Provence Base & Itiniery Questions

Old Jun 16th, 2009, 09:48 AM
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Provence Base & Itiniery Questions

My husband and I will be travelling to Provence in early October and I am trying to decide on a centralized base for western Provence exploring. We will be spending a couple of days in Paris, taking the TGV to Avignon, and picking up a rental car there. Based on our rough itiniery, does it matter where we stay for the week we plan to be there?
1-Oct Thursday Arrive Paris 6:30am
2-Oct Friday Paris
3-Oct Saturday Arrive Avignon via TGV from Paris, pick up rental car
4-Oct Sunday L'Isle sur la Sorgue, drive to Gordes, Abbaye de Senaque, Roussillon, return via Apt
5-Oct Monday Vaison la Romaine drive (one of Stu Dudley's)
6-Oct Tuesday Avignon
7-Oct Wednesday St. Remy , Le Baux, Arles
8-Oct Thursday Nimes, Pont du Gard, Uzes
9-Oct Friday ???
10-Oct Saturday Aix, drive to Cote d'Azur
11-Oct Sunday Nice, Villa Ephrusi de Rothschild, St. Paul de Vence
12-Oct Monday Grande Canyon du Verdun
13-Oct Tuesday Monaco, Jardin Botanique-Menton
14-Oct Wednesday drive to Stresa--Isola Bella
15-Oct Thursday Stresa/Milan
16-Oct Friday Milan
17-Oct Saturday Leave for home

I am trying to decide between St. Remy, Roubion, or Noves or some other centralized location that will allow fairly easy access to the rest of the region. We like historical sites, and have some blocks of "down time" built into the schedule. Is there anything glaring that we are missing? Are we putting too much planning and effort into this? We really prefer to be spontaneous, but we also want to take advantage of market days in certain towns.

Thanks, Claudia
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Old Jun 16th, 2009, 09:52 AM
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I meant to add that we are looking for a town or village to rent a house or apartment to spend 7 days in western Provence. I have found a few, but not having been there, am not too sure of distances that can be travelled in a day's time.
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Old Jun 16th, 2009, 10:03 AM
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gads, this is like the amazing race. So you are just breezing by all these places, not spending any time in them? I mean, you are doing about 3 major visits per day, it seems. and I usually spend an entire day in some of the places you are driving by (like Nimes, Uzes, Arles, St Remy, etc.)

okay, I have done Gordes and Roussillon in the same day, sure. And maybe the abbaye de Senanque. I didn't throw in Isle sur la Sorgue and Apt into the same day. Apt isn't on the way from Roussillon to Avignon, it's east, but you could go there if you want, it's not far.

St Remy plus les Baux would be fine, I spent an entire day in Arles.

I just like to see things, but it is your trip and if you mainly want to drive around and just stop in places a half hour or so, it's fine. It isn't the distance, it's the fact that you aren't leaving any time to actually do anything.
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Old Jun 16th, 2009, 10:09 AM
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Spontaneous? This sounds about as far from spontaneous as is possible. If drive-by's are what you're aiming for, you've nailed it. I don't know what to say except this sure wouldn't be a vacation for me.
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Old Jun 16th, 2009, 10:21 AM
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Okay, okay, I thought it was too much. We will more than likely not do half of what is on each day, but what I'm looking for is a centralized base to rent a house for one week in order to be able to visit these places.
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Old Jun 16th, 2009, 04:38 PM
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I'm going to Provence on Saturday and intend to sit on my ass for 3 weeks - taking in the odd village market. One or two trips to the beach and one or two sites.

What ever happened to this kind of holiday? Am I the only lazy one?

By the way, I don't even have my accommodation yet - that's why I'm up at 1.30 am surfing.

Anyway, to the original poster.....calm down - you won't see anything but blur if you're doing 3 towns a day.
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Old Jun 16th, 2009, 04:49 PM
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bellarosa, Stay someplace in or near St Remy to see Arles, Uzes, Nimes, Les Baux or whatever choices you have selected
for the first week, then stay someplace after Aix towards Nice
To see the Canyon as you head to the the Cote D'azur.
Get a list on the market days, (you can google) because some places will have their markets on the same day.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 10:30 AM
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And keep in mind you may get lost going through Nice.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 11:06 AM
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Most people will say like the above,you are planning too much for the time you will be in Provence BUT if that is what you want to do, GO FOR IT. Up to day 10, you can really base yourself in one place. We liked Avignon. Once you go towards Nice, its better to stay east. I have not been there so I have no suggestions.

We stayed at Le Clos du Rempart in the walled city of Avignon. M. Assad has 2 one bedrooms en suite and a 2 bedroom apt.for rent - very reasonable. She has a garage that takes one car and will let you have it, first come, first serve. There is on street parking too and the place is close to both the exit and the entrance to the walled city so you don't need to worry about traffic in the walled city. The web site is www.closdurempart.com.

For market days in Provence, go to this web site, http://www.beyond.fr/a/calmktsday.html. We only go to Aix and Isle-sur-la Sorgue - my husband was marketed out. I could have gone to one or two every day.
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 12:12 PM
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We really enjoyed St. Remy and it is a good base for the sites you have listed. Its easy to get in and out of and we had many good dinners at the end of the day there. Don't let everyone here get you down on your plan. You may not get to everything on your list, but you have time to see many of the places you listed. Two places a day is generally a good guideline for us, but it all depends on how you travel and what you like to see.

We stayed a night at La Bastide du Paradou (http://bastide.paradou.free.fr/index.htm)in Moustiers Ste Marie on our way from Nice to St. Remy after driving the gorges du verdon. You might think about driving there and seeing the town in the afternoon and then driving the gorges the next day on the way to Nice, rather than driving all the way to Nice and then back tracking. We loved La Bastide (the breakfast was sooo good) and enjoyed the village (which you can see in an afternoon).
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 03:41 PM
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Bellarosa-- this sounds like just our style. On our first trip to Provence we saw as much as you have planned, plus threw in the Camargue to boot. We are definitely on-the-go travellers and try to get as much in as possible. On subsequent trips (3 more already and hopefully 33 more over my lifetime-- we love this region!) we moved more slowly and lingered in the places we love, which we now know from our first whirlwind trip. I say, keep to a pace that is comfortable for you but understand that you do have a lot planned and will be on the road a lot.

Having said that I would say, there are lots of unexpected delays (which can be fun) that might preclude some of the things on your list. For instance, on our day to Vaison la Romaine, we took a scenic/hilly route that slowed us down substancially, and stopped at random vineyards so that we didnt go anywhere else we planned. But on another day had time enough to visit Arles, the Camargue region, and Nimes, with even enough time for lunch and a swim in Saintes Maries. I think the key is to have a plan and then be flexible once you get there but most certainly, depending where you linger, and where you don't, it is possible to fit a lot in.

One last note: on our trip with the more packed itinerary, I would say it helped that we didn't stay in one spot for the whole 8 nights-- we spent 2 night based in Arles, 3 nights based in St. Saturnin, 3 nights based in Juan le Pins.

Good luck and have a great trip!

www.bezlu.com
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Old Jun 20th, 2009, 08:41 PM
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Many thanks for the helpful responses. When we have not been to a region (like Provence), we typically try to see as much as we can, as we may not know when we'll get back to the area. Thus having said this, this is our 17th trip to Europe in the past 22 years, so we are pretty much aware of what we can handle or not. The problem is getting my head around the distances in an unknown (to us) area. The schedule I listed is really closer to our wish list, and we know there are places we will not get to see this trip. We often just enjoy driving in an area just to see the countryside--the drive from Salzburg to Hallstat is one of our favorites. Our normal mode is to travel without reservations and just stop for the night wherever we can, but in the past couple of years, I really have gotten used to houses or apartments in centralized places. I will check into St. Remy and some towns just outside of Avignon; thanks for the suggestions.

As far as relaxing, we plan to do that during the latter part of the trip in Stresa/Milan. After all, why go all the way over to France if all you're going to do is laze around? We're already going to do that in August in Destin Florida for 2 weeks.

Thanks, Claudia
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Old Jun 20th, 2009, 08:59 PM
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My last advice: a small car to get into the villages and roads
and to park. Diesel=gazole is cheaper than regular gas.
We learned the hard way when my late husband on our first trip put gazole in. We had to have it sucked out.
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 04:25 PM
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read my entry ah Provence
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 06:02 PM
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We also found out about the smaller cars when trying to squeeze through those incredibly small "streets" in Cesky Krumlov and Piran. My favorite "mishap" was trying to figure out how to get a car in reverse, having to push in backwards in the rain, only to find out later that there is a ring to depress for reverse. This happened to us twice; you'd think we'd remember!
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