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Please help with Paris and Provence itineraries—we are trying again!

Please help with Paris and Provence itineraries—we are trying again!

May 30th, 2007, 04:18 PM
  #1  
hax
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 254
Please help with Paris and Provence itineraries—we are trying again!

Hello Fodorites,

Last year you were all incredibly helpful as I planned a trip for our family (two adults, two teen girls) to Paris and Provence.

Unfortunately, we had to cancel last minute when my elderly Mom (not one of the travelers) took ill.

I rebooked for this June, and we’re trying again. Long story short, my poor little Mom is still ill, and I just haven’t had the heart to plan as hard this year. We’re two weeks away, and I’ve finally allowed myself to start believing we might go, reading these posts and my guidebooks again. I would so appreciate any last minute advice.

I just want to avoid major mistakes.

Our itinerary:
Paris—Saturday, June 16 to 20th. Hotel Fleurie in the 6th.
Are there things to avoid/not miss on weekends? I was thinking the open air bus two days (Saturday and Sunday), the museum pass Sunday/Monday or Monday/Tuesday? Maybe the fat bike night tour Sunday or Monday night. It’s been 25 years for me—definitely want to see the Musee D’Orsay, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle. Think the girls would like Montmartre (Amelie!) Are restaurants tougher to get into on weekends? (We’re sort of foodies, the girls eat everything,
but would like to keep it around 35 euro pp).

St. Remy (Mas de Carassins) June 20-24 (Wednesday-Saturday). We arrive mid afternoon—will we miss the St. Remy market? Is it still worth going to L’Ile sur le Sorgue? Thinking Pont du Gard, Les Baux, Stu’s lavender drive, Luberon villages, including Gordes and Rousillon, maybe Cassis?
Markets that are open? Towns not to miss?

St. Paul de Vence (Le Hameau) June 24-25 (Sunday-Monday), leaving from Nice airport 7:20 AM flight June 26 (through Frankfurt)

Interested in St. Paul and Vence, Foundation Maeght, Nice, Eze. Thought we’d do the Riviera drive—though maybe not all the way to Monaco? How early do you think we need to get to the airport for a 7:20 AM flight (reading in the forum three hours in advance?!) Can we just drop off our rental car that early?


Finally—lost about $1200 in cancellation fees last year--about $400 in non-refundable PREMS, which at the time I was so proud of printing (thank you, Morgan!) The SNCF was very kind and sent us 150 euro in vouchers, but I couldn’t use them. Turns out they must be used in person at the ticket office in France, and it was cheaper to just rebook the PREMS than to wait and use the vouchers. Any idea how/if I might sell them? (Would take anything at this point. And I sure don’t want to get into trouble They are fully transferable (no name on vouchers) and good until August.

Thanks so much. Sorry for so many questions. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed we make it this year.

Hax
hax is offline  
May 30th, 2007, 04:29 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24
ille sur le sorgue is still a great spot for antiquing and walking. all of the areas are so perfect for a great trip. we take the train from paris to avignon..rent a car and stay at a b&b. that is the home base and from there we drive on day trips including st tropez. have fun!!!
rafferty is offline  
May 30th, 2007, 04:42 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 301
In planning for the museums in Paris, remember that some of them are closed on certain days.

Musee D'Orsay is closed on Mon.

The Crypt at Notre Dame is also closed on Mondays.

The Louvre is closed on Tues.

Your dates will still wok, just keep it in mind when deciding what to do which day.

Good luck with this one!! I have my fingers crossed for you!!
amamax2 is offline  
May 30th, 2007, 08:51 PM
  #4  
hax
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 254
Thanks for your replies (and good wishes!)

I did notice when the Louvre and Orsay were closed--am I wrong to try to go to one on a Sunday?
Do want to get a two day Museum pass to avoid lines, but worry that Sunday/Monday is not the greatest combo. I think the girls might be too tired on our arrival day Saturday to tackle the museums--that's why I thought maybe the on-off bus. My only options for the pass are Sunday/Monday or Monday/Tuesday. Any thoughts?
Thanks.
hax is offline  
May 31st, 2007, 04:06 PM
  #5  
hax
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Posts: 254
Another question for Provence experts. Stu Dudley, are you there?

I just realized we COULD go to the Ile sur le Sorgue market on Sunday, on our way to St. Paul de Vence...but that would cut into our already short time there. Via Michelin put the drive at 2 1/2 hours, but others here estimate 4 hours from St. Remy to Nice. Should we forget the market? Will St. Paul (and towns on the way) all be closed on Sunday anyway? Our canceled itinerary last year had a much better day/region matchup, but that's life.

Any thoughts on any leg of the trip (Paris, St. Remy, St.Paul) would be much appreciated. Thanks.
hax is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 05:22 AM
  #6  
 
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Near St Remy I would put Arles in the not to be missed category

I have never before suggested going somewhere I have not been, but I am just reading Carol Drinkwater's memoir, the Olive Farm, and have marked down the Isles de Lerins as a personal "must see" destination based on her description and on checking the entry in my Eyewitness Provence & the Cote d'Azur guide. The Drinkwater book is about fixing up an old villa/olive farm near Cannes/Mougins and would be a good read before your St. Paul de Vence stay.
Vttraveler is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 11:46 AM
  #7  
hax
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Thanks, Vttraveler. I will definitely look into the Olive Farm. And I do think my girls would like the Roman ruins in Arles. It seems like there are a lot mixed reviews on Arles in the Forum. Anything special you recommend?

PB Provence--if you're there--last year you were kind enough to provide a great list of restaurants near St. Remy. It seems this year the Mas des Carassins is requiring us to have 3 out of 4 dinners at the Mas (half board-which they weren't going to last year. Would you recommend we spend the one night free in the town of St. Remy, or try for a dinner at another hotel, like the Riboto de Taven (which sounds fabulous). Is it tricky driving back to the hotel from Les Baux at night?

Thanks!
hax is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 01:18 PM
  #8  
 
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I apologize if this post appears twice as I'm having some difficulty with Fodor Forum today!
If possible don't miss visiting a few of the following villages on their market days: Rousillon (Thursday), Gordes (Tuesday), Bonnieux (Friday), Apt (huge market on Saturday).
Definitely give yourself enough wiggle room getting from St. Remy to Nice. Absolutely allow yourself 3 hours before your flight. We barely made it on 2-3 of our scheduled flights this past spring in France and Italy and we were there 2 hours prior to departure. You have a 7:30 a.m. flight...Wow - you might as well spend the night at the airport!!
caroltis is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 02:08 PM
  #9  
hax
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Thanks,Caroltis. We're there Wed-Sat (before we drive to St. Paul) so we'll try to hit either Bonnieux or Rousillon on their market day. Do you prefer either market?
hax is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 02:26 PM
  #10  
 
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Rafferty, we will also be taking the TVG from Paris to Avignon. Do you home base in Avignon? What B & B do you stay at? A lot of opinions seem to base yourself in St. Remy or use 1 base in Luberon and 1 base in St. Remy.

How many villages are you able to visit from your base and how long to you stay in Provence.
suze1 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 02:56 PM
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hax...

If you're looking for a really wonderful dining experience, I'd suggest L'atelier de Jean Luc Rabanel in Arles. If you'd rather not drive that far (25-30 minutes), then la Riboto in Les Baux is an excellent choice (and hopefully the weather will be warm enough to dine outside on the terrace).

L’atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel

Opened in March by the former chef, and creator of the only registered organic restaurant La Chassagnette in the Camargue. This is a small restaurant in the heart of the shopping area. The theme remains the same – organic, fresh and inventive.

They have various lunch formulas at varying prices
Dinner – 50 €
7, rue des Carmes
tel: 04 90 91 07 69
* Riboto de Taven
In the Val d'Enfer, just below the village of Les Baux. An excellent Michelin one star restaurant for thirty-five years, they've turned in their star and are no longer serving a varied menu. They've become a country inn and serve a dinner with a set menu . Call in advance to see what they're serving - and if they have room. The menu changes with the seasons, but always includes regional dishes. Beautiful garden and terrace with a view of the village of Les Baux. Dining on the terrace in the summer months, otherwise indoors in what was once the bergerie (sheepfold).
Dress - Dressy casual, although no ties required for men.
Tel: 04 90 54 34 23
Menu is usually around 45 euro
PBProvence is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 02:58 PM
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hax...

Sorry... my cat walked on the space bar and posted my unfinished message for me.

The drive from the Riboto back to Mas des Carassins is easy.. should only take you fifteen minutes max - even in the dark.

Patricia
PBProvence is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 03:47 PM
  #13  
hax
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Thanks, Patricia. I was just looking at the via michelin site and they said the Riboto is only open to the inn's guests. Is this wrong?

I remember reading your posts about the Atelier. I'll have to ask my husband if he wants to drive that far at night after wine Would you recommend it with teen girls? (They are very adventurous.)

Thanks.
hax is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 05:16 PM
  #14  
 
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I have shared our recent Provence trip photos with friends and family and the village receiving the most ooooo's and ahhhhh's is Rousillon. It is an extremely colorful village! There are also some very nice shops and cafes and their market is quite nice. I also meant to mention that the Abbaye de Senanque just outside of Gordes was so lovely in the Spring, I can only imagine what it looks like when all the lavender fields surrounding it are in bloom. If you can fit that excursion in I'm sure it will be wonderful. They have a great gift and book shop there where you can buy lavender honey and lavender products that the monks prepare.
caroltis is offline  
Jun 1st, 2007, 11:59 PM
  #15  
 
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hax...

<<I was just looking at the via michelin site and they said the Riboto is only open to the inn's guests.>>

Well, technically that's true. But if you call a day ahead and ask if they have a free table for the night you're interested in, they'll give it to you.
I've never had a problem getting a table for someone when I've called.

If your daughters are adventurous..they'll love Jean Luc's restaurant. If you don't want to navigate in the dark, go for lunch ! (but if you're here in June, it stays light really late - after 10 PM)

Patricia
PBProvence is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 05:07 AM
  #16  
 
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hax
I did a quick search on the forum to see why Arles came up with mixed reviews. didn't see too much negative. I can only think that a lot of people consider the perched villages more scenic. to me it makes sense to see a smaller city like Arles with great historic/architectural interest, too.
Also, you have a good recommendation for a restaurant for lunch or dinner in Arles.

If you and your daughters are interested in Roman history at all the ruins in Arles would help to give a sense of city life in Roman Gaul. The amphitheater and theater are both quite spectacular and there are remains of the forum and baths of Constantine.

The remains of medieval Arles are also interesting. St. Trophime is a beautiful Romanesque church with amazing sculpture on the portal and in the cloister. Our kids are not so enchanted with church architecture as their parents so it is always nice for us to find a city with a spectacular church located near other sights of interest to them! (Easier than persuading them to take a special day trip featuring one of the abbeys...)

On your way to/from Arles, le Moulin de Daudet and the 12th century St. Gabriel chapel (more Romanesque sculpture) are definitely worth seeing.

Les Alyschamps is also an amazing necropolis. Van Gogh painted it and other sights in Arles where he lived for 15 very prolific months but there are none of his paintings in the city.

Arles also has museums with early Christian art and the Museon Arlatan with a provencal folklore collection.

Of the villages you asked about, our kids especially enjoyed Roussillon because of the ochre -- but we did have to throw out some white athletic socks after our trip there.
Vttraveler is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 05:22 AM
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ttt
Byrd is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 04:48 PM
  #18  
hax
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Wow, thanks, Carlotis, Vttraveler and Patricia. Some great info.

It sounds like lunch at the Atelier and the ruins in Arles would make a great combo. I don't suppose they could be combined with the Pont du Gard (wrong way)? We were also planning to see Glanum. There is so much to see!

We are spending four days in Paris first, so want to make sure to spend enough time in the countryside. Roussillon and the Abbaye de Senanque are definitely on our list.

Thanks.

hax is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 07:38 AM
  #19  
 
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I do think the Pont du Gard and Arles would be too much to see in one day. As you note, they are in different directions. Uzes is a beautiful historic town near the Pont du Gard that I would recommend seeing--but I think you are not trying to add destinations at this point?
we stayed for 2 1/2 weeks in a rental house in Noves, just north of St. Remy and even with that length of time felt we had to miss many places we would like to see.
I am envious of your St Paul de Vence stay. It is an area I would really like to visit, and I will be interested in your trip report.

One suggestion for your Paris stay: when you visit Notre Dame it is well worth climbing the tower. I had not done this during my first three trips to Paris but when we were there with our kids I thought they'd enjoy seeing the gargoyles and bell. We all enjoyed these and the great view of the city.
I've never done the on/off bus so can't comment on that but would say the bateau mouche trips, touristy though they are, give a whole different perspective on the city.
Vttraveler is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 08:47 PM
  #20  
 
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My husband and I will be staying at Mas des Carassins in September, so please let us know how your stay was. Also, why do you think it is "required" that you have dinner at the hotel every night? It appeared as an option that is not included in the daily rate. Am I mistaken?
stricky is offline  

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