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Help picking base in Provence or French Riviera?


Jun 6th, 2016, 10:30 AM
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Help picking base in Provence or French Riviera?

I would like to visit the south of France. We don't like big cities and want relaxation but do want to see people.. (markets are probably too much but we love outdoor dining and people watching)

I was thinking of Luberon area so that we can relax and take day trips. While Remy and Aix sound charming, I'm not sure that we can take more than a day walking through villages in the summertime.

We like fresh food, nature, beaches, lakes, hikes, (I'd like to see Verdon Gorge and go kayaking)

Is there a base that offers that? Other thing I was thinking is stay in French Riviera (for the beach) but then take day trips for hiking and nature?

thank you.
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Jun 6th, 2016, 10:39 AM
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If this helps.. we visited Croatia islands (not Dubrovnik) and loved it. Visited Positano and found it too touristy (not so much crowded but knick knacks everywhere and did not feel authentic).

Really appreciate a few suggestions.
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Jun 6th, 2016, 10:51 AM
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You really don't understand some things. Aix is not a "village", it's a town or city with a university and about 100K population. It does have some beautiful architecture, I think. St Remy would more qualify as a village, but I don't feel that way when I am in it, more than most any other place of that size. It feels a lot bigger to me, gets very crowded, you can't even park in the center, and has some high-end shops. I think Aix is actually more charming than St Remy, but it has some fans.

There are plenty of things to see in Aix that can take up a day, it isn't like a village like Bonnieux where you just drive through in a few minutes.

But if you want to do outdoor sports, then great, do that. You don't say when you are going but it is impossible to go to the Riviera to avoid crowds and people, not to mention how expensive it would be (at least presuming this is in summer). I'd suggest you think of basing in Manosque, it isn't too far from the Gorges. I would forget the beach idea if your goal is to avoid crowds. Manosque also isn't too far from Ste Victoire mountain and park range.

There are some man-made lakes around Manosque, but that may not appeal to you, but plenty of water sports. Like Lac de Ste Croix.

Manosque isn't a village, either, which means there are more dining choices, accommodation and things to do, plus a rail station. It's midway in size between St Remy and Aix, about 25K population. It has a market, of course. If that ios too much for you, there are certainly smaller villages around that area.

This is a good website with info and it shows you distances to nearby places http://www.beyond.fr/villages/manosque.html
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Jun 6th, 2016, 11:01 AM
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Thanks. I live in New York now, so those are villages to me. Forgive the misnomer. I'm not trying to avoid people, but rather walking through these towns or cities in the heat of summer is something we can't do for more than a day. Which is why I am trying to find a different base for my stay.

And the beach is a priority so I don't want to leave that out. Why do you think Luberon is not a good base?

In fact, I mentioned I am okay with staying in Nice perhaps and then taking day trips. I like coming back to the city where there are lots of options and accommodations. I just don't want to spend the day there.
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Jun 6th, 2016, 01:16 PM
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I think you need to look at a map. The Luberon is not close to the Mediterranean and its about a 2 and 1/2 hour drive to the Verdon Gorge. Nice has a beach of rocks but you can find sand to the east. Perhaps something from Cannes to St Tropez?
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Jun 6th, 2016, 01:42 PM
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Some nice sandy beaches in Antibes and a good location to tour from.
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Jun 6th, 2016, 02:59 PM
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Arles could be a good base or St-Remy-de-Provence or even Avignon though it is a much more touristed city (all main cities in southern France have tons of tourists in summer however) - but with a car you can go to the beaches - the Camargue for hiking or riding horses into the wilds of that famous swamp to see the famous wild horses or gaggles of flamingos - Nimes has stellar Roman ruins and the Pont du Gard is one of the most intact Roman things anywhere in Europe - Les Beau-de-Provence is awesome - so so many neat places in a relatively compact area - did I forget Uzes, one of the nicest towns anywhere.
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