Provence away from the maddening crowd!

Feb 2nd, 2000, 04:00 PM
Susan Rea
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Provence away from the maddening crowd!

My family and I (2 adults, 2 teenagers) would love some recommendations on what to avoid in Provence at the height of the summer season and what not to miss. Charming villages, markets, swimming spots, daytrip ideas away from it all would be very much appreciated.
Feb 3rd, 2000, 11:27 AM
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Provence is my most favorite place in the world, and I have been most places. San Tropez is a wonderful town, however, in the height of summer, it will be crowded everywhere. Aix-en-Provence, also historically a wow, and very nice city, but will be crowded. We explored some little places, like when you see a 4 star hotel advertised (and it might be a very inconspicuous sign) my advice is to go there, and explore some B&B, and farmhouses that advertise on the road. We had some wonderful experiences. Get booked in the larger cities right away. Sorry I can't remember just where we stayed last trip, which was about 10 years ago--just remembered how I loved Provence.
Feb 3rd, 2000, 11:30 AM
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P.S. Watch out for dogs--doggy piles, that is. French love their dogs, but are not good (like the English) about cleaning up after them, and since streets are narrow, you must look where you step. Also, they take dogs in to restaurants. I was pretty amazed while looking in a window of a fashionable restuarant to see a French poodle, full size, with pink ribbons in hair, sitting in a chair, eating what looked like steak Tartare (raw meat).!
Feb 4th, 2000, 05:24 AM
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Dear Julie,

We plan to visit Provence in December as well. How is the weather? will it be dark very early? We intend to choose a town as a base and explore nearby towns/villages. Do you think Aix-an-Provence is a good choice? What are the places that we can make day trips?

Feb 4th, 2000, 05:25 AM
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Here are some of my favorite villages there:

Les Baux en Provence - very touristy and if you go, you must do it early in the morning, but the views from the ruins on top of the village are spectacular! If you like French soap, buy it here - this is where I found the best prices!

St. Remy - on the D5 just outside is Van Gogh's asylum - a must see, as are Les Antiques across the road from there. Love St. Remy the town, cute and charming. Forget which day is market day, but they have a good one.

Rousillion is a beautiful town! Not much to do there, but walk all the way to the top of the town and the view is spectacular.

Skip Apt - was not impressed.

I did love Aix en Provence too - try be there on (I believe) Wednesday for the flower market - beautiful!

Bonnieaux is beautiful from the top too, but again, not must to do.

Feb 4th, 2000, 05:39 AM
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Dear Jen,

But is it OK to visit Provence in December? will it be raining very frequently? What is the best mode of transport? By train or by car?


Feb 4th, 2000, 06:09 AM
lin delamaine
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Where to start? We went last year and it depends on the area you plan to visit - Provence is a fair sized area. If you are doing the Luberon, email me as we spent two weeks hiking around some wonderful SMALL places and found ways to completely avoid crowds. Don't go to Les Baux, but hike up Les Alpilles and see Les Baux from the top of your hike - don't go to Isle Sur le Sorgue but again, hike up Les Dentelles and see it from a distance, etc. Check out the biking in the Luberon websites for some tips.
Feb 4th, 2000, 06:37 AM
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I've never been to Provence in the winter...only May and September. Have you read Peter Mayle's book, 'A Year in Provence'? (Anyone heading there should read it.) He talks about the 'Mistral' - the wind that whips through the region in the winter. I hate to be a downer, but I think it's really cold there.

We usually pick a base town too, taking a train from Paris to Avignon, renting a car and driving...the roads aren't too hard to figure out and there are many signs. I vote for base town and driving. We have stayed in Gordes and south of Les Baux and found that the Les Baux region (outside of the town) is a good base. It's an hour to the Luberon (1 or 2 days there max) and 15 minutes to Arles, 30 to Nimes, 5 to St. Remy.

We've day tripped to the Camarge - not really worth it; Aix - worth it; Fountain de Valcause (spelling?) and touristy - but worth the walk to the mouth of the Sorgue.
Mar 31st, 2000, 07:27 PM
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Hi Susan:
We were in Provence for five weeks two
years ago; we stayed in a little village
near Carpentras in the Vauclause area.
There are many charming, interesting and
uncrowded villages all through the region and the people are most friendly
and helpful. Every town has its own
market day and there's lots of places
to sightsee and hike, etc. The best
website I've ever come across is www.
beyond the riviera. It will tell you
absolutely everything you need to know
about the region. We didn't realize how
large and diverse the area is - the
Riviera is a long way from Avignon!

We loved it so much we're going back in
June - hope your trip is as rewarding!
Apr 24th, 2000, 01:57 PM
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cannot find the site is it gone now?
Apr 24th, 2000, 04:19 PM
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The "beyond" site is

Incidentally we have a house in the Vaucluse, near Carpentras, Avignon, Orange and Vaison-la-Romaine. I am just back rom France my self and haven't had a chance to check current status, but when I left we still had some time available in december.

Expect it to be cold by Provencale standards but it very much depends on what you consider cold. It need not be very rainy.
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