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Help me get a handle on the geography of Provence - which area to stay for 4 nights?

Help me get a handle on the geography of Provence - which area to stay for 4 nights?

Old Jul 22nd, 2006, 07:23 AM
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Help me get a handle on the geography of Provence - which area to stay for 4 nights?

Good morning fellow fodorites - for those who have explored Provence, where should we base ourselves for our 4 night stay?
Details: 2 couples with rental car
When: last week of April

We loved southern Tuscany - the hills with views of green & brown patches interspered with groves of trees laced amongst vineyards. I'm not attempting to "copy" Italy, but I want to utilize our 4 nights to the max. I've studied maps and websites without a clear picture of the areas. Any advice is much appreciated...
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Old Jul 22nd, 2006, 08:52 AM
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In my mind, Provence is a considerable variety of places and each has a different feel.

The "Provence" that is popularized in the books of Peter Mayle is the Luberon and it may capture what you are seeking.

Still, the broad array of towns, vineyards, monasteries and antiquities are not to be missed. Be prepared to explore a considerable chunk of territory.

What else is on this trip? - - perhaps two separate base locations (especially if you can allocate more than four nights) would appeal to you.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Jul 22nd, 2006, 09:10 AM
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Unfortunately, we have a time issue which, perhaps, you could help with. Here's what I have thus far and welcome your critique:

Saturday - DFW to CDG
Sunday - rental car, drive to Bayeux (other couple requests D-Day exploration of Normandy)
Monday - explore Normandy (DH & I have done this before so we're doing this in one day)
Tuesday - rental car return/train to Avignon/pick up rental car/base ourselves somewhere
Wednesday - Provence
Thursday - Provence
Friday - Provence
Saturday - return rental to Avignon/train to Paris for last night
Sunday - CDG to DFW

Pluses + minuses?
Thanks!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2006, 10:02 AM
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What time does your plane leave CDG for DFW. If it leaves after about 11:30, you could stay Sat night in Provence & take the TGV to CDG from Avignon. Trains leave at 6:40 & arrive at 10:00, or 7:30 ar 11:22 (1 chg), or 9:30 arrive at 1:00. We've done something like this on 3 different occasions.

I would stay in the Luberon - I think the area is more charming than the Alpilles/St Remy region, which is a popular place to stay.

I would try again to convince your partners to skip Normandy. You are going to be jet-lagged while you are there and may not enjoy it as much as you should. Tuesday is going to be pretty much a solid travel day - so Normandy will "consume" 2 1/2 days of your too short trip & 1 of those days will be "wasted" in travel. In Normandy, you should visit the Caen museum, but I wouldn't wat to try it in a jet-lagged condition. Also, I hate returning a car at CDG. Those two short car rentals are going to be quite expensive. Your Normandy excursion is going to be quite costly in terms of time & car rental fees (two short rentals vs one 1 week rental).

Also, what if it is raining cats & dogs in Normandy in April - which is quite likely. The cemetary, Arromanches, landing sites, etc won't be as enjoyable.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jul 22nd, 2006, 10:37 AM
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The many times we have been in Provence we base in Vaison la Romaine and find it perfect for exploring the area. The first time there we stayed at La Fete en Provence, which is in the "haut ville" or old part of Vaison. It is a little difficult to access, but a lovely hotel; some rooms have kitchens. Since then we've always stayed in a vacation rental, but I'm certain there are other hotels in Vaison.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2006, 11:45 AM
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My recommendation would be to base yourselves around St-Rémy, where all the olive groves will make you remember Tuscany. From St-Rémy you can visit the small towns of the Alpilles and make a day trip over to the Lubéron for the hilltop villages.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2006, 11:46 AM
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Picking up a copy of the Michelin Green Guide to Provence would give you a chance to research the region and decide what areas you would most like to visit.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2006, 12:01 PM
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I'd consider staying in Aix as it is both a beautiful city and, with the proximity of autoroutes, a good central location for exploring the region. We've also enjoyed Arles (and recommend the Calendal) but it may be a bit too far west for your interests.

StuDudley raises some very good points re. your scheduling. After the long flight CDG to Bayeux is another 2-3 hours driving time so you'll be pretty well exhausted by the time you get settled in. Keep in mind that everything takes longer in France - especially driving around the countryside. And with only one full day to see the D-Day sites you'll be limited to a cursory "drive by" schedule and completely miss the really excellent museums at Ste. Mere-Eglise and Caen. And, of course, Bayeux is worth a few hours of your time... I too recommend skipping Normandy with this tight of a schedule.

I like the idea of taking the TGV back the morning of your flight if it meets your schedule needs. The time, effort and cost involved in going into Paris for that last night and then coming back out to CDG the next morning is considerable.



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