Help with Provence and Riviera itinerary

May 27th, 2010, 11:28 AM
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Help with Provence and Riviera itinerary

Hello! My friend and I (25 and 24, both guys) will be traveling through the south of France on our way to Paris from Cinque Terre. We have 4 nights (FIRM!) to spend in the region, and we want to see the best of the Riviera and Provence. We have Eurail passes and would prefer to travel by train, though I know buses are the only option to some of the smaller hill towns. We are interested in spending at least 1/2 a day on a great beach somewhere. We want to have a home base while on the coast. We are not interested in Marseille, but rather the countryside and smaller cities, including Aix or Avignon. Any ideas on where we should spend each of the 4 nights? We like to go out on occasion, and we don't mind spending a few euros on some fancy cocktails if its an awesome location. What to do? Thanks for all the advice!!
smithgardner is offline  
May 27th, 2010, 11:42 AM
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First, I would not call Avignon and Aix small cities.

For the Provence, Avignon would make a good base indeed. Avignon is a typical French city, with some good nightclubs and bars, and the Papal Palace. The main attraction of Provence is the Roman heritage, which is best in Nimes (a short train ride from Avignon) and Arles (an even shorter train ride). After spending a day or two in Provence, you should ride directly to the Cote d'Azur.

You are looking for a great beach and good cocktails?

Why not Cannes? Cannes has a wide sandy beach, an elegant yaught harbour and splendid hotels. My favourite bar in Cannes is the Egyptian-style bar of Hotel Majestic (arguably the best hotel in Cannes). Order a glass of champagne and you will be surprised (of course not cheap but worth the experience).

If you want an even more beautiful, somewhat quieter beach, St. Aygulf is my recommendation. St. Aygulf is the town next to Frejus (train station) and the sandy beach is spectacular.

If you are more adventurous, you find a lot of beautiful coves with beautiful beaches in the area, however, you have to check out public transportation in order to get there (we are always in a car when we are at the Cote d'Azur).

Regardless what other Fodorites tell you, avoid Nice. The beach of Nice is horrible: large grey pebbles and an eight-line busy highway in your back.
Echnaton is offline  
May 27th, 2010, 01:39 PM
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Where would be the best place to do a half-day vineyard tour in Provence?
smithgardner is offline  
May 27th, 2010, 02:50 PM
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Lots of us prefer Nice over Cannes, but Echnation said to ignore us - so I won't mention it....

If you want to explore some very interesting hill villages, drive through vineyards, lavender fields (late June/July), and some pretty countryside - I suggest that you stay in l'Isle sur la Sorgue, rent bikes for a day, and bike the pretty Luberon Valley. The Luberon is laced with well-marked bike-only paved trails (we walkid on them a few years back). Visit Gordes, Roussillon, Bonnieux, Menerbes, etc.

Take a train to either Avignon or Cavaillon and then another train to L'Isle-Fontaine de Vaucluse (stop on the route between Avignon & Cavaillon). Perhaps stay in l'Isle sur la Rorgue - it's a nice small village with a fantastic Sunday morning market. Check this site for details about renting bikes.

Stu Dudley
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May 27th, 2010, 02:51 PM
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Where in Provence? It's a very large region, and you would probably want to visit vineyards not far from where you will be staying.

My personal favorite is the circular route beginning in Beaumes-de-Venise and taking in Séguret, Gigondas, St-Joseph, and Vacquéras. Nearer Avignon are the domaines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and there are some excellent vineyards down near Cassis.
Underhill is online now  
May 27th, 2010, 03:04 PM
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>>Perhaps stay in l'Isle sur la Rorgue <<

Typo - l'Isle sur la Sorgue. You can rent bikes there. Very picttureque village. Lots of restaurants & cafes.

Stu Dudley
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