Provence Trip Report - Finally

Jul 5th, 2007, 06:13 PM
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L'Isle sur and Fontaine continued:

Upon leaving Fontaine du V, we drove to St Remy and the Domaine de Valmouriane. On D99 there were plein trees on either side of the raod making a pretty drive.

Valmouriane is a lovely setting. Our rooms are large tho not nearly so nice as le Phebus. Still it is a good hotel. Since we have arrived mid afternoon we headed for the pool. It was really too cool and windy to swim and the pool was not up to our clean standards. However, there was a swimmer and the debris in the pool I feel was due to wind and a lot of trees around. The sun was shinning though and it was nice resting there.

Tonight we ate in the hotel dining room. Son and I had chateaubriand for two and husband had sea bass. This was a very good dinner. Son said it was his favorite.
mimipam is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 07:03 PM
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Gordes and Les Baux were my favorites.
In spite of the crowds, they should not be missed.
machin is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 07:36 PM
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Valmouriane is between Les Beaux and St Remy. I think it is a good location. We began with Les Beaux. We parked at the bottom small lot discovering we should have paid when we reached the top via stairs. So we got the ticket and our son ran back down to put it in the car. You can tell by now that we are usually parking at the first place we come to. Les Beaux is certainly worth some time. We walked through the town up until we came to the Chateau where you pay. Upon entering we discovered they were ready to demonstate a catapult-like machine so we stopped to watch the man in period costume assisted by tourists to fire it off. Then we walked and climbed everywhere. The views from up at the top are fabulous. We made every climb - seeing slits in the walls where arrows could be fired, an old original chapel and so much more. It was extrememly windy and cold so we put our jackets with hoods on. This was a fun, but tiring excursion. On the way down we stopped for a quick lunch on the street.

Our next destination is St Paul de Mausole Asylum. We parked right off the highway across the road from Glanum and beside Les Antiques which were in scaffolding and shrouded. You could not see them. They are being restored. There were pictures of what they look like on the outside of the covering. I could see that they were very large.
St Paul de Mausole was most interesting to me since I love art and Van Gogh. All along the walls inside are pictures and info about his life there and possible diagnosis of his problems. One exciting aspect of this area are the signs everywhere showing a picture of one of his paintings and the view of the subject matter right behind it. In the area outside in the back was a field with lavender just about to pop into bloom - a few buds were showing.

Next we walked to the ruins of Glanum. Our son waited outside for us as he said he had done this and did not want to again. This was a good site - not too large. However, since we had been to Rome and seen the Forum area, this was not one of our top sites.

Next is the town of St Remy. The men have had about enough of touring and Les Beaux did leave us tired. I am glad we went there first. We did a walking tour of the town and stopped at a bakery to buy a slice of green (pistachio) confectionary and stood on a corner sharing it. I do not think we gave St Remy enough time, so I guess I can put it on my "when I go back" list.

Dinner was at La Riboto de Taven (le Val d"Enfer) at the base of Les Beaux. We had to get the man at our hotel to help us with directions. This was just lovely. Thanks to those of you who recommended it. There were nice views from the yard outside of Les Beaux. We were already concerned though about our drive back in the dark on the narrow winding road.
Christine Theme is the owner. She said she was born in the house as was her mother. The dining room used to be the sheep pen. I cannot rememver what we ate (forgot to write it down). We do remember it was fish. It seems strange I cannot remember the food but I know I would certainly go here again if I had the opportunity. I remember more about the room and the people. I also know reservations are essential. I made them from home before leaving and had to reconfirm the day before.

mimipam is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 07:41 PM
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Hi Machin,
I see from your post I have been misspelling Les Baux. We, too, think both of these sites should not be missed. We were fortunate that the crowds were light. Also, we arrived at Les Baux early in the morning.
mimipam is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 07:43 PM
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You will be happy to know that I only have two more days to report on. They will have to wait for now.
mimipam is offline  
Jul 6th, 2007, 08:44 AM
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Today our son went to Lyon to see a friend and we went to Avignon. At his suggestion we left the car at the TGV station and took the bus into Avignon--so much less stress than driving and parking there I'm sure--and easy too.
We walked up Rue de la Republique where there was lots of street construction. We stopped for a couple of pictures at Place d'Horloge and city hall and then on to the Palais des Papes. We did get the audio and listened to most of the beginning of each numbered site. There was really too much information for us though. This tour took about 2 hours and the tour was good. There was a nice view from the top of the terrasses.

After our tour we found a small place near where we exited the palace - La Pause Restaurant. We had the plat du jour of lamb stew. This was tasty and inexpensive.

Next we went to Benezet Bridge. Since my sweetheart was about "toured out" we decided to take the little train we had seen for a city tour. It was 7 Euros each for a 40 minute ride. At least this way I saw some of the city and my husband could sit and nap. We went through areas of streets where mansions were, carpenters lived (carpenter street is what they said),salt and cobbler streets, St John's tower, St Peters church and entrance to Rocher des Doms gardens.

After walking up the steps of the Cathedrale Notre Dame des Doms and then getting something to drink we headed back to catch the bus and meet our son at the TGV station.

We had dinner again at our hotel as we must pack and be on our way tomorrow and have had a full day (again).
mimipam is offline  
Jul 6th, 2007, 09:12 AM
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I'm loving it!!! Don't stop now! Was at pretty much all the places you were but last summer. It was VERY hot but we had such a great time. The vendors at L'Isle sur la Sorgue told us the market was not very busy, but we thought it was absolutely jammed! We too shopped the market for dinner (olives, cheeses, fruit, roti chicken, roasted potatoes, haricot verts, & wonderful pastry) as our B&B had a wonderful terrace to dine on.

Isn't the drive through the plane tree "tunnels" into St. Remy spectacular?!

Glad you had such a good time and were able to do ALOT! Keep up the report.

luvparee is offline  
Jul 6th, 2007, 09:56 AM
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Thanks luv, just posting this report makes me want to go back. I just have one more day to report. Was afraid the report was too long, but it is hard to be brief when one is so excited and wanting to share.
mimipam is offline  
Jul 6th, 2007, 04:52 PM
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just checking to see it this is "topped" now when a post is made
mimipam is offline  
Jul 7th, 2007, 11:58 AM
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This is our last day as tomorrow we fly out of Marseille airport. I almost went to the Camargue instead of Nimes but we all decided on Nimes and so glad we did. We left early enough as our plan was to see the Arena and Maison Caree (square house) and get to Arles by noon.

Coming into Nimes we had some difficulty finding our way. The streets are very narrow and often one way. We thought there would be clearly marked signs but if there were, we missed them.

Finally we found the parking garage near the Arena. Son and husband really liked this site. It is the best-preserved Roman amphitheatre in the world. Bull fights are held there. There are signs showing gladiators and their "armor" and weapons. Also, there is a small room exhibiting these things. We spent quite a bit of time here - reading, taking pictures, and climbing to the top.

Next we hurried down bd Vitor Hugo with its cafes and shops to Maison Carree. The only way to go inside is to see a movie so we skipped that. This was built @ 5BC. Nimes looks like a nice place. Too bad we were rushed, but at least we accomplished our goal.
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Jul 7th, 2007, 12:28 PM
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Ninmes, Arles cont'd:

Now we are on to Arles. We parked in the garage by the tourist info center. The space was extremely tight but after a few tries we were parked.

We had a short time before lunch so we walked across the street to the Roman theatre and around to the arena, by the St Trophime Church, with its magnificant portal, and the obelisk. The theatre and arena are being restored and we did not go in either one. Just looked thru scaffolding.

On the way in I had seen a sign pointing the way to L'Atelier where we have lunch reservations. Thank you Patricia and others for so highly recommending it. This was really the highlight of Arles for us. There were choices - the 10 course lunch or the 15 course lunch with either guinea or tuna.We all chose the 10 course; son, tuna; husband and I, guinea. Jean-Luc came out to greet us and I had my picture taken with him in a fun pose.

I will try to give some idea of our lunch. All of the courses except for main are small and the presentation is fabulous! To start there was something like tapas. This was followed by sardin with almond ice cream, cheese wafer on bottom. Next came neme? fish (something like sushi)> Then, white asparagus with vegetable sauce and citrus gel. Next - citrus emission on a spoon, zuchini flower with veg, pine nuts and oregano sauce. Well, you are getting the point aren't you? There were several more dishes. All were wonderful. There was a sweet and savory sweet potato and coconut ice milk transitional course (son loved this) before desserts of orange pie followed by chocolate fondant. Jean-Luc is a true gourmet chef and an artist. Why not check out his website?

After lunch we returned to St Trophime and I went inside. We saw Cafe de Nuit, then Espace van Gogh and the courtyard garden he painted. I skipped two other van Gogh sites but perhaps I can return to Arles another time for more sights and another meal at L'Atelier.

We now headed for the airport to return the car. Our last night is at the Best Western airport since we have a VERY early flight out.

This trip for me was so wonderful. I packed in most everything I wanted to do in ten full days. Of course, I missed some and would go back, hopefully at a slower pace. However, if I never get to return I have such wonderful memories and I was able to share this my husband and son. Having a car and our own itinerary was simply the best. Thanks again to each of you for your help and guidance.


mimipam is offline  
Jul 7th, 2007, 12:47 PM
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mimipam, thanks do much for writing this up. I've been following along with enjoyment.

Sounds like you have the same level of "parking anxiety" as I do. Sometimes common sense says to keep going and a good spot will turn up, but I inevitably duck into the first spot I see. Walking uphill or into town is just part of the vacation, as far as I'm concerned.

Nîmes: yes, narrow streets going in and out of the core. We used an underground parking lot just north of the Maison Carrée and practically needed a shoehorn to squeeze our car into a vacant spot.

My next door neighbour had an interesting experience at that arena this winter. He was visiting with some friends and walked off by himself to explore. When he tried to leave discovered that the place had closed and that he was locked in. His friends, waiting for him outside on the street, finally realized that something was amiss and went back in to find the last employee just leaving for the night. And so he was rescued ... Not the kind of place I'd like to spend the night!

Hope you get a chance to go back to Provence.

AnselmAdorne is offline  
Jul 7th, 2007, 06:14 PM
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Hello mimipam- sometimes serendipity sends one in the right direction. My DH and I were trying to figure out where we wanted to go- and for various reasons Provence kept coming up- so I went to Fodors yesterday to see what fodorites had to say and there was your wonderful report detailing what clearly is our dream trip--- but I don't know how you picked your name Mimipam-- our daughters are named Mimi and Pam! That said- we are now beginning to map out our trip for the end of October. Thanks so much for pointing us in a great direction.
pluckity1 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2007, 06:30 PM
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Hi Anselm,
Wow, I would not want to spend the night in the arena either. Thanks again for your input.

Hi Plukity,
My name is Pam (Pamela) and my grandgirls call me Mimi.
You will LOVE Provence. I wish you easy planning and happy travels!
mimipam is offline  
Jul 8th, 2007, 12:02 PM
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Another mimi here! I love Provence, Thank you.
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