Provence in July~to go or not to go?

Oct 4th, 2010, 09:53 AM
  #1  
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Provence in July~to go or not to go?

I would absolutely love to see the lavender fields in bloom in Provence, but I am so worried about the huge masses of people I've heard about in the area at that time of year. I guess what I really want to know is--is it really that bad? Will I be sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a melting highway in high summer? Standing in endless lines for an outdoor table for lunch? Is it worth it? Provence at just about any time of year would be wonderful I'm sure, so should I skip the lavender and head there in the relative quiet of October where we'll have the area mostly to ourselves? But oh, I'd love to see the lavender.....Your thoughts?
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Oct 4th, 2010, 09:59 AM
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Bumper-to-bumper traffic is more a thing for the Cote d'Azur and not inland Provence, which is where the lavender is. And on the Albion Plateau (around Sault) where the best viewing is to be found, you can often have huge fields to yourself, especially if you get just a bit off the beaten track.

About the only times when you'll have to fight the crowds around here in the summer is for the large markets, or the very touristy villages (Les Baux, St. Remy, Gordes, Roussillon) which are all better visited either early in the morning or early evening when the tour buses are gone and the crowds have thinned out.

-Kevin
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Oct 4th, 2010, 10:12 AM
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So you do not recommend we stay in Gordes? Which village would you recommend as our home base? On our last trip to Italy we stayed for a few nights in San Gimignano. We knew the days there would be hectic, but that is when we were touring the surrounding area. We enjoyed the quiet evenings there after everyone got back on the tour busses. I was thinking Gordes may be like this?
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Oct 4th, 2010, 10:35 AM
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I've been to Provence three times in July, your fears are groundless. There is nothing like what you fear unless you seek it out. For example, if you want to have lunch at some very well-known restaurant mentioned in guidebooks and go to the most touristy places (like Gordes), there may not be seats in the restaurant at lunch if you don't reserve ahead. There isn't bumper to bumper traffic on any road I've ever been on in Provence in July, not even the main roads. It is pretty busy in central St Remy, though, that's an example of the kind of place tourist hordes head to but I avoid like the plague.

A lot of the places in Provence are not busy because of tour buses as they don't go there. So your ideas about that are wrong. Tourists drive there on there own, such as Gordes. tourists love Gordes, also, but I also avoid it. I guess there are some tour buses, but it's not a big thing. Cars aren't even allowed into Gordes center, anyway.

So it's really up to you -- do you want to go to the few same places as all the other tourists? Gordes, St Remy, etc. Then it will be busy day or night, but I guess it's worse in the day. Why do you want to stay in Gordes so much, for example.
Christina is online now  
Oct 4th, 2010, 10:38 AM
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oh, BTW, I jsut stayed in Roussillon last July for several days, and it isn't bad at night at all. Sure, it is still busy, it's not like no tourists are there in the evenings, but it's no problem to me. I'm not even sure if it is busier in the day time, maybe, but it didn't bother me as I was out driving around elsewhere in the day time. I've been to Roussillon in the day, it's not that bad. I think Gordes is worse.
Christina is online now  
Oct 4th, 2010, 11:09 AM
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This is all great news. Maybe I'll skip staying in Gordes because of the crowds. Perhaps Bonnieux or Goult would be a better choice? We like to stay in places that have charm, views, a couple of restaurants, and a place to have a drink in the evening.
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Oct 4th, 2010, 11:51 AM
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As far as I know, there is really only 1 hotel IN Gordes - La Bastide de Gordes (quite expensive). There are several other nice hotels within a 20 min walk on the Route to Senanque. Still others scattered below the town. We stayed at the Domaine de l'Enclos (route to Senanque) for 4 nights in about '94.

More recently, we stayed in a Gite very close to Gordes on 2 trips, for a total of 4 weeks. If you get to Gordes around 8:30 & leave by 10, or after 4:30 and leave by 6 - you won't encounter many crowds at all. We drove by Gordes during the last week of June this year on market day (Tues) at 12:00 (worst day/time) and the traffic was bumper-to-bumper. Do like Christina & Kevin recommended - stay away from the touristy places during mid-day. Visit the lavender fields then (in an air-conditioned car).

Stu Dudley
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