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Please help with Provence/Riviera itinerary!

Please help with Provence/Riviera itinerary!

Old Apr 6th, 2009, 01:18 PM
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Please help with Provence/Riviera itinerary!

My husband and I are taking a 10 day trip to Provence and the French Riviera at the end of May. We've been to Paris, Normandy, and the Loire Valley, but it is our first time in the south of France. I have been spending hours reading travel guides and looking through all of the great posts by other Fodorites! It seems like there is just so much to see, and we are really having a hard time deciding on our itinerary! So far, we have a very preliminary itinerary that I would love some feedback on. Here's what we're thinking:

Thurs: Arrive Nice, explore Nice, sleep Nice
Friday: Head to St. Remy (stopping to visit Aix en Provence on the way); explore St. Remy; sleep St. Remy ;
Saturday: Spend day exploring Avignon; sleep in St. Remy
Sunday: Day trip to Pont du Gard and either Nimes or Uzes; sleep in St. Remy
Monday: Drive up to Cote du Rhone area; tour wineries and some towns; stay in Vaison la Romaine or other small town in area;
Tuesday: Drive back down to Arles; explore Arles; sleep Arles
Wednesday: Arles market; go to Les Baux in late afternoon; sleep Arles
Thursday: Head back to Riviera (stopping in St. Trope/Cannes); sleep in Nice
Friday: Relax in Nice; maybe head to Monaco; sleep in Nice
Saturday: Fly home.

Some things that we've been struggling with:
Is this too little time in the Riviera? Should we stay in Nice for another day on the front end of the trip?
Is St. Remy a good base for a few days? We were torn between staying in St. Remy and Avignon.
Any must sees that we are leaving out?

Thanks in advance for all your thoughts and suggestions!
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 02:14 PM
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>>Thurs: Arrive Nice, explore Nice, sleep Nice
Friday: Head to St. Remy (stopping to visit Aix en Provence on the way); explore St. Remy; sleep St. Remy ;
Saturday: Spend day exploring Avignon; sleep in St. Remy
Sunday: Day trip to Pont du Gard and either Nimes or Uzes; sleep in St. Remy>Monday: Drive up to Cote du Rhone area; tour wineries and some towns; stay in Vaison la Romaine or other small town in area;
Tuesday: Drive back down to Arles; explore Arles; sleep Arles
Wednesday: Arles market; go to Les Baux in late afternoon; sleep Arles>Thursday: Head back to Riviera (stopping in St. Trope/Cannes); sleep in NiceFriday: Relax in Nice; maybe head to Monaco; sleep in Nice
Saturday: Fly home.

Some things that we've been struggling with:
Is this too little time in the Riviera? Should we stay in Nice for another day on the front end of the trip?>Is St. Remy a good base for a few days? We were torn between staying in St. Remy and Avignon.>Any must sees that we are leaving out?
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 02:33 PM
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Stu, Thank you so much for your suggestions! It is really making me rethink our plans. I now have some follow-up questions based on your response:

- We were planning on not staying in St. Remy the whole time just in case it was too sleepy of a town. Are there many good restaurants and things to do in the evening (shops open, etc)? We're in our early 30s and currently live in a city, so we'd like some things to do in the evening.
- If we did decide to stay in St. Remy the whole time, could we do Luberon from there or is it too far?
- The reason we were thinking of staying 1 night in Vaison was because we planned to do some wineries and towns in the Cote du Rhone area and thought it might be too far to drive back to St. Remy after a long day of driving around the area. Thoughts?

Thanks!!
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 02:52 PM
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I live in a big city and like the liveliness of cities, also, and would find staying in St Remy a big snooze. It is a very small town, you know, although there are expensive restaurants and shops there because for some reason it is popular with some wealthy people (like Princess Caroline of Monaco). I really like Avignon, find it very lively and fun in the evening. So to each his own, I know some people love St Remy, I'm just not one of them. At least I wouldn't want to stay there three nights.

It is easier if you have a car, though, I agree with that. You can drive to the Luberon from St Remy in one day, it's not that far.
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 02:58 PM
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Christina, thanks for your input. If you were picking a city to stay in, would you choose Avignon or Arles?
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 03:08 PM
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>>- We were planning on not staying in St. Remy the whole time just in case it was too sleepy of a town. Are there many good restaurants and things to do in the evening (shops open, etc)? We're in our early 30s and currently live in a city, so we'd like some things to do in the evening.>- If we did decide to stay in St. Remy the whole time, could we do Luberon from there or is it too far?>- The reason we were thinking of staying 1 night in Vaison was because we planned to do some wineries and towns in the Cote du Rhone area and thought it might be too far to drive back to St. Remy after a long day of driving around the area. Thoughts?
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 03:18 PM
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BTW, I live in/near San Francisco - don't know whether you call that a large city or not.

I would not stay in Avignon the entire time - a little difficult to get in & out and you also have to pass through some pretty ugly urban sprawl to get to your destinations (except for the Pont & Uzes). The ugly urban sprawl is not what I want to experience in Provence. If you stay in Aix 1 night & Nice 3 nights - you'll have lots of nightime stuff going on. Aix is a university city - so lots of activity. I've only visited Arles once at night in July, and it didn't seem much more active than St Remy. Also, of you look at a map and put a red dot next to all the places you want to visit - Arles will be off in the lower-left corner of these dots - meaning more driving for you.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 04:51 PM
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I too find St. Remy underwhelming, worth of a visit but otherwise contrived and tourist oriented.

As for a base I like to stay in one place and find central Avignon ideal. The problem of parking can be managed quite easily by using the garage under the courtyard in front of the Palais des Papes. The entrance in near the river on the city's north side and shares an entrance with the Mercure hotel. If when you enter you drive upward and park on the top level, you can exit within 100 feet walking distance from the Place de l'Horlodge basically in the center town. What really draws me to Avignon is its central location, the excellent restaurants, interesting cafés, and the array of different shops.
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 04:57 PM
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By all means spend an extra day in Nice at the beginning of your trip, which will give you some time to relax before heaidng out on your travels. The St-Rémy area is very pleasant and good for relaxing after a hard day's sightseeing, as opposed to staying in either Arles or Avignon. Vaison-la-Romaine is certainly good for an overnight after heading north to visit the wine region beginning with Beaumes de Venise. After exploring Vaison in the morning you can head up to the town of Nyons, known for its appellation-controlée olives; there's an excellent cooperative for shopping.
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 06:24 PM
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St Remy

Yep - it's a little touristy & contrived, but if I put my first-timer hat on & try to remember when I was in my early 30s, I would be quite happy with St Remy.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 06:30 PM
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts. Looks like there really is a difference of opinion as to where a good base is and whether its worth it to move around. We're really struggling with this one, and I guess we'll just have to give it some more thought!
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Old Apr 8th, 2009, 05:16 AM
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Okay, after much thought and agonizing, we've revised our itinerary based on some of your suggestions. Stu, thanks so much for sending along your itinerary - it is amazing! So, here's what we're thinking. We've really changed it alot. Please critique away!

Thurs: Arrive Nice; explore Nice; stay Nice;
Friday: Drive to Gordes; explore Gordes/Rousillon; sleep Gordes;
Sat: Drive to wine region - explore Seguret, le Crestet, Suzette, Gigondas; head back to Gordes to sleep;
Sun: Leave Gordes; visit Ilse sur la Sorgue for Sunday market; head to St. Remy; sleep St. Remy
Mon: Visit Avignon; sleep St. Remy
Tues: Visit Pont du Gard/Uzes - sleep St. Remy;
Wed: Visit Arles (Wed. market) - sleep St. Remy;
Thurs: Back to Riviera; stop in Cannes; sleep Nice
Fri: Relax in Nice for last day
Sat: Fly home.

Thoughts?
- We were still debating whether to stay in three different places - Avignon (to experience more of a city), St. Remy, and Gordes, just to get a feel for different things. But, we decided that its probably best to just base in two towns. Agree?
- Also, I know some people thought it was a bad idea to just stay in Nice for one night at the beginning of the trip, but we think that will be good for us to just get our legs back under us for the first day and night before heading off to explore.

Thanks!
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Old Apr 8th, 2009, 07:18 AM
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In my opinion Aix-en-Provence is the most interesting city and a much nicer place to stay at than St. Remy (nothing to see and extremely touristy) also much cleaner than Avignon and Arles and their market is fantastic!
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Old Apr 8th, 2009, 07:29 AM
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Everybody has a slightly different point of view. I didn't like Avignon that well and agree with Stu that it's not a good place to daytrip from. I love Aix, but it's not so centrally located for daytripping to the sights the OP is interested in. St. Remy is a good base for daytrips and has a good selection of restaurants.
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Old Apr 8th, 2009, 07:58 AM
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I agree that St Remy is a better base for the sights most of us want to see. The Van Gogh connection is worth the stop alone--be sure to visit St Paul de Mausole where he stayed and was so productive. Les Baux and Glanum are just a few minutes away and St Remy itself has an excellent chocolate shop--Joel Durand and olive tasting store. You can't do everything in your alotted time but you will enjoy all the time you do have. Have fun. Paul
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Old Apr 8th, 2009, 08:34 AM
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Like others have said, Aix is great but not centrally located for visiting the sites you've mentioned.

Avignon will be a little dead Monday morning because many shops will be closed. You could visit the Palais of the Popes in the morning, or switch with Tuesdays & visit the Pont in the am and Uzes in the afternon after shops open around 2:30.

I wouldn't stop in Cannes on the way to Nice. If you want to stop anywhere, stop in Aix - Thurs is their market day. Visit Cannes by train from Nice on Friday if you run out of things to do in Nice. Perhaps have dinner there.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 8th, 2009, 08:51 AM
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Thanks everyone. Stu, I like your idea of visiting Aix on the way back instead of Cannes. So, do you think the revised itinerary is an improvement over the original? As I said, we're still wondering if it is a mistake to not stay in Avignon, and whether we should add that as a third place to stay. Also, do you think these days are doable or do we have too much planned? Also, anything we left out?
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Old Apr 8th, 2009, 09:00 AM
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Your itinerary is fine, but add Les Baux either Monday or Wed. You won't have any trouble doing all the stuff on it. IMO, neither Arles or Avignon will take an entire day for most people.

I would not stay in three places that are so close together. You'll get your "city fix" in Nice.

Stu Dudley
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