Help with my Provence itinerary

Old May 6th, 2011, 11:37 AM
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Help with my Provence itinerary

I’m trying to come up with a reasonable itinerary for Provence…. We’ll be coming from Paris so I’ll probably be museum-ed out…

I think I just want to visit some roman sites, drink wine, eat good food and see old French towns….

This will be my first time on Provence so I’d really appreciate some insight…..

Wed Sept 14
Arrive at Avignon TGV around 10am and pickup rental car
Avignon
St Remy
Check in to hotel in St Remy

Thurs Sept 15
Les Baux-de-Provence
Arles

Fri Sept 16
Isle Sur La Sorgue
Orange
Châteauneuf-du-Pape for wine

Sat Sept 17
Check out of Hotel in St Remy
stop by Aix-en-Provence for lunch or maybe the vineyards around Cassis
Cassis to check in

Sun Sept 18 Cassis – kayak the calanques

Mon Sept 19 check out of cassis hotel maybe stop in Marseilles then over night in Vitrolles

Tuesday Sept 20 Home

Is there any way I could or should fit these sites into the itinerary?
Point du Gard, Uzes, Nimes

Should I skip Avignon in favor of smaller towns?????

Thanks!
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Old May 6th, 2011, 12:11 PM
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hard to say what you should do as it's just personal taste. I like Avignon, it has several things worth seeing and is a fun city, I think. I would definitley not recommend skipping it to see some small town as they aren't that special IMO, and aren't that unique.

I think you have a good list of the usual top draws. I liked Uzes and Nimes but don't think they should replace anything else you have so obviously. Pont (not point) du Gard is a Roman engineering masterpiece, but that's it. Nothing else to do but go look at it. They have alittle museum there are whatever you call it where you can look at some artifacts and read some history. Pont means bridge by the way, something which makes sense if you learn what it is.

I don't know if you are used to traveling and thus your schedule makes sense to you, but I cannot imagine doing what ou have planned for your arrival day. "skip" Avignon? You are cramming it in after arrival and getting your car and driving to and visiting St Remy, I guess. I really don't understand your schedule or what you intend to do in these places. DO ou intend to do anything in St Remy or just drive there to stay in a hotel and not visit the Van Gogh asylum etc?
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Old May 6th, 2011, 04:01 PM
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I'm just the opposite of Christina - we love the "small towns". Along with the beautiful countryside, they (small towns/cute little villages) are why we've spent 18 weeks vacationing in Provence. There must be 50 of them in that general region. I don't see any "small towns" in your itinerary at all - mainly large cities. IMO, if you visit Avignon, Arles, Aix, Nimes, and then Marseille - you may get "large citied out" - especially immediatly after Paris.

Visiting wineries & wine tasting is not like it is in the US. Everytime we've visited the ampitheater in Orange, it has been covered in scaffolding, stage props, etc - quite disappointing. So, on Friday I would skip everything you have on your list, and explore the pretty countryside & small villages in the Luberon - Gordes (early), Oppede, Menerbes, Bonnieux, Roussillon, Goult, etc.

Also, as much as I love Avignon - I think I would skip that, and visit St Remy & Les Baux on arrival day. Then on Thursday, visit Arles, Uzes, and the Pont.

Remember, most shops close for lunch - so if you head to Avignon or St Remy after arriving by TGV at 10, you will get to these cities around lunch closing time.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 6th, 2011, 11:22 PM
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We stayed for a couple of weeks in St Remy in 2009, and it was a great base for exploring Glannum ruins & Van Gogh Hospital on Wed afternoon, then Les Baux, Arles etc. Avignon is only an easy 30 mins drive north. I think you're right to visit Les baux & Arles in the one day, as they are in the same direction, but I also agree with StuD that Avignon is a big city, with traffic! So the quicker you go south the better! Wed is market day in St remy, so it will be bustling till lunchtime. In Chateauneuf-du-Pape there was a good restaurant with great views from the terrace, Le Verger des Papes, at the top of the village. It had a winetasting cave next door, where you can sample local wines. If you go to the Luberon, I wouldn't drive all the way back to St Remy. Stay o'night or you'll end up just driving all day. All those hilltop villages StuD mentions are beautiful, as are Lourmarin and Lacoste.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 05:11 AM
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We spent 2 weeks in Provence in 2009 and loved those little villages. We also were wowed with the Pont du Gard. Those clever Romans! We combined it with a visit to Arles.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 05:21 AM
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I agree with most of the above. We were underwhelmed by Avignon - I would skip it in favour of fitting in the Luberon villages. We enjoyed Orange, my parents went last Sept and it was not covered in scaffolding so maybe you could find out prior to going if that is a concern.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 12:13 PM
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Wow… I’m really getting some conflicting advice… I posted on the trip advisor forum also…

Are the Luberon villages all about the lavender? Someone said there won’t be any lavender in bloom on September.

To clarify my original post I will be staying in St Remy for three nights. So I figured that I would get to walk around the town before dinner each evening.

I made a few revisions to my tentative itinerary… It’s still a work in process and all could change once I get there… I’m pretty opened minded…

Wed Sept 14
-Arrive at Avignon TGV around 10am and pickup rental car
-Drive to Châteauneuf-du-Pape for wine and lunch (any suggestions?)
-St Remy to check into hotel and then explore the town
Dinner in St Remy

Thurs Sept 15
-Arles
-Uzes
-Pont du Gard

Fri Sept 16
explore the pretty countryside & small villages in the Luberon - Gordes, Oppede, Menerbes, Bonnieux, Roussillon, Goult (per StuDudley's suggestion)

Sat Sept 17
-Check out of Hotel in St Remy
-Glanum
-monastery of St Paul de Mausole
-Les Baux-de-Provence
-Drive to Cassis check into hotel

Sun Sept 18
Cassis – kayak the calanques

Mon Sept 19
check out of Cassis hotel maybe stop in AIX then over night in Vitrolles

Tuesday Sept 20 Home
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Old May 9th, 2011, 01:13 PM
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HI Bicky, I've gone through similar decisions for first trip to Provence (other than driving through decades ago) this June. Like you, we are based in St Remy.

so disclaimer--i havent done this yet, except in my planning fantasies and Fodors research:

I w\ would be to try and match up a visit to one of the villages or towns, to coincide with a market morning.
The Wednesday marekt in St Remy will be over before you check in. On your Friday Sept 16, you are close from Bonnieux to village of Lourmarin. Lourmarin has a Friday market which includes pottery as well as food.

Have a great trip! I will do a trip report upon return and hope it can help someone!
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Old May 9th, 2011, 03:12 PM
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CaliNurse - We are also in Provence this June, the 3rd - 9th.

Also - if I can locate it again, there is a website that is something like "provence market days.com" or something similar. It has the market days by town and focus, such as produce, antiques, pottery, etc.

I think you CAN do Les Baux and the Pont du Garde, along with a few hours over lunch in L'isle Sur la Sorgue. That's one of our days, with an early start at Pont du Garde.

We're staying just south of St. Remy, just off the A7.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 03:54 PM
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Uzes has a wonderful, large market on Saturday morning, until about 1 p.m.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 04:02 PM
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We enjoyed Uzes very much -- and the Saturday market is really good -- however I personally think you get to enjoy the town more on a non-market day! The incredibly beautiful Place des Herbes is such a great place to kick back, relax AND people watch and shop!
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Old May 9th, 2011, 04:06 PM
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I'm probably not much help but we loved St. Remy...just wander around and eat at L'Assiete de Marie. Chateauneuf du Pape was so fun and we brought home a bunch of wine after visiting several caves. Lastly, been to Arles three times and although I cannot say why, we just love it there. I've heard Uzes and Nimes are nice but we have not been. We do prefer smaller towns and pulling over and making sandwiches on a fresh baguette with local produce and cheese. Whatever you decide, you will love it. Have you decided where you'll be staying on this trip?
http://www.chateaux-france.com/
This is a good site for b and b's if that's your thing!
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Old May 9th, 2011, 04:20 PM
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No lavender in Sept. The Luberon is very scenic & the perched villages are quite photogenic.

Aix is my wife's favorite shopping town. However, most shops will be closed on Monday morning and won't open in the afternoon till around 2:30 - and even then not all shops will be open.

bicky - do you have my 27 page itinerary for Provence & Cote d'Azur? It describes the Luberon drive & villages in more detail - along with a lot of other stuff. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach a copy to the reply e-mail. I've sent it to over 2,000 people on Fodors.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 10th, 2011, 01:06 AM
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Continental_Drifter, we are in St Remy(base) June 4 -11.
Did you end up getting a place with a swimming pool?
Do you plan t go to the Isle de la Sorgue market on Sunday?

OK--no more "hijacking"the thread!!
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Old May 10th, 2011, 07:37 AM
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I’m not a big shopper. I’m more interested in the food, wine and pretty outdoor sights, (architecture and ruins).

I already booked a place to stay in St Remy, Le mas de l'estello, 171 Chemin des Mattouins.

I am concerned that if I set a day aside to travel to the Luberon that it will be too much driving. I am not going to change my B&B reservations. So I will be returning to St Remy after.

Also can anyone suggest what to do on the day I leave Cassis. There is really no hurry to get to the airport hotel or return the rental car. I can do that in the evening.
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Old May 10th, 2011, 01:46 PM
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Bicky, i am very interested in the responses you get, as we too will be based in St Remy.

I had planned a day like your Friday Sept 16, which included a long day trip to Luberon villages before returning to St Remy.

Provence Fodies--is this too much for one day?
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Old May 10th, 2011, 01:59 PM
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You can visit the Luberon from St Remy. How many of those villages you get to see will depend on what you find in each one! Bonnieux is extraordinary, as is Roussillon. I loved the view of Gordes stretched out and down the hillside, but didn't find the town itself as interesting. Lourmarin has some wonderful restaurants, if you are there at meal time. So, pay attention to how long it takes to get there, and when you find a town you are enjoying, make sure you don't hurry off to somewhere else just to make your "listed" stops. If you only get to truly enjoy two or three villages, you've had a great day. By Friday you should be pretty comfy driving around Provence, and you'll know how to pace your outing that day.
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Old May 10th, 2011, 02:09 PM
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Oh - and if you are in Uzes at lunch time, we found that the Burger Bistrot right on Place des Herbes was really terrific. These are NOT much like hamburgers you'll find in the US. There were two other places with outdoor seating around the Place that were also very good. We tried a Greek place one night (not on the Place, but in town) which was a big mistake....so avoid that place. There is a very good restaurant affiliated with La Taverne (small hotel) near the movie theater in town...may also be called La Taverne.

I don't think I've ever had a bad meal in St Remy. We enjoyed the Thai/Chinese restaurant in Isle sur la Sorgue, looking over the river.

AND you will find wine sellers at markets-- usually they offer tastings, and you can pick up some nice local wines very inexpensively.
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Old May 10th, 2011, 03:05 PM
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We are planning our Provence trip for next year and feel that a mix of cities, villages and market visits would be a good mix. I have also looked at kayaking the calanques, do you know how long it takes to kayak from Cassis? Any information of companies to choose etc. would be appreciated. Have fun.
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Old May 11th, 2011, 01:24 AM
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Busted, thanks for the good advice about touring the Luberon villages--- I'm at that point of te trip--less than 3 weeks--that i need reminders now to slow down--can't see it all!!
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