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Pézenas in Languedoc or Biot in Provence, or maybe Sainte Maxime?

Pézenas in Languedoc or Biot in Provence, or maybe Sainte Maxime?

Jan 27th, 2014, 11:57 PM
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Pézenas in Languedoc or Biot in Provence, or maybe Sainte Maxime?

We plan a family holiday to France in early July. We are a family with 2 kids, 8 and 11, and we have loked into houses and flats in both Biot in Provence, Pézenas in Languedoc and Sainte Maxime on the Riviera. And we can´t decide which to choose. We don´t know either of the towns/areas that well and would like advice from other travellers. We do want to be able to lay on beautiful beaches in the sun, but also take in the historic towns and the culture. Which town is the most Beautiful/interesting. We do not like areas that become too touristy but we like there to be nice restaurants and activities for the Children but in a Beautiful setting. Any advice would be greatly apprciated
Cilla2 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2014, 07:06 AM
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Biot is a hill village (known for their distinct pottery) on the Riviera, not far from Nice. It a bit set back from the beach, however.

Pezenas is a cute village known for antiques & their nice Saturday farmer's market. It is more remote than your other choices, but there are lots of scenic gorges and fascinating caves in the region. A beach is not too close, however, and you may have a 30 min drive to it. In July the beach and access to the beach may be difficult (we've never "beached" in that area).

St Maxime is a "family oriented" beach town close to St Tropez. It has a very nice beach. However, in July there will be bumper to bumper traffic through St Maxime with cars trying to get to St Tropez and the Pampalonne beaches. We've been stuck in that traffic several times - in June & Sept.

The least touristy village is Pezenas. I would be worried about the "hill" in Biot if the place you are considering is in the center of the town. St Maxime & Biot have the most "stuff" to do immediately around it - I would just be worried about the traffic - but the solution might be to see what time of day the traffic is at its worst - and start day trips before or after the traffic "surge".

Best beach access - St Maximine - by far

Most beautiful/Interesting - Pezenas. Biot is cute/interesting - but it is quite small. You may not be able to walk uphill to town if your gite is actually below town. About 10 years ago, there was a summer "fun zone" near Biot.

We've stayed in St Tropez for about 6-7 weeks, and in St Mazime for 2 nights. We've never stayed overnight in Pezenas, but we've explored the town 3-4 times when we've stayed close to it. We've had dinner in Biot about 5 times, and explored the village about 4 times.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Jan 28th, 2014, 08:18 AM
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Having been to both Pézenas and Biot on many occasions, I can recommend Pézenas and Languedoc for a great family holiday. Biot is a quaint village, a few miles inland from the Riveria - beaches there in general are rocky, not sandy. Motorway is very busy in July. Ste Maxime access is particularly problematic as roads are narrow and busy. Languedoc is busy from mid July to end of August, typically on Saturdays as holidaymakers travel to their destination. The beaches closest to Pézenas are a 20/25 minute drive - Meze, Agde, Vias, and they are magnificent- long stretches, sandy and very clean. There are lots of activities for kids - my 8 year old daughter really enjoyed the dinosaur park at Montagnac, waterland at Cap d'Agde,castle at Carcassonne, Aigue Mortes, etc. An awful lot to see and do, all whilst surrounded by miles of vineyards! Enjoy your holiday planning.
shinnie is offline  
Jan 29th, 2014, 11:32 AM
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Thank you so much for your insight information. I Think we are now leaning towards Pézenas now. It seems to offer most of what we are looking for; nice beaches combined with culture, history, interesting excursions, good restaurants and wineyards.

Does the beaches get overcrowded in early July in this area?

If you have any knowledge of lovely restaurants not to be missed or properties in the area that we should look into renting, please advice us !
Cilla2 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2014, 01:14 PM
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Pézenas is quite an ordinary village of Languedoc (a good thing) but also very conveniently close to the local autoroute, which is quite convenient for getting around. So it is a good choice.
kerouac is offline  
Jan 29th, 2014, 03:42 PM
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Like both shinnie and I stated - the beaches near Pezenas are kinda far away. You'll have to "consume" 45 mins or so to pack stuff in the car, drive to the beach, find a place to park, and then walk to the sand. What if one of the 4 of you are "finished" with the beach scene after 2 hrs, and others in the group are not. The beach in Ste Maxime is right there in town - and it is a very nice beach. Everyone in your family could come & go as they want. You don't have to use the car unless the place you are considering is at the extreme "other" end of town. Also, you could walk on the beach at night and see the lights of St Tropez across the bay. There are plenty of "cute little historic villages" around Ste Maxime and deeper into the Var. We've spent about 10 weeks vacationing in the Var - where Ste Maxime is located.

Personally, for a "family" vacation - I would much rather stay in Ste Maxime than in Pezenas. The Gorges, caves, and natural environment are fantastic around Pezenas - but you'll spend a lot of time in the car getting to them (we've spent 10 weeks vacationing in the Languedoc).

I developed a 27 page itinerary for Provence & the Cote d'Azur, and another 35 page itinerary for the Languedoc. There is lots of info in it about things to do & see in each region. I've sent out over 4,00 copies of them to folks on Fodors. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail.

PS - Biot would be my last choice.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 29th, 2014, 03:54 PM
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We spent a week in Nizas, a small village near Pézenas. During that week, we daytripped daily around the area. We were there in late March, so did not seek out beaches. Some of the more interesting places we visited were:


Béziers - series of locks on the Canal du Midi

St.-Guilhem-le-Désert -

Cirque de Navacelles - http://www.destination-languedoc.co....les-491-2.html

Sète - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%A8te

Narbonne - http://www.narbonne-tourism.co.uk/


As kerouac noted, Pézenas is an ordinary town and except for a few hours at the market, we spent little time there. I did like the statue of Molière, however. As he also noted, it's convenient to the A75 autoroute that will take you in about an hour to the Viaduc de Millau, a spectacular engineering achievement:


I think kerouac may have done one of his wonderful photo reports on the Millau bridge. If you click on his name, you might find it. And perhaps he also did one on Sète?

We really enjoyed our time in the area and liked this region a lot.
MaineGG is offline  
Jan 29th, 2014, 03:55 PM
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>>If you have any knowledge of lovely restaurants not to be missed or properties in the area that we should look into renting, please advice us !<<

I thought you already had some properties in mind. We'll be in Nice for 2 weeks and then Provence for 2 weeks in June. We reserved our gites in about May last year. July is when the French families start going on their vacations - and families often stay in Gites/houses. You may not find many properties available for July.

BTW, Pezenas is pretty isolated. There are 3 restaurants in Pezenas listed in the Michelin Red Guide.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 30th, 2014, 02:35 AM
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Thanks again for all your replies.

It is correct that we do have properties in mind, but nothing is finalised yet and any new recommendations would be interesting.

Pezenas: I must admit though that now we are starting to hesitate about choosing Pezenas. We had the impression it was a beautiful medieval town that would be interesting and cosy,but I´m getting a bit worried now.
Are there other " better" choices in the same area in Languedoc, or maybe a town closer to the beach areas in Languedoc.

Sainte Maxime: We are a bit scared off by all the information about the traffic jams, even though the town itself and the beaches seems interesting. The flat we are considering here is 20 meters from the beach so while we´re in town here shouldnt be a need for a car. But I don´t think we´ll be spending every day on the beach. The plan is to do excursions at least every other day.

Biot: is getting close to being out of the race.
Cilla2 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2014, 06:40 AM
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IMO, Pezenas is the most interesting village in the Languedoc that's within 30 mins of the sea. Aigues Mortes is popular - but is very, very touristy. Much farther west in Roussillon, Collioure is directly on the beach and is an interesting village - but it may have the same traffic problems as Ste Maxime in July. We've only been there in early June and the parking was horrific then.

Like I stated earlier, the traffic problem in Ste Maxime is bumper to bumper in the mid-morning and afternoon - mainly on weekends with people trying to get to St Tropez & the Pampalonne beaches. It is bad in St Tropez too - where we've stayed for around 6 weeks in June. The traffic problem is easy to solve if you head out for day-trips before the heavy traffic occurs, between surges mid-day, or after the surge in the late afternoon. I don't recall the "narrow" roads that shinnie mentioned.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 30th, 2014, 09:53 AM
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Stu mentions Collioure as an option in his above post. We have visited this town twice over the past few years with our children (they are now 12 & 16) and they loved it. The town is charming and full of historical sites and wonderful food & drink for the adults, while also catering to the kids with the beach and water sports, horseback riding, sailing, you name it.

We loved it so much we bought a place there this past summer and now rent it out. We think it is an ideal spot because there is a lot to do close by or within a one and a half or two hour drive around the area. You can check out our page with things to do in the area and also links to the tourist offices of the surrounding towns at:


The parking can be problematic but a pass can be purchased for 30 euros for the week that you can use to park in any of the municipal lots within Collioure and if you do a day trip, leave in the morning and you shouldn't have any trouble.

Enjoy your vacation!
collioureholiday is offline  
Jan 30th, 2014, 09:59 AM
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Pézenas is quite an ordinary village of Languedoc (a good thing) but also very conveniently close to the local autoroute, which is quite convenient for getting around. So it is a good choice.

This is pretty much what I was going to say. But we only spent a couple days there.

As we drove away, we both remarked that we should spend more time in the area. The next time.
mr_go is offline  
Jan 30th, 2014, 11:26 AM
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In any case, I have indeed made photo reports about Sète, Montpellier, Aigues Mortes and Millau.
kerouac is offline  
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