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Painting trip to Provence-travel tips needed!

Painting trip to Provence-travel tips needed!

Mar 17th, 2019, 04:04 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 57
Painting trip to Provence-travel tips needed!

Hi, I am attending a painting trip to Provence this July in Luberon. I will be traveling alone which makes me a little nervous (and also excited) because I haven't traveled alone overseas!
I was advised to go a couple days earlier to get adjusted to the time changes and maybe sight see a little. The painting trip is an intense workshop and has no sightseeing built in so if I want to see surrounding areas I will have to do on my own before or after the week. I have never been to Paris or Provence or France at all. I have no idea if I will ever be able to return so just want to take advantage of the opportunity to see some sights.

Here are my questions:

1. Should I fly to Paris and spend a few days there and take the train to Provence when the workshop starts? (maybe 2-3 days prior)
2. Fly straight to Marseille and stay there or in Aix before the workshop?
3. Fly to Paris, take a train and then Try to stay a couple days after the trip to see Provence /Cezanne studio, etc.

Any advice is appreciated! I need to get on it because the hotels are sparse the week I will be there in Aix due to the Opera Festival opening..

Thank you!!
3boymom is offline  
Mar 17th, 2019, 04:44 AM
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If you have never been to France I would start with a few days in Paris, at LEAST 2-3. Hard to imagine any first-timer going to France and not getting a taste of Paris. It's easy enough to take the TGV to Provence to get to your workshop.

I love Marseille, but I'm not sure it would be the best introduction to France for a newbie.
StCirq is online now  
Mar 17th, 2019, 04:59 AM
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Thank you! I believe you are correct and that’s what I really want to do! Do you have any suggestions on where to stay in Paris?
3boymom is offline  
Mar 17th, 2019, 05:02 AM
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I have been to France many times, but never been to Paris. It doesn't appeal to me.
If you want to see Paris then fly into Paris then go to your painting workshop, and then maybe spend some time exploring Provence afterwards, if you have the time.
If you don't have the time only you know whether Paris appeals more than Provence.
hetismij2 is offline  
Mar 17th, 2019, 05:39 AM
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Where to stay in Paris is an enormous question. First, what is your budget, as in, how many euros per night do you wish to spend for a room (not some generalization like "moderate price.)? Second, do you wish to be in the "thick of things," as in near the river and many of the major sights, or (since you're an artist) in a less expensive but slightly more out-of-the-way quirky area. The city has an admirable transportation system, so there's no need to be right by Notre Dame or the Louvre or some other landmark; in fact, it's more interesting not to be.

I have spent a lifetime visiting Paris and been in hotels (and apartments) in most of the arrondissements. Over time I have come to like certain ones a lot more than others, but my tastes are maybe not popular. Right now, my favorite is the 11ème. A couple of years ago my preference was for the 20ème.

You can google information on all the arrondissements. There is no need to avoid any of them for reasons of safety or anything else.
StCirq is online now  
Mar 17th, 2019, 11:30 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Look at the Hotel Chopin, frequented mainly by European visitors when we stayed there:

This hotel belongs to a group that offers cheaper rates, but I have not experienced their accommodations:

Last edited by Michael; Mar 17th, 2019 at 11:37 AM.
Michael is online now  
Mar 17th, 2019, 11:57 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,480
Beware: Solo travel can be addictive! Here are some trip reports by solo travelers:
Goin' solo...nothing like it! (A trip report collection)

If you choose to visit Paris before your painting experience, and can do so, consider giving it at least 5 or 6 nights; a week would allow time for a day trip or two. It's a beautiful city, full of wonderful things to see and experience.

I'm fond of the Hotel du College de France, but only if in Paris when one doesn't need A/C. But as already noted, it really depends on your budget and preferences.
kja is offline  
Mar 17th, 2019, 12:39 PM
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Aix, to me, is one of the most beautiful small cities in Europe. I would definitely spend a full day and one or two nights there. I would also spend a day in Arles and two or three full days in Paris.
Sassafrass is offline  
Mar 17th, 2019, 02:48 PM
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I think either Aix or Paris would work. I would also say Paris, but it is a big city, and Aix would be easier to handle with no experience. But it isn't clear to me if you've ever traveled to a foreign country before or not, or if you've just never done it alone.

I really do not think Marseille is a good idea for first time in France and alone, and don't really see the point of that. Sure, you'd be closer to your final point but I can't imagine you are going to fly to MRS nonstop from your home. Are you? Because otherwise, you are talking about a flight connection and a lot more time to add on to your trip. Or if a train, the train trip is four hours from CDG, and you'll have to build in a couple hours for the transfer. It depends where you really are going, if the Luberon, you could go to Avignon.

In fact, that wouldn't be a bad place to go first rather than Aix. Either would do. The rest of your plans are a mystery, as to how you are going to get to this place in the Luberon. Aix isn't in the Luberon, if this workshop is in Aix. Of course you can rent a car at Avignon (driving from the TGV station is easy) or somewhere in Aix. It isn't too difficult driving out of Marseille, actually, but I really would not recommend that given your inexperience.
Christina is online now  
Mar 17th, 2019, 03:44 PM
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Whatever you do stay in Paris for at least 3 nights - so you can see the Paris of the main paintings of it and its many awesome art museums. Yes then take train to Provence and back - book trains as early as possible - up to about 3 months in advance I think for serious discounts on the TGV trains that blast over the route at speeds of up to nearly 200 mph. Book your own tickets at www.oui.sncf - www.seat61.com has adroit up-to-date info on booking own tickets yourselves online. General train info and where trains go also BETS-European Rail Experts
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 17th, 2019, 06:12 PM
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I'd opt for 3 days in Paris to include the Louvre and Musee D'Orsay (check out Hotel Jules Cesar, near Gare de Lyon train station to Provence), then TGV train down to Avignon where I'd rent a car. Numerous B&Bs as well as hotels on the way to the Luberon; I prefer small towns, villages to stay.
The driving is not at all challenging. Might help to know French road signs, and food words for menus. P.S. We've been to France 6 times.
tomboy is offline  
Mar 17th, 2019, 07:07 PM
Join Date: Mar 2019
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Wow! How exciting! My vote is No 3. I kinda think they will make sure you see some sights in Provence even with the intensive painting class. But you cannot miss the chance to walk around Paris. My advice is to let yourself get lost. Just walk down a street out around the corner from you hotel--wherever it is--let yourself be surprised--let yourself be taken away by the magic. Just to stop in a little shop and admire the pastries or to marvel at the many incredible sculptures that can be made from exquisite chocolate. Or to stand and look at the wonderful colors in a flower shop or stand. Naturally if you can take the time to visit the Louvre, that is great. But do try to stop in Notre Dame Cathedral and then mosey down the ancient streets of the Quartier Latin which extends from the Cathedral. I stood admiring eggs in a lovely hand woven basket--so natural and simple. Many sights that seem tre ordinarie to the French looked enchanting to me. Here's a secret: the door knocker at No 5 Rue Sully Prudhomme Street is mystifying. It looks like a girl looking up at the Face of God and laughing with joy!

Now I dont know where you live, but I cannot imagine such a thing would be able to last on any doors near where I live. Yes, it is a good idea to get over jet lag. But oftentimes with me it doesn't even kick in till three days after I land. I usually am so excited that I hit the ground running. Say Bonjour --Hello-- and Ca Va --pronounced Sa Vah meaning how are you? Say Bonjour even if they don't look friendly. Because they want to be--I can assure you. Unfortunately too often they have met spoiled Americans. So I always try to show off by being friendly or at least appearing friendly.
dulciscott is offline  
Mar 18th, 2019, 03:44 AM
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Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions! To answer Christine -and if this info may be helpfull to know for any other input: The workshop hosts are picking up students at Marseille airport and transporting them to Luberon area. We were instructed to fly to Marseille from US or to Paris and take a train to Avignon. I have been to Europe twice (Italy and London/Scotland) but both trips were with organized groups, so this would be my first experience handling all the travel and sightseeing myself.

My plan now is to fly to Paris the week before and spend 3-5 days there and stay 1-2 days on the back end in Aix. The workshop instructor has made it clear that this workshop is about painting and not sightseeing, but since I am flying all the way over there (from TN) I want to do a little of both!
3boymom is offline  
Mar 18th, 2019, 06:53 AM
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Will you fly into Paris and out of Marseille?
Judy is online now  
Mar 22nd, 2019, 10:32 PM
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I'd give Marseille a go.
menachem is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2019, 09:35 AM
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Now that I understand more what you are doing, this would be my plan.
If possible, fly straight to MRS (International airport for Marseilles, Aix, Avignon) and take the shuttle, mini-bus or taxi into Aix. I say, if possible because, I know you can get round trip flights at a decent rate, but not sure about a multi-city to return home.
Stay in Aix until time to meet your painting group at the airport.
After your painting workshop, take train to Avignon and on to Paris. Stay in Paris until you wish to come home.
Why my REC's?
Definitely Aix over Marseilles for this trip.
Marseilles has a beautiful harbor and interesting museums and other sights, but it is bigger than Aix and requires more effort to get around.
Aix is a perfect town for an artist. On some streets, you will feel you have stepped into a painting. You will likely be jet lagged, but can easily enjoy Aix from the minute you arrive without running around, using subways, etc. It is very walkable, but does have some little shuttles that run in a circle around the city center. You will be rested and ready for your painting workshop!

Depending on how many days you allow, you could spend two or three in Aix, but could also take the train for a day trip to Marseilles or Avignon. Either would be great and both if you could manage it. Marseilles is a short train or bus trip. Arles would be good too, but be a longer day.

After the workshop, catch the train to Paris. You will be rested and ready for the city. You could also get a short flight, but depends on cost, timing, etc. I almost always prefer the train.

If you can't get a decent fare for multi-city flights, fly to Paris and still take the train (TGV), via Avignon directly on to Aix. Save Paris for the end, spend your last night there before flight home.
Sassafrass is offline  
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