Provence itinerary help

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Sep 13th, 2018, 08:55 PM
  #1
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Provence itinerary help

I am planning a three week (give or take) solo trip to Provence next year in late June/early July, and I was wondering if I could get some feedback. I want to photograph the lavender, the villages, generally revel in being in France, and partake of some good food and wine.
I haven't booked my flight yet, so I am flexible on the dates and the itinerary. I am wondering if the dates I am thinking of have a good chance of the lavender being in bloom. I realize it is weather dependent.

Here is what I am thinking:

June 15 - leave home and fly to Nice, arriving June 16

June 16-20 Stay in Nice, taking day trips by public transportation
.
June 21 -24 pick up a rental car and head to St. Remy for four days. Day trips to Arles, Les Baux, Pont du Gard, etc.

June 25-July 1 - One week in L'Isle Sur la Sorgue. Explore the Luberon, and maybe up to Vaison la Romaine area. This is meant to be a bit of a relaxing week with lots of wandering around the towns at a leisurely pace, going to a couple of markets, sitting in cafes, etc.

July 2,3,4 - Valensole - mainly to take sunset pics.

July 5 - Aix en Provence

July 6 & 7 - Marseille. Maybe a day trip to Cassis from here.

July 8 - Fly home from Marseille.

What do you think? Do these dates sound OK for viewing lavender, or should I push the whole trip back one week? To tell you the truth, I am a bit apprehensive of the heat, as I don't do heat well. Originally I was thinking of the first three weeks of June, but then I thought how disappointed I would be if I went all that way and the lavender was not blooming yet.

Any tweaks or suggestions?
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Sep 13th, 2018, 09:16 PM
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That's perfect for lavender. July 7 is a Sunday & most shops will be closed in Marseille. Perhaps go to Cassis that day.


Stu Dudley
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Sep 14th, 2018, 10:08 AM
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You could visit Aix from Valensole.
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Sep 14th, 2018, 11:56 AM
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About Nice - so many neat places to visit by trains or buses but one that may not be on your radar is to the the narrow-gauge Chemins de Fer de Provence into the hinterlands of Provence and a very very different Provence that around Nice - a sleep Provence - get off at a town like Annot and maybe walk to another station - the train is a favorite with walkers/hikers - leaves from station just north of Nice-Ville SNCF mainline station - fares are cheap - more a local train than a tourist train though in July will be lots of hikers aboard. For more details on this and other Nice area trains (Nice-Sospel is another gem) -check www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.

https://www.google.com/search?q=chem...w=1280&bih=625
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Sep 14th, 2018, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by PalenQ View Post
About Nice - so many neat places to visit by trains or buses but one that may not be on your radar is to the the narrow-gauge Chemins de Fer de Provence into the hinterlands of Provence and a very very different Provence that around Nice - a sleep Provence - get off at a town like Annot and maybe walk to another station - the train is a favorite with walkers/hikers - leaves from station just north of Nice-Ville SNCF mainline station - fares are cheap - more a local train than a tourist train though in July will be lots of hikers aboard. For more details on this and other Nice area trains (Nice-Sospel is another gem) -check www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.
Thanks PalenQ. I had never heard of the Chemins de Fer de Provence before. I am not a hiker, but I will look into it. Maybe it would be a nice day trip to see the scenery in that area.
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Sep 14th, 2018, 01:32 PM
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I think it's fine, you never know. Definitely better than early June.

There is really more to life or traveling than shopping. Some shops being closed in Marseille on Sunday is unimportant as far as I'm concerned, but I don't plan my days around shopping. It isn't true anyway, there are some areas that want tourist/cruise ship trade and they are open on Sunday if you must go shopping every day. Les Docks is one as well as Les Terrasses du Port which is humongous. You might even want to see Les Docks, it's won architectural prizes and isn't a mall full of typical chain stores (although there is that in Marseille, also), but is full of artisans and local restaurants or services. Les Terrasses is more of a typical huge shopping mall with international and French chain stores.
Découvrir les Docks en | Docks Marseille

ONe week in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is an awful lot, hope you have a nice place to stay.
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Sep 14th, 2018, 01:38 PM
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I agree that:

1) shops being closed in Marseille should barely detract from having a good time there

2) a week in Ile-sur-la-Sorgue would make me batty.
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Sep 14th, 2018, 03:36 PM
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You may consider taking the inland route Nice to Avignon area - I drove once and was way nicer than taking crowded seaside autoroutes - from Grasse you take the Route Napoleon up thru the hills and then over via the Grand Canyon de Verdun (I think the largest canyon in western Europe - neat drive along the edge on one side!) and then into Vaison la Romaine area - could easily be reached in a day I would think as years ago I did Vaison -Grasse in a day that included stop for kayak ride in the canyon - we just dropped by one of the numerous signs for that - anyway a gorgeous historic route that Napoleon and forces used on return from Elba in 1815 (Wiki).

Can take it part way en route to Carpentras area:

Route Napoléon Map, by Provence Beyond
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Sep 15th, 2018, 03:08 PM
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Would Lourmarin be better as a base in the Luberon? Or are you saying that any of the small towns in that area would drive you batty for a week?
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Sep 16th, 2018, 11:52 AM
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Whether one would be driven batty by small towns or revel in them is possible for anybody - depends on what you want - bigger town with more restaurants, stores, etc but with car can always drive to one of those.
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Sep 16th, 2018, 12:05 PM
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I’ve based in Lourmarin for 2 weeks each a couple of times and enjoyed the town (many places to eat) and the surrounding countryside. There are nice walks from the town, so if you’re needing a break from touring, it is perfect. Parking is easy. The Friday morning market is great.

For exploring the Luberon, I highly recommend downloading the Provence Byways guidebook. It contains incredible information and detailed day trips. The day trips are mapped out from Lourmarin as a base but you would be okay using it from another base in the area.

Provence Byways
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Sep 17th, 2018, 03:54 AM
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There are lots of towns in that area I'd be happy to spend a week in, Lourmarin being one of them. Ile-sur-la-Sorgue, being a major tourist draw and just IMO not having a particularly charismatic identity, would not be one of them.
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Sep 17th, 2018, 06:09 AM
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How is the road between Lourmarin and Bonnieux? One reason I was considering Isle is that I had read that this road was a bit scary.

Zoecat, thanks for the Provence Byways link.
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Sep 17th, 2018, 07:23 AM
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Scary? Who says that? I can't think of a single road anywhere in that part of Provence that I'd call "scary," and I'm a wuss when it comes to driving.
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Sep 17th, 2018, 10:40 AM
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I drove that road many times, rain and shine, and never found it scary. It's a bit curvy, but that never bothered me. It's actually a beautiful drive and along the way there's an interesting old foot bridge crossing a creek just off the road.
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Sep 18th, 2018, 07:18 AM
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I agree that Isle sur la Sorgues is too touristy to have retained that charming place. I even prefe Apt (we were some kms away from it last time, not bad, but you can easily find as good).
note Isle as the old spelling (close to Island in your own language) that lost its 's'. The lost 's' became the '^' as is often the case in French : Isle -> île.
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Sep 27th, 2018, 05:09 PM
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It's the Grand Canyon de VerdOn, not Verdun, which is a battle site in northern France. Avoid Isle-sur-la-Sorgue on Sundays, when there's a huge brocante market and not nearly enough parking.
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