First time Provence & French Riviera

Old Mar 25th, 2013, 07:37 PM
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First time Provence & French Riviera

Hi everyone. This is my first time visiting France and my first time on this forum so all your help is very much appreciated!

My family and I will be visiting France in mid-April and we plan on doing a 7 day road trip though Provence and the Côte d'Azure before heading to Paris for another 5 days. I'd love some input on the itinerary for the road trip's what i have so far:

DAY 1 : Arrive Marseille + Aix-en-Provence

12 pm: Arrive in Marseille
Rent car and check drive to hotel in Aix-en-Provence
[Sleep in Aix-en Provence]

DAY 2: Marseille + Cassis

Morning: Drive to Marseille
Afternoon: Drive to Cassis / Calanques
[Sleep in Aix-en-Provence]


Morning: Drive to Avignon
Afternoon: Wine tasting in Chateauneuf-du-Pape
[Sleep in Avignon]


Morning: Drive to Arles
Afternoon: Nîmes
Stop at Pont du Gard on the way back to Avignon
[Sleep in Avignon]


Morning: St-Rémy
Afternoon: Les Baux de provence
[Sleep in Avignon]


Morning: Drive to Nice
Late afternoon/evening: Monaco
[Sleep in Nice]


Morning: Drive to Cannes
Afternoon: Drive to St-Tropez
[Sleep in Nice]

Ok so now my questions are - Do you think that this is too much to try to see in one week? Is there another way to make the schedule more realistic? We want to avoid hotel hopping as much as possible and we don't want to leave our suitcases in the car all day either out of fear of them getting stolen...

Also - is it worth it to spend 5 days in Provence and only 2 in the french riviera, or should it be more proportional?

I also have some questions about wine tours in CNdP - is it necessary to take a tour or can we just drive around by ourselves? How do we find the places that do wine tastings?

Thank you for your help !!
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Old Mar 25th, 2013, 08:27 PM
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Way too much for one week! Day 4 alone needs 2 days; days 6 and 7 are impossible, giving travel times. Do you have the Michelin map of Provence (it includes the Côte d'Azur)? If not, get a copy and start looking at the distances from place to place. I also strongly recommend getting copies of the Michelin Green Guide to Provence and the companion one for the Côte d'Azur (which is in eastern Provence, FYI).

I'd be inclined to skip Marseille on this trip and spend more time in the most historic areas, such as Arles and Nîmes. Also, we find that both Cannes and Monaco (which is really just Monte Carlo) pale in comparison to Nice.

Now, about St-Tropez: getting there is difficult, although it might be manageable in April because of less traffic. There's just one road going down to the town from the motorway, and often it is bumper-to-bumper traffic. However, St-Tropez would be on the way to Cannes and Nice; there would be no point in driving first to Cannes and then all the way back to St-Tropez. Think about spending more time in Nice instead; it's a beautiful city with much to see.

You will need to spend some time with maps and guides to lay out reasonable itineraries. The web site will help with driving times, although the estimates tend to be on the short side.

Unless you want to visit Aix-en-Provence, there's no point to staying there. If you base yourselves around Avignon/St-Rémy you would be more central for most of the places you want to see.
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Old Mar 26th, 2013, 04:49 PM
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My guess is you are landing at Marseille Provence airport. You can save time by going directly from the airport to Aix-en-Provence, a short bus ride. Shrug off your jet lag by walking around Aix for the afternoon and pick up a rental car there the next day. Here is the airport info:
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Old Mar 26th, 2013, 05:46 PM
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Skip Cannes. Skip Monaco, Skip St-Tropez, maybe even Skip Marseilles (though it the cultural capital of Europe this year) - then you might have a manageable trip. I would stay in Avignon, not Aix.
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Old Mar 29th, 2013, 06:18 PM
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Thank you for all your replies!

So in light of all your suggestions, I will cut down on the amount of places I wanted to see. Instead of spending 2 nights in Aix and 3 nights in Avignon, I will just select one home base. Which town would you recommend as a base? I was thinking either Avignon or St-Rémy? And yes, I would be tempted to cut out the Riviera portion entirely and focus just on Provence, but unfortunately we have already booked our flight from Nice to Paris, so we have to end there.

Here is a revised itinerary (with a potential home base in Avignon):

DAY 1 : Arrive Marseille (have lunch here, rent car) then drive to Avignon

DAY 2: Avignon

DAY 3: Day trip to Luberon villages (Isle sur Sorgue, Gordes)

DAY 4: Day trip to Arles

DAY 5: Day trip to St-Rémy

DAY 6: Drive to Nice

DAY 7: Nice (maybe dinner in Monaco)

DAY 8: Depart from Nice to Paris

Do you have any recommendations for places to stay in Avignon? Would you suggest a hotel in the city or a villa rental further out? The problem is that we are 3 adults - me : 22 years old, with both my parents - so it is very hard to find a hotel room to fit us all comfortably. That is why we were thinking a 2 bedroom villa somewhere? Where do you think would be the best place for the first 5 nights?
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Old Mar 29th, 2013, 08:00 PM
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I'd skip Monaco completely. Nice itself is worth staying in, for several days, and there are plenty of nice restaurants there.
There are lots of apartment rentals out there., too. Try or any of the other rental websites.
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Old Mar 29th, 2013, 10:55 PM
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If you can, visit St Remy on Wednesday, the day of the big market - the largest in provence. Pick up some incredibly delicious, fresh food and picnic.
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