Please help with Provence itinerary

May 25th, 2006, 11:25 AM
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Please help with Provence itinerary

Hello Provence experts! Thank you in advance!

My family of four (two teen girls) will also be arriving in Provence on a Sunday, and have the same "what do you do on Sunday and Monday" issue as Katzen (earlier post)--only we are going in a few weeks! Paris first, then we arrive in Avignon at 1pm on June 18. We are staying at the Mas de Carassins (thanks Fodorites!) for four nights, then two nights in St. Paul de Vence at Le Hameau (thanks Underhill!) We have Stu's itinerary (thanks Stu!).

My two main questions are:
1) Would Katzen's general itinerary/ towns appeal to teen girls (who like to shop, like cute towns, history, and hike)? Any other places they would love? I don't mean to copy--we just have the same Sunday/Monday issue. I've been putting together my own "must" list, which includes St. Remy, Les Baux, Gordes, Roussillon, Bonnieux, Stu's lavendar route and possibly the Pont du Gard and/or Cassis while in St. Remy, and then Nice, Monaco and Eze while at Le Hameau.

2) My husband thinks we should spend Sunday afternoon in Avignon (even tho we arrive at the station out of town). Is it hard to drive in? We will have all of our luggage in the car. Is this a big mistake? Is Avignon "good" on a Sunday, or is it worth coming back to? (I am sure it is wonderful...but this is our first trip to Provence and we will have just spent 5 days in Paris. In his itinerary, Stu suggests first timers skip it.)

We have reservations for our first night's dinner at the Mas at 7:30. Do we need to make lunch and dinner reservations for the rest of the trip, or should we wing it?

Thank you all. I am so excited, but running out of time to fine tune planning as also planning a high school graduaton!
hax is offline  
May 25th, 2006, 11:31 AM
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the Pont du Gard would be at the top of my list with teens along - to me it's the finest Roman relic outside of Italy and is in a wild setting with hiking trails - walking on top of the old acqueduct as it soars over a river far below is a stupendous feeling. Can also rent kayaks to float in the river under the old bridge.
PalQ is offline  
May 25th, 2006, 11:33 AM
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And my teen son loved going on the pony treks in the Camargue, just south of Arles and Avignon - there are several ranches there that take folks on pony rides into the wild swamp-like area to see the fabled wild horses of the Camargue. teens may also like the beach at nearby Ste-Marie-de-la-Mer.
PalQ is offline  
May 25th, 2006, 12:46 PM
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>>Is Avignon "good" on a Sunday, or is it worth coming back to? (I am sure it is wonderful...but this is our first trip to Provence and we will have just spent 5 days in Paris. In his itinerary, Stu suggests first timers skip it.)<<

Before people start commenting about my recommendation to skip Avignon - here is what I said in my itinerary:

"I love Avignon***, but I usually recommend that first-timers to Provence skip this city – especially if they’ve visited Paris on their vacation. It’s a big, hard city and it is surrounded by a lot of very ugly commerce and dilapidated high rise apartment complexes, that will perhaps spoil your image of the “perfect” Provence.""

I would still suggest that after 5 days in Paris and then taking the 3 hr TGV to Avignon - that you not immediatly head into Avignon for a visit at 1:30 - when any shops that may be open on Sunday (most will be closed) will be closed for lunch. I think you will want to see some open countryside and some small villages before you tackle another big city. Also, Avignon will be pretty dead on a Sunday - expecially if you expect to do some shopping.

I would head to St Remy, check into your hotel, and then explore St Remy when the shops start to open at 3:00 or so. Many will be open on Sunday. Then visit Les Baux as late as possible and also drive through the Alpilles a little.

7:30 is on the early side for dinner in Provence in late June. We usually eat around 8:00 or 8:30. Often at 8:00, we're the first ones there at non-touristy restaurants. In St Remy, however, it's such a popular place for Americans, that you won't be the only ones there at 7:30. At most places, reserving a day in advance is fine unless there is some special place you don't want to miss.

On Monday, I would visit Gordes and then take the Luberon Route that's in my Itinerary. Or just visit Gordes & Roussillon and then take the Lavender Route. Many shops in Gordes & Roussillon will be open. Don't miss Senanque Abbey.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley is offline  
May 25th, 2006, 01:48 PM
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Thanks, PalQ. Sounds like the Pont du Gard is a must.

And Stu, thanks so much for your reply. That's exactly the information I needed. Our hotel chose the 7:30 dinner time for us. I just figured it was their set time. Perhaps I should ask if they could move it back.
hax is offline  
May 26th, 2006, 02:56 PM
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Does anyone have any further advice for our itinerary or for teens? How about in St. Paul de Vence, Nice or along the Cote?

hax is offline  
May 26th, 2006, 04:14 PM
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I'm sure your teens would fine Nice lots of fun--and the grown-ups as well. The old town area is full of interesting streets, little shops, cafés, two excellent ice-creameries, assorted restaurants. Then there's the Promenade des Anglais, right out of a Dufy painting, to walk or even roller-blade. While Nice has pebbles instead of sand for beaches, the water is beautiful and a good temperature for swimming and the beach is a great place to people-watch.

Above St-Paul is the old town of Vence, well worth a visit, as is Tourrettes-sur-Loup, a charming mountain village with craft shops.

What room do you have at Le Hameau? One warning: reserve a table for dinner somewhere in St-Paul, as the restaurants fill up quickly and there's nowhere else really close. One restaurant we liked--a tea salon, actually, meaning light meals all during the day--is La Cocarde. It's on the left side of the main street that goes up the hill, about halfway to the top. Wonderful onion soup, omelettes, salads, even escargots.

Enjoy your trip--it will be lots of fun.
Underhill is offline  
May 26th, 2006, 04:24 PM
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Hax - stayed at Mas deCarassins too. Have dinner there one night. It was great and the setting was so nice. You sign up in the morning - its especially nice after a long day trip - you can just hang out in the gardens and around the pool after dinner and not have to trek home. You will love it.
chicagolori is offline  
May 26th, 2006, 05:16 PM
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Regarding the Cote - read the itinerary you got from me - there's plenty of stuff in there to keep you busy for many days - and you have less than two!!! Walk to St Paul early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the crowds. There are several pizza places in the center of old Vence - many locals go there for dinner.

Stu Dudley
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May 27th, 2006, 06:02 AM
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Defnitely skip Avignon on a Sunday afternoon... nothing is open, except for a few tourist shops.

Since you're coming into the TGV station south of town, it's fairly easy to get on the road to St. Rémy and the drive will only take you about 35 minutes. NEVER leave your car filled with luggage in any of the cities, or even towns here in Provence.

I would suggest visiting St. Rémy and Glanum before heading over to Les Baux, as most of the tour buses leave around 6 PM, so it will be quieter.

You can usually wing it as far as dining goes - if you'd like my list of restaurants in the area just let me know.

PBProvence is offline  
May 28th, 2006, 04:48 AM
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Thanks, everyone, for the great advice.

Underhill, we have room 6 at Le Hameau--it has two bedrooms. When you say reserve ahead for dinner, do you mean that day or day before, or do you mean now (weeks ahead?) Is it too far to drive to Nice or Vence for dinner?

Stu, your itinerary will certainly travel to France with us. Thanks again.

Patricia, yes I would like your list of restaurants, please. I understand you are an authority on the manner! Thanks.

Chicagolori--I'm guessing you live in Chicago--me, too! We have reservations for our first night at the Mas. Can't wait!

Thanks to all.
hax is offline  
May 28th, 2006, 08:50 AM
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Here's the restaurant list...

In the Alpilles area:

St. Remy

Jardin de Frédéric
Small, cozy restaurant with a small outdoor terrace. Good seafood dishes. Friendly owner and service is good.
Closed Sunday and Monday lunch
Dress - Casual
8, boulevard Gambetta Tel: 04 90 92 27 76
Menus offered at 25 and 28 euro (dinner) 16 euro (lunch)

La Serre

If you have hours to spend, this is a good restaurant in an old greenhouse in the village - chef is the grandson of Gaston Lenotre. Very good, inventive food, reasonably priced.
Dress - casual
8, rue Commune Tel: 04 90 92 37 21

La Source - Totally non-smoking

Charming, small restaurant fairly off the tourist path. Very good food, beautiful shaded terrace overlooking a garden for summer dining. Closed Wednesday
13, avenue Liberation Tel: 04 90 92 44 71
Lunch menu around 21 euro Dinner menus 30/40 euro

Two Café – restaurants that offer good value for the money:

L’Industrie – 21 blvd. Mirabeau
Les Variétés – 32 blvd. Victor Hugo

Outside of St.Remy, on the D5 just outside of Graveson:

Moulin d'Aure

Also a B&B, the restaurant is wonderful. The owners are Italian, so many of the dishes are Italian inspired. Reasonably priced, with a decent wine list that includes some good Italian choices.
Tel: 04 90 95 84 05

Outside of St. Remy in the direction of Noves:

La Maison (Domaine de Bournissac)
New restaurant and country inn (about two years old) - in a lovely old mas. Excellent cuisine. Terrace shaded by a fig tree. Menus at around 40 euro
Closed Monday and Tuesday noon
tel: 04 90 90 25 25

Les Baux de Provence

* 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



On the village square, this hotel restaurant has a small menu, but the food is excellent.

La Vallée ( Chez Karine )
This restaurant was begun a couple of years ago by Jean-Louis' daughter Karine (Jean Louis of Bistrot du Paradou) and her sister. Her sister has gone on to other things, but Karine, along with the former chef at Cuisine au Planet in Fontvieille are doing good things here. One of their most successful menus has been based on the artichoke.... extremely popular.

15, avenue de la Vallée des Baux Tel: (33) 490 54 54 00
[email protected] website:

* Bistrot de La Petite France

Former Michelin one star restaurant, just outside Maussane near Le Paradou in a renovated farmhouse. They "turned in" their star and changed the style of the restaurant to a less formal bistro. Excellent food, good service. One of the best wine lists in France (the chef's father is the owner of the largest wine distributor in the south of France)
Casual. Reservations recommended Closed Wednesday and Thursday
55, avenue de la Vallee des Baux Tel: 04 90 54 41 91
Menu - 25 euro

Bistrot du Paradou

Popular (written about endlessly) with tourists. Lunch and Dinner (dinner served only from June through the end of September). One Menu, based on market shopping - basically you eat what Jean-Louis' wife cooks.
The past couple of years I've found that the menus are changing less and less, and the price has gone up and up..and it's just not as good. In the past year, Jean Louis has put up signs everywhere on the property "Chez Jean Louis"....
Friday is always Aïoli day. Check the menu of the day before reserving
Dress is casual Tel: 04 90 54 32 70
Lunch menu - 39 euro

Fontvieille (between Arles & Les Baux)

Cuisine au Planet
Very small, but charming, restaurant in the center of the village.... in one of the oldest houses there (16th C). Small outdoor terrace for summer dining.
Dress - casual
144, Grand rue Tel: 04 90 54 63 97
Menus 25 and 32 euro


Jardin des Arts - Totally non-smoking

This is a great spot for lunch. On the main walking/shopping street, in a restored building overlooking a garden. There are daily menus as well as a large choice “a la carte”. The salads are large and excellent.
Lunch service only.
38, rue de la Republique
Tel: 04 90 96 10 36

L’atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel
*** reservations at least a week in advance now a must - he was just named best in the world by Saveur

Newly opened 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

La Charcuterie - This has been written about a couple of times, but I don't recommend it. Several friends have tried it (as recently as two days ago) and found it really bad


* Bistrot d'Eygalières "Chez Bru"
Michelin one star. Charming restaurant in the center of this tiny village. Owners/chef are Belgian, trained at the Baumanière in the 'good old days'. Inventive cuisine, fairly good wine list. In the summer, tables are set outside on the sidewalk for outdoor dining. They also have four rooms.... 130 to 160 euro per night
Reservations recommended in season and on weekends.
rue Republique Tel: 04 90 90 60 34
Lunch menu 45 euro Dinner menus 64/74 €

Le Petit Bru
The baby bistro to the Bistrot d'Eygalieres. More casual - good food.
Prix fixe menu which offers a choice of entrée and main course, cheese and dessert.
House wine only.
Tel: 04 90 95 98 89

Sous les Micocouliers
Situated off the main road, this restaurant always has an interesting daily menu.
Lovely large terrace under the trees, it's great in the summer months.
Closed Tuesday all day and Wednesday at lunchtime.
Tel: 04 90 95 94 53


* Auberge de Noves
Michelin One Star restaurant. Beautiful setting on a hill in a wooded park. Chef Lalleman creates some delicious dishes.
Dressy Casual
Reservations recommended in season and on weekends.
rte. Châteaurenard Tel: 04 90 24 28 28


Mamma Corsica
Corsican specialties and grilled meats.
35 rue Jean le Vieux (near the place Pie)
They also have a Corsican grocery store: U Nebbiu at 70, boulevard St Ruf

La Petite Pêche
Small restaurant - close tables. Very good seafood. A nice place for lunch.
13, rue Saint-Etienne Tel: 04 90 86 02 46

Christian Etienne
A Michelin starred restaurant in a 14thC building touching the Palais des Papes. Regional, excellent cooking. There is an outdoor terrace.
10, rue de Mons Tel: 04 90 86 16 50


* Prieuré
A One Star Michelin restaurant located in the hotel by the same name... the food is delicious and in fine weather you can sit outside on the terrace.
Dress - dressy casual
7, place Chapitre Tel: 04 90 15 90 15

Between Avignon and Carpentras:

Le Saule Pleureur

Open since the beginning of December, 2005, this restaurant is worth a visit if you’re in the area. Laurent Azoulay trained in some of the best restaurants in France, including Pierre Gagnaire , Jean-Marc Banzo and Jaques Chibois. The menus are reasonably priced and the cuisine is very inventive. He’s still finding his way and some of the presentations are a bit over the top, but the food is wonderful.
Menus at 39 €, 59 € and à la carte

145, chemin de Beauregard
tel: 04 90 62 01 35

In the Luberon Region:


La Maison Gouin

Reservations are a must in this former butcher shop turned restaurant.
Near the Credit Agricole on the market place
Lunch menu at 13 €, Evening menu at 33 €
Open every day except Wednesday. Open Sunday morning

44 route d’Apt, Place du marché paysan
04 90 76 90 18


La Maison Gouin

This restaurant from Coustellet has opened a second shop in the former butcher shop “Verpiand”. This one is a butcher and charcuterie and a traiteur which has all of the products selected or prepared by Olivier Gouin.
For a delicious picnic, you can pick up a prepared picnic basket (a real basket) starting at 35 € for a basket for two…. Choose foie gras, golden roasted lamb with new potatoes, morels and asparagus, goat cheese and a container of fresh strawberries, or “build” your own.
Open every day except Wednesday and Sunday

27, cours Bournissac

L’Isle sur la Sorgue

Le Jardin du Quai

Former chef at La Mirande (1998-2002) in Avignon, Daniel Hébet runs this charming restaurant across from the train station, and close to all the antique shops. Reasonably priced – lunch menu at 25 € and gastronomic dinner menu at 40 €.

91 avenue Julien Guigue
tel: 04 90 20 14 98

PBProvence is offline  
May 28th, 2006, 09:33 AM
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Room 6 is the two-room apartment, I believe--very comfortable, and with its own patio. It's right across from the building with the office/sitting room/breakfast room (although the patio is much nicer in the summer months).

As for dinner, probably reserving a day ahead will be fine. I'm just remembering the time we didn't reserve and all the restaurants were full up. We drove down the hill to the next town and looked all over for somewhere to eat; even the pizza truck was closed! Final, on our third pass through the town, we found a small restaurant with okay food, but it wasn't the best experience in the dark.
Underhill is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 01:51 PM
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Wow, thanks Patricia! I'm getting hungry just reading your post! I wish we had more than six days in Provence.

And thanks to you, too, Underhill. We'll be sure to reserve ahead. Two more weeks til we leave!
hax is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 01:59 PM
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Do you know if Le Petit Bru is opened on Sunday evenings?? We will only be in Eygalieres for one night and would love to eat there...Thank you.
Traviata is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 02:23 PM
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Petit Bru is open on Sunday. Closed all day Thursday and Friday lunchtime.

The daily menu is 35 € You can always go by and read the chalkboard outside to make sure they're serving something that appeals to you.

PBProvence is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 02:25 PM
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You're more than welcome. Bon Appétit while you're here !

PBProvence is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 02:51 PM
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You have helped me yet again...thank you so much!
Traviata is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 03:14 PM
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For what their worth you might check these pages from The Times:

France (in general),10319,00.html,00.html

A four-day drive through Provence
Anthony Peregrine, consummate Francophile and veteran of the road, sets off on a tour through the most sensual corner of France

jsmith is offline  
May 30th, 2006, 08:31 AM
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Thanks! I want his job, don't you?
hax is offline  

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