Nice/Aix en Provence

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Jul 19th, 2010, 04:15 PM
  #1
EAE
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Nice/Aix en Provence

We are flying in from Strasbourg to Nice for couple days before heading back to Paris then home. Arrived in Nice 9/10/10 at 11:30 am then taking the IDTGV from Aix en Provence 9/12/10 early hour. We are almost done with our planning for this trip. The majority of the trip is done just this section here. I was wondering if someone can suggest which city we have stay on our first night and the last (it has to be close by the idtgv station). Also good restaurants. Our budget is medium for the hotel and the restaurant we are willing to paying a little extra is it worth the experience. We will have a rental car. My husband want to go to these places, not sure if possible, Nice, Monaco, Avignon, Nimes and Marsille. I would to hear other city we should visited. We are here celebrating our 10th Anniversary with our kids so we want to do as much and see as much as possible. We used to travel a lot before kids. I have been looking forward to going to France for years.
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Jul 19th, 2010, 08:12 PM
  #2
sap
 
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Clarifying: You have one and one-half days/two nights in either Nice or Aix-en-Provence? (The morning on 9/10 is shot with the arrival, so that gives you only half a day, not including the time it will take to travel to your hotel and check in.)

I think Nimes will be too far to travel in that time frame, probably Avignon also.

Nice, Monaco, Marseille and Aix-en-Provence could take at least one-half or a full day each, if not more. That does not include travel time. I'll leave it to the local experts, but you might just consider picking one city to focus on if you basically only have one full day to fill.
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Jul 19th, 2010, 08:36 PM
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Hi EAE,

Your plan sounds like a lot of extra travel (and expense) for barely 1 1/2 days of really rushed sightseeing. But if you (or husband) truly want to do it, then after your arrival, I'd drive straight to Monaco, check it out, then head to Nice for your overnight and check out Nice in the later afternoon and evening.

Next day drive straight to Avignon (with a very early start, you could get there at 10am possibly) - visit - then on to Nimes for the afternoon and then overnight in Aix.

You won't be doing any of these places even a remote amount of justice, but at least you can check them off your list and looking on the positive side, your kids will be completely exhausted and will sleep well on your flights back home.

I am sorry, but Marseille will have to wait for another time.

-Kevin
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Jul 19th, 2010, 09:10 PM
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We visited Nice and Aix-en-Provence on our tour of France and enjoyed both for very different reasons. We took a brief detour through Monaco, including a stop to have our passports stamped, as we worked our way along the coast. But we were based in two different towns over a two week period to allow us to cover our wish list. We did not visit the others on your to see list.

As sap already pointed out, you have a brief period of time and I think you would do best to focus on one destination and it would seem to be Nice or Aix. Or, if truly determined, you could split your time, spending 9/10 in Nice, staying the night, and leaving early am for a day in Aix.

What are your interests? This will obviously help you decide.

You won't see and do very much at all if you're spending most of your time driving from place to place.

The distance from Nice to Aix is 93 miles, nearly two hours of driving in good traffic.

Avignon is one hour further past Aix-En-Provence.

Nice to Marseille is also 2 hours, and it is 30 min from Aix.

(Distances and driving estimates from ViaMichelin. See: http://www.viamichelin.com/)

You need to account for time to eat, navigate into and out of towns, find parking, etc.

For my family (3 children), the pace would be tough with the time available.

I'd recommend you slow down and decide your focus.
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Jul 19th, 2010, 09:37 PM
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I've left off Nimes, which is a further 40 minutes beyond Avignon.

Your tour could resemble a leg of the Amazing Race TV show.

Kevin raises a very good point - it's going to cost a fortune in tolls.
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Jul 20th, 2010, 07:05 AM
  #6
 
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The heart of the Cote d'Azur is only 25 miles long with Nice in the middle of it all. I would stay there and explore one or two of the following along that stretch by local train or bus: Cannes, Antibes, Nice, Villefranche, Cap Ferrat, Eze, and/or Monte Carlo.

Relax and enjoy Europe...
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Jul 20th, 2010, 12:07 PM
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I would add that driving from Aix to Avignon is easy but once you hit the outskirts of Avignon the traffic is terrible. We had visited there once before so we were not interested in stopping just trying to navigate around Avignon to get to the Pont du Gard site. It must have taken us a good 45 minutes to get around Avignon. This trip was last June and there was road construction going on around Avignon so maybe it is finished and driving is easier. Perhaps someone who has made the drive more recently can comment. I guess the rule is always anticipate delays when driving and allow for extra time.
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Jul 20th, 2010, 01:46 PM
  #8
EAE
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First off thanks everyone for your comments & suggestions. I guess we will have to narrow it down which city would we like to explore the most. The rest will have to save for our next trip. It all seem closer on the map.
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Jul 20th, 2010, 02:10 PM
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But a day and a half? Goodness. Why bother. Just go to Paris and have extra time there.
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Jul 20th, 2010, 02:11 PM
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We just returned from Provence (17th & 18th weeks there). The Maison Carree in Nimes is currently being restored, and is almost 100% covered with white sheeting - there is nothing to see. Completion is around late Sept. We didn't fine Nimes to be as interesting as Aix, Avignon, or Nice (3rd time in Nimes).

As others have said - just stay in 1 city - Nice or Aix. If you really need to visit multiple cities - I would spend the first half-day in Nice and the next morning in Nice too. Dine at the Cours Saleya - at Safari & watch the parade of people on the Cours - there will be one of "everything imaginable" walking by. Around noon (when most shops close) drive to Aix & spend the afternoon there. Then drive to the TGV station the last morning.

Note - driving into Nice & Aix will be difficult & time consuming for a first-timer.

If this was my trip, I would just stay in Nice, not rent a car, and thake the TGV to Paris from Nice.

Stu Dudley
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Jul 20th, 2010, 03:52 PM
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OR fly from Strasbourg to Paris. So much time and money for really so little. Such a "drive by". The kids would enjoy the science museum in paris or some such.
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Jul 21st, 2010, 02:53 PM
  #12
EAE
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My husband really want to see Nice, Cannes and Monaco. I guess we will just still to these city and change our TGV ticket from Nice to Paris. BTW we will not have our kids with us. Any more suggestion on where do dine? Thanks Stud for your comments.
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Jul 21st, 2010, 04:09 PM
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>>I guess we will just still to these city and change our TGV ticket from Nice to Paris.<<

Are iDTGV tickets changeable??? If not, just get tickets from Nice to the Aix TGV station.

Stu Dudley
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Jul 21st, 2010, 07:36 PM
  #14
sap
 
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>>Thanks Stud for your comments.<

Well, some of us might think he is rather "studley," but I'm sure he's to modest to admit that.

Sorry -- just couldn't resist that amusingly apropros typo.
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Jul 22nd, 2010, 07:54 AM
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In Nice, I can recommend the Hotel le Grimaldi and a couple of restaurants. From my trip report, May 2006:

"Our Hotel le Grimaldi (http://www.le-grimaldi.com/) was a short cab ride from the train station. It was 10EUR for myself, my daughter, my gargantuan bag, and her two small ones. We were greeted graciously at the hotel, which immediately struck us as a good find.

The hotel is actually two Belle Epoque buildings back-to-back. One side is much prettier to enter, as it faces a nice church. The other side is fine, too, but a bit boring. I think the side on rue Grimaldi is the plain one, and the other side on rue Maccarani is prettier.

The man at the front desk carried my bag to the room, and showed us around. There’s a business center on the ground floor, with free internet use on their two computers, and a free printer to use. (Also wireless in the lobby, I think for a fee.)

Our room was a ‘classic’, twin-bedded room, which was large enough, had a little balcony, a sparkling tile bath with fluffy bright yellow towels, and nice toiletries. It was 150EUR, plus tax and 10EUR per person if we opted for the hot/cold breakfast buffet. They suggested we check out the buffet (served till 10:30a.m.), and if we were interested the next morning, we could sign on for it. Their deal is that you have to buy it everyday to get the 10EUR rate. Otherwise, per day, it’s 15EUR.

So the next morning, we were happy to find hot eggs, proscuitto, yoghurts, cereals, cappuccino, assorted croissants, juices, etc. We thought it a good deal and quite convenient, so we enjoyed it each morning.

For our first dinner, I had brought the name of a restaurant I’d found on Travel Talk, and the front desk agreed it was a good one, a local favorite in old Nice. It’s called Acchiardo, at 38 rue Droite in Vieux Nice. We headed over for their opening at 7p.m., and were very happy with it. Really friendly and attentive service, very quaint and casual atmosphere, with a good menu. I had a steak dinner, which actually included vegetables on the side. My daughter had two different salads. We had bottled water and a half-liter of house red wine. When the bill arrived for 28.50EUR, I thought they’d made a mistake because it was so much less than I’d been accustomed to paying in Venice, Florence and Rome. But, no, it was correct. (We would have maybe eaten there another night, but found out it closes on weekend nights, believe it or not.)

. . . That evening, we returned to old Nice for dinner. We loved that neighborhood’s little streets, overall atmosphere, and cute shops. We found the Restaurant la Tapenada, 6 rue St. Reparate and had a very nice dinner. It was probably about 60EUR for the two of us, on their fixed price menu, with a bottle of house wine. Very nice little place, with friendly and attentive service. They even let my daughter trade her dessert for a salad. So she had two salads to start, one after the other, and they timed the arrival of our main courses perfectly. We were perfectly happy with our meal there

. . . That evening we weren’t very hungry, so opted for the simple Pasta Basta, once again in old Nice. It was a nice meal, although not extraordinary. Good prices and decent service"

We really enjoyed Nice and took a day-trip to Antibes, too.
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Jul 22nd, 2010, 08:02 AM
  #16
EAE
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Stu you are like the Expert in Fodors because I read your old comment on Alsace and we are started to change our mind about going down to Provence. Please continue to post your comment & suggestion because we all appreicat you insight. We might just spend more time in Alsace. My husband is in the wine business so we are staying with some of the vineyards. Answer to your question about iDTGV is changeable but cost you extra. I am looking into canceling my AirFrance ticket from Strasbourg to Nice, not sure how much that would cost me or even possible.
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Jul 22nd, 2010, 09:20 AM
  #17
EAE
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Just got off the phone with AirFrance, can't get refund on the ticket so the trip to Provence is back on. I wish I had posted my question on Fodor before making arrangement. Lesson learned. Now just have to narrow down the city we want to spend with the time we have.
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Jul 22nd, 2010, 09:35 AM
  #18
 
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EAE,

Check out the restaurant Le Petit Maison in Nice. We really like this restaurant, great food and good service. We were really disappointed with Safari, the service was bad, and the food was not that good. Nice is my new favorite city in France.
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