Provence itinerary: please help!

Old Dec 29th, 2019, 01:35 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 193
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Provence itinerary: please help!

I have traveled in Provence twice before in the past decade, but this will be my first time traveling solo.
I have the opportunity to attend a meeting in Avignon for 4 days in late June and will spend 4 days in Paris after this before my flight home. I will be flying from the US into Paris and have 6 nights before my meeting in Avignon.
It works better for me to do round trip to Paris due to nonstop flights to from my home town. I plan to take the train to and from Paris. My dilemma is what to do for these 6 nights prior to Avignon. I have stayed before in St Remy and at Le Mas Perreal in the Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt area before and loved both. I have looked at Aix-en-Provence and have considered training it here and doing small tours into the Luberon area during the days. Or I could rent a car and spend some time with a home base in one of the Luberon villages, maybe Bonnieux or Lourmarin (I am not comfortable doing many hairpin curves, but could do some driving in the area). And if I do that, I could stay in the village where I could travel during the day and base myself at night, enjoying wine with dinner without having to drive. I have done day trips in many of the villages in this area, but this would be mainly settling down in one area. I have been in Provence in the fringes of lavender season, but this would likely be at or near the peak. I would appreciate any suggestions for a home base as well as any recommendations for hotels, B&Bs,or restaurants in this area. I have Stu Dudley’s itinerary and have driven it on my past trips in Provence. Thanks in advance!
italynovice is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2019, 02:56 PM
  #2  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,983
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Should be wonderful! Where to stay would, I think, really depend on your interests. FWIW, I loved Avignon and adored Aix.

If you haven't already seen it, you might find some useful information in my report on a solo month in the area:
A stellar month in southeastern FranceA stellar month in southeastern France
kja is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2019, 03:19 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,420
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We were in Provence for 2 weeks last year, and I updated my itinerary a bit. See attached.

Consider staying in St Remy or Uzes and explore some different areas in Provence. Aix is fine - but not so great as a base to drive to other regions you might want to visit.

Stu Dudley
Attached Files
StuDudley is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2019, 03:28 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,731
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I love Aix, and I think it's a great place to stay because there are many restaurants and cafes. I love wandering through the old town, and there are plenty of markets. However, it is not the most central place to stay. But since you have visited Provence previously, maybe you don't need the most central place to stay on this trip. I did a quick inquiry, and it takes a little over an hour to drive to Gordes, one of the Luberon villages, as an example. So the Luberon villages are doable as day trips from Aix.

I think St. Remy is the best central location, but since you have stayed there before, I assume you are looking for something new. Avignon is a good base because of its public transportation options. But do you want to stay there for additional days after your conference?

Another beautiful area for a base is the Gigondas/Bedoin/Mont Ventoux region. And for the lavender fields, make sure you visit Sault. It's a lovely village that was not crowded at all when we were there this past July. We got a map of the lavender routes from the TI and followed that. The whole area around Sault was gorgeous with blooming lavender fields.

Another place we discovered this past July is the village of Ansouis (plus beaux villages). I really liked it because it is not crowded with tourists. We didn't see any typical tourist gift shops. All the people where we had lunch outdoors were speaking French. Most appeared to be locals. We also had the most delicious ice cream at L'Art Glacier. The ice cream shop sits on a hill between Ansouis and La Tour d'Aigues, with an outdoor seating area with more dramatic views.
KarenWoo is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2019, 06:00 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 191
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Another vote for Uzes. By chance we visited on market day and it was a charming town.
palatino82 is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2019, 06:34 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8,744
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Another vote for KarenWoo's choices, plus look into Vaison La Romaine.
What price restaurant would you deem just too expensive, not matter how delicious?
tomboy is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2019, 07:59 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 193
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks so much for the feedback so far. The airline ticket is bought so the fun begins! I would like to take the train south from Paris after arrival on my jet lag afternoon. I have stopped in Lyon during previous trips, but after your recommendations think it might be good to take the train to Aix. The next morning is the Saturday market which I would enjoy, and I could stay there for 2 nights and still have 3 days to travel before my meeting in Avignon. My meeting is not strenuous and allows plenty of time to explore Avignon or even do half day tours from there, so I don’t want to stay longer than the days I already have in Avignon. I have previously been in Uzes and Pont du Gard, and have also been to Les Beaux and Carrieres de Lumerieres, so am not interested in those areas this trip. I day-tripped through some of the Luberon villages during my past trips, and loved that. This trip I am mostly interested in seeing picturesque views, lavender fields, enjoying local food and wine, etc. One option is to settle in one of the less touristy villages for a few days. KarenWoo, Sault and Ansouis seem intriguing. I would appreciate any other recommendations Fodorites might have. . I am interested in slowing down during these three days, enjoying some picturesque views and enjoying good meals. A restaurant recommendation, even if expensive, would be appreciated.
italynovice is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2019, 08:05 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,420
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We've spent most of our 22 weeks in Provence in Bedoin. Close to the lavender fields in Sault, and an excellent Monday morning market (my wife's favorite). Low key - no Michelin restaurants in the town.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2019, 08:10 PM
  #9  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,983
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Restaurants
In Aix -- La Tomate Verte
In Avignon -- Le Vintage
kja is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2019, 06:35 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8,744
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I recommend either:
  • Gigondas; to the north, 10 minutes to Sablet etc., 20 minutes north to Vaison La Romain; dine at L'Oustalet (best ever IMHO); stay in the village, or at a B&B in the middle of a vineyard run by a chocolatiere onsite, maybe a mile away; OR
  • Malaucene or Bedouin, on the other side of the mini-mountain; handy to the lavender
tomboy is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2019, 06:37 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,420
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>> Malaucene or Bedouin <<

In case you are going to try & find it - the correct spelling is Bedoin.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2019, 09:22 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 193
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks all! Will check out these options.
italynovice is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2019, 09:40 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,731
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Another village we really enjoy is Eygalieres, which is somewhat close to St. Remy. We have been there several times because our daughter lives nearby. Eygalieres is very pretty and not over run with tourists. It has a very nice Friday morning market. I don't think we have ever heard any English spoken; we have heard primarily French and maybe a few other European languages. So mostly locals come to the market. There are some castle ruins on a hill with nice views. There are quite a few restaurants in the village. It is small and quiet, so not sure how it would work as a base, but if you want to get away from the tourist track, it could be a nice place to stay for a few days. Or definitely a nice place for a day visit, especially on Fridays. In fact, my daughter's French in-laws rented a house in Eygalieres last spring for a week, and they did a lot of sightseeing from there.
KarenWoo is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2019, 11:28 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 229
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just a note, in late June there will not be lavender in the higher elevations. Lavandin blooms a bit earlier but lavender is at its peak a bit later. Also note that some of the routes into the Luberon qualify as a bit twisty and windy, so map your routes carefully.

Perhaps you can also try to the west and north of the Luberon valley? You also mentioned Bonnieux earlier; I can recommend Une Sieste en Luberon as a lower key property, just outside of the old town but still walkable for dinner. Run by a lovely Belgian family (with caretakers in the summer).

Last edited by gooster; Dec 30th, 2019 at 11:33 AM.
gooster is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2019, 01:33 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 193
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Gooster, thanks for pointing out that the southern areas would be more likely to be blooming in late June when I will be there. And I will definitely plan my driving to avoid too many hairpin roads on this trip. Great suggestions from you all. Reading your advice, a few areas for my midway point, after 2 nights in Aix (to get over jet lag, see market, and explore a little) and before my time in Avignon, are intriguing. Karen Woo, Ansouis looks like a lovely village and a very easy drive from Aix. There is a B&B, highly rated, that I think I would really enjoy staying at. And a couple of restaurants that look nice. Gooster, Un Sieste en Luberon looks like a great choice, and would be a short walk into Bonnieux for meals. I have emailed them to see if they have availability. Stu and tomboy, Bedoin looks interesting in that it looks picturesque, has a nice market while I would be there, and is fairly near Vaison-la-Romaine, which has a cooking class that I would be interested in taking. I guess less likely for lavender blooming in late June there.
kja, I have your restaurants noted for Aix and Avignon. And tomboy, I am also definitely be interested in L’Oustalet if I make it to that area.
italynovice is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2019, 01:55 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 531
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'd recommend renting a car. I can't imagine touring the area without one. A must if you're into lavender is the Valensole plateau and te village of Moustiers-Saint-Marie is a charming village in this area. Moustiers market day is Friday if you're into markets. It would make a wonderful day trip. You can do a triangle from the D6 in Valensole to the D953 (Puimoissum) - to Moustiers to Riez by D952 and then the D6 and back to Valensole. There are some gorgeous fields along this route.

Gordes, Bonnieux, Menerbes make a great base in the Luberon.
ILUVPARIS is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2019, 02:20 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,420
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>> Bedoin looks interesting in that it looks picturesque, <<

We've stayed in a gite just outside of Bedoin for 10 week over 4 trips. I would not call it "picturesque" compared to Gordes, Roussillon, Bonnieux, Menerbes, Seguret, Venasque, Lourmarin, or tiny Brantes. We return because of the location, market, and the non-touristy feel - except for the bicyclists heading out or back from Mt Ventoux. We've spent 22 weeks in Provence and are always there till the last week in June (except for 1 trip), and about 50-65% of the time lavender was in full bloom around Sault. I have never seen it in bloom in June in the higher elevations around Ferrassieres - which is in the mountains just southeast of Montbrun The hybrid Lavendin has always been in bloom in the Valensole Plateau, and in abundance in the Luberon Valley around Bonnieux. I've seen Lavendin in spots elsewhere between Gordes & Sault. There is a lot of it north in the Drome around Grignan.

I believe that there are three different detailed lavender routes in my Itinerary - around Sault, Valensole/Moustiers, and near Grignan.

Note that the area around Ansouis south of the Luberon mountains is more arid than the northern Luberon valley around Gordes, Roussillon, etc. Personally, I prefer the latter. But in 2021 we plan to spend 2 weeks near Lauris in the southern area.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2019, 08:17 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 205
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
How does one avoid the hairpin turns? We will rent a car in Aix as well and go up into the Luberon (a loop to Ansouis and Lourmarin) Is the Michelin Green Guide the book you all use for information about drives, roads et al?
lrice is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2019, 08:54 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,420
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We've spent many weeks in the Luberon. I don't recall any really bad hairpin turns. Only a few "winding" turns on the Combe de Lourmarin between Lourmarin & Bonnieux. There is another road near Vidauque, close to Cheval Blanc - but that's not a road many people will travel on.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2019, 02:27 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 22,916
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You might consider going a bit north of Vaison to the area of Dieulefit/Grignan. Dieulefit is known for its yellow pottery and is a charming small town (with a wonderful bit-of-everything general store), and from there you can drive south to visit the old olive town of Nyons. There is a well known ch teau to visit in the area, along with a number of perched villages. Our favorite is Le Poët-Laval, lovingly restored by the owners of the hotel/restaurant Les Hospitaliers. That is our favorite spot in the world.
Underhill is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:35 PM.