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Provence 4 days--are we trying to do too much?

Provence 4 days--are we trying to do too much?

Old Aug 19th, 2005, 03:11 PM
  #1  
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Provence 4 days--are we trying to do too much?

We have four days in Provence in mid-Sept. and I have many questions on our itinerary. We arrive in Nice around 9 a.m. the first day, pick up a rental car, and drive to Avignon. We are staying two nights at the Chateau Talaud near Carpentras. We have booked the last night in Nice because we have a 6:40 a.m. flight the next morning. I'm not sure where to spend the third night.

We are mainly interested in seeing antiquities/medieval castles and the countryside and small villages. Not interested in the beaches. Would like to see the Pont du Gard, medieval castles (Les Baux--I don't know which others are good to see) and perhaps visit St. Remy and the area around Gordes. We were thinking of staying the third night in Moustiers Ste Marie--it would be nice to drive through that area, I wonder if it is too far out of the way given the short time we have. My husband would like to be back in Nice by Sat. afternoon so that he can drive to Monaco--I don't know if that's such a good idea but he's determined.

Any advice? We would rather stay in the countryside or a small village than a city. I wonder if it would make more sense to stay the third night somewhere near Gordes since there seems to be so much to see in western Provence I don't know if there will be time to do much else. Thanks!
-Gudrun
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Old Aug 19th, 2005, 04:17 PM
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I would stay all three nights at the chateau you already have reserved. Gordes is only about 30 mins away, so there is no need to stay near there. Carpentras is very centrally located.

If you want to visit Moustiers, do that on the way to/from Nice. I think other areas in Provence are more scenic than the region around Moustiers, but the town itself is quite nice.

Visit Chateau Grignan to get your castle fix. Also, make sure you visit the Friday AM market in Carpentras. The Luberon and Dentelles are wonderful areas (close to your hotel) that are both great to just get lost in and enjoy the countryside. Find the "lavender route" I've posted a few times on this forum, to get you out of the main tourist sections and see what keeps me returning to Provence.

If you land in Nice at 9AM on Wednesday, and return to Nice to get there by Sat afternoon, that only gives you 3 full days in Provence - not nearly enough time at all. Stay put in 1 place and visit St Remy, Les Baux, the Luberon, Pont du Gard & Uzes, market in Carpentras, Dentelles (Vaison, Seguret, Gigondas, Beaumes de Venice, Malaucene, Crestet circle), my lavender route, & Ch Grignan.

I'm guessing that when you get back to Nice & Monaco, you will be asking yourself "what are we doing here - it's too crowded and there is too much concrete - we should have stayed in the Luberon longer".

Stu Dudley
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Old Aug 19th, 2005, 04:23 PM
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There arenít actually all that many medieval castles in Provenceómore are over in the Languedoc. But the Michelin Green Guide to Provence will give you some suggestions, as well as itineraries to consider.

Les Baux isnít really a castle; itís the ruins of an ancient city built out of the rock atop a high plateau. The setting is spectacular, and the ruins still give you an excellent idea of what was once there until Cardinal Richelieu commanded its destruction. However, near Avignon is the Fort St-André, which is very impressive and massive.

From Carpentras you could head east to pick up the Route Napoléon for Moustiers-Ste-Marie, a charming village in a superb setting. That night you could drive down to the town of Esparron sur Verdon and stay in a restored country manor, the Château díEsparron. Itís owned by a youngish count and his Scottish wife and is a delightful place to stay:

http://www.provenceweb.fr/04/ukEsparron.htm

The next morning you could head south for the autoroute to Nice, passing through some lovely scenery on the way and visiting the medieval Abbaye de Thoronet, one of the three best in the region (the other two are Sénanque and Silvacane).
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Old Aug 19th, 2005, 06:02 PM
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Gundrun... If you do manage to get to visit Les Baux, let me give you a recommendation on one of the most fascinating stops that we made back in the summer of 98 on the main road that runs from south to north on the west side of Les Baux. As I recall it was a few miles up the road after you left Les Baux and on the east side of the road as we drove north toward St Remy. It was an old quarry that had been converted into a museum (of sorts) that delt with the entire history of man, from the beginning of recorded history to the present. It focused on the countries of southern Europe, eastern Europe and north Africa. It was 95 degrees outside the entrance into the darkened quarry, but inside the cavernous rooms it was chilly. The people who set up the show used sound and lights to great effect. They were hidden slide projectors throughout the dark, cool caverns that flashed a montage of historical colorful depictions of the world under the rule of the Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Arabs, etc right up to the 20th century on the 20 ft high flat walls of granite while a collage of different classical music played in the background supporting the mood of the slide show...It was something very special. I just stumbled upon this place by accident as we were driving north back to our gite outside of Tarascon. Hope it's still there and that you can get a chance to see it. Maybe someone else who is familiar with that area of provence call give you more info on it. Hope that helps....SoCal
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Old Aug 19th, 2005, 06:13 PM
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It's called the Cathédral d'Images.
Cocteau fans will recognize it in his films, "Orpheus" and "Antigone."
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Old Aug 19th, 2005, 08:51 PM
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Serendipity strikes again! Friends just returned from visiting Les Baux and raved about the Cathedral d'Images. We've gone right by it a number of times but will stop next year.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2005, 10:16 AM
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Thanks so much for all the great advice! Yes, I was beginning to think maybe we should spend all three nights in the same place, but then we were also thinking that it sounds as though there are so many beautiful and interesting places to stay in Provence--small country inns sound the best to us, rather than staying at hotels in the cities--that we hated to just limit ourselves to one.

Stu, I am sure you are right, that once we get back to Nice and go to Monaco, we will wish we'd stayed more of that last day in the Luberon but my husband is such a Grand Prix fan he just has to Monaco, even if it's just to drive around for an hour.

Thanks again, I will look online for mre information about the places suggested. Bastide de Moustiers is awfully expensive anyway, although we could splurge for just one night. But it does seem quite out of the way.

I am now wondering if it might be nice to spend the third night near Aix or down in the Camargue--might like to see Aigues-Mortes and I believe I read there are some Neolithic artifacts in that area. Or are we better off to just stick to the Luberon/Vaucluse area in just a short trip?

Oh, and is the chateau in Tascaron worth seeing, compared to some of the other chateaux in the area? I have spent enough time seeing Scottish and English medieval castles to know that a couple per trip are enough.

-Gudrun
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Old Aug 22nd, 2005, 11:01 AM
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>>my husband is such a Grand Prix fan he just has to Monaco, even if it's just to drive around for an hour.<<

And I guarentee you that if he tries to drive around for an hour in Monaco in that horrendous traffic in mid Sept, that will cure him of any interest in the Grand Prix.

I would stay in the Luberon/Vaucluse and Dentelles/St Remy areas the entire time. Aix is a very interesting town, but you said you did not want to visit large towns - mainly small villages. The area around Aix is not nearly as scenic as the Luberon or Dentelles. The Ste Victorie region just east of Aix is quite over-rated, IMO. It's prettier around Cotignac, farther east, but so are many other regions in Provence that you will probably not have the time to visit.

I think a trip to Aigues Mortes would not be an efficient use of your time. From Carpentras, it's quite a drive and, I may not be in the majority here, I think Aigues Mortes is also over-rated. The walls are nice & so is the main square, but the architecture is not as interesting to me as the architecture in similar towns in Provence, and the first block past the main entrance under the tower has some of the tackiest souvenir stands I've seen anywhere.

The Tarascon Chateau is nice & the views from the top are great - but if you've seen caastles in Scotland and England, it might be a dissapointment and Tarascon is not that neat of a town to drive in. If you visit St Remy, Les Baux, Uzes & Pont du gard on the same day, you will be driving right past Tarascon, and you might stop for a visit - but that might be a very long day. Remember the lunch closing also.

Stu Dudley
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Old Aug 22nd, 2005, 11:22 AM
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Hello-
My husband and I recently (April) did a 3night stay in Provence following a Paris stay.
We stayed all 3 nights in Avignon, which I found to be a great central location. We spent a good 1/2-full day in Avignon, and then branched out on day trips the other days.
Les Baux is a must, I fell in love with it in an instant! We also did Pont du Gard, Arles, Aix and Nimes.
I wish we had time to do Luberon and/or Camargue...
Good luck planning, you are making me want to return already!
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Old Aug 22nd, 2005, 12:11 PM
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The Bastide de Moustiers is indeed very expensive and, IMO, not worth the price. We arrived there a day early and when there was no room for us were directed to the Château d'Esparron (see above), which was MUCH nicer.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2005, 12:29 PM
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The Cathedrale des Images isn't a few miles past les Baux, it's more like a half a kilometer past the summit. It was absolutely packed last week, but should be more accessible in mid-September. Across from it is a parking lot where you can get great shots of Les Baux.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2005, 02:41 PM
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>>>And I guarentee you that if he tries to drive around for an hour in Monaco in that horrendous traffic in mid Sept, that will cure him of any interest in the Grand Prix.<<<

Good, but will the traffic still be that bad in mid Sept? This is the third week in Sept. we are talking about. We live in Chicago so we are well accustomed to horrible traffic jams, and at the end of one you don't end up in Monaco. I guess he just has to find out for himself.

Thanks for your other advice--sounds like it would not be worth the time it would take to visit Aigues Mortes and we should probably stay put. I am somewhat interested in the Basilica of Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume but I suppose that could just be a stop on the way back to Nice.
-Gudrun
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Old Jul 5th, 2006, 07:25 AM
  #13  
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Hi Gudrun,

I also have reserved 3 nights at the Chateau Talaud in September but am about to inquire if there is AC in the Indian summer heat. We are travelling with another couple who's dying to stay in Monte Carlo plus we have friends who live there as well so we're staying 2 nights close to the casino against my better judgment. They do have great neighborhood restaurants that our friends have taken us to in our previous visits. I don't think traffic is that much worse than Nice, I've been stuck more times around Nice old port.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 08:11 AM
  #14  
rex
 
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Sorry to dredge up an old post - - sometimes this will generate replies better than asking the same question in a new post - - any follow-up feedback on Chateau Talaud? The remarks on tripadvisor.com are prety much all glowing.

Considering a two night splurge here, versus Chateau de Bagnols (in Beaujolais) on our six night tour from Milan to Dijon.. budget-breaker to try to do both, I'm pretty sure...

Thanks in advance for any replies... and...

Best wishes,

Rex
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