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Provence and the French Riviera in 20 days


Jan 24th, 2013, 05:08 AM
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Provence and the French Riviera in 20 days

I am seeking advice on the first leg of a six month holiday I am planning for the second half of 2013 - any would be much appreciated!

To start with, my girlfriend and I are flying into Paris on 2 August 2013 and arriving at about 6am. We then plan on hopping straight on a train and heading south to Avignon (don't panic, we are planning a couple of weeks in Paris later on in the trip). We are thinking we will hire a car in Avignon and spend about two nights there. We then plan on driving from Avignon to Aix-en-Provence, where we plan to spend about four nights. After this, we will return the car and catch a bus or train to St Tropez, where we will spend three nights. Next, we plan on catching a bus or train to Nice and staying for three or four nights. Finally, we want to spend three or four nights in Monaco (either Monte Carlo or Menton).

Does anyone have any tips/recommendations? Have we missed anywhere that we must see, and have we allocated enough time to each place?

Any help would be much appreciated!
Nagle is offline  
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Jan 24th, 2013, 06:50 AM
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You will be sure to get some advice from Stu Dudley, who is very knowledgeable here. We have spent about 3 weeks total in these areas, and you may get some ideas from our phototravelogues at http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...have-moved.cfm
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Jan 24th, 2013, 07:10 AM
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I would suggest a little more time in the Avignon area and a little less time in Aix, even though I really loved Aix.

We very much enjoyed staying at the Mas des Carrasins in St. Remy and taking day trips from there. Pont du Gard, Nimes, Avignon, Les Baux, Arles, the Luberon are all close.
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Jan 24th, 2013, 09:36 AM
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First of all, your itinerary only suggests large cities - except for St Tropez. We return to Provence frequently (18 weeks there, plus 16 weeks on the Cote d'Azur) because of the countryside - not the big cities. If this was my trip, I would train to Avignon and stay in St Remy for several days then someplace in the Luberon for several days. Visit Avignon as a day-trip from one of these places. I don't like basing in Avignon because there is lots & lots of very ugly urban sprawl everywhere around it (except west) which you'll have to drive through & which might perhaps tarnish your "image" of Provence.

I would not spend 4 nights in Aix. Aix is perhaps our favorite large city in Provence - but it is only a 3/4 day visit, IMO, and there is not much else to do around Aix compared to the stuff to do around Avignon.

There is not a train station in St Tropez, and taking a bus there might be complicated. St Tropez is only about 1 1/2 hrs from Aix by car, and there are some lovely spots around St Tropez you'll want to visit by car (Ramatuelle, Gassin, Bormes, Grimaud). So drive there & keep the car. The "famous" beaches are really not in St Tropez - but 20 mins away by car.

Finally, getting to the Nice area by train is impossible (again - no train station in St Tropez) and by boat or bus is again difficult. I would drive there, keep the car for a few days to visit the fantastic Nice Hinterland (Alps), the cute little villages (St Paul, Tourrettes, Vence, Eze, many others) and then return the car.

I'm not a fan of Monte Carlo - just a lot of concrete, congestion, noise, glitz.

Be prepared to find zero hotel accommodations in St Tropez in mid-August. Difficult in the other areas also. We usually make our reservations 1 to 1 1/2 years in advance for June.

Do you have my 27 page itinerary for Provence & Cote d'Azur? I've sent it to over 3,000 people on Fodors. E-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach a copy to the reply e-mail.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 24th, 2013, 09:41 AM
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ICK! Don't do this unless you have a boatload of money and enjoy yachts and casinos. It's a concrete jungle and not at all representative of the Côte d'Azur. A couple of hours and a really expensive snack is all it's worth.

If your 6-month holiday is to take place entirely in Europe, do you have the appropriate visas?
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Jan 27th, 2013, 08:58 PM
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Thank you all so much for your advice. I now plan on spending 3 days in St Remy and 3 days in Luberon and just driving around that area to have a look at a few places. Then 3 days in Aix, then driving to St Tropez and 3 days there (I have had a closer look on the map and realised how useful a car will be). Finally, I plan to spend about 6 days in Nice and within that time I can drive to Monaco for a day trip since it's so close, as well as have a general look around that area.

Does anyone have any tips with hiring a car and is there an issue with parking in places like St Tropez and Nice?

StCirq - we will only be in Europe for 3 months, which I think is the maximum we can stay there without needing a special visa.

If anyone has any tips about good hotels (we are hoping to keep within 100 euros a night for a room with a double bed), then this would be much appreciated. Also any tips about nice day trips would be most helpful as well!
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Jan 28th, 2013, 01:44 AM
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St Tropez can be tricky for parking even though there is a public car park almost in the centre, it can get full. Also there can be alot of traffic getting into St Tropez.
For accommodation, personally I prefer villages such as Grimaud or anything out towards the mountains but other places less famous such as Ste Maxime are pleasant seaside places to stay and you can take a ferry across the bay to St Tropez.
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Jan 28th, 2013, 04:39 AM
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Seriously think about doing St Tropez in August; it is packed, and traffic is a nightmare. Look at your map; it can easily take an hour to drive to St Maxime from St Tropez, and it's only about 10 miles.

You will need a hotel with parking - you will not find this for 100 euros in St Tropez in August.

Stay in St Maxime instead, and take the boat to visit St Tropez.

If you want to stay in the center of Nice; get rid of the car unless your hotel has parking. Take a train to Monaco.
Or keep the car, but in that case stay outside of town. The drive to Monaco over the corniche is lovely, you can stop at Eze, but again, traffic into Monaco can be a problem. There are plenty of parking garages, if you go early it should be OK to find somewhere to park.
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Jan 28th, 2013, 09:49 AM
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We've stayed for 4-5 weeks in Nice & 5-6 in St Tropez & never had problems with parking. Often, however, we've had to walk 20 mins from where we parked the car to our hotel or apt. This is all in June or Sept - not August or July.

Tulips is correct about the traffic into/out-of St Tropez from/to Ste Maxime - even in late June & early Sept. That's why we stay IN St Tropez - to avoid all traffic in & out. When we go "elsewhere" for the day (Bormes, for example) we have a "reverse" commute, and most things we want to visit are not in the Ste Maxime direction anyway. We stayed in Ste Maxime once, and did not enjoy our visit there as much as we did in St Tropez. We usually spend time IN St Tropez in the morning before 10:30 and in the afternoon/evening after about 4:30PM. That's when St Tropez is "at it's best". Between these two times, it is way too crowded for us. Cafe Creme & croissants are much more enjoyable at 7:30am, when St Tropez is "waking up" and the crowds have not arrived yet.

Stu Dudley
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