Provence/Luberon

Old Mar 30th, 2005, 10:53 AM
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Provence/Luberon

We will have a relatively short time in Provence (probably 3 full days). I appreciate that this is not enough time, but it gives us a taste so that we will want to return. Our focus is really to get out of cities and into the country/villages. We were planning on staying in the Gordes area and focusing on the Luberon villages. I figure we will want a 1.5 - 2 days to see the Luberon villages themselves (unless you think it requires less time). We were debating how to spend that third day (assuming we don't decide just to continue in the villages). We were initially thinking of Cortes du Rhone for vineyards/winetasting/roman ruins. Should we be considering St. Remy instead? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

In case days of the week matter, we're talking about Wednesday-Friday.
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 11:01 AM
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Depends on whether wine is your primary interest, rather than sightseeing. If it's wines, I'd recommend heading up from Beaumes de Venise through the Gigondas and Vacqueras regions, where you can hit 6 wine villages.

If it's sightseeing, by all means St-Rémy and perhaps Arles, with a run up to Les Baux--preferably early in the day or in the early evening.

For Roman ruins, you could visit Arles (for the arena) and the Pont du Gard.

You could also combine wine-tasting with Roman ruins by heading up through the first region I suggested to Vaison la Romaine. That would make for a nice day's outing, and you could add the olive town of Nyons as a nice finish.
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 11:07 AM
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One full day in the Luberon is fine - especially if you stay in/near Gordes.

If you want another full day, take the Lavender Route (small villages, pretty countryside) that I have posted here a few times. It starts from Gordes. When you get to Montbrun (after taking the Ferrassieres loop), head west on the very pretty D72/D40 (side trip up & back to Brantes), and then on to Vaison for the Roman Ruins. Then take the Dentelles loop counter clockwise through Serguet, Gigondas (stop for wine), Vaqueyras, and Beaumes de Venise. Then head east through Coromb, south through Mazan & Venasque. Then take the pretty D177 past Senanque Abbey back to Gordes.

On the third day, visit St Remy, Les Baux, and Arles if you have time. I would visit Les Baux first, since it tends to get crowded. Make sure you get to either Arles or St Remy next before the 1:00 lunch closing for shops.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 11:40 AM
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we recently spent a full week in luberon. I don't suggest just one day as this is not even enough to get a few good post card glimpses. everyone has their own travel style but for 3 short days, i would much prefer to select one area and see as much as I can. unfortunately, time constraints such as yours are a fact of life but the only way to work with them is to minimise running around and maximise what you experience in that time (not what you see!).

Les Baux was our least favourite village by far. It is not a good representative of French village life and I would go there only if I had much more time than 3 days. If you do decide to go to St Remy, i would recommend a full day. With respect to Stu - Les Baux, Arles, St Remy all in one day is far too much IMO.
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 02:34 PM
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>>With respect to Stu - Les Baux, Arles, St Remy all in one day is far too much IMO.<<

I said "Arles, if you have time".

My pace would be to spend 9-10:30 in Les Baux, concentrating on the ruined upper part, not the village. Then 11-2;30 in St Remy, with a quick lunch there (if that's possible in France - we always pick up a sandwich & eat it sitting on a bench somewhere). Then 3-6 in Arles. This will get you back to Gordes around 7 or a little later. If the OP is a big shopper, I would hit St Remy first and then spend the lunch closing hour at the chateau in Les Baux. However, if it is a hot day, that could be a little rough (not much shade up there).

Stu Dudley

We've vacationed 4 weeks in the Luberon. My favorite time there is just before sunset - usually on the way to dinner. We leave 1 hr before our reservations, and just drive through the beautitful countryside and catch the glow of the sun shining on the Luberon Mountains or on the Rocks de Lioux. While staying in the Luberon, we've escorted many guests around the various villages in 1 day - Gordes, Oppede les Vieux, Lacoste, Menerbes, Bonnieux, Saignon, Roussillon, & Goult. The only time we had a problem was with my cousin who likes to fondle every item in every store. Dinner in one of the villages (Bartavelle in Goult) along with a leisurely drive before dinner adds to the experience & it's a great way to see more of the Luberon. I also like having coffee & Croisants in Gordes, instead of at a hotel.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 03:15 PM
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Well, of course Les Baux is not representative of French village life--
it's a monument. The old part, way up the hill, is what you come to see, the remains of what was once a flourishing community built out of solid rock. The part at the bottom--aside from the church and the small santon museum--is the touristy bit, with shops and cafés. I actually found several of the shops quite good in terms of selection and quality, but a village it's not.
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 03:22 PM
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I think we'll spend the better part of 2 days exploring the Luberon villages. We plan to doddle and relax along the way. We're there around May 20, so we miss the lavender (right?). I take it that the lavender route is not nearly as spectacular without the lavender in bloom.

I'll try to dig up more info about my day-trip options. I don't know enough about St.-Remy sights to know if I'm up for a more sightseeing-oriented focus or not. If so, I'd want it to be more relaxed so I suspect that I would likely not be able to squeeze in all 3 suggested locales in the one day or would give limited treatment to Arles compared to what it is normally due (Stu, thanks for the timeline in any event). Nyons' olives sound appealing...at least abstractly...and I hadn't been exposed to that thought before.

Since you bring up shopping: We're not big shoppers...prefer our scrapbook as a source of souvenires with just one or two nice purchased items in each place. I suspect we will want to pcik up some table linens, olives/oil, perhaps some food/wine and lavender products while in the area. Assuming we hit the usual suspects as far as Luberon villages, will we make out ok with our limited shopping desires or is St. Remy where the shops live? If we hit Vaison la Romaine as part of our 3rd day, does that enhance the shopping opportunities?
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 03:29 PM
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underhill, my response was directed at his/her desire to see villages (expressed many times in the OP) so i felt the fact that it is not a "real village" was relevent. this fact may not be clear in all the tour books.
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 03:36 PM
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Do the Lavender Route on your second day in the Luberon. If is very scenic even without the Lavender in bloom. It starts & stops in Gordes (omitting the Vaison/Dentelles portion), so if you "finish" the Luberon in 1 1/2 days, you can tack on this driving itinerary. e-mail me at [email protected] for a copy of my Provence itinerary which includes the lavender route, and provence fabric section, and a market section.

You will find better shopping in St Remy than in the Luberon. Vaison is only OK for shopping.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 04:47 PM
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Les Baux is not to be missed as is Roussillon with its ocher looking warm and rich. If you plan on visiting the quarries wear old shoes, so they don't stain.. Les Baux is all that incredible stone is the most dramatic fortress site in Provence. Go early morning before the crowds
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 04:52 PM
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Stu, I already have your itinerary. As I recall the lavender route takes 3/4 of a day...are you saying that can be shortened?

Also, to throw another wrinkle. If we did Vaison and wine area, it would be on a Friday and we could stop off at the Carpentras market. Does this alter you suggestion or increase our shopping power without heading to St. Remy?
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 04:52 PM
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...I should say, I'm not trying to skip St. Remy. I'm just trying to bounce ideas while I simultaneously have to decide my preference.
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 05:07 PM
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>>Message: Stu, I already have your itinerary. As I recall the lavender route takes 3/4 of a day...are you saying that can be shortened?<<

Yes - skip the Ferrassieres loop & don't go to Simiane la Rotonde. I did not time it, but the shortened route should not take more than 3 hrs - perhaps only 2+ with only a minimal stop in Sault.

>>Also, to throw another wrinkle. If we did Vaison and wine area, it would be on a Friday and we could stop off at the Carpentras market. Does this alter you suggestion or increase our shopping power without heading to St. Remy?<<

Yep - the market in Carpentras will satisfy your shopping needs. Remember, the market is only open in the morning. St Remy, however, is probably the cutest/most popular smallish town (smaller that Avignon/Arles, bigger than Gordes) in Provence.

Stu Dudley


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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 05:49 PM
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<<St Remy, however, is probably the cutest/most popular smallish town (smaller that Avignon/Arles, bigger than Gordes) in Provence.>>

Ok. I'll bite. What makes it so cute & popular?
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 05:57 PM
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I would not call it Cute but more sophisticated with all the shops and restaurants and it lies next to the amazing Roman Ruins of les Antiques and the evacuated site of Glanum.
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 06:02 PM
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>>Ok. I'll bite. What makes it so cute & popular?<<

It's popular because it is cute !!!

Lots of nice shops to browse in, interesting architecture, many outdoor cafes, easy to park the car, good outdoor market, good restaurants.

I actually prefer Uzes (similar size), but I'm not sure I'm in the majority. Uzes gets fewer tour busses.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 06:06 PM
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I have a contrary view to many other posters on this thread.

1. You do not have to go anywhere or do anything to have a great time in the Luberon.

2. On all my trips to Europe, I have always raced around trying to see it all. I finally learned -- on a trip a couple of weeks ago in Tuscany -- to stop and do next-to-nothing.

I.E. Drive out to the country and walk for 2 hours. Or spend the day in the town we were actually STAYING in.

3. Finally, here is a really heretical view: With the exception of places distinguished by some great site (Les Baux) or that all-to-rare grand building, ALL LUBERON TOWNS LOOK THE SAME.

My credentials for this assessment: regular trips to the Luberon, sometimes every year or more than once a year, since the age of 17. I am now 52.

I love the Luberon. All of it. But its charm for me is its comparative uniformity. It is all good. So you do not need to see it all -- unless you prefer to.

There is a price for all that motion:

With the Luberon, you can swallow it or you can savour it.
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Old Mar 30th, 2005, 06:21 PM
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Looked up some web pictures. I understand "cute" now.

Guess, I'll have to debate between cute St. Remy v. Carpentras market+wine villages.
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Old Mar 31st, 2005, 07:54 AM
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Tedgale, my husband would be pleased with your post. I know he doesn't want to do all that driving around.
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