Old May 10th, 2001, 09:24 PM
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We are making our base St Remy.
We hope to visit Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue,Bonnieux,Roussillon,Gordes,Cavaillon then back to St Remy on our first day.
Are there any roads we should avoid in getting to these towns?
We have never driven in Europe and don't want to travel on roads that might be dangerous for 1st timers.
Any help will be appreciated.
Old May 11th, 2001, 03:40 AM
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None of the roads are 'dangerous' - there aren't any mountain roads for example. Some are narrow, but I wouldn't say to avoid them.
I'd recommend doing the loop of Cavaillon, l'Isle, Gordes, Rousillon, Bonnieux as a separate day. The first day you could see St. Remy and Les Baux.
The villages of the Luberon are about 45 minutes to an hour from St REmy considering that you are not familiar with the roads. One tip - DON"T look for road numbers while you're driving - just look for the names of towns in the direction you're headed. Much easier and everything around here is very well signposted.

Old May 11th, 2001, 05:30 AM
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A frined and I did this trip exploring the entire area last may. Roads cab be narrow but are not terrifying even if you meet other cars. THe essential thing is to get the correct Michelin maps. DO not try driving without a good map. We usually laid out a rough trip before leaving to get an idea of towns we would be travelling through. If you have specific questions you can email me at above address. WE had a psectacular time especially at the grand canyon du verdon . Absoultely beautiful country.
Old May 11th, 2001, 01:28 PM
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thanks so much for taking the time to answer me. I had heard that there were cliffs and many dangerous roads to worry about. You have eliminated all my fears and I can now look foward to a wonderful trip. What a great message board !!!!
Old May 12th, 2001, 09:43 AM
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You will have no problem driving there. As some else said Michelin is a must. But if you get lost that can be fun. Bonjornee
Old May 13th, 2001, 05:30 AM
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It is reassuring to hear that the roads in Provence require attention but are not dangerous. But will one need to take the very fast autoroutes to reach smaller roads around the Luberon? Or can you stay on smaller roads? Thanks for your help.
Old May 13th, 2001, 07:46 AM
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If you are prepared to take all the time in the world, I think there is virtually no place from the Peripherique (the Beltway around Paris) clear to Monte Carlo that you can't go - - and totally stay off the (toll) autoroutes, if you so desire.

The route planner on www.euroshell.com - - for example - - has an option called "avoid toll roads" - - I plugged in Dijon to Apt, just to see what response it would give and it came back with a routing of all "N" (national) and "D" (departmental) roads - - 11 hours for 676 km.

The speed of drivers on the autoroutes is not a reason to avoid these excellent highways, in my opinion - - but you CAN do it if you choose.

Best wishes,

Old May 14th, 2001, 08:23 AM
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dont worry about anything. you chose a very good base at st remy. i did this same trip last year and i can say it is easy to find the places. and if you get lost, maybe it will be at such a beautiful place and you wont care about it.

enjoy, but please. do not stay only one day. i d like to stay for the rest of my life at those places.
Old May 14th, 2001, 09:00 AM
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You will be fine driving around the roads there. PB's advice for town visiting order is perfect...I'd advice the same.

St. Remy is a super base with great roads leading out in all directions.

Bon voyage!
Old May 14th, 2001, 10:12 AM
penny lockhart
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Bobbie, I had dinner one night at the the best little restaurant in St. Remy. No more than 6 tables or so. The proprietor didn't speak much English but my food French is OK. Had a wonderful beef daube and he suggested a good and inexpensive bottle of wine.

I enjoyed visiting a monastery in Senanque (?). It wasn't too far from St. Remy. Don't miss the Palace of the Popes in Avignon. Awesome.
Old May 14th, 2001, 10:18 AM
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I loved driving in Provence. I don't think you'll have any trouble. One of the things that makes it easier is that destinations are surprisingly close together. If you want or need to, you can visit places in something other than the obvious geographical order. Distances are short, so that you can double back if it makes sense.

PS-- if you have an extra couple of hours, do visit Pont du Gard, west of Avignon. It's out of the Luberon area, but certainly a reasonable drive, and it's stunning. It's an extremely well-preserved Roman acqueduct over a river.
Old May 14th, 2001, 11:34 AM
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Bobbie, I've driven around that Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue, Bonnieux, Roussillon, Gordes area twice and loved it. Don't recall any specific roads that should be avoided. You might get the occasional car driving fast, close behind you, but there's always room to pull over and let them pass (well, that's what we found anyway.)

I highly second Pont du Gard. Lots of tourists but, as Robin said, very stunning. We also liked the run-down castle of the Marquis de Sade that sits on the hill overlooking the town of Lacoste (near Bonnieux and Menerbes). And the ochre colors of Roussillon are fabulous, not to be missed.

Old May 17th, 2001, 07:34 PM
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Do you happen to remember the name of the great small restaurant you ate at in St. Remy?
We would appreciate any suggestions for moderately priced wonderful places to eat at while in Provence.

Thanks again for all the help you all have given me.

Old May 18th, 2001, 12:23 AM
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I couldn't figure out which restaurant Penny was referring to, but here are some restaurant recommendations in the moderate range for St. Remy and the surrounding area:

St. Remy

Bistrot des Alpilles -
Specialities - Tagliatelli with Cêpes, Gigôt d'agneau au ficelle.
Everything on the menu is very good, the portions are copious (especially for France) and the service is friendly...and swift for France. There are two terraces, one enclosed and one open.
Dress - Casual, although during the summer 'season' you are likely to see just about anything and everything in the way of clothing.
Reservations recommended during the high season and on weekends.
Moderately priced

Jardin de Frédéric
Small, cozy restaurant with a small outdoor terrace. Good seafood dishes. Friendly owner and service is good.
Dress - Casual

La Serre
Charming restaurant - chef is the grandson of Gaston Lenotre. Very good, inventive food, very reasonably priced.
Dress - casual
Only open in the summer.... eclectic menu with interesting food.
Dress Casual.

Grain de Sel
Brand new restaurant - everyone around here loves it. Prix Fixe menu at 130, FF. Excellent cooking.

La Source
Charming, small restaurant off the tourist path. Very good food, lovely shaded terrace overlooking a garden for summer dining.

La Gousse d'Ail
Small restaurant with great atmosphere, in the center of the village. Chef/owner is actually Dutch - but the food is French and very good.
Dress- Casual


Le Fournil
Traditional Provençal cuisine and great individual pizzas (not American style). A wonderful family restaurant.
Dress - casual

Le Margaux
Charming small restaurant in the center of the village. Although I find that it a bit inconsistent, they more often get it right than wrong. Lovely terrace.
Dress - casual


Le Vallon de Gayet
Near the Golf course, at the foot of the Alpilles, this is a wonderful family run restaurant. All of the grilled foods are done on a big open fireplace. In the summer months you can dine on the large outdoor terrace shaded by ancient trees.
Speciality - Grilled meats - Duck, Beef, Boar. Fantastic Potatoes - Pommes de Terre Salardais.
Dress - Casual

Fontvieille (between Arles & Les Baux)

Cuisine au Planet
Very small, but charming, restaurant in the center of the village. Creative young chef, who creates very good menus. Small outdoor terrace for summer dining.
Dress - casual

Villeneuve lez Avignon

Mon Mari Etait Patissier
This place is totally different... the chef is a kook, but he cooks well. No meat on the menu, as he has a pet duck named PomPom (sometimes he brings the duck to your table to meet you). He does serve foie gras, however... so apparently geese are excluded from his no meat policy. In good weather you can sit outside under an arbor.
Dress - Casual

Old May 19th, 2001, 05:07 AM
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thanks P.B. for the great list of restauants. There goes my diet---who cares!!!!
Old May 19th, 2001, 05:48 AM
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HI there- just returned from Provence and Riviera- had a perfect time- superb on all counts!
Driving turned out to be fun and easy for us, and I agree with everyone elses remarks...
They seem to have less road rage there- and in Provence-you can pull over anywhere...
We made our own little itinerary...and thought we would rely on the maps as well, but the street signs are generally very well marked if you know your destination- or the towns in between...just follow for them...
Getting "lost" is not even lost- because you are always near something wonderful- castles, cathedrals...you name it! Enjoy!

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