Help planning Paris-Provence trip

Old Mar 7th, 2004, 08:41 PM
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Help planning Paris-Provence trip

Hello! My boyfriend and I are feeling overwhelmed as we try to plan our vacation to France (May7-21). We'd like to create a super romantic trip, however, there are limitless things to do and see, and 14 days just doesn't seem like enough time. We think we'd like to start with 5 days in Paris (is this enough time??), then go down to Provence (by train), and tour around the south in a rental car (with a home-base in St. Remy) before flying back to Paris to fly home. Can anyone share ideas about what has worked for them?? Thanks!
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Old Mar 7th, 2004, 08:55 PM
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We like to start our trip in Provence to unwind in the country, then finish up in Paris. Fourteen days is actually a very nice amount of time.

I'd be inclined to take the TGV to Avignon, pick up the car, and head for the St.-Rémy area and spend four days touring that part of Provence (Arles, Les Baux, Uzè, the Lubéron villages), then move on to the region around Nice for the last 4 days before the flight back to Paris.
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Old Mar 7th, 2004, 08:59 PM
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I'll second Underhill's suggestion. First of all, you can never spend enough time in Paris so don't worry about it. Go south, relax and get over jet lag, enjoy Provence. At the end of the trip when you're comfortable with France, spend your time in Paris.

When you do this, don't think of it as the only chance you have to see any particular sight or area. Remember, you can always go back. It's nice to have an excuse to do so!
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Old Mar 7th, 2004, 09:21 PM
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Thanks for the advice! Starting the trip in Provence seems like a wonderful idea, however, our 1 year anniversary falls within the first few days of the trip, and I have a hankering for spending it in Paris... it just seems like the epitome of romance! Therefore, I think we're pretty sure about the order in which we'll do things --> Paris first, then Provence. Does anyone have experience renting cars in France? Are there any special, must-see sights/stops in Provence that aren't listed in the guide books? This trip is to celebrate my graduation from medical school... I want it to be fantastic! Thanks for all the help!
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Old Mar 7th, 2004, 09:33 PM
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What a great way to celebrate, and to rest yourself up for your next several years!

I don't have any hidden treasures of Provence, but one thing my husband and I did enjoy is just driving around the countryside. One of our day trips was from our base near St. Remy, taking every Michelin green-bordered (Michelin's designation for beautiful routes) road we could find, to Gordes and Roussillon. It took most of the day, mostly because we were taking our time.

Try to visit Les Baux near the end of the day. It's usually very packed with visitors, huge busfuls of them, but there were many fewer (and we actually found a parking spot quite easily) when we visited near the end of the day.

I really enjoy Arles (much more than Avignon or Aix); the Roman ruins are great. One time we happened upon young men practicing bullfighting (sans the bulls) in the coliseum. I know there are performances at some of the ruins at some times of year; you might check on that.

My husband, who is not easily impressed, was impressed (as was I) by the Pont du Gard. If it's a nice day, take a picnic lunch and sit by the river.
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Old Mar 8th, 2004, 08:30 AM
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One word of advice: book your Paris hotel NOW. Things start filling up in May, and you want to have the most choices possible.
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Old Mar 8th, 2004, 09:45 AM
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Thanks for the advice! We're vowing to book both plane tics and hotels this week. Any suggestions in Paris? We're using Let's Go to guide us... Hotel Henri IV near Pont Neuf sounds great (centraly located and reasonably priced). Anyone know anything about it? Any other suggestions? People on this site seem to like the 4th, 5th and 6th as areas in which to stay. Help Please!!! THANKS!
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Old Mar 8th, 2004, 10:13 AM
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My fav hotel in Paris has been Grandes Hotel des Balcons...though we stayed in the Grande Hotel Jean D'Arc last year, because I love the Marais area for shopping and dining. I've got some travelogues with pictures on Virtual Tourist -- www.virtualtourist.com/radiomom Look at my Paris pages and also St. Remy. The guesthouse we stayed in there was really romantic. You're gonna have a wonderful trip. I think 5 nights in Paris, 4 in St Remy maybe 2 near the Riviera, then head up through Burgundy on your way back to Paris??? May is the best time of year to go
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Old Mar 8th, 2004, 10:24 AM
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My husband and I stayed at the Grande hotel de Balcons in 2002. While it was a very nice hotel, we thought the rooms were way to small. You could hardly get into the bathroom. It is a 2 star hotel, so you get what you pay for. We now stay at the Hotel O'deon when we travel to Paris. It is a 3 star hotel very nice, and nice size rooms. We even had a queen size bed. Just a recommendation. Hope it helps.
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Old Mar 8th, 2004, 10:30 AM
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Spend a night or 2 in Arles.It is a neat town.Wed. and Sat are market days.The Pont du Gard is neat.best regards.
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Old Mar 8th, 2004, 10:38 AM
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It depends on what kind of hotel you are looking for or what you want to spend, but does that book describe what Hotel Henri IV is like? It's one of the most "basic" hotels in Paris, really rock bottom. I wouldn't stay there unless you are only expecting very minimal accommodations.
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Old Mar 8th, 2004, 11:06 AM
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Only stay at the HenriIV if you are on a very tight budget, and don't need a toilet or shower in your room. The location is nice, but we are talking cheapo...
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Old Mar 14th, 2004, 12:01 PM
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A friend and I are going to be doing a similar sort of thing- fly into Paris, then check out Provence for a few days- but we WONT have a car. Can anyone recommend a good way to check out St. Remy and Aix, and anywhere else in Provence, without a car??
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Old Mar 14th, 2004, 08:33 PM
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Not St.-Rémy, really, as it's out in the countryside. But you can take the train directly to Aix, then a bus or taxi into the town (the new TGV station is out on its own in the country). From Aix you can take the train to Avignon, Nice, Marseille, Arles...but not out to the charming small villages for the most part. You could rent bikes or motor-scooters, however, and be a bit more mobile. Even on foot there's a lot to see in and around St.-Rémy itself.
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Old Mar 14th, 2004, 10:04 PM
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Kim

If you want to make it truely memorable try arranging your Provence leg of the journey through France the French Way
www.france.co.nz I know it is a New Zealand site but the guy that operates it has stayed at all the accomodation that is listed and there is no rubbish.

We had two fantastic weeks in the village of Venasque, staying on the top two floors of a 300 year old house in the centre of the tiny village. The local bakery was great the view of Mount Ventoux fantastic and everything was a close drive away, Aix, Gordes, Fontain de Vacluse, Chateau Neuf De Pape. (forgive the spelling I am hopeless at it).

Anyway the bonus of booking with France the french Way is that the owner prepares a self drive itinery for you based upon the number of days you are there. This guy really knows Provence. The descriptions and directions were perfect and the out of the way places you can end up at were brilliant.

For a romantic holiday you can't go past this.

Steve
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Old Mar 15th, 2004, 10:18 AM
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Kim -

If it is any help, I just booked two places in Provence based on advice here and elsewhere. They both look really nice - Chateau de Barbegal, which is between St. Remy and Arles and Mas Perreal which is in the Luberon countryside.

We'll be there in May as well, by the way.
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