driving itinerary for southern france

Old May 29th, 2010, 12:54 PM
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driving itinerary for southern france

My husband and I drove northern france last year and would like to do southern france but it seems more overwhelming. We are seniors who have done quite alot of traveling in Europe, both on our own and with tours, but prefer driving ourselves.

We do not have time constraints and my problem is that I don't know how to decide how to set up the trip and how long to stay in each area. We like to stay in citiesand do alot of museums and walking. We want to fly into Nice stay there and travel the riveria doing the small towns, as well as Monaco, Monte Carlo etc. Thought we would drive to St. Tropez for 2 nights. Then to Aix, Arles, Avignon, Carpentras, Orange, Nimes, the hill towns in the area and over to Carcassonne. I would like to do Albi but not sure the drive is worth it for the museum there. Thought we would go back to Avignon to get the train to Paris for a few days. I would like to get feed back as to where to stay and for how long in each area, I thought we could do this itinerary in 3/4 wks.
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Old May 29th, 2010, 02:00 PM
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I haven't been to some of the area's you have mentioned ,but i was in Carcassonne last Oct it was a big disapoinment to me mostley just tourist shops.Wasn't worth the time to see.
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Old May 29th, 2010, 03:29 PM
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Do you have my 27 page itinerary for the Cote d'Azur & Provence?? I've sent it to over 1,000 people on Fodors. E-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail. I also have a 35 page itinerary for the Languedoc.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 29th, 2010, 03:54 PM
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Do you have the Michelin Green Guides to Provence and the Côte d'Azur? If not, do pick up copies; the guides are very helpful for trip planning, with recommended itineraries and stop-overs. The Michelin map (big one) of Provence would also be useful.

You will certainly want to add Nîmes and the magnificent Pont du Gard to your itinerary, and don't miss the citadel at Les Baux de Provence. The St-Rémy area is good as a base for the considerable sightseeing near Avignon.

As for Albi, it's a bit of a drive--but worth it just to see the amazing church, as well as the Lautrec museum. Carcassone, not so much.
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Old May 29th, 2010, 05:08 PM
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I may just be a terrible navigator, but last year in driving all around the Cote d'Azur my one debacle was in Monaco. If you're staying in Nice, I would recommend taking a bus tour into Monaco, unless other people on this forum have better advice! My sister and I got so turned around we had to just leave the city in total frustration, without seeing the Cousteau museum or palace or casino.

For everything else, I am a fan of the Stu Dudley itinerary. My only other recommendation is to stay at least two if not three nights in each place you choose as a base. Do you like B&Bs or hotels? I'm sure you'll get lots of great recommendations here (and I have a few)!
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Old May 29th, 2010, 06:14 PM
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thank you for your help. abbydog could you send suggestions for B&Bs and hotels. We like both.
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Old May 29th, 2010, 08:14 PM
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Around Nice you can use public transportation, bus or train. But a car will work best when you head inland.

I think you need to bite the bullet and research these areas you want to visit. Look under Destinations above for Fodors suggestions. I always get all the apropos guidebooks available at the public library. I usually buy the green Michelin, which is great help in prioritizing and easy to carry. And there's lots more information online. Here's a place to start: www.provencebeyond.com.

How much do you want to spend per night on hotels and B&Bs?
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Old May 29th, 2010, 11:57 PM
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Hi hybergr,

My husband and I just got back from Provence and Cote d'Azur.

We used Nice as a base to go to Cannes, Biot, St-Paul-de-Vence, Vence, Monaco, Eze, Menton, Villefranche-sur-Mer and St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Cannes

In Aix-en-Provence, Cassis (sp?), the Verdon Gorge (Gorges du Verndon, Moustier-ste-Marie
We stayed at a B&B called Pavillon de la Torse. Great Place, beautiful property and very nice owners

When we were in Avignon, we saw the following: Arles, Orange, Nimes, Uzes, Roussillon, Gordes, Les Baux, Vaison-la-Romaine, L'isle-s-la-Sorgue, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. We also drove around Mont Ventoux. I can't remember the exact name of the B&B we stayed in, I will look it up.

We really love Nice, especially the old town.
If you rent a car,you might consider gettting a small car, we found out the hard way.

Have a great trip
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Old May 30th, 2010, 12:00 AM
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Checkout www.mappy.fr or www.michelin.fr or www.mapquest.fr--any of of those sites are very helpful in planning routes and understanding distances.

If you plan to drive to Albi I wouldn't double back to Avignon to take the TGV to Paris--it's almost a 4 hour drive. From Albi, you are under an hour's drive from Toulouse, although fastest train from Toulouse to Paris until more work is completed on the TGV line is 5 hours. I like Toulouse very much as a destination.

Other options would be to drive north from Albi to Limoges through the Dordogne, which is beautiful, and drop the car in Limoges. From Limoges the train to Paris is about 90 minutes. If you drove the fastest route form Albi to Limoges it would take about 3 hours but I would spend some time in the Dordogne.
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Old May 30th, 2010, 01:04 AM
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>>>I may just be a terrible navigator
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Old May 30th, 2010, 11:11 AM
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thank you all for your help, cafe goddess could you tell me how long it took to do that itinerary. How do you reach the B&B you mentioned and where is it? Where did you stay in nice?

Echnaton,. Thank you for your input, you mentioned all the places I want to go to. I have never heard anyone mention the walled city of Aigues-Mortes. How much of a drive is it from Arles? I can't find Les Antiques on the map, where is it?
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Old May 30th, 2010, 12:14 PM
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Aigues-Mortes is about a half-hour from Arles. It has, IMO, one of the most beautiful squares in all of France. The drive through the Camargue is thoroughly enjoyable, too, through the rice paddies and sand wine vineyards.
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Old May 30th, 2010, 12:23 PM
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Les Antiques:

2 km south of St. Remy.

http://www.alpilles.com/glanum-fr.htm

Aigues-Mortes:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aigues-Mortes
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Old May 30th, 2010, 04:51 PM
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Some B&B thoughts for you:

In Antibes - wonderful, centrally located little place with lovely rooms, gorgeous garden, and deligthful breakfast - www.lebosquet06.com/eng/index.html

In Maillane very near St. Remy - authentic Provencale home next to an amazing sheep farm, in a perfect location with a pool to boot - www.masdelachristine.com/

In Vence, my favorite! Very central location for exploring the east side of Provence/Cote d'Azur, in an old house surrounded by beautiful gardens and in walking distance of a real town. Run by Claude France, the most gracious and colorful hostess I know - www.cantogrihet.com/en/
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Old May 31st, 2010, 07:18 AM
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hybergr

This part of our trip took five weeks, my husband and I are lazy travelers. There are days we don't leave our room because we feel like just resting and reading. This is a luxury for us because we can't do back home.

In Nice we rented an apartment from www.nicepebbles.com
No parking but you can park your car nearby for I think, 36 euro per day (I can't remember the exact price)
They have great bus service, for 1 euro you can go to Monaco, Eze, Menton etal. The train is good also.

In Avignon from www.cotesquare-avignon.com
I love this b&b because it was so charming and the owners are so nice. We became friends and they will be staying with us when they come to the US next time. It also has parking garage, a big bonus, but this is when the small car come in handy. Getting out of the garage is a little bit hard but not bad. We had a mercedes but if we rented a smaller car it woud be a breeze.

In Aix we stayed in www.latorse.com
Another great b&b. A b&b in the city but with a country setting. Free parking. The owner is an American and makes great breakfast, they have cocktail hours, we enjoyed this part because we met other guests and we all shared our adventures.

if you have any more questions, I will be happy to help.
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Old Jun 14th, 2010, 03:05 PM
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thank you all so much for your help. I can't get my FF tix until the end of June for next May but I think I have a pretty good idea of what I can do. I think 10 days on the Riveria based in Nice, I don't like moving around too much, doing all the wonderful museums and Stu Dudley's itinerary we can cover the cities as well as towns. Using the train where we can. Driving on the scenic route to St. Tropez for 2 nites, onto to Aix, I'm not sure if we would stay overnite, depends on the length of drive from St. Tropez, then into Provence. I would like to stay in 2 different places, possible Gordes and St. Remy and do the towns and markets. Instead of Carcossonne do Aigues-Mortes , then onto Albi and the museum there. Take the train from Toulouse into Paris for a few days. I think this a doable itinerary for app. 30 days. Please critique.
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Old Jun 14th, 2010, 03:45 PM
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You're actually going to be in Provence the entire time you're planning to be in the south. The Riviera is just part of the eastern portion of Provence.
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Old Jun 30th, 2010, 04:07 PM
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getting ready to purchase FF tickets for next May on Riveria and Provence, I am concerned about national holidays, could you tell me what to expect. Probably will run into museum closings but what about going into the small villages on those days.
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Old Jun 30th, 2010, 09:22 PM
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Here you go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_holidays_in_France

Of the four holidays this May, only two had major Monday closings, but it was all somewhat random apart from banks and poste. Some supermarkets stayed opened but with shorter hours; some closed. I think Provence and the Riveria will be much the same.
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Old Feb 13th, 2017, 06:00 AM
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Dear hybergr,


If you have made the Southern France tour based on above I would love your advice. My wife and I did the northern part 2 years ago and are driving the southern part on April 12 for 2 weeks. Have no itinerary yet....we love to car tour and poke around and just go where the spirit leads us without any reservations.

Thx

Wimp in Alabama
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