not that great - you'll need a car. The countryside & small villages southwest of St Tropez are quite interesting to explore. St Tropez will give you a different "feel" than Nice. However, reasonably priced lodging is scarce and often books up 9-12 months in advance. I've "tried" to help many Fodors people secure lodging 4 months or so in advance - without much success.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 5th, 2011, 09:27 AM
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There nice sandy beaches near St-Tropez which we enjoyed.
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Jan 6th, 2011, 04:03 AM
  #8  
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Stu and Happytrvlr, thanks a lot.
Stu, thank you for elaborating on the differences between beaulieu and St Tropez.
I decided to stay either in Avignon or St Tropez and we will have a car as it seems it is a pleasure just to get lost and drive from one village to another in Provence.
Can you suggest a good 4 stars hotel in each? I like modern hotels not old buildings (unless newly renovated)! I do not like old style in furniture and light clean bright rooms.
Thanks,
Misho is offline  
Jan 6th, 2011, 07:44 AM
  #9  
 
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From your original post:

>>This year we are thinking of spliting the two weeks between luberon and St Tropez <<

From your last post:

>>I decided to stay either in Avignon or St Tropez<<

I don't understand this. Staying in Avignon OR staying in St Tropez won't allow you to easily visit both the Cote d'Azur & the Luberon (Provence) without a lot of driving. Spend 1 week in both places.

We stay in Gites or apts while in France - not hotels. However, for a short stay in St Tropez once, we stayed in the hotel Des Lices, which was quite nice & had parking & a pool. Like I stated earlier, hotels in St Tropez book up early.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 6th, 2011, 09:51 AM
  #10  
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Stu, what I meant is that I will spend one week in each of Avignon and st tropez. Thanks a lot. I will check the hotels u suggested.
Misho is offline  
Jan 6th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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Misho
Do you have my 27 page Cote d'Azur & Provence itinerary? I've sent it to over 1,000 people on Fodors. E-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach a copy to the reply e-mail. It includes our favorite villages, markets, scenic drives, and has a section on Provence fabric.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 7th, 2011, 06:19 AM
  #12  
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Stu,
I am sending the email in a second. One last quick question: Avignon or Gordes? What the best base 'for me'? I just came across a good hotel in both:
Avignon:Auberge de Cassagne and Spa
Gordes: La bastide en Gordes and Spa
Wish you know them in order to give me an honest feedback as usual.
Misho is offline  
Jan 7th, 2011, 07:06 AM
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I think for Gordes, that's the best you will do. There aren't a lot of hotels there, of course, it is very small, so I think that is the only nice one right in Gordes itself (it may be the only hotel right in Gordes itself, not sure).

Now I considered staying at the other one you name once myself, but I really wanted some place outside Avignon as I had a car and wanted to be driving around the countryside a lot. So I didn't stay there but have read some nice reviews about it (I think from someone on Fodors, not sure), but you can check that. However, if you really want a hotel that is in a city where you can just go out the door and walk around and do stuff, that place is not in Avignon, it is in a suburb (Pontet). I have no idea what Pontet is like, but this is not going to be suitable if your idea is to walk around Avignon for things to do. I don't know how far away it is, that is a big metropolitan area around Avignon, it's to the NE in-between the N7 and A7 highways. I'm guessing maybe 10 km, could be more.

What is your real goal here, maybe someone can recommend hotels actually IN Avignon if that is really what you want. There are several nice ones.
Christina is offline  
Jan 7th, 2011, 07:45 AM
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Thanks a million Chritina...That is very helpful as all your comments...I think I will go for that hotel in Gordes if I could not find a good 4 stars hotel inside Avignon itself.
Misho is offline  
Jan 7th, 2011, 09:05 AM
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I'm familiar with both places

We have dined at the Bastide (under different ownership), and have also visited friends who were staying there (current ownership). It is quite a dramtiic hotel - with wonderful views. It is very pricy for dinner, and the rooms were a tad smallish. They have parking for the guests - which is a big plus in Gordes. The hotel is about 20 yards from the middle of town - we've walked past it dozens of times. However, other than the Bastide, there are not many other (if any) restaurants that I would want to dine at within an easy walking distance of the center of Gordes. There is a string of hotels with restaurants (not all of the hotels have restaurants) about a 20 min walk downhill (uphill on return) on the Route de Senanque - but it is not a difficult walk there. We stayed at the Domaine de l'Enclos once & walked into Gordes many times. There are several nice restaurants within a 10 min drive of Gordes - Mas Tourteron & L'Estellan.

Like Christina stated, The Auberge de Cassagne is out in the burbs of Avignon. Nothing attractive about the area. You won't want to walk into Avignon - too far away. We dined there several years ago. It was a Michelin 1 star restaurrant then.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 7th, 2011, 09:22 AM
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There are some nice hotels in Avignon, but not tons of them. The Mirande is very very nice and about right next to the Palais des Papes.
http://www.la-mirande.fr/

Other high-end hotels in Avignon itself are the Hotel d'Europe http://www.heurope.com/fr/index.php

and the H Cloitre St Louis (this is actually a bit of a hike to the main square
http://www.cloitre-saint-louis.com/uk/index.php

Those are the best hotels in town, I think.
Christina is offline  
Jan 8th, 2011, 05:40 AM
  #17  
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I have a conflict here!
My husband and I have different views.
I think Avignon and he thinks Gordes...
I need something to convince him! (he is not difficult by the way so no worries...I just need to be logical and use the right points)...so given the advantages I mentioned above about Nice (which he agrees with by the way)...which one would you go for, Gordes or Avignon....
Sorry to repeat myself but I need more assurances...
Thanks again
Misho is offline  
Jan 8th, 2011, 08:55 AM
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We stayed at Mas de Romarins http://www.masromarins.com/anglais.php a 10 minute walk uphill from Gordes and really enjoyed it. The staff all speak English, are very nice and accomodating. Breakfast is included and they do serve dinner (additional cost) on the patio several days a week with a fantastic view of Gordes. There are rooms and also mini suites which may be a bit "roomier" for your small family. There is also a swimming pool. In addition to dining at the Mas, we dined one night at Le Clos de Gustave. Nothing fancy but great food in a beautiful setting. http://leclosdegustave.voila.net/page1/index.html
anna_roz is offline  
Jan 8th, 2011, 10:38 AM
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Thanks Anna...appreciated.
Misho is offline  
Jan 8th, 2011, 10:42 AM
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Gordes is a small village in a dramatic site in the hills. Avignon is a big town on the flat. I don't think either of them makes a good base. Gordes because it's so small and because it's up in the hills a bit away from other sights. And I don't like Avignon because there's a lot of sprawl around the historic center that you'd have to navigate through twice when making daytrips. Neither of them are like Nice, which is a big city.

Maybe look at L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. It's a medium-size town, on the flat and well located for daytrips but interesting in itself for its many canals and its antiques street market. I don't have the faintest idea about hotels in L'Isle, but there are several listed at Tripadvisor.com.

It depends on what part of Provence you want to see. But Nimes and Arles are small cities more Nice-like. Provence is really not an urban destination. It's all about the countryside, the small towns, the food, the wine, the easy-going lifestyle.
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