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Provence Pickle Part II

Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 08:15 AM
  #1  
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Provence Pickle Part II

Rather than go back to the old Provence Pickle thread which is now rather long and cumbersome, I am starting a new one for my latest itinerary questions. (I hope that is ok).

When I last posted, I had settled on the following itinerary:

weds - Arrive in Avignon, pick up car by noon. Visit Pont du Gard. Sleep Uzes 1 night.

thurs - See a bit of Uzes, then drive to St.Remy. Explore St.Remy. Sleep St.Remy 2 nights.

fri - visit Arles and Les Baux.

sat - Drive to Roussillon. Do Luberon drive. Sleep Rousillon 2 nights.

sun - Visit Isle sur la Sorgue market and do Stu's Lavender route.

monday - drop car in Avignon. See Avignon. Sleep Avignon 1 night.

tues - early departure for Barcelona

Although I think this is a really good itinerary (and covers everything I want to see), I am forced to change it for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, and most importantly, on the particular day I want to travel (May 8) there is no early train from Avignon to connect to the early train from Montpelier to Barcelona. In order to catch this train, I have to stay in Nimes the last night. If am going to be spending a night in Nimes, I would like at least half a day there to see some of the sites.
Secondly, I would really like to cut the car rental back to 3 days. This isn't vital, but ideal.

Keeping these things in mind, I have come up with the following, which I think works well, but I am not sure where we should sleep most nights - comments please!

weds - TGV to Avignon, spend the afternoon seeing Avignon. Sleep Avignon, or Arles?

thurs - See Arles and pick up car in the afternoon. Take an afternoon "warmup" drive somewhere? Sleep Arles or St.Remy?

fri - Visit St.Remy, Glanum and Les Baux. sleep St.Remy or Isle sur la Sorgue?

sat - Driving Day. Explore Luberon etc. Sleep St.Remy or Isle sur la Sorgue?

sun - Visit the Isle sur la Sorgue market. Drop car in Nimes, and spend the afternoon seeing Nimes. Sleep Nimes.

mon - Day trip by bus to Uzes and Pont du Gard. Sleep Nimes.

Tues - early train to Barcelona.

Help with where to stay - and any other comments - is appreciated!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 08:43 AM
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Salty - this is an easy solution.

Stick to your original itinerary, but spend Monday night in Montpellier instead of Avignon or Nimes. On Monday, you could either drive to Montpellier & return the car there, or return it in Avignon Centre, visit the town a bit, & take the train to Montpellier

Montpellier is just as interesting as Avignon (perhaps more interesting), and I much prefer it over Nimes. Remember, however, many shops will be closed Monday morning, so get there later in the day.

I suspect that you will find that renting a car for 4 days won't be any more costly than 3 day. The car rental return place in Montpellier is next to the train station - which is very close to the center of town.

Also, according to the German train schedule site, the train from Avignon to Barcelona runs on Tuesdays - but not on weekends.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 08:52 AM
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Thanks Stu - I hadn't even considered that . . . I will do some Montpellier research!

Yes, that early train runs daily during the week with only a few "exceptions", one of which is May 8 - just my luck!!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 08:56 AM
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That could work, but I didn't really like some parts of your original itinerary and thought the second better. But that's just me, and you obviously like to do a lot of things each day that would exhaust me -- the first itinerary has visiting both Arles and Les Baux in one day, mainly, whereas I spent the entire day in Arles (not a long day, but I don't like to be on the go from 7 am to night when I'm on vacation).

Montpellier is a nice city, so that could work for you fine. I did like it more than Nimes, but do not agree with Stu that it is more interesting than Avignon. It isn't as important historically, either, IMO.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 09:13 AM
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Christina, since I have been working on it, I too have come to prefer many aspects the 2nd itinerary. It seems a bit less rushed and more flexable depending on how we are feeling (eg. easily drop the drive on thursday and just spend the whole day in Arles). I do like the idea of spending the last night in Montpellier though, it makes catching that train much easier . . .

If we were to do itinerary #2, where would you suggest we stay weds - sat?
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 09:43 AM
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An entire day in Arles when your Provence vacation is only 5 1/2 days??? I suspect that many (perhaps most) people would see enough of Arles in a half-day or less - it ain't that large. Many have posted here that they didn't like Arles - too scrufty. I like it, but not as much as Aix, Avignon, Uzes, or Montpellier.

I like your first itierary much more. If you take the Lavender Route, you'll see why many people return to Provence year-after-year. Don't just visit the large & mediun sized cities - see some remote countryside.

If you visit Uzes on Monday, most of the shops will be closed - and my wife claims that Uzes has the highest percentage of shops that attract her (Aix has the highest number of shops that attract - but Aix is larger).

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 01:04 PM
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Hmm, things to think about. I would like to have some more "driving and exploring" time than the 2nd itinerary allows. Thanks to both of you, I will have to spend some more time on this.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2007, 11:39 AM
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Ok, here is what I have now. I decided to keep Nimes rather than Montpellier, as it is a good jumping off point for the Pont du Gard.

Would Uzes be totally closed on Monday? Even if the stores are closed, would we be able to stop for lunch and look at some of the churches?
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Old Jan 3rd, 2007, 11:44 AM
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Oops - hit "post" too soon.

Weds - train from Paris to Arles, arrive about noon. See Arles. Sleep Arles.

Thurs - Pick up car. Visit Les Baux etc. on the way to St.Remy. Sleep St.Remy.

Fri. - Luberon drive. Sleep St.Remy.

Sat - St.Remy market and Lavender drive. Sleep St.Remy.

Sun - Drop car in Avignon. See Avignon, and then take the train to Nimes. Sleep Nimes.

Mon - Trip by bus to Uzes and Pont du Gard. Sleep Nimes.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2007, 12:03 PM
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>>Would Uzes be totally closed on Monday?<<

Uzes isn't that large - and like I stated earlier, it has some very nice shops. The Place aux Herbs is an extremely nice area to hang out/have lunch in, & is quite lively - when people are in town to shop/go to market, etc - which will not be on a Monday. I don't recall any churches worth visiting there & my Green Michelin guide only lists two - and they are both "no-star" churchs - so I would not expect anything worth going out of the way to see. The Duche castle is open every day.

Some stores may open in the afternoon - around 2 or 3pm. One of the stores that my wife likes is open Monday morning, last time we checked in '04.

I would not recommend going to Uzes on a Monday - see it at it's best on another day, or pick another thing to do on Monday. However, store closings on Monday morning are the rule rather than the exception in France. Very touristy towns like Gordes, Les Baux, and Roussillon will have most of their stores open. In St Remy (another touristy town) some - but not all - stores will be closed. Usually the ones that are closed are my wife's favorites.

Do the Lavender Drive on Monday & visit Gordes & Roussillon then also. Late in the day, drive to Nimes & visit the Roman relics there - they won't be closed.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 3rd, 2007, 12:10 PM
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Salty - I was working on my previous reply & did not see your specific itinerary.

One thing most infrequent visitors to France, Italy, and many other countries don't realize is:

1. Most shops in non ultra-touristy towns (like Avignon) will be closed on Sunday - all day. The Palace of the Pope will be open, but Avignon will be dead - except for many un-knowing tourists milling around & some French people out for their Sunday stroll with the kids.

2. Shops are usually closed on Monday morning. Some open in the afternoon.

3. Shops and many museums/sites close for a 2-3 hour lunch. They can close anytime from noon to 1, and won't re-open again till 2;30 or 3:30.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 3rd, 2007, 12:23 PM
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Stu, thanks for your endless patience.

As I said, I was trying to cut down the number of "car" days from 5 to 3 . . but we do end up sacrificing things for it.

How about, a 3+1 day car rental:

weds - arrive Arles. See Arles. Sleep Arles.

thurs - pick up car, Les Baux, St.Remy etc. sleep St.Remy.

fri - Luberon drive. sleep St.Remy.

Saturday - St.Remy market and then drive to Pont du Gard and Uzes. Drop car in Avignon. Sleep Avignon.

Sun - Avignon. Sleep Avignon.

Mon - Pick up car. Lavender drive. Arrive in Nimes in the afternoon sometime, drop car. Sleep Nimes.

Tues - early train to Barcelona.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2007, 12:30 PM
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Stu, I only saw one of your posts before I put together the above itinerary. It seems that Sunday and Mondays are difficult. My initial itinerary worked in this regard. But this new "depart from Nimes" issue does complicate things, and Sunday and monday at the end of my trip don't work that well for a shorter car rental. I will keep working!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2007, 12:59 PM
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4 day car rental option:

weds - train to Avignon, Sleep Avignon.

thurs - day trip by bus to Uzes and Pont du Gard. Sleep Avignon.

fri - pick up car, to St.Remy. Sleep St.Remy.

Sat - Arles and Les Baux. Sleep St.Remy

Sun - Luberon Drive. Sleep St.Remy.

Mon - Lavender drive, drop car in Nimes in the afternoon. Sleep Nimes.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2007, 01:06 PM
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Here is what I would do:

Wed - TGV to Avignon. Visit & sleep Avignon

Thurs - pick up car, visit Uzes, Pont du Gard, Castillion du Gard. Sleep in St Remy & visit St Remy in the evening.

Fri - Les Baux early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Arles. Drive around the Alpillies (Maussane, Eygalieurs, etc - see the itinerary I sent you) . sleep St Remy

Sat - Drive north & visit small winegrowing villages in the Cote du Rhone/Dentelles (Gigondas, Sablet, Seguret). Vaison la Romain - Medieval section & Roman ruins, Crestet, then to Pernes les Fontains (if time permits). Sleep in Luberon (Gordes, Roussillon), or l'Isle sur la Sorgue.

There is no market in St Remy on Sat,

Sun - market in l'Isle sur la Sorgue. Luberon Sleep Luberon

Mon - Lavender Drive, Nimes in afternoon sleep Nimes

You could swap days for Luberon/Lavender drive

Tues - train to Barcelona

5 days of car rental is about $350 for a compact. 3 days is about $200.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 3rd, 2007, 01:18 PM
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We posted at about the same time. Itineraries are similar.

If you sleep in St Remy for 3 nights, you don't need to allocate an entire day to see St Remy - it isn't very large at all. You can probably circle town on foot in 30 mins. You'll get plenty of time in St Remy to visit/hang out at the start & end of the 3 days you are sleeping there.

A 5 day car rental vs. a 4 day rental is about $85 more. Don't know what the public transportation costs are, but I sure would like to have a car for maximum fleibility in that region.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 3rd, 2007, 01:20 PM
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>>maximum fleibility <<

That's flexibility

Stu
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Old Jan 3rd, 2007, 01:31 PM
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Thanks again! I think I will do the 2 nights Avignon, 3 nights St.Remy, 1 night Nimes. But add in the drives you suggested. I am looking at an automatic car rental, so the daily costs are a bit higher.

weds - see Avignon, sleep Avignon.

thurs - Uzes, Pont du Gard by bus. Sleep Avignon.

fri - train to Arles, see Arles pick up car there at 1pm. Suggested Alpillies drive and to Les Baux. Sleep St.Remy.

Sat - Northern recommended drive. Sleep St.Remy.

Sun - Market Isle sur la Sorgue, and Luberon drive. Sleep St.Remy.

Mon - Lavender drive, drop car in Nimes 2:00pm. Sleep Nimes.
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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 10:26 AM
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Ok, One last possibility - what about staying the final night in Carcassonne rather than Nimes? I would be something different for the trip . . .
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Old Jan 4th, 2007, 10:54 AM
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Stay in Provence.

Carcassonne is another 2 hrs away from Nimes, so there is little chance that you'll be able to see much in Provence on Monday morning and get to Carcassonne by 2:00 to return the car & not pay another day's rent.

You'll be in Avignon (another walled medieval city - like Carcassonne), Arles, and Uzes - so you'll have lots of City type stuff to see. Spend more time in the countryside - not less. The drive to Carcassonne is not that scenic. Carcassonne is a 2-3 hr visit at best IMO.

Also, make sure that the car rental offices will be open at 2. Many will close for lunch & not open till later than 2.

Stu Dudley
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