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Just returned from skiing in Haute Savoie AND a week in Provence by public transportation

Just returned from skiing in Haute Savoie AND a week in Provence by public transportation

Mar 10th, 2003, 09:24 AM
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Just returned from skiing in Haute Savoie AND a week in Provence by public transportation

Last two years we skied in the Dolomites and then traveled through Italy a bit. This is the best way for my husband - the skier - and me to get a vacation we both love.

This year, we decided to continue with our "formula" and spent one week to the area of Avoriaz – Morzine in Haute Savoie. We skied into other Portes du Soleil areas (including some small Switzerland resorts). It sounds quite romantic to say that we skied into Switzerland (which we did) but the reality of it was that the Swiss resorts were south-facing and quite slushy in the afternoon. If someone has any questions about skiing in this area, I will be happy to answer them.

Second Week: Provence

Sunday – early afternoon arrival Avignon. Toured Palais des Papes, and did Rick Steves’ walking tour of Avignon backstreets.

Monday – Arles

Tuesday – Les Baux de Provence

Wednesday – St. Remy (AM market) and Glanum

Thursday – Villeneuve-les-Avignon (AM) &
Luberon tour (PM - booked at the Avignon TI). The tour drove us through Menerbes, & Gordes with brief stops in Rousillon, Oppede-le-Vieux and the Lavender Museum.

Friday – Nimes (AM) and Uzes (PM).

Saturday AM – Strolled through Avignon before our 1:30 TGV to Geneva.

I will say that despite bus running on the "low season" schedule we were able to visit everything we wanted to visit and the schedules were not inconvenient. Buses were super cheap too, which helped mitigate the effect of the slumping dollar.

I will write more detail about bus schedules/websites and yummy restaurants soon...
Mariarosa is offline  
Mar 10th, 2003, 10:58 AM
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Are Avoriaz and Morzine more "purpose built" than traditional French villages?
grandmere is offline  
Mar 10th, 2003, 11:28 AM
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I would love to hear about your trips in Provence. Were you based in Avignon and did bus trips from there? Other than the tour to Luberon (which tour Co.), were the rest of the trips done with public buses? I want to do the same thing for a trip this fall, so any info you can give me will be greatly appreciated.
Barb is offline  
Mar 11th, 2003, 09:21 AM
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Barb, I am going to post some information on the public transportation in the following post and will check for the name of the tour company when I get home.

Grandmere - Avoriaz is purpose-built. They tried to conceal their modern buildings by covering them in wood and making the town more peacful by making it a "car-free" resort (transportation is by sleighs).

Morzine is a traditional village, although not too old, maybe 17th or 18th century. The houses are all chalets. My in-laws, which traveled with us, did not care much for Morzine because it had so much traffic, so much commerce and so many people. They preferred the area we stayed in, which is called "Les Prodains" - technically part of Morzine but away from the city center towards Avoriaz. Our hotel, the Neige Roc (www.neige-roc.com) was situated in front of the 80-person telecabine (tram) that took people up to Avoriaz. The food at our hotel was yummy and the family who managed the hotel was super helpful.
Mariarosa is offline  
Mar 11th, 2003, 10:00 AM
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Barb, indeed we based ourselves in Avignon and did day-trips by train, and buses. Avignon was an excellent base for us. It was charming, with many restaurants and shops, and with excellent publis transportation. We went to Arles by train (17 minutes).

This may be a bit tedious, but many schedules are not posted on the web. Here are the schedules that I have. I hope that it helps someone in planning their trip:

Les Baux
We went by train to Arles and took the bus to Les Baux. Bus from Arles was 35 minutes and went through Paradou and other towns. From Nov - March there is only 1 bus per day, leaving Arles' bus station at 9:40 AM and returning at 4:50 PM. The rest of the year, there is a 8:35, 9:40, 11:10, 12:20, 14:40. Returning to Arles 11:45, 13:15, 16:50, 18:50 and 19:50.

From April - October, there's also bus service from Avignon at 10:10 and 16:20, returning 11:05 and 17:05. There is one additional bus in July and August.

St. Remy
From Avignon bus took 40 minutes. It runs all year 7:40 8:15, 10:10, 12:10, 14:10, 16:10 (or 16:20), 17:30, 18:10, 18:45. Returning from St Remy 6:50, 7:10, 9:00, 11:20, 13:10, 15:00 16:25, 17:20, 18:00. Check the schedule posted, one or two of them only run during the school year.

We reached Nimes by train and took the bus to Uzes from Nimes. From Nimes to Uzes there's a 6:55, 7:25, 11:00, 12:05, 12:15, 13:00, 15:15, 15:50, 16:20, 17:05, 17:10, 17:15, 18:00, 18:30. It runs less frequent during Sundays, holidays. Trip took 45 minutes.

There's also a direct bus from Avignon to Uzes at 7:40, 12:05, and 17:30. Returning from Uzes 6:30, 7:40, 13:05, 18:30.

Villeneuve is on the other side of the Rhone. Take bus #11 from the stop in front of the train station, inside the walls. The ride is only 10 minutes and it runs every 20-30 minutes.

Some of these schedules I received by mail from the tourist offices themselves. I found some schedules on the web that were not accurate, so I definitely recommend e-mailing the tourism office for timetables or picking them up when arriving in town.
Mariarosa is offline  
Mar 11th, 2003, 10:01 AM
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Under St. Remy, I meant to say that one of those buses does not run on school holidays. phew.
Mariarosa is offline  
Mar 11th, 2003, 11:02 AM
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Wow, that's great - thanks so much. I am so glad to see I can get to these places with public transport. I know there is also a bus company, I think Lieutaud Coaches in Avignon, but I'm sure that would be more expensive than just doing it on your own. BTW - I'm taking Rick Steves book, so I will try the walking tour.
Barb is offline  
Mar 11th, 2003, 03:29 PM
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Barb, the cars Lieutaud may still be a good deal if the fare includes stops at more than one place (which I think it does). Bus fares were about 4 - 6 Euros each way on the regular buses, which were very comfortable (regular pullmans) and were always precisely on time.

The Luberon tour was with Self Voyages - Visit Provence. The website is: www.self-voyages.fr. The 5 hour tour was 50 euros pp, but it was worth it as a 'splurge' for us because it was only us and a French couple. The guide was very good and interesting.
Mariarosa is offline  
Mar 11th, 2003, 03:48 PM
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Thanks again for the info!
Barb is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2003, 03:27 AM
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Anxiouslly awaiting your word on yummy restaurants. Leave for Provence in two weeks. Also, would you recommend your hotel in Avignon.
CiD is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2003, 03:14 PM
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Hi CiD!

A word about our restaurant choices. We never seek the most high-end place. We have a budget of $50-80 for dinner and we like to get multiple courses and at least a half a bottle of wine. Avignon was great. At most places we could get a half-bottle of good wine for 15-18 euros.

Le Grand Cafe (4 rue des Escaliers Ste Anne), which is in a number of guidebooks was our favorite. The atmosphere was cool without being too trendy and the food was excellent - it certainly had influences from other cuisines, without having to fall in the fusion category. The Prix-fixe was either 26 or 28 Euros. Do not miss the flourless chocolate cake.

Le Chandelier (29 rue de la Sarailleise, the street that connects Place de l'Horloge with Pl. Didier). I thought the food was carefully prepared, the quality of the ingredients was very good and the portions abundant. It was very traditional and didn't have the cutting edge style that Le Grand Cafe had. Two delightful brothers own the restaurant - one is the chef the other one attends the patrons. The prix-fixe was 25 euros.

Cousscousserie de l'Horloge (on the place de l'horloge - 2nd floor). Yes, its true cous-cous is the national dish of France (not kidding!). This place is what all ethnic restaurants should be - tasty, cheap, huge portions and a great location.

Au Petit Bedon (70 rue Joseph Vernet). A charming and elegant lady runs this place with class. The food was absolutely delicious and the ingredients were high quality. Portions were a bit on the small side. The amouse-bouche here was the best anywhere - a collection of 5 different ones. Do not miss the flourless chocolate cake.

D'ici et d'ailleurs (on Rue Galante - just off Place de 'Horloge)- This was the best value meal, but not the best meal. Half of their dishes are traditional French and half are from other countries. It had nice decor and it was packed. You can get a 3-course prix fixe for only 18E, and they had a very good demi-bouteille of Chateauneuf for 16E. Do not miss the flourless chocolate cake.

Bottom line - do not miss the flourless chocolate cake anywhere!

We also had a very good lunch at La Reine Jeanne in Les Baux. The food was top notch, however, the service was quite snotty.
Mariarosa is offline  
Jul 18th, 2004, 08:39 AM
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I was reading your fantastic report on your trip to Provence. I would love to see Gordes, Venasque et Rousillon but haven't got a driver's licence.
We will stay in Avignon but do you know if it's possible to reach these towns by bus or train?

Thanks very much

mccoy016 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2004, 11:28 AM
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Hi Serge! We stayed in Avignon and visited many of the small towns in the six days that we were there. We had a fantastic time! Take a look at the following websites:

1) http://www.cars-lieutaud.fr - They offer bus trips to small provencal towns from the 1st of April to the 31st of October.

2) http://www.beyond.fr/travel/bus.html - This lists public bus connections in Provence. Some towns are served very well by bus routes (as I indicate in my trip report), but some towns are very tricky. For example, to get to Gordes, you have to connect through Cavaillon.

3. Finally, you can always take the semi-private guided tours through the Avignon Tourism Office. The tour agency that we booked has a website:

You can contact the Avignon Tourism Office through their website:
http://www.ot-avignon.fr or by email: [email protected] . Ask them about bus schedule information and reaching the towns that you are interested in.

Good luck!

Mariarosa is offline  
Jul 19th, 2004, 05:57 AM
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Please pardon my piggybacking, but I'm wondering if Aix-en-Provence would be a possible place to stay using public transport. I read enthusiastic reports about Avignon all the time, but I'm just wondering. . . . the descriptions of Aix seem so appealing. Thanks in advance if anyone has any thoughts. J.
jmw44 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2004, 08:16 AM
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Aix would be better with public transport than with a car--parking is very, very hard to come by.
Underhill is offline  
Jul 19th, 2004, 10:26 AM
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generally, no, Aix is not as convenient for public transportation options for sightseeing. First, the train alone is not as convenient as the one in Avignon because there is not a direct line to some places like from Avignon (Arles, etc). You have to transfer at Marseille. Second, of course it's a lot farther away from some of the places mentioned if those are the ones you were interested in. Because it is farther away, I don't think you have as good day bus tour options as from Avignon (although I haven't examined them that thoroughly -- they certainly have some).
Christina is offline  
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