Best time to visit Provence?

Old Oct 30th, 2008, 02:13 PM
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Best time to visit Provence?

I am considering a trip to Provence in 2009. I am wondering what is the best time to visit to get a great sense of Provence. Is the last half of May good, or should I wait for June. It seems like July may have lots of tourists. I want good weather (to sit in outside cafes) and pretty landscapes (flowers) and visiting markets/festivals, etc. I would appreciate any help you can give me. I will be staying near Manosque and will have a car.
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 02:25 PM
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Hi CD,

Can't help, as I am planning my first visit to Provence in Sept, 2009.

What drew you to Manosque?

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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 02:26 PM
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We visited in September and weather was lovely and lines were short. We cafe'd outside almost every day. Weather in 70s in Aix area, 80 in Marseille.

Late June/early July you can see the lavender fields. August, sunflowers.

Other Fodorites will have good advice. In some ways, to get a good sense of any place, one must be where the tourists are not! With a car, you might accomplish that no matter what the weather.

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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 03:00 PM
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We were in Provence last Sept (2007).
Weather was great and not crowded. Stayed in Arles. Did day trips out of there.
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 03:12 PM
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The lavender fields in full bloom are a not-to-be-missed feature of the Provence countryside IMO.

Therefore, "the best time to visit to get a great sense of Provence" would be during the high lavender season, which would be late June and early July.

And the area around Manosque has many of these "pretty landscapes (flowers)".
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 03:52 PM
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We've been there for a total of 16 weeks - throughout June, to mid-July, throughout Sept, and early Oct. The best time - by far - is what Tuck says - when the lavender is in bloom and the daylight hours are long. Lavender was late this year (we didn't visit this year - we were there 4 weeks last year).

Usually, late June to early July is the best time. Not much lavender around St Remy or Arles - more in the Luberon and especially around Sault.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 04:30 PM
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Well, Provence is fabulous any time of year, but I'd have to say that June and September-October are my favorite times of year to be there.
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 04:32 PM
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St. Cirq, does Provence get the beautiful autumn colors?
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 04:59 PM
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Here is something on "when to go" from my 28 page Provence & Cote d'Azur itinerary. E-mail me at [email protected] if anyone wants a copy.

The Lavender blooms in late June & July. Red poppies bloom in mid May through June. The best time to visit Provence (in my opinion) is in late June & early July when the lavender & yellow mimosas are in bloom and the vineyards are at their best. We’ve been in Provence as late as July 16 and the crowds were tolerable. I would not visit in late July or August because of the crowds. September is nice, but if France has a dry & hot year, vegetation will start to dry up a tad. In early October, we encountered chilly nights (ice on windshield) but sunny & somewhat warm days. The first 2 weeks of June in ’03 were extremely hot (too hot). The first 2 weeks of June in ’07 were chilly & too cold to dine outside in the evening.

P_M - are you planning on visiting Provence? It will be cooler than Austin in the summer.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 05:03 PM
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Hi Stu. Provence has been on my list of things to do for a long time, and now that the € has dropped I'm revisiting the idea. It's far from a sure thing at this point but I would love to see Provence someday, maybe on a walking tour. I'm glad to know it will be cooler than Austin in the summer.
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 06:18 PM
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We just spent the first 2 weeks in September this year in Provence. It was still hot, and there were no crowds. We've also been in late June, early July. Both times of the year are wonderful.

I have a detailed trip report of our September trip posted on this board if your interested!
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 12:11 AM
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Late June and early September are the great times to visit, although my visit this (early) June did not have good weather at all (rain & cold) and mid-September's visit was about 70F during the day but evenings/mornings were quite cold (fog in the mountains).
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 01:26 AM
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I was in Provence this year in early June and the weather was lovely (warm but not hot - fields of poppies were lovely). I believe, however, that there was a lot of rain before I was there. Just lucky, I guess. I've also been in Provence in early April (beautiful - fruit trees were in bloom), July (hot, but I liked it - get up early and sightsee, have a long lunch and then have a swim - ad it was wonderful to see the lavender), August (my least favorite time - crowded and hot)and October (beautiful).

Have a wonderful time!
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 08:01 AM
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I agree with St. Cirq that Provence is beautiful at any time of year, and each month has its pro's and con's.

I've been in Provence every month of the year. We lived there a few years ago in the off-season (beginning of October to mid April). Over the last couple of years we've pretty much been there every year in mid/late March, much of May, some parts of June/July/August, and late September.

My favorite time of year really is May. Everything is bright and fresh, and I love the flowers. The fields are filled with wildflowers. I love the yellow Spanish broom, and I especially love the big fields of poppies. And many villages are bedecked with flowers.

It isn't as crowded or expensive in May. The markets are definitely not as crowded as you will find in July/August. The locals are upbeat at the beginning of the busy season. It may be a little cooler, but it's still very pleasant. We've normally been able to eat lunch outside, maybe not dinner.

I agree that the lavender of late June/July is beautiful, but it's a tradeoff with costs, crowds and heat. But for me, I really love the poppies... probably more than the lavender.

September is also popular with people who want to visit in a shoulder season. But this is before any autumn colors and the flowers have definitely had their better days. You will find autumn colors more prominent as you move through October and November.

Kathy
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 10:38 AM
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We were there this September and the weather was perfect. I kept wishing I could see the lavender and poppies though. There were fields of dead sunflowers everywhere.
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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 11:06 AM
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Thanks to everyone for your great information. Kathy, your info on May was very interesting and itinerary information from Stu was amazing.

Ira, I am going to stay part of the trip in a house east of Manosque which is how I know of the town.

The remainder of my trip will be spent in another area--not sure yet where. I am thinking of flying into Marseille and when I determine the last destination I will know if it is best to fly out of there or somewhere else.

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Old Oct 31st, 2008, 01:09 PM
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We stayed in a rented house in Isle sur la Sorgue the last week of May this year, and the weather, flowers, and people (AND lack of people, if you know what I mean) were simply wonderful. I think that Kathy has it right in terms of a wonderful time and place.

Sam
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 05:33 AM
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Please remember RE May that there is a whole slew of French holidays in that month.

No problem, perhaps, if you book in advance but problematic -- as we once found -- if you do not have reservations. And things will be closed some days.

By contrast, we were surprised to hear the mid-June period, when we visited the Var, described (by the owner of our B&B) as a "semaine creuse" ie an empty week.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 07:31 AM
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Last year we spent the entire month of June in Provence, and in '03 & '05 we spent the last 3 weeks of June there. We never had trouble getting restaurant reservations for dinner with just 0 or 1 day's notice.

Travel to France from the US was down 20% this year. I suspect it will drop in '09 too. Typically, the French don't travel much in June. With the US drop, I suspect that June will be quite nice in Provence if you don't like crowds.

Think lavender, Mimosa (maybe it's broom), sunflower fields!!!

Stu Dudley
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