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Provence May 2010- where would you stay?

Old Jul 14th, 2009, 08:01 PM
  #1  
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Provence May 2010- where would you stay?

Trip is still in planning stage, however we are likely to need 5 nights accommodation somewhere in Provence. We will have 2 nights in Avignon, & will drive to Nice after Provence Looking at the maps, we could be furthest north to Vaison la Romaine,
east to Aix, south to the Camargue & west to Nimes. On the maps St Remy appears to be the centre of this (rough) area.

Question: should we stay in St Remy or near & drive or should we split the 5 nights into (say) 2 & 3. If so, where would Fodorites suggest we consider?

Thanks in Advance

Trotsky
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 05:07 AM
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It's not clear to me if you have 7 nights in Provence, or 5

If you're staying in Avignon, I would not stay in Aix too. It's not centrally located (IMO), and also it is similar to Avignon in look & feel (big city).

I would recommend a "countryside" location to complement your "city" stay in Avignon. I like the Luberon near Gordes/Bonnieux/Roussillon, or up near Vaison (Cote du Rhone vineyards or near Mt Ventoux). I'm not a big fan of the Camargue, and Nimes is a big city too.

Avignon has some pretty ugly urban sprawl outside the medieval walls. This sprawl/commerce is not the "ideal" image of Provence you want to experince. If you plan to visit other sites in Provence from Avignon, you'll have to drive through this ugliness a couple of times a day. Heading west from Avignon has less un-sightfull stuff than other directions.

St Remy is nice - many peoiple love staying there because of the small town feel, lots of restaurants & shops, and it's central location. However, if you stay in Avignon you could visit the sites around St Remy from there, and also the Pont. Then hit northern & eastern Provence from the Luberon or Vaison - or both (if you have 7 nights).

Visit Aix on the way to Nice.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 06:08 AM
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ira
 
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Good advice from Stu
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 06:17 AM
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Stu didn't exactly say Don't stay in Avignon, but I do. It's good for a one day visit, but there's so much more in Provence. I did like Aix, but it's not very central.

A group of us rented a villa in St. Remy for a week. Could have spent another week there. It's a great location for daytrips.
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 06:28 AM
  #5  
blh
 
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I would split the time into two places for taking day trips in the different areas. St. Remy works great for many day trips. I would then pick somewhere in the Luberon (we liked Lourmarin) for day trips in that area. I agree that Avignon is not the best place to stay - too hard to get into and out of for day trips. St Remy is a much better choice.
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 06:41 AM
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Gordes and the villages in Luberon look interesting.

I will be in Spain at that time, maybe Barcelona or Abalos (northern region of Spain). How can I get from these places to Gordes/Provence?
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 07:24 AM
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St Remy or somewhere close to it is perfect for visiting Arles, Uzes, the Camargue and Nimes and the Pond du Gard
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 04:03 PM
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Thank you all for the replies.
Stu- we actually have 7 nights in Provence- the first 2 will be in Avignon, the first night as it is easy access from CDG via TGV, & a rest after the long flight. Second day & night will allow us to see Avignon itself. We then expect to pick up a car & this is where the 5 nights follow.

I would prefer "countryside" rather than "city" accommodations & will check out the other recommendations of Gordes, Bonnieux, Roussilon etc. I suppose I was seeking confirmation that it is preferable to have 2 separate bases in Provence (in addition to the Avignon nights) rather than using a single base such as St Remy & driving from there on day trips.

Again, thanks for your assistance

Trotsky
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 04:09 PM
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Just remember that if you'll be in Avignon on a Sunday, almost all shops will be closed. Many close on Monday morning too.

St Remy is only about 15-20 mins further away from the Avignon TGV station, than central Avignon is. However, you'll probably need a car to get to St Remy.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 05:24 PM
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Thank you Stu- the reason for the first night in Avignon is to avoid dealing with car hire, driving on wrong side of road etc after a 26hr+ trip from Australia. We expect at this stage that the the nights in Avignon will be a Monday & Tuesday, so it would seem we will not be deprived of recreational retail therapy I will definitely be looking at accommodation in St Remy as well as the other places mentioned

Trotsky
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 06:13 PM
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Do you have my 27 page Provence & Cote d'Azur itinerary???? I've sent it to well over 1,000 people on Fodors & aol travel forums. If you want a free copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one on the repy e-mail.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 06:21 PM
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i just returned from this area, 10 days ago, so these impressions are fresh.

i agree with most of what stu said - although i don;t know st remy. if you do stay in avignon, perhaps for one night after your arrival in paris (true, easy access via TGV, less than 3 hours from gare de lyon), stay at the hotel d'europe. we did for 2 nights at end of our visit to the region. it's not cheap but totally worth it: an absolute classic (check it out on google). get a low category room. we did that - at the recommendation of the reservation staff! - and it was very nice and comparatively less expensive. upon checking in, we asked to be moved from a room that smelled of smoke, which they did without any hassle, and the other room was even nicer. mind you, now is high season, we were there on july 3-5. so you may not get a room.

the restaurant at the hotel d'europe is also spectacular (a bit more modern cuisine than the otherwise mostly excellent but traditional cuisine of the region). you can return to the hotel after walking intramuros (inside the city walls) for an hour or two. forget about what's extramuros. not worth it. but the popes' palace is quite impressive. there are plenty of other charming restaurants intramuros.

if you want to move on to the countryside - as you should, stu is right! - i HIGHLY recommend the hotel les florets in gigondas (again, google it, has its own website, the photos do it justice!). not only is gigondas (about 1 hour northeast from avignon by rental car) very pretty, it is also surrounded by vineyards (excellent local appelation: gigondas, plus various other cotes du rhone villages) and the unique dentelles du montmirail, three chains of jagged mountain tops (not very high): great hiking (although probably a tad hot now - get out early). if you can get in, stay at the hotel les florets for at least a night or two. it is up in the hills about 2.5 km outside gigondas. the rooms are spotless and nice (less ritzy than the hotel d'europe, only ** 1/2 stars but rather good for that, though a bit on the expensive side). consider the annex, where you you will not be in the main house but in a newer part above, near a small pool, but also a bit away from the noise of the terrace. (we stayed at the main house and noise was our only - mild - complaint.)

however, the real attraction is again the restaurant a the les florets, where you dine al fresco (as almost everywhere in this region) on a terrace with flowers and views of the dentelles and the hills. the menu (various prix fixe and a la carte) is traditional and high quality, the wine list impressive.

this is wine country, so you can do a tour through the vineyards of gigondas (guide speaks english). the town of gigondas itself is tiny but very cute.

other local restaurants worth checking out include l'oustalet on the gigondas town square, aux abeilles in neighboring sablet (a slightly less picturesque but therefore slightly more real hamlet), and au vieux four in crillon-le-brave (great views of mont ventoux, the highest mountain in the aerea; but beware, crillon is otherwise an insufferable town: totally over-renovated by wealthy non-resident villa owners - but au vieux four, in my book, ca vaut la peine!)

also worth visiting, on the road to vaison, is seguret (very pretty location but almost too picture book for my taste. there are various other wine villages, of which we went to rasteau, to get the somewhat famous sweet wine (at the cooperative cave at the entrance to the village, which is otherwise nothing to write home about.

by car everything is very close - but you need a good map and navigator, as there are myriads of country roads. they ARE signed well but you have to look out!

bon appetit et bonnes vacances.
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 06:24 PM
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i realized now that you're planning your trip for may 2010. that makes gigondas probably even better in terms of hiking, you can go for lovely shorter strolls too. the whole reagion will also not be overrun by tourists. you should check the weather patterns for temperatures. but you're doing that anyway...
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 06:29 PM
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lastly, if you're interested in roman france, you should not miss the roman theater in orange (about 35 minutes from avignon, 20 from gigondas). the theater is impressive and the audio (and brief visual) tour is very good.
the roman triumphal arc in orange was scaffolded in when we visited but restauration may be finished by the time you go.
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 07:54 PM
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fresh. I agee having been to the Hotel Europe and Les Florets
I love the Crillon Le Brave for its views and visited Rasteau for the wine.
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Old Jul 16th, 2009, 05:56 AM
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To clarify, the Avignon TGV station is south of town, separate from the in-town station. It's also where all the car rental outlets are. So if you arrive from CDG, you will have to take a taxi or bus or a short train ride into Avignon. Then probably repeat that taxi/bus/train ride back out to pick up a car. (The TGV station is the easiest place to start driving from.) Whereas St. Remy is only about a half-hour's drive south of the Avignon TGV station.

That said, I agree with a day or so spent in Avignon to get over jetlag. Which much be massive after that long trip from Australia. Getting over jetlag is better done in a larger place. Having an assortment of tourist sights and restaurants, a large city or town allows you to adapt to odd hours of sleeping and waking.
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Old Jul 16th, 2009, 08:56 AM
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Gordes is a day visit city. Check my trip log on AH Provence.Enjoyed our house rental near isle sur sorgue.
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Old Jul 16th, 2009, 09:44 AM
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MRS
 
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I too just returned from a trip to France a week ago, we where to Loire, Auvergne, Provence and St Tropez. Stu, thank you for Auvergne, it is incredible. We stayed at Domain Faverot for a week near Maubec in Provence. I think, everyone has their own preferences, we would rather drive, and then move around, packing/unpacking is not our big thing. On the way from Nimes we did not listen to Tom-Tom, but choose to avoid Avignon and went through Tarascon and Saint Remy, the drive was beautiful and very enjoyable. We used Stu’s Provence itinerary (can’t thank you enough), but it always took us more time then Stu suggested. It’s absolutely ok, after all – it is a vacation, not a marathon. We loved dining at Mas de Cure Bourse, not so much at Bartavelle in Goult. Our favorite villages are Lourmarin and Roussillon.
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 11:42 PM
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Trotsky Hello, I am Bernard and I live near Aix-en-Provence Pertuis I craftsman in the building. On your trip to the year 2010 the central city that you should use is: Salon de Provence (city of Nostradamus). This is the crossroads to go in the Camargue and the Luberon. You will find it easier for you stay. In this town you are close to all points of your visit.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 05:05 PM
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Again many thanks for all replies, we will certainly use your suggestions in our planning. Apologies for the delay in reply to all- we have just returned from this year's holiday in Borneo

Trotsky
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