Nice & Provence in September

May 27th, 2011, 09:39 PM
  #1  
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Nice & Provence in September

My husband and I are planning an early September trip to Nice & Provence and I'm trying to plan our itinerary. Judging from the forum discussions, everyone has favorite must-see villages, and I've discovered a wealth of information. We've seen many great museums, castles, cathedrals, ruins, architectural wonders in Europe, so this seems to be more about quiet villages, and wealthy coastal towns. I have tried to narrow down our itinerary without over scheduling and leaving some leisure "swing days" to do as we please, regroup or reschedule. Any suggestions to this itinerary would be helpful.

Tues., Sept. 5th - Arrive in Nice in a.m. Settle in and a bit of sight seeing.
Wed. - More sightseeing in Nice and perhaps afternoon visit to Ville-sur-Mer and dinner.
Thurs. - Eze and Monoco by train
Fri. - Vence and St. Paul by bus (Fondation Maeght worth the 20 min uphill walk?)
Sat. - Open "swing day" (perhaps Antibes? by train)
Sun. - Pick up rental car and drive to St. Rémy (our possible base for Provence) via route A8 (Not interested in the gorge route - We drove the Amalfi Coast and it wasn't very enjoyable for my husband, the driver)
Mon. - Avignon (Palace of the Popes) and hopefully, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Tues. - Les Baux and Arles
Wed. - St.Rémy and another "swing day"
Thurs. - Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Gordes and Roussillion (?Joucas)
Fri. - Bonnieux, Lacoste area or Uzè and Pont du Gard (We've seen many Roman & Greek & Turkish ruins, so it isn't a must see)
Sat. - Aix-en-Provence (either drive there for the day, or it makes more sense to leave St. Rémy and spend Sat. night in Aix.
Sun. - (Already aware Aix is quiet on Sun., but sometimes that's nice) Return to Nice (Possibly Antibes on way back, Cannes just seems O.K.) Drop off car, spend the night at a hotel near airport
Mon. - Return home
We thought about St-Tropez, either on the way to or from Provence, but it seems to require a lot of patient driving to see another coastal town. Any suggestions on this itinerary would be helpful.
We haven't booked hotels anywhere, though I've been looking at Hotel Vendom or Hotel Windsor (Stu's suggestion) in Nice. In St. Rémy, Hotel Castelet des Alpilles has been suggested, but I'm also open to another town as a base. I just don't want to spend lots of time getting in and out of Avignon. I don't really have leads for Aix-en Provence should we decide to stay there only for one night.
Thanks in advance for your comments.
Juneabee
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May 27th, 2011, 11:04 PM
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Presuming Eze means Eze Village, Nice-Eze is by bus, entirely or partially. Also Eze-Monaco is by bus, entirely or partially. Monaco-Nice is either by train or by bus.

I have been to other Roman ruins. Pont du Gard was impressive. I also liked the ancient water works interpretive center at the Pont du Gard.

After a few rooms in Avignon Palace of the Popes, I went through the rest quickly. The rooms were plain and not furnished. And unlike the marble equivalent in Rome, this one got pretty hot inside on a hot day.

Good choice to be in St.Rémy on a market day.
greg is offline  
May 28th, 2011, 05:35 AM
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September is a perfect time to visit this region of France. The crowds and the heat are gone, and the weather will be warm and nice. Excellent time for swimming.

Here a few comments:

I strongly suggest to pick up the rental car on your first day in Nice. Technically, you can take the bus to Eze-Village and Monaco, but you will miss driving one the world's most spectacular roads. The corniches are so spectacular that you should drive them. Besides, you have the opportunity to drive to La Turbie, a huge Roman monument with a spectacular view over the coast.

Fondation Maeght is fantastic - both the building, the garden (sculptured by Joan Miro) and the exhibition. You should not miss it. With a car, you can drive directly to the entrance. From Fondation Maeght, it is another short drive to St. Paul - one of the most beautiful villages in the region (touristy, but in a pleasant way with good souvenir shops, art galleries and restaurants).

St. Remy is a perfect base, indeed. For your swing day, I would suggest driving to Pont du Gard (very unique and spectacular) and Nimes (the town with the best Roman ruins).

Near Les Baux/St. Remy, do not miss Glanum and Les Antiques.

On the Cote d'Azur, be sure to drive the Corniche de l'Esterel from St. Raphael to Mandelieu (or the other way round) - a most scenic drive. There are many pullouts/photo stops - from some of them you can walk down to the sea. Take you swimsuits and rubber sandals (the beaches are pebbly). The water will be perfect in September, warm and crystal-clear.
Echnaton is offline  
May 28th, 2011, 10:27 AM
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Yes, Eze-le-Village, would be by bus. La Turbie is near-by, and a great suggestion. According to Rick Steve's "Provence" (my guide for planning,) it can also be reached by bus from Nice or Monaco. Driving the Corniches sounds grand, but we're from Midwest, U.S., and not used to switchbacks, mountainous roads with few guard rails, and city roundabouts. With Côte d'Azur's good transport system, the hassle of getting in and out of Nice and parking $$$, I can keep my driver fresh for the rest of the trip through Provence. Maybe next visit.

With this in mind, how difficult is the drive along the Corniche de l'Esterel? I like the thoughtful input, have read it is lovely, and it seems to be very doable on our way back to Nice from Aix-en-Provence. (Again, remembering driving Amalfi Coast and ambitious drivers.)

Thanks for the heads up on Popes' Palace, Greg. Kind of expected it was as you said, I just figured when in Avignon, it is a given for a (quick) tour.

Everyone seems to think Pont du Gard is worth a visit. Many like St. Rémy as a base, but its sights seem to be more outside the town. We like to walk around after dinner, soaking in a town's ambience, and enjoying the squares at night. I'm wondering if we would more impressed with Avignon in the evenings, and get weary with St.Rémy. Mid- range hotel suggestions for either? Also, any for one night in Aix-en-Provence?

I'm relieved to read September is a good month to visit. From other posts, it is described as one of the rainiest months. Need sunshine for energy.
juneabee is offline  
May 28th, 2011, 02:56 PM
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Re: Driving. The Moyenne Corniche is a 4-lane road, almost like a freeway. No steep curves. The Grand Corniche is 2 lanes, but still pretty negotiable. Absolutely no comparison to Amalfi.

The Corniche de l'Esterel has more curves, and most drivers drive a leisurely path (lots of oldtimes and convertibles there). Speed is about 40 km/h (25 mph). Again, no comparison to Amalfi.

St. Remy is recommended because it is a perfect location for a hub-and-spoke approach. If you want a town where you can do nightly walks, Arles may be a better choice (and still conveniently located). Arles still has a small-town-feeling.

Avignon is larger. The Old Town is charming and full of restaurants, bars and markets. But driving to and fro the city center is a big city experience.
Echnaton is offline  
May 28th, 2011, 06:15 PM
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>>Sun. - (Already aware Aix is quiet on Sun., but sometimes that's nice)<<

Sometimes - but not in Aix, IMO. Most likely, all the storefronts will be "shuttered up" so you can't see the pretty window displays. Even if you could peer inside, the lights will be off. We enjoy Aix because it is a very lively town - but not on Sundays. Enjoy it on Saturday & head elsewhere on Sunday - Nice backcountry, St Paul, Gourdon, Tourrettes (all near Nice).

Stu Dudley
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May 28th, 2011, 06:33 PM
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We stayed in St Remy and really enjoyed it but we did not do a lot of wandering around in the evenings. Kind of pooped by then.

Don't miss the market day in St Remy on Wed. We went to that and then over to Les Baux, a drive through the Camargue and then finished up in Arles that day.

We enjoyed the Pont du Gard very much also. Very easy to get to from St Remy if you decide to stay there.

We were there the first week of September and we had fantastic weather. Sprinkled on us in Arles for a couple minutes literally.
michele_d is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 07:10 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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We are planning on being in and around Nice in September also. We have found a narrow gauge train that goes for the "Sud" train station thru 14 towns in the mountains (basically a day trip).

http://www.beyond.fr/travel/railpignes.html
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