Help w/ plans for southern France

Old Oct 17th, 2003, 01:05 PM
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Help w/ plans for southern France

My wife (will be 4 1/2 months pregnant) and I (both age 30)are traveling to France the second week of November. We are spending 3 nights in Paris, then planning on spending 4 nights in the south of france. We were thinking of taking the TGV train to Avignon, renting a car and driving around for 4 days, then flying home from Marsielle (flight already booked, returning car at Marsielle. Any thoughts on what to do with those 4 days/nights. We've heard Marsielle isn't great and we might just drive to the airport that AM.
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Old Oct 17th, 2003, 01:21 PM
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I'm one who likes Marseille but not the inner city, around the old port. There are many beautiful perché villages between Avignon and Marseille. There are many museums if that interests you but just to go from village to village is a treat. Get a book on Provence and find what interests you. Drive maybe one day to Cassis, (a lovely not as trendy as St. Tropez)I think the oursin(sea urchins) may be in season. I love them in the half shell. You are better off staying and visiting the small villages so your wife won't tire in a big city with traffic and all. If you need a place to stay, I can suggest a few if I know your [email protected]
cigalechanta is offline  
Old Oct 17th, 2003, 01:54 PM
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The Marseille airport is not in MRS proper, but closer to Aix-en-Provence, about 1/2-hrs drive. The distance from Aix to Avignon is about 70-75 miles, so would suggest you select a town midway for a hotel.

Many recommend St. Remy, and I agree, but note that in November a number of smaller hotels do close till about December 15 or 20 (these are usually family run and do need a vacation themselves), then open for Christmas/New Years.

I would hotel 3-nts in St. Remy, and on morning of your last full day (and for last night) be heading to Aix so you have a shorter distance to the airport for your departure.

What is nice about St. Remy is that it is small enough, but not so much so that there isn't lots to see, do, eat, here. Also getting in and out of St. Remy is easy with roads going N (Avignon, Orange), E (the Luberon towns of Gordes, Rousillion, and lots more), S (Les Baux, Arles) and W (Pont du Gard and Nimes). Of course, there is no guarantee you can visit all of these places, but a guidebook will give you a better idea of those that are of particular interest to you.

Aix, in comparison is a much larger city, but no less interesting and still easy enough to walk around.

Enjoy your holiday.
Old Oct 17th, 2003, 02:19 PM
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I would spend two nights in Avignon and two in Aix and do day trips to some of the small towns. As mentioned above St Remy is wonderful, and close to that is Les Baux. Ile sur la Sorge and Gordes are two other towns that I did day trips to from Avignon but I think most of the small towns in the area are probably worth doing. I'd spend some time in Avignon and Aix also. I really loved Aix. I know some people on this forum don't like it and I've never been able to figure out why, I thought it was lovely (the center, not the suburban spraw on the outskirts).
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Old Oct 17th, 2003, 02:26 PM
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I went to France when I was 6 months pregnant so the "traveling pregnant woman" thing is not a problem! Plus you get great exercise walking all over the place looking at sites!

The area south of Avignon is my favorite and I have spent considerable time exploring the region. I would recommend definitely spending one of your days in Arles. It is very close to Avignon, yet has such a small town provincial air about it. Perhaps you could make Arles your base while you explore the adjoining towns? You should definitely try to see the famous 'Pont du Gard' Roman aqueduct bridge from ancient times. Another of your days might be spent visiting off-the-beaten-path, Vaison la Romaine. I would recommend that town because you will have a car so it will be easy to get to. It is located N/E of Arles and is both a Roman and Medieval city (there are literally 2 towns - an upper and a lower!) with lots to see, plus a wonderful bustling daily market there. I would also concur with the other poster, I really liked St. Remy-de-Provence. Aside from being the former residence of Van Gogh, it has remarkable ancient history and ruins (Greek, then Roman - my field) and an equally charming "modern" village full of quaint shops and cafes. Orange, is another terrific little town to see. Re: Marseille, it is a nice place to visit; however, I did not stay overnight there. I spent a full day there seeing the city sights and also the famous Chateau D'If (of Monte Cristo fame) in the harbor - and ate some bouillabaise. I would think if you have an afternoon flight, that you might want to arrive in the morning to see a few things in Marseille, then head to the airport. Have a great trip!
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Old Oct 17th, 2003, 02:46 PM
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Previous posters offer very good suggestions. Whatever you do, make it easy on yourself and base in one town for all 4 nights. St. Remy is a good suggestion. I would recommend Arles. Check out the Hotel Le Calendal( Rooms are 75E or less. Chambre#4 has a terrace with a great view of the Roman amphitheatre. Hotel is very cozy and staff is very friendly and email/English fluent. Great market on Wed/Sat. plus you can make all the day trips from there.
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Old Oct 17th, 2003, 04:31 PM
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Le calaendal I can second as a good bargain for what you get almost in the heart of the place de forum, with a nice terrace. The knopp guide(Provence) will give you listings of all the cultural and places to visit with choice places to eat and stay
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Old Oct 17th, 2003, 04:43 PM
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Last month we spent 3 nights in St Remy at Mas les Carassins, which is on the south edge of town. Such a nice place. 139 euros/night, includes breakfast. St Remy gave us easy access to the towns of the Luberon (loved Rousillon) and don't miss Les Baux.

We also flew out of Marseilles on an early flight to CDG. Stayed at the
Best Western which was about 5 minutes from the terminal and the car rental dropoff. Couldn't have been easier. St Remy was about 1 hour drive to
Marseilles and that was taking one wrong turn.
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Old Oct 18th, 2003, 04:59 AM
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>>Another of your days might be spent visiting off-the-beaten-path, Vaison la Romaine. I would recommend that town because you will have a car so it will be easy to get to. It is located N/E of Arles<<

Vaison la Romaine is N/E, but more N/E of Orange which is N of Avignon.

Before you do anything get a copy of the Michelin Orange #528 map (replaces the Yellow #245 map) which covers the area of Provence.
Old Oct 18th, 2003, 11:11 AM
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We love Arles! JoeG and Cigalechanta beat me to it, but agree wholeheartedly with their suggestion to stay at La Calendal. It's one of our favorite European hotels. Arles is an excellent base for travel to Nimes, Pont Du Gard, and we enjoyed a day we spent in the Camargue (we did a very interesting nature walk).

We stopped in Vaison la Romaine on our drive down from Lyon and visited part of the Roman ruins. We particularly enjoyed the theater and a very good museum.

No matter where you go in Provence you will enjoy yourselves. It is truly a wonderful area.
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Old Oct 18th, 2003, 01:36 PM
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just a point.
Marseille airport is to the west of Marseille, but pretty close. Aix is North of Marseille.

If you fancy seeing Languedoc, see my homepage at :


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Old Oct 18th, 2003, 03:21 PM
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I also recommend staying in or near St. Remy - it is so convenient to Avignon, Maussane, Arles, Gordes, Roussillon, Bonnieux, etc. We stayed at a gorgeous renovated farm house betwen St. Remy and Noves - La Maison ( La Maison is so peaceful and beautiful and the food is exquisite! It is a very relaxing home to return to after a busy day of touring.
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Old Oct 20th, 2003, 08:36 AM
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thanks for all your help, would anyone recommend going to st. tropex or is it too far?
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Old Oct 21st, 2003, 01:47 AM
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No, IMO I would not go on to St. Tropez because you are spending your time in the Provence region. It is just too far to get over there and St. Tropez is not exactly easily accessible (you have to take a boat to get there as there is no train service). On the other hand, if you chose to change your regions from Provence to the Cote D'Azur, you could take in all the towns along the French Riviera and see St. Tropez then. However, I think it would be best to save it for another return trip!
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Old Nov 2nd, 2003, 10:19 AM
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Any opinions about a day trip to roussillon from st. remy?
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Old Nov 2nd, 2003, 11:36 AM
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This is a very easy day trip from St. Remy.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 03:17 PM
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St. Tropez is too far but there are sole lovely coastal towns just east of Marsailles - try Bandol for one. As I driver, I shy away frm Aix...too confusing with the one way streets......but definately consider Vaison la Romaine.....great wines (for you) in much to do in the region....don't miss the small towns though
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