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First visit to Provence

Old May 19th, 2005, 12:50 PM
  #1  
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First visit to Provence

I often hear Tuscany compared to Provence. We love Tuscany but are now looking forward to a few days in Provence in September.I have been reading some guide books and am not able to arrive at any sense of the "must see" places in Provence. When I think Tuscany there is an intuitiveness about it that is based on my experience. I would much appreciate some advice from those of you who have experienced travel in Provence. In particular which of the Roman ruins are not to be missed? Which hill towns are most interesting? We will be driving and would like to know about particularly scenic routes. Do you have any hotels or B&B to reccomend? All of your thoughts are most welcome.
Thanks in advance.
Dee
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Old May 19th, 2005, 01:42 PM
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Hopefully you will hear from fellow Fodorite Stu Dudley...he travels to Provence quite frequently and has an awesome 25 pg. write-up he can email to you. It has great driving routes, recommended restuarants, etc..
Stu, are you out there?!
I'm leaving for Provence tomorrow night! Can't wait!
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Old May 19th, 2005, 02:04 PM
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For Roman ruins, here are our favorites: the Pont du Gard, Arles (amphitheater and arena); Orange (splendid amphitheater still used for productions; triumphal arch); Vaison-la-Romaine (another fine arena and also the remains of a Roman housing settlement; interesting church, too); Nîmes (huge arena and the Maison Carré Fréjus (assorted ruins); and Nice (least good ruins but still interesting).

Our favorite hill towns are Le Poët-Laval, in the Drôme--just above Orange and not far from Vaison; St-Paul-de-Vence (near Nice); Mougins (near Cannes); Eze-village (along the coast east of Nice); and Tourette-sur-Loup, in the mountains above Vence.

A village not to be missed if your time allows is tiny Moustiers-Ste-Marie, nestled along a stream in the mountains through which the Route Napoléon winds its way. The village is famous for its fine faience. A good up-scale B&B about 20 minutes south is a château operated as a B&B by its owner, a charming young count, and his Scottish wife. You can find details at

http://www.provenceweb.fr/04/ukEsparron.htm

We stayed there by accident, having arrived one day too early at the Bastide de Moustier, which referred us to the château--and were we glad!

Also, I'd build in time to see the ancient village of Les Baux, now in ruins--but what ruins! Nearby is the charming town of St-Rémy.

Recommended hotels: Le Hameau, near St-Paul; Les Hospitaliers, at Poët-Laval (the nearby small town of Dieulefit is very nice, and the area specializes in pottery); Domaine de Valmouriane, near St-Rémy.
Underhill is online now  
Old May 19th, 2005, 02:11 PM
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>>Stu, are you out there?!
I'm leaving for Provence tomorrow night! Can't wait!<<

I'm leaving next week!!!

E-mail me at [email protected] of you want a copy of my itinerary.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 19th, 2005, 02:34 PM
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Please don't forget the Les Antiques and Glanum, just outside St Remy.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 02:36 PM
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Je m'excuse, Mimi! Of course those go on the list.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 02:48 PM
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Dee, we have stayed at so many B&Bs through the years. If you know where you want to stay, I can give you th names of many.
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Old May 20th, 2005, 06:39 AM
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Many thanks for all your helpful replies.

Dee
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Old May 20th, 2005, 12:27 PM
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I just returned from my HM in Provence and have absolutely fallen in love with the place! All the places of interest listed below are great and these boards were alot of help in my trip planning.

We lucked out in Nimes because we happened to be there during the Pentecost Festival des Ferias, which made Nimes all the more exciting. Our initial impression of Nimes wasn't great and were almost going to hop back in the car and go to Arles, but the energy of this festival was amazing! There was this really fun and boisterous parade of bands throughout the streets that made our day.(Sidenote--the amphitheater, Les Arenes wasn't open to the public because of the bullfights.) If you are at Pont du Gard or Nimes, Uzes is a lovely town nearby to have dinner and stroll around in. We ate at Lou Mazet (3 Place aux Herbes)and loved it. Their specialty is Pierrades which is a dish where you get to cook your meat on a hot stone chaffing dish at you leisure (choice of chicken, beef, duck or fish). Another restaurant recommended on these boards is Au Fil d'Eau. More upscale, all seafood, more haute cuisine based on the menu we looked at. It's on the other side of Place aux Herbes.


We had the pleaseure of dining at the often mentioned Chez Bru in Eygalieres during our stay too. It was probably the most expensive and amazing meal we have ever eaten in our lives. We did the tasting menu. If you decide to eat there, you can also do al a carte...but don't miss the specialty of the house...D'Ouefs Poches avec Trois Poissons et Truffe Buerre (please excuse any mispellings).

This can easily be the close to a day spent around St. Remy. We started that day at Baux (lovely) and then drove to St. Remy, had a lite snack and walked around town. Then we headed out to Monastere St Paul, the monastery and asylum where Van Gogh checked himself into and where he created many of his most famous works. It was gorgeous, and the added bonus were all the lavender irises blooming which eched his painting, Les Irises. We weren't planning on seeing Glanum, but kind of ended up there by the back way while doing the painter's walk outside the monastery. Definitely worth a visit.

We spent another day driving and hiking around Les Dentelles, starting at Seguret-Vaison La Romain- and finshing up in Beaumes des Venise. We used a Michelin Driving map of Provence to decide which roads to take and where to stop and do some hikes. If you're going to be driving around, it is essential to get one of these maps. Overall it greatly reduced the number of times we got lost! All the scenic roads are marked in green.

Do take the time to go to Avignon and see the Palais des Papes. We easily amused ourselves for the day wandering around Avignon. An interesting area is Rue des Teinturiers, the old dyers district. We ate dinner at Cafe Wooloomooloo there. It was really good and not too expensive. There's a really great wine bar where all the local artists and shopowners seem to go to as soon as they get off work right across road. Down the road, there's another Cafe/restaurant that looked really good too.

The best part of our stay was the chateau we stayed at,Domaine Le Vallon! The owners Fred and Michele made us feel like we were guests in their home rather than paying guests at a guesthouse. It is gorgeous and lovingly restored! The story of how they found and restored Le Vallon is incredible...but you should hear the story from them. This is their 2nd season they are open, and they only take reservations through the internet. Two things to know if you are going to stay there-
1. You'll need a car and the first time you are trying to find it it's a little tricky.
2. Their eldest son who used to own a 1 star restaurant in Gronigen does a Gastronomique Table (6 or 7 courses with individual wines for each course)on Tuesday evenings that is incredible and not to be missed if you are staying at Le Vallon. Or if you are not there on tuesdays, they also do a host's table on friday night and Michele is the cook. It is much simpler affair, but just as good. Fred and Michele even join their guests for dinner.

www.vallon-provence.com

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Old May 20th, 2005, 03:58 PM
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You should consider re-posting your post as a trip report.
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Old May 21st, 2005, 05:59 AM
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Thanks! I plan to add to it and repost a more detailed report later with Paris info and some more details about Provence.
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Old May 21st, 2005, 11:17 AM
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DrG
 
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Ste Remy is a lovely town. Nice restaurants, great market, and close to the ruins of Glanum.
Convenient to wine tours also.
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