Rhone or Provence?

Mar 9th, 2008, 06:18 AM
  #1  
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Rhone or Provence?

I will be going from northern Italy to France by car and will be spending a week in France. Originally I had planned two days in Provence, two in Dijon area and 3 in Paris, but many posters have said it would be two much traveling. I am thinking now about cutting out Provence and going to Rhone instead since it is on the way to Dijon, however I don't think Rhone is as nice as Provence. I also heard that the Lyon area is quite industrial. Any ideas? Should I do provence, is it worth the extra 250 miles?
josie123 is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 09:15 AM
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Well - the Cote du Rhone is in Provence. If you are referring to the Rhone area around Valence - that's a un-appealing region, IMO. If you get about 1 1/2 hrs west of the Rhone, you're in the rugged Ardeche which is scenic but perhaps not the best area for a first timer. If you drive about 1+ hrs east, you're in the Vercors Alps, which are very scenic.

The Rhone itself in that area has lots of heavy & light industry, and a couple of nuclear power plants. I did not find the villages that appealing, compared to other regions of France. We were there for 2 weeks in '05.

I think you'll have plenty to do in Burgundy for 4 days. We were there for 2 weeks in '06 and spent most of those days seeing the sites. You might consider two locations in Burgundy - around Beaune and then farther north close to Vezelay or Auxerre. We stayed close to Beaune & spent a little too much time driving up the A6 to get to Auxerre, Vezelay, Tanlay, etc.

On the same trip we also spent 2 weeks in Beaujolais.

All-in-all I perfer Provence over Burgundy. However, if you are arriving from northern Italy, the freeway access to Burgundy is much better than the access to Provence. I'm guessing that you'll gain 1/2 day of sightseeing if you visit Burgundy instead of Provence.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 9th, 2008, 09:38 AM
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I vote with Stu about Beaune and Auxerre. France is a big country with good motorways but once you get off the Motorway you will be bumbling along with a french driver hard up behind you (it's just how they drive).

Never too sure about drinking Beaujolais but I understand some people drink Coca Cola (never touched my lips thank gof)so what do I know. Auxerre area has some fine little AC wine regions around try Suavignon de St Bris and look out for fortified churches in the area
bilboburgler is online now  
Mar 9th, 2008, 10:14 AM
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We really enjoyed the Beaujolais we had while there. I think the French keep the better stuff for themselves. We fould a Fleurie we really liked, so we went to the winery & purchased some. The winery had a "reserve" which we bought, and "regular" wine which he was in the process of boxing-up so he could sent it to Kermit Lynch in the US. He also had a Cuvee Speciale (which is the one we actually had at a restaurant). He told us not to drink it for at least 1 year, so we bought two bottles & brought them home with us.

I read someplace that the French drink more Beaujolais than any other type of wine. Most don't age well, so perhaps that's a reason we don't see much of it at restaurants & wine shops in the US.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 9th, 2008, 11:17 AM
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Its a full day+ drive from the italian border to Beaune/Dijon. Your previous posts have inspired suggestions you are trying to do/drive too much and I believe you are still trying to do too much. Choose Provence or Burgundy--skip Rhone (where is that?-your definition?). You have said you have 1 week between Italy and Paris and you want to include Paris as a stop. I wouldn't stop more than once-Provence-before Paris. Forget about the Mistral, its not a factor
macanimals is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 11:35 AM
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I get ALL the beaujolais here. The n0uveau is the only one with a short life, like six months. the rest are very good Saint-Amour, Julienas,fleurie,chiroubles,morgan,cote de bruilly(my favorite) and moulin-a-vent. I prefer Provence but if you do go, I like Avallon and in St Sauvier-en-Puisaye, for all you Colette fans, is her childhood home and in the Chateau is a museum dedicated to her and her works.
cigalechanta is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 12:46 PM
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Mimi - I keep forgetting that you folks on the east coast see a lot higher percent of French wines in restuarnats & wine shops, than we do on the west coast.

Many restaurants we go to don't have any Beaujolais on the menu. Too bad - often its the best choice for a varied menu of fish, pasta, meat, fowl, etc.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 9th, 2008, 12:54 PM
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Thanks for the responses. When I was referring to Rhone, I meant the region of or around Lyon. I have heard it is industrial and not that nice. I guess i was just wondering if there are really nice places to see on the way to Burgundy (coming from northern Italy)
I realize that it may be alot of driving and that is the reason I thought of skipping Provence, but everything I hear seems to indicate that Provence is the place to see. So, not sure what to do. Any thoughts? Also, my husband is very much into wine and will want to see a lot of wine country if that helps.
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Mar 9th, 2008, 01:48 PM
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All the places you want to see are wonderful, but you don't have the time to see so much. Provence is my personal favorite area in France, and I can't imagine vacationing there for less than a week. There are so many different wines to taste, it is hard to know what to sample. The country side is scenic, and the Roman ruins are a plus for history buffs. Hope you can work out a schedule that you like. In any case, at some point try to go to Provence.
nametaken is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 02:20 PM
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Just this week there was a thread about visiting wineries in France. Click on my name to try to find it. The conclusion was that visiting wineries in France is nothing like visiting wineries in Napa/Sonoma. You just don't pop in & expect a winery tour followed by a tasting. There are several tasting rooms (quite basic, most of the time), but if you want a tour and tasting, you must reserve in advance.

There are just as many areas filled with vineyards, and wineries where you can both taste & tour in the Cote du Rhone area of Provence, as in Burgundy (well - almost as many). Beaucastle in Chateauneuf du Pape puts on an excellent English tour.

We've spent over 16 weeks in Provence and 4 in Burgundy/Beaujolais. We prefer Provence because the things to do there are more varied/diverse and there are more cute/small villages, than in Burgundy. My wife prefers the shopping in Provence over Burgundy, and we both think the outdoor markets in Provence are better. However, like I stated earlier - you won't run out of things to do & see in Burgundy as long as you like beautiful cities (Dijon & Auxerre), nice smaller towns (Beaune), great restaurants (better than Provence, IMO), Chateaux (which are lacking in Provence), gardens (also lacking in Provence, IMO), & cathedrals.

The area around Lyon is as you expected - with a few exceptions. There are some cute vilages worth visiting (Perouges, Cremieu, etc) but on the whole - I would just skip over this area. Just like wineries, villages in France are difficult to visit because they pretty much close up for lunch, and are often closed entirely on Sundays, & Monday mornings.

Getting back to Paris from either Provence or Dijon is a difference of 1 1/2 hrs on the TGV - so it doesn't matter which one you end up at for easy return to Paris. Use ViaMichelin.com to see how long it takes to get to either from your final night in Italy.

I forgot - where is your last night in Italy, and what time of year & day of the week are you doing this (Sun & Mon in Burgundy would be a little more boring if you don't want to visit Chateaux).

Stu Dudley
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Mar 9th, 2008, 05:12 PM
  #11  
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Thanks so much Stu. I think I will go ahead and do Provence. I know it is not enough time, but better to get a taste than nothing at all I guess. I will be leaving Barbaresco for Provence, stay 2 or 3 days and the spend two days in Burgundy (Beaune I guess) We will likely be in Burgundy on Saturday and Sunday, so I guess i will visit Chateaux or whatever is avialable to do on Sunday.
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Mar 9th, 2008, 05:54 PM
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I thought we had you convinced to visit Provence OR Burgundy in 4 days - not both.

You'll miss the wonderful outdoor antiques/food/Provence fabric/crafts market in l'Isle sur la Sorgue on Sunday morning in Provence. You'll get to Burgundy too late for the wonderful market in Beaune on Sat morning. Also, Sunday will be your only full day in Burgundy, so you won't see Beaune, Dijon, or Auxerre at their best (most/all shops will be closed in Dijon & Auxerre on Sunday). The best Chateaux are about 1 3/4 hrs away from Beaune. They close at lunch, so you'll probably only be able to see 1 in the morning & 1 in the afternoon. Wineries will not be open on Sunday and probably Saturday also. There will be some tasting shops open on Sat & Sun in Beaune. You're giving up a lot just to try to get a "wiff" of both Provence & Burgundy.

Really - I think you should reconsider and only visit Provence & then take the 3 hr TGV to Paris Lyon station.

What happened to "relaxing" on your other post???

Stu Dudley
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Mar 9th, 2008, 06:08 PM
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Hmmmm, good points. I'm am offically confused!
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Mar 9th, 2008, 06:17 PM
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If 1 of your 4 days is a Sunday, then I would vote for Provence instead of Burgundy because there are more things to do, IMO, on Sunday in Provence. The market in the AM, and then the Luberon Valley in the afternoon (shops will be open in Gordes & Roussillon - plus a drive through this scenic area is wonderful).

Do you have my 27 page itinerary for Provence & Cote d'Azur??? I've sent it to over 500 people on Fodors & AOL travel forums. e-mail me at [email protected] if you want a copy.

Stu Dudley
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