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Help with 6 days Provence Itinerary

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May 15th, 2011, 10:25 AM
  #1
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Help with 6 days Provence Itinerary

Hi everyone,

I am planning to spend 6 days (nights) in June in Provence. I have read up some of Provence threads from Fodorists and come up with the following itinerary (in part due to limited supply of hotel rooms -- end up splitting my stay in 3 different places). Comments from all Provence experts are very welcome:

Thurs: TGV to Avignon; pick-up car -- visit Avignon -- Vaison-la-Romaine -- Stay in Vaison-la-Romaine for 2 nights

Fri: Dentelles Loop (visit Seguret, Gigongdas, Beaumes des Venise) -- Chateauneuf du Pape (Beaucastel tour)

Sat: Gordes -- Senanque Abbey -- Oppede-le-Vieux -- Menerbes -- Bonnieux -- Saignon  Roussilon; Stay in Roussillon for 2 nights

Sun: L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (Sun market, arrived before 830) -- Stu’s Lavender tour

Mon: Arles -- Pont du Gard -- Saint Remy; Stay in Saint Remy for 2 nights

Tue: Aix (market day) -- Les Buaux de Provence -- Back to St Remy

Wed: Return car in Avignon; return to Paris

How does it look like?
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May 15th, 2011, 10:36 AM
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I'm going to bow to the expertise of other Fodorites who have been to Provence, but I think your Saturday looks very full. Bonnieux is small and we didn't get to Oppede or Saignon so don't know how long you'll be there. Otherwise, good show! I loved Roussillon by the way.
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May 15th, 2011, 11:14 AM
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Looks good--a bit active but fine. I think you will enjoy the explorations and don't fret if you don't make it to all on your list. I understand the moves necessitated by availability--they should expose you to a variety of settings and food & wine opportunities.

My only advice is to not hurry off to the next site if you are enjoying the present one--its about the pace and ambiance. And remember, most everything shuts down for the 12:30 to 3 period--except restaurants. We always enjoy this "picnic" time!
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May 16th, 2011, 07:56 AM
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Thanks for the reply.

TDudette, I am going to remove Bonnieux and Saignon from my Saturday's schedule and will take on the advice of macanimals to take our own pace!
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May 16th, 2011, 08:50 AM
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>>I am going to remove Bonnieux and Saignon<<

I would remove Senanque Abbey (instead of Bonnieux & Saignon) if the lavender directly in front of the abbey is not in bloom, or has not been replanted for this year (it was "dug up" when we were there last year). Getting to/from the abbey is a bit of a hassle because the road from Gordes is one-way & returning to the Gordes area involves some other route.

"Reports" are that April was a very hot month - which is good for lavender - but it has been without much rain - which is bad for lavender. I would check with this forum just before you leave to see if anyone has been to Senanque and if there is lavender blooming directly in front of the abbey.

I found the guided tour of the Abbey to be a little tedious.

Saignon has some nice lavender fields in the immediate area.

Stu Dudley
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May 16th, 2011, 07:52 PM
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Hi Stu, and other Provence "homies" ...

Do you think information about state of lavender at Senanque Abbey, is something nearby towns' tourism offices would know?

(Similar to how the tourist offices in New England know the best week in a particular yr for seeing the most brilliant burst of color in autumn leaves, or Texans know the best week for seeing bluebelles in Hill Country.)
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May 16th, 2011, 09:43 PM
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I would not rely on opinions of tourist offices. When I asked the tour guide at Senanque about the lavender, she said that it had been "replanted". I saw nothing but weeds and absolutely no lavender. There was lavender on fields just a tad beyond - but no lavender if front of the abbey - like you see in all the pictures and like we have on dozens of our photos. This was late June/early July. A hotel might give you a more honest answer - if they have actually visited the abbey - which might be unusual since the access is difficult.

Stu Dudley
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May 17th, 2011, 09:48 AM
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I, too, was wondering if there was such a thing as a lavender forecast or lavender report. I haven't found anything yet and have assumed I'll just have to wait/see. I have loads of it in my own garden right now, but entire vast fields sound so picturesque.

Stu, I wonder if the Senanque guide just meant they were going to replant later, or perhaps they seeded and it hadn't yet sprouted. Still, the existence of weeds is not a good sign. It wouldn't surprise me if the poor resident monks decided to let it go to deter the hoardes of tourists!
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May 17th, 2011, 10:10 AM
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We were at Senanque in 2009 with a tour guide and he said the lavender near the building was removed because so many folks were taking it.
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May 17th, 2011, 10:14 AM
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>>or perhaps they seeded and it hadn't yet sprouted. Still, the existence of weeds is not a good sign. <,

I don't think that they plant seeds in the fields. I've seen many fields with lavender only 3 inches high & perfectly spaced - which I think would be hard to do if they planted seeds. Hard to grow seeds among thick weeds too.

Stu Dudley
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May 17th, 2011, 10:40 AM
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I can't speak with authority on much, but last year we spent four days with Avignon as our base and took day trips out from there. We loved Avignon and stayed in a flat inside the walled city.

Don't miss the Palais du Papes and the bridge, of course. But I would also recommend a visit to Les Halles. It was great. Also, make sure you get to the right station in Avignon to get your rental car. There are two stations.
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May 17th, 2011, 10:48 AM
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Try posting your question about the lavender on the tripadvisor.com web site; someone recently put up a link for lavender information.
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May 17th, 2011, 11:29 AM
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thanks Stu, Underhill, Tdudettte, and sap for input.
Oh, pas de probleme--as long as i can see fields of lavender, I'll be happy. Hoping the warm spring has caused an early bloom, since we leve Provence on June 11.
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May 22nd, 2011, 12:12 AM
  #14
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Hi Stu, I'll be leaving for France in early June so I'd definitely appreciate for any heads-up on the lavender!
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May 22nd, 2011, 07:03 AM
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You won't see much/any lavender blooming in early June. If it is extremely hot between early May & mid-June, you might see lavender blooming in mid-June. We've been there around 5 - 6 times in mid-June and about 40% of the time lavender was blooming in several places, but we were there just after "record" hot Springs. No lavender fields blooming around Sault in mid-June in either '10 or '07. Valensole Plane lavender seems to bloom a little earlier than lavender in other locations.

Stu Dudley
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