Help me decide-Loire Valley or Provence

Jan 27th, 2006, 09:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,854
I suppose you can "do" Provence without a car - you could "do" Avignon or Aix or Arles, or some big city like that and see plenty. But that's not what most people go to Provence to experience. They go to visit the fresh markets and the small towns and to see Roman ruins and eat in cafés in villages under the shade of plane trees and view the lavendar fields and so on and so forth. It's hard to "do" that Provence without a car.
StCirq is online now  
Jan 27th, 2006, 09:17 AM
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I would pick Provence also, but there isn't that much I want to do in the Loire. I don't like looking at that many chateaux.

You can rent a car with automatic transmission easily, if you want -- I've done it twice in Provence and it wasn't that expensive. However, if you don't want, of course you can see things by train, but mainly the larger cities, of course. There have been a couple threads on this topic on Fodors that discussed it pretty thoroughly. You aren't going to have that many days, anyway. YOu could do whatever you wanted by train in Provence, and then maybe take some day bus tour thing for views of countryside and some stops not available otherwise. There are such excursions out of Avignon, which is a good base without a car.
Christina is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 01:19 PM
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miel- I resisted the car when I went to Normandy but ultimately decided it was needed to really get out and see the country. I think the same will be true for Provence.

I am planning to TGV to Avignon, spend a few days there then pick up a car for four days and go to a small town and travel daily from there. It really is easy to drive in the countryside. I found highways well marked and roundabouts make mistakes a lot easier to correct than our exit ramp system in the states.
amwosu is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 01:28 PM
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ditto to provence.. St Paul de Vence is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.. Also, the car is well worth it -if you've come that far, you might want to consider going on to Monaco - an unforgettable drive. (although if you do make that drive, go for the automatic - you do NOT want to learn to shift going up or down that road!!
momofrajah is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 02:57 PM
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Ahhh, but it's such fun with a stick shift!
Underhill is offline  
Jan 27th, 2006, 06:04 PM
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Went at the end of April last year -- 7 days Provence and 2 in Loire and still pleased we chose that ratio.
My recommentation: yes, pick Provence. Plan to drive. The smaller towns are more picturesque than the larger.
If you have time, you can learn a lot just putting small Provence towns through the search feature in this board.
hopingtotravel is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 07:38 AM
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I just linked into this string while planning our trip to Loire Valley. My husband and I went to Provence last April and loved it. My husband was tired from driving all over the region but we loved the food, wine and people. You will have a great time. Now after reading the string, we may replan our Loire trip and stay only a few days in Loire and head back down to Provence.
lexus22 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 05:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 40
Hard to tell for me. I was born in the Loire Valley and now I live in Marseille.

* Weather : of course Provence. but it will always be Provence against any other place of France. Loire area is usual 15c and humid. Provence can go up to 20-25c and usually you can have lunch outside, especially on the coast

*Historical sites : Loire is better. Castles are very different. I would recommend Chenonceaux (over the river), Chambord (extravagant), Villandry (beautuful gardens), Ussé (the "real Disneyworld castle, that -true story- inspired W.disney), and Loches (my home town). A lot also of medieval towns all around.
Provence got also some wonderful medieval towns (like Gordes or Les Baux de Provence) but less history.

* Food & Wine : both great. Loire is white wine, mushrooms, goat cheese. Provence is olive oil, red/rosé wines, rosemary, tyme, tomatoes, etc.

* Landscapes : Provence. Sea + mountains + blue sky, u can't beat it. Dry landscapes. Loire is a more classic oceanic weather landscape with beatiful forests and wheat fields.

So as a second trip after Paris, I would recommend Provence. Can give u more advice if u wish. However, if you want the real taste of historical France, Touraine (what we call the Loire Valley) is the place.

A car is mandatory. Driving is very easy in France as u are used to drive on the right side. You can book an automatic car at Avis/hertz, but why not try our good manual gear (a lot more fun actually and very easy). I always try to adapt to local cars when travelling (even to the UK, which is always weird) and I enjoy it.

Go to Provence from Paris : Fast train (TGV) is 3 hours to Marseille or Aix. Plane every hour from Orly to Marseille is very convenient and usually just a bit more expensive.

Enjoy !
benjinho is offline  

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