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Help planning 4-day itinerary, possibly in Provence in June

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Help planning 4-day itinerary, possibly in Provence in June

Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 02:39 PM
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Help planning 4-day itinerary, possibly in Provence in June

Hello all!

I'm new here - been reading the forums and am really thankful for all the helpful info!

My husband and I are going to France for our honeymoon in late June. We will be in the Annecy area for a few days (we are spending a few days there for various reasons) and then we have four days to kill before heading up to Paris for a week. Day one we wake up in Annecy, maybe do some more exploring, then drive...somewhere. Days 2, 3, and 4 we have open for exploring and activities. At the end of Day 4 we'd like to return the car and spend the night in a city where we can stay overnight, have an amazing meal, then get on a train to Paris in the morning on Day 5.

However, despite doing a lot of research, we aren't really sure where to go / what to do / how to itinerary these days. We are early 30s, adventurous, and pretty put off by overly touristy scenes. Since it's our honeymoon, we'd like to avoid places that might be overrun with tour groups or kids, which I know is a possibility in late June. We don't really want to stay in big cities or do museums over these few days since we'll be in Paris for a week.

Some things that we could be interested in doing:

- Seeing the Mediterranean is a pretty big must. Not really into the froufrou beach scene or laying around, but the idea of hiking the calanques near Cassis for a day seems pretty amazing. I would also like to try the wine in that region.

- Visiting the Pont du Gard

- Visiting some authentic and not-too-commercialized ruins. What would fall into this category? I know that Arles has an ampitheater, but that it's been commercialized to have bull fights, etc (not really interested in that).

- The medieval cities of Les Baux and Carcassonne look amazing in photos, but I'm afraid that they might be too touristy and "Disneyland" in reality. Any thoughts on this? Out of the two which would you prefer to visit (or another alternative?)

- We would love to visit the cheese caves in Roquefort, but it seems too out-of-the-way for this trip

- Same with the Loire Valley - love the wine in that region, and would like to see Chenonceau and the gardens at Villandry, but perhaps for another trip

- FOOD - we both are hugely into food and would love to have access to great markets/picnic food and great/unique local restaurants wherever we decide to stay (which seems like it won't be an issue at all

So considering all of the above, staying in Provence seems like the obvious choice, but we just want to make sure that we have enough to do. I was looking at places to have our base and Uzes looks very cute, with some great hotels, though I'm sure there are many other options. I was also thinking it might be smart to spend the last full day doing the Cassis hiking and wine tasting and then dropping the car in Aix, and staying there overnight so we can get a train to Paris.

I am, however, really concerned about parking a rental car that is carrying our luggage while in between hotels (as we would be in the above scenario in Cassis) - I've read and heard a lot of horror stories about rental car break-ins. Maybe it would be better to base for 2 nights somewhere near Uzes and then for 2 more nights closer to Aix. (?)

Any itinerary recommendations or thoughts on the above are much appreciated. Thank you so much!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 03:31 PM
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Here is what I would do:

- Day 1 take the TGV from Annecy to the Avignon TGV station. The train leaves at 9am & arrives at 12:30. One train change in Lyon. Rent a car and stay somewhere in the Luberon - Gordes, Roussillon, Bonnieux etc. Stay out in the countryside & admire the lavender blooming, cute villages, vineyards, etc. Stay there for 3 nights. You'll find plenty to do. We've visited Provence for 18 weeks - and we still discover new things to do.

- Day 4 leave early & drive to Aix and stay at Le Pigonnet www.hotelpigonnet.com . It's easy to find. Drop off the bags at the desk, then head off for a day in Cassis. Return to Aix in the late afternoon, explore Aix a bit, have dinner outside at the Pigonnet's restaurant - or on the Cours Mirabeau at Deux Garcons if people watching is more interesting to you than a relaxed meal. If you want a fabulous meal (ambiance not as "interesting" as prior two, however), our best meal the last time we were in Provence in '10 was at Pierre Reboul in Aix.

- Day 5 drive the short distance to the Aix TGV station and take the TGV to Paris.

Like I stated, we've spent 18 weeks in Provence (returning for 2 more in June). I developed a 27 page itinerary that describes our favorite villages, scenic drives, markets, etc. I've sent it to over 3,000 people on Fodors. If you would like a copy, e-Mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 03:55 PM
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For a "honeymoon" type place to stay in the Luberon, consider the Bastide de Marie
http://en.labastidedemarie.com/

We stay in Gites while in France, but we visited some friends who stayed at the Marie. Fabulous place. However, there is lots of English spoken and they seem to cater to Americans for some reason (waiters/help speak English). You can decide whether that's a plus or a minus.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 23rd, 2014, 06:14 AM
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Why not consider Burgundy instead? It's sort of on the way to Paris, has great food and wine, history and fewer tourists. This place is great for honeymooners: www.domainedesangespuligny.com. We've stayed there four times and will again. Super rooms, great hosts. beautiful area.
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Old Jan 25th, 2014, 10:09 AM
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Take the TGV to Avignon. Rent a car at the train station (all major brands there) then drive to St. Remy de Provence and stay at Chateau des Alpilles http://www.chateaudesalpilles.com/en/welcome (about 2 miles outside of town and MAGICAL place to stay). Take a room in the main building. Property has a restaurant, which is very good. Use this as a base to do day trips through Provence.

Market day in St. Remy is Wednesday and is a wonderful experience.

There are very non-commercial ruins in St. Remey. A short drive to les Baux and another wonderful place to eat is Bistro Paradou in Paradou, not far from les Baux. Three course lunch with wine that I have enjoyed several times. Also multiple places to eat in St. Remy de Provence. Find the chocolatier Joel Durand on the ring road.

When you are ready to go to Paris, back to Avignon and 2.5 hrs latter on the TGV you are there.

Enjoy
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Old Jan 25th, 2014, 10:37 AM
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Some of the best Roman sites have been commercialized because so many people want to see them. That's no reason to avoid them; they are very interesting. For a relatively unvisited Roman site in Arles, head to the Alyscamps, a long double row of Roman tombs.
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