Provence bases

Jan 18th, 2005, 01:34 PM
  #1  
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Provence bases

Thanks to much advice from fodorites, I thought I had my Provence/Cote d'Azur exploration bases sorted: St Paul-de-Vence in the east, and Gordes and/or St Remy in the west. However, I was reading a Lonely Planet Guide the other day, and it says accommodation in St Paul is 'strictly for the wealthy' and that Gordes gets extremely crowded with tourists and carparking may be available only below the town from where you have to walk up into it. Their desciption of St Remy was unexciting too, although they made Salon-de-Provence sound attractive (more to see than St Remy, less trafficky than Aix).
Can anyone comment? Is Lonely Planet correct?
while
twoflower is offline  
Jan 18th, 2005, 02:00 PM
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I don't know about St. Paul-de-Vence, but we've stayed just outside of St. Rémy and loved it! We thought it was a very charming town and a great base from which to explore the area by car.

Don't miss the market on Wednesday morning-- it's fabulous!
marcy_ is offline  
Jan 18th, 2005, 03:26 PM
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St Paul de Vence is pretty posh, from my recollection. Is that a problem?

Gordes is likely to get crowded but there are many nearby villages that you could also use as a base -- Bonnieux, Les Beaumettes, Menerbes, Lacoste. All get their share of tourists though.

Many on this board adore St Remy; I didn't and indeed found it clogged with traffic. The nearby Alpilles and Glanum/ Les Antiques merit a visit.
tedgale is offline  
Jan 18th, 2005, 03:27 PM
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>>>I was reading a Lonely Planet Guide the other day, and it says accommodation in St Paul is 'strictly for the wealthy' and that Gordes gets extremely crowded with tourists and carparking may be available only below the town from where you have to walk up into it. Their desciption of St Remy was unexciting too, although they made Salon-de-Provence sound attractive (more to see than St Remy, less trafficky than Aix).
Can anyone comment? Is Lonely Planet correct?<<<

Get a new book. Most, if not all of that is nonsence. Like I said in my itinerary which I may have sent you (e-mail me if I did not), don't go into St Paul mid-day - get there about 9:00, explore the town, then shop a bit until it gets too crowded for you & then head out elsewhere. We've stayed at Le Hameau twice (rooms 120-160E), and since we retired in '99 we've stayed just outside of St Paul in a house for a total of 4 weeks.

We've also stayed in Gordes several times before we retired, and 4 weeks after we retired. The walk from the parking lot to Gordes is a 5-10 min walk - I've done it probably 20 times. Gordes has a huge open space below the Chateau in the center of town & I have never felt crowded in Gordes. We've been there as late as the last week of June, and the first week of Sept.

St Remy unexciting???? Come on!! Besides being a cute town and probably the favorite of most tourists, it's close to Arles, Avignon, & Les Baux - all places you will want to visit.

Follow your original plan & split the time in Provence between St Remy & Gordes. Yes, I've been to Salon - nice but it has some parts that were not tastfully restored. There is an OK military museum there, that St Remy does not have, but most people don't go to Provence to see a Military museum.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 18th, 2005, 05:21 PM
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I don't know what's so unexciting about St-Rémy. It's not my favorite town in France by a long shot, but it's got plenty of charm, loads of great shops, a fabulous Wednesday market, a good deal of historical interest, and a host of good cafés and restaurants. Maybe it's not "in" with the backpacking crowd. It's true the traffic can be murderous, but that's true anywhere in Provence these days. Face it, Provence has become a mecca for tourists. If you're looking to get away from it all, go to the Cévennes or the Lozère.

I don't see any advantage at all to Salon-de-Provence over St-Rémy. Perhaps some Lonely Traveler writer is trying a Rick Steves maneuver - get all the guys to come to this hitherto unexplored town! What exactly is there "more to see" of in Salon? If it's something other than St-Rémy you're looking for and you want charm and little traffic, try Fontveille or Maussane or Tarascon or Beaucaire or Eygalières.
StCirq is online now  
Jan 18th, 2005, 05:27 PM
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Salon-de-Provence is the dullst town I have visited in the last few years. There was a great restaurant there years ago but the woman chef died.
cigalechanta is offline  
Jan 18th, 2005, 05:54 PM
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>>Salon-de-Provence is the dullst town I have visited in the last few years. There was a great restaurant there years ago but the woman chef died.<<<

Of Boredom ??????

StuDudley is online now  
Jan 18th, 2005, 08:38 PM
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ita
 
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What about Vence as a base? It is very close to St. Paul and I think much more accessible. We stayed in a lovely self contained cottage 3 km from the town centre.
www.luxomedia.com/clients/MaisonLaurence

ita is offline  
Jan 19th, 2005, 02:52 PM
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Thanks for all that. It seems Fodorite opinion overwhelmingly supports my original choices of Gordes/St Remy over Salon.
For the eastern end, maybe I'll look at an alternative to St Paul. Not that I have a problem with posh, tegdale, but I do have a problem (or at least my bank manager might) with overpriced!
twoflower is offline  
Jan 19th, 2005, 03:10 PM
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What is you budget for the St Paul area???

Le Hameau (outside St Paul - no parking/traffic problems). Lovely pool area with a view of St Paul. Rooms 120 to 160E. It's a Karen Brown recommendation & very popular with travel board people (we've stayed there twice).

In Vence, we've stayed at another Karen Brown place - Auberge des Seigneures, which is quite nice, although parking is a little more difficult. It is right on the edge of the old section of town. Our room was very large - actually better than le Hameau. Also has a restaurant. Rooms 50 to 85 E.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 19th, 2005, 03:38 PM
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AR
 
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Hi twoflower.
You don't say when you are visiting Provence. We stayed (last August) in a beautiful Gite that looked out at Gordes, which was about 2 miles away. Whilst Gordes may be fine in June or September as previously stated, it was horrendously crowded for the whole time we were there. We failed to park at all one day and found that the best (only??) time to visit was for breakfast. The same was true for Rousillon.
As for St Remy, we visited during the market (which was very busy) and found it to be an excellent place. We stopped off there on the way to Arles. I suppose that Gordes would be a more central location than St Remy.
All in all, the crowds were not as bad as I expected, but where there were crowds, there were SERIOUS crowds! I suppose it serves us right for going in August, but we are forced to go during the school breaks as Mrs AR teaches.
Wherever you end up, Provence deserves it's great reputation and you'll have a wonderful time.
AR is offline  
Jan 19th, 2005, 05:54 PM
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Haven't been there yet, but do have a comment. For some reason (maybe being a country bumpkin from eastern Oregon) have always at least liked to SEE where the famous/wealthy rub shoulders. We are booked for a night in St. Paul de Vence (at Hameau) at what I think is a reasonable price. (My DH hates crowds, so we're early May). Now my theory is that one can look, look, and look without having to pay, pay, pay as the truly wealthy. If your room is reasonable and you're buzzing through town on a short stay, what's to lose?
hopingtotravel is offline  
Jan 19th, 2005, 06:03 PM
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I stayed at the pricier Columbre D'or, a dream place for me because of all the legends who stayed there and the art, but across is the café where the boules court is, a great place to lunch, or have a drink and watch the players.
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