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First Time Trip to Provence - Need a Few Tips

First Time Trip to Provence - Need a Few Tips

May 22nd, 2007, 12:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 90
First Time Trip to Provence - Need a Few Tips

Good afternoon all!

My husband and I will be traveling to France in October -- departing October 3 and returning October 20. For five nights of this trip, we will be in Provence staying near St. Remy at Sous Les Figuers. I tried doing a search to get some feedback but could not find anything. Are any of you familiar with this establishment? All comments are welcome. I am having a heck of a time concocting some sort of itinerary for Provence. From what I have read (and I have read a lot), first timers in Provence should not miss any of the towns in the Vaucluse department. In addition to St. Remy, I would love to see Aix, Bonnieux, Gordes and possibly incorporate a visit to the Riviera/Cote d'Azur. Question -- which towns/villages would you all consider a "must see" for a first time visit to Provence? Thank you in advance for your assistance.

dlb716 is offline  
May 22nd, 2007, 12:57 PM
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Lots of posters here have written highly of that place. As to where to visit. You'll get different answers everyone has their own choises, I suggest the big three Perché villages, Gordes, Les Baux, Roussillon, all easy from St Remy. Maybe stay near Aix to drive to the Cote D'Or

Other villages I enjoy over and over, Saignon, Seguret, Lourmarin, Eygalieres.

cigalechanta is offline  
May 22nd, 2007, 01:06 PM
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For feedback on the hotel, check out the reviews on Tripadvisor. There are 14 of them. Mind the spelling: it's figuiers and not figuers which is probably the reason why you didn't find anything.
MyriamC is offline  
May 22nd, 2007, 01:39 PM
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Thank you for the spelling tip. I re-searched with the correct spelling and came up with several comments.

As far as our itinerary goes (and this will be pared down), it has been narrowed to St. Remy, Bonnieux, Rousillon, Gordes, Aix, Cassis and Nice. I'm also toying with Chateuaneuf de Pape. So many decisions, too little time!
dlb716 is offline  
May 22nd, 2007, 02:17 PM
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Les Figuiers is a lovely place and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
I wouldn't say that all of the towns in the Vaucluse are worth the visit, but there are some that are.

If you plan to drive to the Côte d'Azur, I'd sugggest perhaps staying in or near Cassis before driving on to the Côte.
Here are some ideas for day trips fron St. Rémy which I've posted before.

DAY TRIPS - Based in St Rémy

Day One:
Drive to the Pont du Gard in the morning. This is about a 45 minute drive from St Rémy. Afterwards, drive another 15 minutes to Uzès. This is a charming town with a wonderful pedestrian center and many interesting shops, especially for pottery.
There is also a beautiful medieval garden which is open for visits.
Market day is Saturday - all day.
Restaurant recommendation for lunch:

Les Fontaines
Charming small restaurant in the center of town. Tiny indoor patio area among the ruined walls. Good eclectic mix of food... sometimes a Moroccan tahjine, sometimes provençal.
6, rue Entre les Tours Tel: 04 66 22 41 20

After lunch return to St Rémy via Tarascon - you might wish to visit the castle on the Rhône.
If you haven't dallied too long, the end of the day is the perfect time to visit Les Baux, just on the south side of the Alpilles from St.Rémy. The tour buses have left and it's a delightful time to wander the cobblestone streets and visit.

Day Two:

Make a circuit of the Lubéron villages. From St. Rémy drive to Gordes (about 45 minutes), and then visit the Abbaye de Senanque. (If you're planning to be here the end of June or July, the Abbaye will be surrounded by blooming lavender fields.)
I don't really recommend spending long in Gordes - for one you have to pay to park and the village is much more spectacular viewed from afar.

From Gordes or l'Abbaye, drive to Roussillon (about 20 minutes). Roussillon is built on red and yellow ochre cliffs and is home to many artists and galleries. It's a beautiful small village and the climb to the top is very interesting. There's a great pottery shop at the top that also sells packaged ochres, if you are an artist or have the urge to begin painting.

Near the clock tower there's a charming small outdoor restaurant called La Treille, which has good food at a reasonable price.

From Roussillon drive to Bonnieux through the vineyards. This is another perched village and the climb to the top is steep. If you've had enough climbing, I suggest going on Lacoste, home of the Marquis de Sade's château. It was purchased a couple of years ago by Pierre Cardin, but I think parts of it are still open to the public.

From Lacoste you can drive to Menerbes (you can park at the top of the village) where there are some charming shops and views. Or you can continue along to Oppede le Vieux, one of my favorites Not completely "redone" it's a small village with a ruined church and château (now closed) that is charming.

This is a full day.

Day Three:
If you're interested in the Camargue (the natural wildlife preserve - famous for the wild Camarguais horses, bulls and rice fields) I highly suggest a visit to Aigues Mortes.
South of Arles, it's a little over an hour's drive from St Remy.

A walled city, departure point for the crusades, it's one of my favorite places in the area. It hasn't really caught on with foreign tourists yet, although do I see more and more every year.

Famous for salt, you can see the mountains of it from the ramparts.

Returning from Aigues Mortes, you might want to visit Arles. The Roman coliseum and theater in town are well preserved and used today. There is also a Roman necropolis just on the edge of town and within walking distance from the center.
It's also a place that Van Gogh painted extensively, and the Tourist Office has a booklet (in English ) that gives various walking tours that are very interesting.

It's about a 30 minute drive back to St Rémy from Arles.

Day Four:

If you're interested in seeing some of the coast, I highly recommend a drive of about an hour and half to Cassis. A small fishing village right on the Med, it's got a great beach and you can take a boat ride to visit the "calanques"... inlets with small beaches at the foot of the cliffs not accessible by car.

Recommendation for lunch - overlooking the water:

Le Grand Large

Just off the port, with a large terrace overlooking the beach and the sea. Excellent seafood during the season. In summer bouillabaisse is often on the menu (without having to request it in advance) Off season, call the evening before if you would like this specialty. The fried calamari is excellent, as is the fresh fish.
Tel: 04 42 01 81 00

If you're not interested in driving that far I could suggest, especially if it's a Sunday, driving to l'Isle sur la Sorgue which has a fabulous market and antiques market that day. The village is spread out along the banks of the Sorgue river and there are big water wheels dotted along the town. Little shops and winding streets make it a more relaxing day.

And, of course, visit St. Rémy, home of Nostradamus. The St Paul de Mausole just outside of town, is the institution where Van Gogh spent time and painted a lot. There is a walk that has panels showing the paintings he did while there - and some of the views are basically unchanged today. Just next door is Glanum - the ruins of a Roman town built on the ruins of a Phoenician village. It's quite fascinating to visit.
Market day in St Rémy is Wednesday and the town is very busy that day.


PBProvence is offline  
May 22nd, 2007, 02:23 PM
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There is a web site: www.beyond.fr that is amazing for all details provencal. They pos itineraries, each little village and the history, interests, hotels, dining, etc etc. Can't miss here.
ddena is offline  
May 22nd, 2007, 02:45 PM
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ddena, I always suggest that and

You can see all the villages in the different parts of Provence and what's there to see before you decide.
cigalechanta is offline  
May 22nd, 2007, 02:57 PM
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Luhimari is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 05:46 AM
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Thank you all for your helpful posts. Patricia, your itinerary sounds wonderful! We will have a car, and we are both early risers, so this definitely sounds doable. I did notice that no one gave any comments about Avignon. I mention this because a good friend of mine visited Provence last year and told me that Avignon, other than just a few obvious sights, was disappointing to her. Same with Arles. What are everyone's thoughts on these two cities? I have decided that we definitely will work Cassis into our trip. One other question -- if you had to pick one of the towns/villages along the Cote d'Azur, which would you pick? My first choice is Nice. Others have said that places like St. Tropez are rather overrated. What about Antibes, Cap Ferrat, Eze, etc.? I really appreciate everyone's patience with my questions. I have done tons of reading, but I think I have overdone it a bit and my head is kind of reeling. Also, I am really big on personal feedback. Please, keep the comments coming. I do appreciate it!

dlb716 is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 06:24 AM
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We just returned from spending 12 days in Provence and Cote d'Azure. We based in tiny Menerbes and tried to time our visits to other villages on their market days. Our favorites: Bonnieux, Apt (wonderful market!), Isle Sur La Sorgue, Les Baux, Roussillon, Joucas. I agree Gordes is a great photo opt and most enjoyable from a distance but don't miss the Abbaye not far away. We felt Aix was overrated - we didn't spend much time there. We did not visit Arles or Avignon and we don't regret sticking to the smaller villages in Provence. We visited St. Remy and it was full of beautiful more sophisticated shops than the small villages. AFter our week in Menerbes we drove to Villefranche sur mer for 4 nights and again we took side trips from there...it is a gorgeous little seaside village with superb restaurants...offers a more quiet atmosphere. We stayed at the perfectly located Hotel Provencal. You can easily visit Nice, Monaco, Cannes, etc. Most especially we enjoyed our excursion to the village of Eze. A real treat. Those are my "must see" offerings - you are going to have a fantastic time!!
caroltis is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 06:56 AM
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I don't think St. Tropez is overrated.
I wouldn't go there in high season. I adored its atmosphere in early October.
Its just beautiful, that whole pennisula.
SuzieCII is offline  

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