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First Time in Southern France, Barcelona to Nice - 8 Day Road Trip

First Time in Southern France, Barcelona to Nice - 8 Day Road Trip

Old Oct 27th, 2022, 06:04 PM
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First Time in Southern France, Barcelona to Nice - 8 Day Road Trip

Hi Everyone,

I have done research before from this forum and found many valuable postings so I wanted to join and see if any of you can help me out for my next trip in July.
I am planning a road trip through Southern France and would really like your help on honing down the exact Itinerary. I have two main goals with this trip, to see the Provence region and small towns and see the French Riviera.

I will be departing from Barcelona by train and plan to rent a car at the main station in either Perpignan or Narbonne but here is where I am already unsure of where else to stop and how much to stop. I want to avoid switching too many places so I am thinking of basing myself in a small town in Provence, and then in Nice.

My itinerary is still very rough, I am only listing where I will stay each night. My initial Itinerary looks like this:
  • Day 1 - Pick up Car in Perignan and drive to to Collioure (is this worth staying 1 night here or should I skip this town?)
    • Alternatively, Pick up car in Narbonne and stay somewhere in between Narbonne and Montpellier
  • Day 2 - Stay in somewhere in between Montepellier and Marseilles
    • Alternatively, just drive to the town I will choose to stay in Provence
  • Day 3 - Stay in Provence
  • Day 4 - Stay in Provence
  • Day 5 - Stay in Provence/Nice
  • Day 6 - Stay in Nice
  • Day 7 - Stay in Nice
  • Day 8 - Stay in Nice
As you can see, my main struggle is dividing my time properly. should I do 4 in Provence/ 3 in Nice, or vice versa 3 in Provence/ 4 in Nice? Not too worried about the day to day schedule at this stage of planning.
Also, should I bother with staying at a another town after taking the train into France from Barcelona? Or should I just drive to my first base, effectively having only two locations where I will stay in France (Provence/Nice)?

I hope this made some sense and I am open to any advice or direction any of you can give.
Thank you all so much.
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Old Oct 27th, 2022, 06:25 PM
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Hard to say, without you expressing your interests, if any?
Art?
Wine?
Food? Likes? Dislikes?
Prehistoric cave art?
Roman ruins?
History?
Hiking?
Mountains, however small?
Markets?
Festivals?


to cite just a few examples
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Old Oct 27th, 2022, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by tomboy View Post
Hard to say, without you expressing your interests, if any?
Art?
Wine?
Food? Likes? Dislikes?
Prehistoric cave art?
Roman ruins?
History?
Hiking?
Mountains, however small?
Markets?
Festivals?


to cite just a few examples
Apologies for not including that. Rather than just rattling off the top of my head our interests, I'll just respond to yours!

Art? Yes, but we just went to Florence last year and visited a bunch of museum.
Wine? Yes, would love to visit some wineries. We loved the Tuscan region when we visited Italy. Our fondest memory was driving in the country side which I hope is similar in Provence.
Food? Likes? Dislikes? Pretty adventurous foodies. the more authentic, and local the better. Happy to try all kinds of French food, no specific dislikes.
Prehistoric cave art? Not so much.
Roman ruins? Did Rome last year, really enjoyed it. Wouldn't mind seeing more!
History? We're not huge history buffs, but always enjoy visiting ruins and learning about the towns and culture.
Hiking? Yes, we are in our 30s and can do some moderate hikes for some natural scenery. Actually this is one of our favorite things to do in the US, just seeing the natural beauty.
Mountains, however small? Yes, see above.
Markets? Look forward to shopping at local markets, we want to visit the Lavender fields and pick up local products at that time of the year.
Festivals? Not in particular

Thanks for chiming in!

Last edited by ac8238; Oct 27th, 2022 at 07:22 PM.
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Old Oct 28th, 2022, 03:11 AM
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As nothing is fixed I will give you websites which are general. Hope this hones down where you want to go.
Wine take your pick. The area is huge.
https://www.vinsdeprovence.com/en/le...s-appellations
Markets will be found in every city, town even villages. They will be held on certain days. So it is hard to suggest certain ones.
July is towards the end of Lavender season.
This is a great area to base yourself in National park, villages, lavender fields and more.
https://luberon.fr/
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Old Oct 28th, 2022, 04:40 AM
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A big yes to staying in Collioure! We loved this small resort town with a castle and nice shops and dining options. All of our family and friends who have stayed in Collioure were happy they included it in their itineraries!
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Old Oct 28th, 2022, 10:12 AM
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There really isn't anything exciting, IMO, between Montpellier - except maybe for Aigues Mortes. However, I'm not a big fan of Aigues Mortes (visited it 3 times) compared to what you see in Provence and along the Cote d'Azur.

We've spent 43 weeks vacationing in Provence and the Cote d'Azur. We'll be there for a month this coming June. Attached is a 35 page itinerary for visiting this region. We've also spent many weeks in the Languedoc/Roussillon (Perpignan/Collioure) area. Attached is my itinerary for that region.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 28th, 2022, 02:53 PM
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If you are taking a break in between Barcelona and Provence, then a stop in Coulloire can make sense. There are lovely places in the area (or just north, like Carcassonne) but I would still place Occitanie (and specifically, the former Languedoc-Roussillon) as a secondary goal to getting into Provence. However, there are a number of wide, beautiful (if sometimes very windy) white sand beaches in the area.

There are a number of places to stop between Montpellier and Marseilles, with Arles being one. Some prefer the smaller and more quant St. Remy (and nearby Les Baux and the Carrieres du Lumieres). Or you could go further north to Nimes, with the Pont du Gard not far. They will all pretty much check all the boxes, with Roman ruins, markets, food, Provencal style, etc. You can ten transfer bases into the Luberon, and get some really nice hill hiking in or biking, and get closer to the lavender..

Just a note about timing and a thing on your list, wine. Late July is late for lavender, which means you need to head to the higher Valensole plateau near Sault. Just keep that in mind as the warm summers and springs have been leading to earlier peaks viewing. Also, there is lovely rose in the Luberon area and that portion of Provence, but the more famous reds are in the northern portion of the Vaucluse (Southern Rhone), like Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and the like. We were just there several weeks back, on a weekend excursion from our place in Nice, and had some fantastic wine and food.

I do suggest ditching your car when you get to Nice, and rely on public transport. It will be easier to get around. This past summer we saw a huge surge in tourists, 40% above the level of 2019.

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Old Oct 28th, 2022, 03:46 PM
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gooster

I interpreted the OPs question to be about a place to stay overnight between Montpellier & Marseilles BEFORE he then goes on to Provence/Arles. I agree with you to just head to Provence. Perhaps skip Collioure also. Collioures is nice, but only 2 1/2 days in Provence will leave out many, many A+ sites. Especially if he'll be there on a Sunday or Monday morning when shops in most villages & cities will be closed.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 29th, 2022, 05:25 AM
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Yes to Collioure, but I would spend all my time after that on the way to NIce and forget about Nice entirely. No matter what you like, there are so many more wonderful places in Provence to spend your time. Provence is about the countryside and villages not the cities.
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Old Oct 29th, 2022, 01:26 PM
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There are websites that tell you which town has their market day in Provence,I would start my research there and expand out with your interests.
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