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Just back from Nimes, Aix en Provence and Nice

Just back from Nimes, Aix en Provence and Nice

Oct 20th, 2010, 01:58 PM
  #1  
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Just back from Nimes, Aix en Provence and Nice

We recently returned from nine nights in France, and I thought I would share some of our experiences with you. We spent 2 nights in Nimes, 2 nights in Aix en Provence and 5 nights in Nice with several day trips. Overall it was a beautiful trip. We are seniors and DH was having some foot problems, so we went a little slowly.

We took the TGV from CDG to Nimes. We stayed at the Novotel and were pleased with the accommodations and the breakfast. The room was exactly as pictured on their web site. It is an easy walk from the train station to the hotel. Although we felt Nimes was lovely with an old town of narrow streets and intimate squares, the major attractions were disappointing. The Roman amphitheater is best enjoyed from the outside because it is used for bull fights and the inside is full of bleachers. The temple of Maison Carree was not open except for a 3D film that wasn’t very good. We were not impressed with the Jardin de la Fontaine.

The next stop was Aix en Provence. We arrived at the TGV station which is outside of the city and took the Navette (shuttle bus) to Aix. This is very reasonable 3.50 euros per person and appears to run frequently. From the drop off point, we took a taxi (10 euros) to Hotel Cezanne. We were very pleased with the Cezanne and had a junior suite (room 404). The room was a nice size, the bath was modern, the location was good and the staff was helpful and pleasant. It was raining and windy and this weather lasted all of that day and most of the next day. We did the best we could, but the wind was actually turning our umbrellas inside out. My husband likes Aix more than I. I felt it was a little boring.

The day we were to leave Aix was Oct. 12, which had a planned strike. Thanks to information I got from this site, I knew the trains that would be effected would be published at least 24 hours in advance. So, we went to the SNCF station the day before our departure and were told our train, indeed, was on strike. We were told to use our same tickets for another TGV that was scheduled to leave 3 hours later and to take a seat anywhere and not worry about the reserved seats on our tickets. We were expecting the train to be crowded and confusing, but it wasn’t. There were plenty of seats and all went well.

We arrived in Nice to beautiful weather and took a taxi to the Hotel Grimaldi. Our room at the Grimaldi was spacious and the bath was adequate; not as modern as the Cezanne but certainly a nice size. We were pleased with the location, the breakfast and the staff and would stay there again. We loved Nice and hated to leave. We took day trips to St. Paul de Vence, Vence, Monoco, Eze village, Villefranche and Cap Ferret. They were all beautiful! I wasn’t expecting to like Monoco as much as we did. It is quite charming and we especially enjoyed the gardens. We had planned to visit Antibes and Cannes, but the trains were on strike and we didn’t want to take that trip by bus. Others that we met at the hotel did go by bus and said it was a nightmare – extremely crowded, stuffy and smelly. This was our only disappointment, but maybe we can make another trip. The trips we took were all by bus, and with one exception that worked out well. The one exception was our first day trip to St. Paul de Vence and Vence. We caught the bus at the Grimaldi bus stop, and it was already crowded when we got on – no seats and many people already standing. We thought people would be getting off at other stops, but the opposite was true. More people just kept getting on. We were packed in there for the entire trip. I was getting sick to my stomach and perspiration was running down my husband’s face. Suddenly two large German women decided they were going to move through the crowd. I thought they were trying to get to the back door to get off, but they were just repositioning themselves and wound up between me and another woman. In the process one of them took the hand rail I was hanging on to for dear life and this left me with only one of those straps from the overhead bar to hang on to. I was having a very difficult time trying to balance, so I decided just to lean on the backside of the big German woman. She was very comfortable, but she got tired of that and then offered me a space on the hand rail. After we finally got off the bus and headed to the first place we could sit down and have a cold beer, we had a good laugh about it. Anyway, the lesson we learned from this is to catch the bus at the bus station so that you can get a seat, and if the bus is too crowded wait for the next one and be first in line.

The Cote d’Azur is beautiful, and if I were redoing the trip, I would leave off Nimes and Aix and spend the whole time in Nice or in that area. There are many more day trips we could have taken but with my husband’s foot problem and his recent back surgery, I think we did pretty well. This was our fifth trip to France but the first time visiting Cote d’Azur. The day we left there were rumors about the airlines having fuel problems, but our flight wasn’t effected. I might add the Nice airport was very nice and we loved not having to leave out of CDG. Oh, one more thing – we enjoyed the wines of the region and most of the time just had the house wines. Those are the highlights of the trip.
Beejie is offline  
Oct 20th, 2010, 02:22 PM
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thank you, beejie, for the lovely report.

I'm still waiting to get to this area; like you we always seem to end up going somewhere else.

Silly us!
annhig is offline  
Oct 20th, 2010, 02:41 PM
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>>The temple of Maison Carree was not open <<

We were there in June and asked a guy at the tourist office about the completion of work on the Maison Carree. Late Sept was his reply. I guess they missed that target.

I agree with you about Nimes & Nice. But give Aix another try sometime - hopefully in better weather and a little closer to summer - early June or mid Sept.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Oct 20th, 2010, 04:28 PM
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This was a good trip report for me, because we are going to south of France next May/June. I was happy to hear about the Cote D'Azur, as we are renting in Villefranche Sur Mer for a week. Before that we will be in Goult in the Luberon for a week, an overnight in Uzes and 2 nights in Dijon. We debated between Uzes and Nimes, and now I'm glad we chose Uzes.
voyager61 is offline  
Oct 20th, 2010, 05:34 PM
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Thank you for the info! I'd wondered about a stop in NImes...now will probably avoid.
Nice was wonderful 40 yrs ago, and some day i hope to get back!!!
CaliNurse is offline  
Oct 20th, 2010, 06:12 PM
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Beejie, glad you enjoyed your trip. Sounds adventursome to take so many side trips on public transportation. Aix is gorgeous in good weather.

Voyager 61, you will love Villefranche - one of the most beautiful spots I have seen in Europe and so convenient to jump off to other destinations on the Cote.
latedaytraveler is offline  
Oct 20th, 2010, 09:10 PM
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Nice report about Nice.
kerouac is online now  
Oct 21st, 2010, 04:40 AM
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Your husband may have liked Aix better than you did because of all the incredibly beautiful women there. ;-) There may have been handsome men there, but I didn't notice. Only Croatia has a higher percentage of gorgeous girls.
Ackislander is offline  
Oct 21st, 2010, 06:30 AM
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Hi Beejie - I enjoyed your report. I feel the same about Aix and Nice. When we took the bus to St.Paul de Vence the seats were all taken but to my embarrassment a gentleman made a younger man give me his seat! Your friends were right about taking a bus to Antibes. We took the bus there but the train back. Really enjoyed Antibes.
Micheline is offline  
Oct 21st, 2010, 07:31 AM
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I must admit, Ackislander, that my husband does still talk very fondly about our trip to Croatia. However, I loved Croatia too. A week in Villefranche would be heaven, Voyger61; it's beautiful. I forgot to mention that there were a large number of sunbathers on the Nice beaches; however, not too many in the water. Also, I don't know if the buses to Antibes are always so crowded or maybe the impact of none of the trains running was the problem. At any rate, standing for an hour and a half on a crowded bus was not an option for us.
Beejie is offline  
Oct 21st, 2010, 07:31 AM
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We also enjoyed our several trips to the area so your trip report was a nice look back.

BTW, did you tour the Palace in Monaco? Absolutely stunning. Sometimes Monaco gets a bad rap but we've always loved it.
TPAYT is offline  

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