Lyon, Avignon, Arles and Provence

Feb 6th, 2010, 01:03 PM
  #1  
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Lyon, Avignon, Arles and Provence

Hi,

I am certain I am going to Lyon and Avignon in the months ahead, possibly in the same 10 day period , possibly in two separate jaunts of a week apiece (out of Torino or Genoa). What I'm not sure is whether I want to include Arles and Provence on either trip.

Arles interests me for its Roman history and marginally for its van Gogh history. But is the town so touristy it is impossible to enjoy in warm months? I get that impression.

Provence would interest me for its Cezanne associations, but other that, reading guidebooks and trip reports, it seems all anybody does is take scenic drives and go to markets! I am not at all interested in markets. I'm not sure I need the pretty scenery this go 'round. Can anybody point me to things more interesting about Provence than shopping? I must have the wrong guidebooks or websites.

And any tips about Lyon and Avignon beyond standard guidebook stuff is welcome. My main attraction to Lyon is food, its urban core and history. Avignon, I'm meeting a visiting friend and attending performances, but have plenty of time in the day to explore.

If you think there is some place else interesting within shooting range of these places, feel free to add, but I doubt I want to go north of Lyon.

Thanks!
primeranoche is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 01:13 PM
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Your question is pretty confusing, since Arles and Avignon are IN Provence.

As for just taking scenic drives and going to markets, don't your guidebooks have information about the Pont du Gard, Glanum, Les Baux, Aigues-Mortes, and the myriad other historical and cultural sites?
StCirq is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 01:34 PM
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If you like Roman stuff you should like Pont du Gard, which is not overcommercialized but could be crowded depending on when you go.

Avignon has plenty to meet your defined interests if the countryside doesn't.
Eurocentric is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 09:06 PM
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If van Gogh interests you, head to St-Rémy. There you can see a number of places where he painted; get a map from the tourist office. Nearby is one of the few remaining memorial arches from Roman times, this one dedicated to the grandchildren of the emperor Augustus Caesar. There is also Glanum, an interesting archaelogical site with both Greek and Roman housing discoveries and a small museum.

Get the Michelin Green Guide to Provence and start reading--you'll be amazed at how much there is of interest.
Underhill is online now  
Feb 7th, 2010, 12:34 AM
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Other roman interest :

Nimes
Pont du Gard
Glanum
Ambrussum
Orange

Peter
mpprh is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 02:30 AM
  #6  
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Thanks for the replies. I don't have much access to English-language guidebooks right now, and website guides and trip reports don't mention visits to what you've mentioned in Provence, but I didn't read them all. The web guides do talk about Les Baux and Aigues-Mortes, but some describe them as very crowded.

Glanum looks fascinating, but when I just googled it up, some sites indicated that the monuments have been under scaffolding. Gone now? It looks like I could walk to Glanum from St. Remy. (Thanks, Underhill. I'm only slightly interested in van Gogh, and that part of his life seems very sad, in St Remy). The Pont-du-Gard looks easy to see on a bus trip from Avignon. (I'm lukewarm about renting a car.)

I was actually thinking of saving Nimes for another trip when I would pair it with Marseilles, but maybe I'll try to see it with Avignon, especially if Glanum is still under scaffolding.

Any recommendations to avoid Arles in warm months because of crowds?

Anybody recommend places in Provence for illuminating Cezanne, or should I stick with the paintings? I didn't get much out of Giverny except a nice walk in the pretty gardens.

Also, anybody visited the Le Corbusier church in Firminy as a daytrip from Lyon?

Thanks again!
primeranoche is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 06:05 AM
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Arles, Nimes will both be very hot and have reasonable coach tourist cover. Best solution is to take the train early in the day or late in the day when the they and the heat is gone or before you arrive. Avignon itself can be heaving at the best of times while Nimes has a park or two where the over whelmed can rest over
bilboburgler is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 07:49 AM
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My DH and I loved Arles and visited there from our base in Montpellier. We only spent one day and walked and walked through this lovely town. We saw the cafe Van Gogh painted-amazing. Check for festivals in Arles-that would bring in crowds!

For Cezanne, you need to go to Aix. His atelier is intact and is, imho, worth a visit. We stayed in Aix for several days at Hotel Aquabella (pool, spa, parking) and really enjoyed it.

Are you driving?
TDudette is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 09:23 AM
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I don't even like Cezanne that well, actually, but he certainly shouldn't carry an entire vacation(and I don't think he was in most of Provence, anyway, I thought just in Aix). A lot of Provence is just the scenery and outdoors thing, driving around and enjoying it. So if you don't like that, I agree, this isn't the thing for you. You sound like a person who likes more urban vacations, nothing wrong with that. Why fixate on a Provence vacation when you aren't interested in it? Do something else with your time and money. Sure you can see a few ruins and things like that, but if you aren't interested in the scenery, why do a rural vacation.

As for Cezanne, his studio is in Aix, you can visit it and walk around there
http://www.atelier-cezanne.com/aix-en-provence.html
Christina is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 09:24 AM
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Thanks bilgoburgler. Did you visit Nimes as a single-day trip? I'm thinking of maybe trying to do that with a fast train from Lyon, which would be in cooler weather.

TDudette, thanks. I did know about the atelier, but I'll read up more on it.

I'm trying to avoid driving, because I doubt I'll feel like it, and I'll hardly have any luggage. I think I'm going to make this two trips, one departing from Torino in Italy, to Lyon with day trips and back to Torino, the other starting in Genova to Avignon with day trip and back. I have to stay in both Lyon and Avignon.
primeranoche is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 11:34 AM
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no i spent 3 days in nimes and 3 in avignon taking trains between and Arles, flew into Nimes airport. In Nimes the bus stops were designed by Philip Starke
bilboburgler is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 11:45 AM
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That's great to know! Do you think Nimes lends itself to a day trip?

I really just don't have any kind of grip on this area - as proved by not realizing that "Provence" isn't like some tiny bit of scenic farmland like Chianti or le crete, but a region. It wasn't on my radar screen -- except for Cezanne and some calendar pictures of lavender -- until I realized I was going to be in both Lyon and Avignon and I thought Provence was in between, so maybe I should take time to look at it.

I'm pretty settled on not going "to market" in the countryside, and I figure someday I'm going to be in Marseilles, so I'm trying to figure out what to see from Lyon, and Avignon as day trips. I tend to get up late and go home early, so the more compact the points of interest in a town, the better.

Thanks!
primeranoche is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 12:10 PM
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We did a day trip to Nimes, mostly to see the amphitheater (that is rated high on lists of arenas), and The Maison Carree,
A Roman temple built over 1900 years ago.
We lunched at one of the many cafes that are across from the arena.
cigalechanta is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 12:12 PM
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So did your day trip work or did you think it would have been better to spend more time there? How long was the day trip?
primeranoche is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 12:26 PM
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Nimes would be a very tight single day but doable.

Ampithetre, maison caree, library across the square (few minutes) then through the the park walk up to the tower/roman dove cot.

If you keep running should be doable with lunch inside 6 hours, if you want to do the pont du gard by bus you need the time table for the bus company. From memory they are infrequent
bilboburgler is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 12:29 PM
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I hate running. But I think I don't need to see Pont du Gard.

Thanks everybody! I'll keep reading.
primeranoche is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 01:52 PM
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Nimes is another wonderful place. I agree-do-able in a day if you hustle. Nice travel info place near maison carree.

Avignon didn't grab me but I think it might be a good base.
TDudette is offline  
Feb 8th, 2010, 12:23 PM
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thanks again. I'lll saving Nimes for another trip.

Christina, I missed your post. I'm not "fixating" on a Provence trip. I need to be in Lyon and Avignon. I'm an artist - and I find touristy dioramas of artists lives off putting, so I usually skip them. Cezanne is a genius. Sorry you don't like him.
primeranoche is offline  
Feb 8th, 2010, 02:13 PM
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Do you likes wines? If so, you can visit some wine châteaux in southern Rhone.
alan64 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2010, 02:45 PM
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Lyon, like a lot. Enough to fill up 3 or4 days. Very nice galeo-roman museum, fine arts museum, Old Town, Roman amphitheatre, food. I've been once, and still have a few sites to see, but I'd also like to try more restaurants.
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