Provence base

Aug 13th, 2019, 06:35 PM
  #1  
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Provence base

Looking at some ideas for end of May, mostly through June.

Would fly into Nice, out of Marseille. But after a day in Nice, would fly to Corsica for a week then return to Nice and then drive west, first around Gorge du Verdon, spend a night nearby (Moustiers Ste. Marie/Aiguines) and then drive towards Gordes. I was thinking of 2 nights in one of the villages up there and then finally down to Aix for 4 nights.

I've visited Avignon, Nimes, Arles on a previous trip. So I would day trip out of Aix to maybe Marseille or Cassis. I'd have to do more research to figure out what would be within an hour or so drive from Aix.

Or would it be better to spend more nights in Gordes before moving south to Aix?
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Aug 13th, 2019, 06:48 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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I hate to say it, but Gordes was so mobbed with tourists when I was there this last May that I didn't even try to park. Have you seen my very, very long just-completed trip report? You might find some ideas in there.
A stellar month in southeastern France
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Aug 14th, 2019, 06:13 AM
  #3  
 
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We've visited Gordes many times - and it has never been mobbed when we were there (except when we purposely visited on Market day). We've stayed in a gite close to Gordes for 4 weeks (2 trips) - in late June. The trick is to get there by 8:30am, have coffee & croissants, visit the village including the area at the base of the town where there is a lavoire, then get outa there by 10:30 when it starts to get infested by the hordes. There are not really many hotels inside of Gordes. Most are downhill or on the route to Senanque - so you won't need to drive through Gordes to get to/from your hotel/B&B.

I love Aix - but it does not really make a good base for visiting the sites most people want to visit in Provence. If you have already visited Avignon, Arles, & Nimes - the Luberon/Gordes would make a good base.

Stu Dudley
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Aug 14th, 2019, 06:56 AM
  #4  
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One advantage of Aix would be that it’s closer to the coast.

it would also make for easier departure, a shorter drive to MRS than the Luberon.

But parking is expensive so wondering if it’s worth staying in the center for a few days or just visit it as a day trip. Does being near Cours Mirabeau have value in the evenings?

As far as the Luberon, looks like Rousillon May have more lodging options near town center but again, is it a big deal to be in or near the village center in the evenings?
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Aug 14th, 2019, 07:55 AM
  #5  
 
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Not much is going on in the evenings in the Luberon hill villages.

Cassis is 1 1/2 hrs from Gordes. From Aix it is 40 mins + 10 mins retrieving the car. So it is 40 mins extra (each way) to visit Cassis from Gordes. We've spent 22 weeks in Provence - and seldom visit the coast while we have been there. Only 1 night in Cassis, 1 day trip to Marseilles, & another day trip to Cassis. IMO, Cassis is a 1 to 1 1/2 visit at the max. Much longer of you take a boat trip along the Calenques. You might see a lot of lavender blooming in the Luberon.

Stu Dudley
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Aug 14th, 2019, 08:58 AM
  #6  
 
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We stayed for a week in the Vaucluse part of Provence, on the border to Drôme and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.
To be precise: On the plateau near Sault. It was a bit later in the year, end of July, and there was not much more to do than to literally sit in square kilometers of lavender in bloom and drink wine and eat nougat from Sault.
Well, in reality we also did several trips like up Mont Ventoux or to Avignon or to Sénaque.
And the Gorges de las Nesque! The only road that follows the canyon is D942 - and that's one of the prettiest scenic roads in Europe. Though not exactly wide as a freeway ;-)
But the area around Sault did not have any tourism to speak of.
Though I don't know if you will already see lavender in bloom in June up there...

Last edited by Cowboy1968; Aug 14th, 2019 at 09:03 AM.
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Aug 14th, 2019, 10:10 AM
  #7  
 
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We loved AquaBella in Aix:
https://www.aquabella.fr/en/

There is a pool (heated by a spring), resto, and an almost next-door parking garage. Since we didn't drive, I don't know any details about the garage.We took van tours to Gordes, Roussillon, Lourmarin, Bonnieux, and 2 other places on one; and Cassis on the other.

Please advise how it all works out for you!
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Aug 14th, 2019, 10:36 AM
  #8  
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Thanks some good information.

Yes I will look forward to the lavender fields.

I did notice a lot of vacation homes and Airbnb’s outside the Gordes village center. They all said about 5-10 minute walk into the village. That might not be so bad, especially if they have a view of the village, something which might be beautiful to see at night.

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Aug 14th, 2019, 11:10 AM
  #9  
 
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Remember that Gordes is a hill village - so walks will be uphill to get there. There is a very large car park at the bottom of the village that's a 10-15 min uphill walk. That's where the tour buses park also. It's also where our recycle receptacles were located when we stayed nearby.

On our last 2-3 trips to the Luberon, the lavender around Senasque Abbey was not very robust during the latter part of June. However, the lavendin on the way to Bonnieux was fabulous.

Do you have my 35 page Provence & Cote d'Azur itinerary??? I've sent it to over 3,000 people on Fodors. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail

Stu Dudley
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Aug 14th, 2019, 03:25 PM
  #10  
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Yes though Google Maps has some indication of the slopes walking to the north or to the west. May not be accurate but they put something in there about the incline.

I contacted a site which rents several different apts. around town and none of them have dedicated parking. The guy seemed to imply it would not be problems parking for people who stayed at his places. I didn't ask specifically whether it would be hard to park say if you visited another town and return around 1 PM or so.

Other places outside of the center seem to have dedicated parking.

You may be able to upload your guide, unless a file size limitation, onto a post. This forum supports attachment of PDF and DOC files.
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Aug 14th, 2019, 03:59 PM
  #11  
 
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For itineraries, I only work with e-mail requests sent to me. I can't evey copy & paste anything from my word document - everything runs together with no paragraph breaks, lists, etc. It is a garbled mess. Here is the first page (of 35) of my itinerary.

space, spaceCote d’Azur & Provence Itinerary =leftI’ve put together several options. You can “pick and choose” to customize your own itinerary based on how much driving & lingering you want to do. I’ve started in the Riviera, then on to Provence. This is intended to be about a 12-16 day trip if you do most of the things on this “basic” itinerary. If you want to include St Tropez, Aix en Provence, Cassis, Ardeche, or more time in the Nice Hinterland - then add extra days. However, don’t make a “mad dash” through southeast France. This is an area where you’ll want to slow down and spend a day at the beach in St Tropez or Nice, or discover a small remote village that “grabs you” (like Brantes or Seguret) and spend more time than you anticipated exploring a village. “People watching” at the Cours Saleya in Nice and on the Cours Mirabeau in Aix is as much of a part of exploring this region as are sites like the Pont du Gard or the Palais des Papes. If you’ll be in Provence when the lavender is blooming, then I would add an extra day to the itinerary just to see this. =left =leftSince ’82, we’ve spent well over 150 weeks vacationing in France. What we’ve discovered via “mistakes” is that there is much, much more stuff to do & see in a single region in France than we ever anticipated – especially if you really want to “soak up” what an area can offer. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area - which probably has more “places of interest” than any area in the US. But even with our Bay Area experiences, in the past we’ve “underestimated” the amount of time it takes to adequately explore a region in France. France has more castles, medieval/historic cities, cute villages, majestic cathedrals, pre-historic caves, Roman ruins, large & small museums, beautiful coastline, volcanoes, wonderful gorges, wineries, outdoor markets, and breathtaking mountains than we normally find in a concentrated region in the USA – and France is actually smaller than Texas. A piece of advice I suggest to almost everyone is to slow down and don’t try to “see it all” on a short visit. Keep travel time between sites to a minimum – spend more time “being there” and less time “getting there”. =left =leftWe’ve vacationed in the Cote d’Azur & Provence for about 43 weeks since ’99, when we retired early so we could travel more. All of our visits have been in the months of May, June, early July, September, and early October. In 2016 we spent 2 weeks in the Ardeche - Provence's northwestern neighbor =left =leftItinerary Overview=left =leftCote d’Azur (Riviera) 6-8 days=leftStay 3-4 days in Nice, then 3-4 days in St Paul de Vence. You could spend the entire 6-8 days in either place, but you’ll be driving in/out of Nice more than you would like, and it is not especially easy or scenic. If you stay in Nice for your only base in the Riviera, do not rent a car for the first 3 days – visit the coastal towns by train or bus then. On the 4th day, pick up a car at the train station or downtown to visit the Nice Hinterland (backcountry) and some of the coastal towns you can’t get to by train/bus (Biot, Mougins).=left =leftProvence 5-7 days=leftIf you choose to stay in Provence for more than 5 days, perhaps stay 3 nights in the Luberon near Gordes then 2-3 nights in St Remy. This will reduce the day trip driving. =left =leftBest time of year to visit the Cote d’Azur & ProvenceThe Lavender blooms in late June & July in Provence – depending on the weather. It was blooming in mid-June in ’03 & '14, but really didn’t get going till the second week in July in ’10. Red poppies bloom in mid-May through June – but there were still some around in early July of ’10. The best time to visit Provence (in my opinion) is in late June & early July when the Lavender & yellow Broom are in bloom, and the vineyards are at their best, and the daylight hours are long. We’ve been in Provence as late as July 16 and the crowds were tolerable. I would not visit in late July or August because of the crowds at sites and also traffic on the road. September is pleasant, but if France has a dry & hot year, vegetation will start to dry up a tad. In early October, we encountered chilly nights (ice on windshield) but sunny & somewhat warm days. The first 2 weeks of June in ’03 were extremely hot (too hot). The first 2 weeks of June in ’07 and the 3rd week in ‘10 were chilly & too cold to dine outside in the evening. In '14 the high temperatures the first week of June in Nice was a very pleasant 21. By the second week it was in the mid to low 30s - too hot. It was even hotter in Provence - 40. By the start of the third week of June '14, the high temps had dropped to 24 and there was some cloudy days and even some rain, but overall not particularly humid. The last week of June was perfect. Net-net: weather will vary from year to year so there are no guarantees.
Stu Dudley
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Aug 14th, 2019, 04:11 PM
  #12  
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Not copy and paste, click Manage Attachments and it will prompt you to choose the file, the same one that you'd email.

Now if you have info. you want to protect, in case someone would post it somewhere else and claim it as their own, which is done with pictures posted online, maybe it wouldn't be best to post. Just thought this would be a good efficient way to convey that info, then people could download it.
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Aug 14th, 2019, 04:27 PM
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We loved Bonnieux as a base. Lots of great restaurants. Check out Chapters Five - Eight of my 2016 trip report link below - (lots of photos, too).

https://travelswithmaitaitom.com/france-2016/

Photo below of countryside from Bonnieux as we walked to dinner ...


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Aug 14th, 2019, 05:03 PM
  #14  
 
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Provence

See attached
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Aug 14th, 2019, 05:48 PM
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I agree with Cowboy about the village of Sault and the nearby area. We were there this past July to see the lavender fields, which were gorgeous! it is not a heavily touristed area, surprisingly. We had lunch at the restaurant on the promenade in Sault: I think it's called Café Promenade. it was busy but not crazy busy. We got a table right away, and had a delicious lunch. There are some gift shops in Sault but not as many as there are in other villages. We got maps from the TI and walked along the lavender route for a short distance, and then we did a 5 km lavender drive. Saw only a few tourists. The drive back to my daughter's house near Salon de Provence was gorgeous. I don't know what route we were on, but it is one of the most stunning drives we have taken in Provence.
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Aug 14th, 2019, 10:41 PM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by StuDudley View Post
See attached


Looks good, though when I first tried to click on it, it opened a tab to try to get me to update flash.

Something I'm going to report to the moderators.

Second time I clicked it downloaded fine and opened fine.
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Aug 14th, 2019, 10:46 PM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by maitaitom View Post
We loved Bonnieux as a base. Lots of great restaurants. Check out Chapters Five - Eight of my 2016 trip report link below - (lots of photos, too).

https://travelswithmaitaitom.com/france-2016/

Photo below of countryside from Bonnieux as we walked to dinner ...



Looks nice. So are most of the accommodations away from where the restaurants are, like in Gordes?
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Aug 17th, 2019, 06:07 AM
  #18  
 
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As someone who adores Aix and has spent a good bit of time there, I'd like to suggest an alternative to staying in the center city if you intend to have a car. We have stayed several times at a lovely b&b about a five-minute drive down one road that terminates at the ring road around the core of Aix, right at a large, multilevel parking garage. It's a five-minute walk from there to the newly restored pl des Precheurs, and another two minutes to the Cours; places in the northern part of the town, like the pl de l'Hotel de Ville, are even shorter walks.

http://lefourdesbanes.com/

We've done day trips up to the Luberon, down to Cassis and Sanary-sur-Mer, up to the Vaison area and the Dentelles, out to Simiane-la-Rotonde and Viens, and southeast to Ramatuelle, all from Aix and without any difficulty; the drives to the more distant places are their own reward through beautiful scenery (getting to Ramatuelle up the mountain with the lacets and cliffs aged me a bit, I admit).

It really depends on what you want to do with your time in Provence. You mentioned the possibility of dividing your time between a stay in the Luberon and a few days in Aix. That might be a great idea. One thought: if you reverse your itinerary and head west from the Luberon and/or Aix, you might be late enough to enjoy a drive through the Valensole plateau. We've had great luck with the lavendin in the third week of June--not full bloom but pretty close.
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Aug 17th, 2019, 09:11 AM
  #19  
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Thanks good suggestions but I will be driving from Nice, probably going up to the Gorges du Vernon area first.

Then to Luberon and then down to Aix.
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