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rholt Oct 19th, 2005 10:34 AM

Provence - Trouble gauging distances
I am in the early stages of planning a week long trip to Provence in early June of 2005.

My family (2 adults and 2 small children) will be spending all 7 nights in an apartment in downtown Aix-en-Provence. We will be renting a car and hope to take several day-trips out of the city.

At this stage I am simply trying to establish what are the day-trip options. But - I have stumbled upon a question.

QUESTION - How far is "too far" in terms of sites we can realistically visit given that we need to make it back to Aix every night?

Obviously - all of the following locations are doable from Aix
1) St Remy
2) Arles
3) Avignon
4) Gordes
5) Les Baux
6) Pont du Gard
(plus many others)

But I have been looking at some other sites that are not as close to Aix. For example
1) Nice
2) Aigues Mortes
3) Nimes
4) Orange
5) Mt Ventoux
6) Gorges du Verdon
7) Entrevaux
Are these sites realistic day-trip options fsrom Aix. Many look cool - but I don't want to spend the entire vacation driving.

Thanks again for your input.

PalenqueBob Oct 19th, 2005 11:35 AM

Verdon Canyon, Nice and Entrevaux too far for enjoyable day trips - two lane roads to canyon take forever - Nice just too far.
All others are doable though still a bit of freeway driving.

ira Oct 19th, 2005 12:27 PM

Hi rh,

You can get drving times and directions at and


rholt Oct 19th, 2005 12:30 PM

I am not suprised to hear the Nice and Entrevaux are too far.

I am bummed that Gorges du Verdon is to much. I think the kids might actually like it. Oh well.

DAX Oct 19th, 2005 12:50 PM

We've done a daytrip to Aix from Monaco with our 2 & 3 year toddlers (over 10 years ago). It's about a 3 hour drive playing their favorite children songs in the car as they are strapped in their car seats. We've also had good experiences hiring babysitters while we went to dinners. We requested for more mature sitters and got wonderful middle age women.

PalenqueBob Oct 19th, 2005 12:58 PM

Gorges de Verdon - about 140 km to Moustiers, where the sinuous road along the canyon begins
Most of the way to Moustiers is freeway or main road but to go along the canyon is very slow - so it could be a day trip but think would take at least three hours each way to the start of the canyon - yet the canyon is extremely spectacular - i went with my young son once and we rented a boat and did a little canoe ride - kids would like it - so start early and go for it.

StuDudley Oct 19th, 2005 01:01 PM

I certainly don't think the Gorges du Verdon is too far. I didn't measure the miles or refer to Mappy, but it's no farther away than the Pont du Gard, Orange, Nimes, Mt Ventoux, or Aigues Mortes.

If you will be there in lavender season (late June/July), a very nice day trip would be the freeway towards Monosque, and then take exit #18 and drive around the lavender fields in the Valensole Plateau. Then visit Reiz, if you can time your trip for a Saturday when they have a very nice morning market. Then off to the Gorges du Verdon. After the gorges, visit Moustiers - which is a "must see" destination for many people visiting Provence. You might think you should visit Moustiers on the way to the Gorges, but I suspect if you do this day trip & include the Valensole Plateau & Reiz, you will get to Moustiers about the time everything closes for a 2+ hour lunch siesta. Visit Moustiers after the stores open again - around 2:30 or 3.

Stu Dudley

Underhill Oct 19th, 2005 01:06 PM

While I do think a day trip from Avignon to and including the Gorges du Verdon would be a bit much, why not consider spending the night somewhere in the area around Moustiers-Ste-Marie? Then the following day you could return to Avignon via the road south from the Lac de Ste-Croix, perhaps stopping there for a bit of water activity.

StuDudley Oct 19th, 2005 01:09 PM

>>Gorges de Verdon - about 140 km to Moustiers<<

Mappy says it's 86K and will take 1 hr 22 mins.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley Oct 19th, 2005 01:13 PM

>>While I do think a day trip from Avignon to and including the Gorges du Verdon would be a bit much<<

rholt is staying in Aix - not Avignon.

Stu Dudley

hopingtotravel Oct 19th, 2005 05:49 PM

I don't want to rain on anyone's parade and I'm by no means an expert, but I just looked up my trip notes. We ate breakfast in Gordes, briefly had a look at Roussilon, then drove to Moustiers. People were well into lunch when we got there. My notes say "took much longer than the via.michelin said and we did not get lost". Obviously longer than 1&1/2 hours, but a pretty drive.

Underhill Oct 19th, 2005 07:46 PM

Well, Aix would be closer, but I remember the drive from Aix to Moustiers as taking longer than we had anticipated--the trip over and back, plus time in Moustiers, took most of a day--and we didn't include the Gorges du Verdon. I still think it would be a long day's drive, given the road around the gorges.

cigalechanta Oct 19th, 2005 08:12 PM

this might help you.

StuDudley Oct 20th, 2005 09:31 AM

>>>Obviously longer than 1&1/2 hours, but a pretty drive.<<

Where did anyone say it was 1 1/2 hrs from Gordes to Moustiers? rholt is leaving from Aix to get to the Gorges du Verdon - not from Gordes like you did. Mappy says it's 2 hrs from Gordes to Moustiers via the "fast" route (not via the N100 through the Luberon). I agree that it would not be a feasible day trip to the Gorges from Gordes or Avignon.

BTW, I've driven down the Amalfi coast several times, and I've lived near the coast in Calif all my life, so I've driven the Cabrillo highway from Carmel to San Simeon a countless number of times. But the most terrifying drive I've ever taken is the "Route des Cretes" loop on the north side of the gorges.

Stu Dudley

PalenqueBob Oct 20th, 2005 10:30 AM

StuDudley - je suis trompe - i miscalculated on my Michelin map - you're right but from Aix to canyon proper is about 120 km - not bad as most is freeway so should be a real doable day trip.

kevin_widrow Oct 20th, 2005 12:36 PM

We lived in Aix for 2 1/2 years and did all the places you mentioned as day trips, often more than once. They are all easily doable, though I suppose it matters how car tolerant your kids are. Nice is only 1 1/2 hours from Aix.
Moustiers, as others have said, is no problem, though if you wanted to circle the entire Gorge, you'll be looking at a major excursion...


rholt Oct 20th, 2005 03:51 PM

As always - thanks for all the helpful input.

cigalechanta Oct 20th, 2005 04:32 PM

We did th drive from Moustiers but you don't have the do the full circuit. (82 miles) All of it is stunning but careful driving.

LadyOLeisure Oct 20th, 2005 05:35 PM

Since Nice is too far, you might consider Cassis -- take a boat trip through the Calanques (I bet the kids would love that and it is so pretty) It is a very pretty harbour.

hopingtotravel Oct 20th, 2005 09:08 PM

Not sure where I got the 1&1/2 hours. I used via.michellin not mappy. However, we got hung up in traffic in Apt, so were obviously on a slow route.
Stu, OT. Loved your descriptions of best views in San Francisco. Am printing it out. It's one of my favorite towns but I'm overdue for a trip there with my own transportation.

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