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Help with France itinerary--three big questions!

Help with France itinerary--three big questions!

Mar 18th, 2010, 07:24 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 84
Help with France itinerary--three big questions!

My wife and I are off to France next week to visit our son (a student in Pau), then making our way towards Nice via Provence, etc. Our itinerary (see below) on the front end in pretty well set, from Pau through Carcassonee. What happens after Carcassonne has become a "discussion point" between my wife and I. The biggest questions are these:
1) Is it worth an extra couple of travel hours to see the Millau Bridge along the way from Carcassonne to Vaison la Romaine? We saw a terrific HD production about the building of this spectacular bridge and became intrigued. But given the limited time we have, not sure it's worth it to go out of our way--especially since my wife ALSO wants to include a stop in Montelimar to visit a nougat factory. Would this be too big a day?
2) We have reserved two days in Vaison la Romaine and two in St. Remy. Then it's off to Antibes for two days before finiishing in Nice. However, we are tempted to drop the two days in Antibes and instead spend them in St. Remy. Note that Easter falls on one of our two planned days in St. Remy, adding more fuel to the "let's stay longer" fire. Problem is, there is a financial penalty for cancelling in Antibes this late. Still, we're willing to take the leap and drop Antibes in favor of more time in St. Remy if it adds up to a better trip.
3) Speaking of Easter, we're not sure how we will spend the day but have heard there are bull fights in nearby Arles. We don't want to see a bull fight necessarily (they actually kill the bulls at Easter time, vs. most other times of the year when they don't). Has anyone been to Arles for Easter? Is there anything else going on in the viciinity that day?
Any and all help appreciated!
DAY 1 (departure day 1)
Day 2 (Pau overnight 1)
Day 3 (Pau overnight 2)
DAY 4 (San Sebastian overnight 1)
DAY 5 (Overnight TBD—San S. or St. Jean-de-Luz or Biarritz) Palm Sunday
DAY 6 (Overnight TBD—St. Jean-de-Luz, Biarritz, Espelette, or Pau)
DAY 7 (Pau overnight 3)
DAY 8 (Carcassonne overnight 1)
DAY 9 (Vaison la Romaine overnight 1):
--Drive Carcassonne to Vaison la Romaine, possibly passing over the Millau Bridge, then on to Montelimar for nougat factory visit, if time permits.
DAY 10 (Vaison la Romaine overnight 2, Good Friday)
--Cotes de Rhone Wine Road
DAY 11 (St. Remy-de-Provence overnight 1)
--Drive Vaison la Romaine to St. Remy-de-Provence, stopping to visit former exchange student in Nimes for lunch. Includ stop at Pont du Gard along the way
DAY 12 (St. Remy-de-Provence overnight 2: Easter Sunday)
--Arles bull fights or running of the bulls?
--Easter Mass somewhere?
DAY 13 (Antibes overnight 1 or add night in St. Remy instead?)
DAY 14 (Antibes overnight 2 or add second night in St. Remy instead?)
--Drive Middle Corniche to Monaco; return High Corniche.
--Visit Monaco/Monte Carlo/Monaco Ville
DAY 15 (Nice overnight 1)
DAY 16 (Nice overnight 2)
DAY 17 (Nice overnight 3)
DAY 18 (departure day from Nice)
sherwoodforest is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 07:31 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 285
We just were in Provence a month ago. St. Remy is great, but personally, I don't know if you need two days there, especially if the town closes up on Easter. Just my opinion. I know others disagree.

We loved the Pont du Gard, and we did that and St. Remy the same day. Went to Glanum. It's doable.
ksbeem is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 08:19 PM
  #3  
 
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Posts: 75
I love nougat candy, but nougat is nougat (even if it's made in Montelimar) but the Millau Bridge---well, we went out of our way to cross over it and it was well worth it. My friend (lives in Amsteram) really doesn't like heights and I was willing to wait until another trip but he wanted to go--and had no problem with the height. Looking at videos of people driving over it cannot compare to the actual experience. For me, I felt as if it were a magical ship, with the cables as sails, the pillars as masts, and we were being carried away to another place.
I used to live in Sausalito and crossed the Golden Gate bridge every day to go to work. It was never just another bridge. Millau is that and more. It is an extaordinary achievement of vision, engineering, design and construction. The fact that they returned the construction areas to their original condition is a wonderin itself. It's a very positive look at what the future could be.
If your wife isn't excited about it, ask her to do the driving so you can enjoy the experience without having to pay attention to the road.
sfgirl42 is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 10:09 PM
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I wouldn't spend the extra couple of driving hours, though it's delightful that sfgirl appreciated Milau Bridge so thoroughly. We drove over it, then did the pull-in thing to the north and looked at it that way. Amazing, no doubt.

But that's just me. I'd rather spend a couple of spare hours strolling through some of the villages NW of there.
stokebailey is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 12:08 AM
  #5  
 
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To answer your questions:

1) Can't comment on Millau Bridge. Personally, I'd give Montelimar a miss. A "factory" making nougat sounds like nothing special. Better of dropping by the Maison Boyer in Sault if you get a chance. You won't find better nougat anywhere and it's a small family run place.

I suppose there is a reason you are not going to Nimes on this day ? Note that trying to do the Pont du Gard, Nimes and then back to St. Remy, all starting from Vaison makes for a long, long day. If you could visit Nimes on your way from Carcassone (skipping Millau and Montelimar entirely) that would make a lot more sense and save you lots of driving time.

2) No particular reason to switch a day from Antibes to St. Remy - especially if you will end up paying twice for that night.

3) A major happening Easter week-end is the antique fair in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. One of the largest in France and quite an event.

Enjoy -

Kevin
kevin_widrow is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 06:03 AM
  #6  
 
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There's nougat all over St-Rémy. If it's a foodie excursion she's after just have her visit Joël Durant's chocolate shop there, followed by Le Petit Duc, followed by the shop across the street that sells the exotic oils and vinegars (the best green apple vinaigrette!). I wouldn't bother with Montelimar.

I personally thought the Millau Bridge was a fantastic thing (though last time I saw it, it wasn't quite finished). I think I'd make that drive. I like the town of Millau, too.
StCirq is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 07:13 AM
  #7  
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Really awesome feedback. Very helpful. Thank you everyone!
sherwoodforest is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 07:25 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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If you want a "foodie" attraction, the roquefort cheese caves are very close to Millau.

You could also take a look at Oyster production in Bouzigues or Languedoc wine production.

Photos of this area : http://the-languedoc-page.com/photos/

Peter
mpprh is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 03:50 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 285
You know, frankly, you can't go wrong. We had to tweak our itinerary when some in our family contracted a really nasty intestinal virus that was making its way around France in early February. We still had the best time, even taking the barfing into account.
ksbeem is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 08:48 PM
  #10  
 
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Montélimar is one of our favorite towns. It has a broad boulevard shaded by trees, nice people, and the best nougat we've had in France--both white and chocolate. This pretty, interesting town often gets overlooked...so do make a stop. It's only a short distance off the Autoroute du Soleil, and if you head east you can take the route to Vaison that goes through the olive town of Nyons--another miss on most tourist routes, but delightful. A visit to the olive cooperative is a fine way to taste the Nyons appellation-controlée olives and oil and other olive products. They're all nicely packed to take with you.
Underhill is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 09:51 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 300
If you are near St. Remy on Easter Sunday, there is a beautiful Catholic church just outside of nearby Graveson, St. Michel de Frigolet www.frigolet.com (lots more info in French than in English). It looks like Sunday Mass is at 11:00, but it could be different for Easter.

My husband and I attended Mass there in October of '07 and it was one of the highlights of our trip. I imagine Easter Sunday would be a wonderful experience. Enjoy your trip!
tracilee is offline  

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