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Roadtrip: Marseille to Lyon in 5 days...


Nov 1st, 2011, 08:45 AM
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Roadtrip: Marseille to Lyon in 5 days...


We would love to hear any insight or advice for our upcoming roadtrip starting November 15th in Marseille and we will be flying out of Lyon on the 20th.

We want to really experience the area in authenticity, eat great food, "sample" a lot of wine and just really enjoy our first time in the region. We're thinking that we'll rent a car in Marseille, see Avignon, Aix en Provence, Gordes(sp), and would love to visit some vineyards and anything else that we have time for...so any and all suggestions welcomed, especially when it comes to lodging.

Thanks again for your help!

DC76 is offline  
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Nov 1st, 2011, 12:12 PM
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Where and when were you planning on sleeping?! Four cities and a vineyard in 5 days is ambitious! Others will make itinerary suggestions but I'd base in Aix for 2 nights and do day trips to Gordes (Rousillon if you could same day) and Arles and omit Avignon. Check for tasting sessions but I think the wine crop will be picked by then?

We "lived" in Aix on one trip and ate at various places along the Rue de Cordeliers in the older part of the city. Hotel Aquabella where we stayed ( http://www.aquabella.fr/ ) has garage steps away and very helpful staff with local info.

For eating, get to Lyon "toot sweet" and spend your last 3 nights there.

I ate a spectacular meal at Giovany's in Lyon (3 Place de la Baleine-04 72 40 99 26). It was on a side street off Rue de Boeuf in the old section. Our hotel in Lyon was Hotel Residence ( http://www.hotel-la-residence.com/english/index.html ) and, although our first room was a closet, it was changed cheerfully after one night and we liked the place. It is on a pedestrian area so do check about where to drive should you go there.

Place Bellecour is huge and there are many restos around that area. Our fall-back was L'Espace as it was near. Nearby Rue des Marronniers was covered with restos. The old section is across the bridge (Bonaparte???). I ate a spectacular meal at Giovany's in Lyon (3 Place de la Baleine-04 72 40 99 26). It was on a side street off Rue de Boeuf in the old section.

Stay tuned for more suggestions and have a super trip.
TDudette is offline  
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Nov 1st, 2011, 01:06 PM
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Sorry about the Giovany duplication!
TDudette is offline  
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Nov 1st, 2011, 03:37 PM
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I'll second the idea that Lyon is also worth alloting some time to visit.
Michel_Paris is offline  
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 06:01 AM
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I'm shocked that you haven't gotten more suggestions. Anyone????
TDudette is offline  
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 09:51 AM
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I'll kick off with what I know.

Lyons was a place I visited for an extended weekend, taking the TGV from Charles de Gaulle.

If I had a single day, I would park the car, then take the metro ('T') and start at Place Bellecour, main square. Tourist bureau is there, some nice views of the mountain.

From here, head over the bridge to the Old Town. Wander here, look inside the catheral for the very old mechanical clock that still chimes (have to chek on what hours). Wander inside the traboules (passageways), have a sweet or ice cream cone,near the end chekc out the famous building with the huge mural of famous Lyon personalities. Perhaps when done cross back over bridge at end of Old Town and go to Place Terreaux. This ia a wonderful sqaure, surrounded by old buildings on all side. Also a nice place to have an outdoor lunch at one of the cafes. Chekc the entrance of the Art Museum, built in an old convent, the entrance is a real gem of architecture. Thne look around City Hall another intersitng building. If you go around the corner you will see the Opera Hall that combines old and new.

Bit of backtracking. Go back way you came and go to place you entered Old Town, near cathedral. There is a funicular that will take you up to the top of the mountain, near the new cathedral. Nice views over the city. The cathedral itself I found a bit sterile. After this, I took a route that took me away from the cathedral in a loop (leftwards from entrance as you exit), passing the gardens behind the church and eventually getting you to the roman arena, Along the way (I did not find) there are vestiges of roman acqueducts. The arena has some nicely preserved ruins, and great views out over the city. Used now for outdoor concerts. At the bottom are some more bits and pieces of ruins. Next door (entrance near top of arena) is the Gallo Roman museum, whic, if this interests you, has a lot of artefacts. After leaving entrance of museum, turn right, then look for Montee Saint-Barthelemy, which is a very nice walk down the hill into the Old Town.

For dinner, there is La Machonnerie in the Old Town (right near funicular) that serves traditional Lyonnais food. I also went to a Paul Bocuse resturatn for dinner, L'Est, located in a decommisioned railway station.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 10:16 AM
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I was just in Lyon for a few days and think there are more restaurants around the square where City Hall is (pl des Terreaux) than place Bellecour. Maybe I'm wrong, pl Bellecour is kind of ugly right now due to some construction and a bunch of stuff parked on it (equipment), but I didn't see a lot of restaurants around it in the immediate proximity.

Anyway, I stayed in the Mercure Beaux Arts and recommend it highly. It's a nice 3* hotel and is only a couple blocks to a metro stop (and it is in-between pl Bellecour and pl des Terreaux (where Hotel de Ville is). But it is also an excellent location for dining as there is a restaurant street just a few blocks from there towards the river (rue Merciere). You can just walk along there and choose from all kinds, some are oft-recommended traditional bouchons (Bouchon aux Vins and Bouchon Lyonnais are a couple, as I recall), some smaller and not wellknown. That is a great central location for everything.

As a tip, there is a special airport "train" that runs from gare Part Dieu out to the airport for only around 10 euro, would save a lot on taxi fare. I took a taxi from the Mercure to Gare Part Dieu as it was raining and while the hotel is convenient, it was at least several long blocks to the metro (and it would involve a transfer to the gare), and that only cost around 10 euro.
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Nov 3rd, 2011, 06:29 AM
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Just returned on Oct. 24 from 2 weeks in that region. Flew into Lyon and out of Marseille. Have visited the region perhaps 10-12 times over the years.

If you were going anytime other than late fall or winter, I'd recommend focusing on the countryside and small towns.

In this season, if it's cold or rainy (16 inches of rain over the next 48 hours in parts of the Rhone corridor!) you'd be better off in large towns and cities, where there's plenty to see indoors.

A pity, because the whole route from Marseille to Lyon is strewn with pretty villages.

I like the Luberon well enough -- I first visited Gordes in 1970! -- but I would not make a detour just to see Gordes. If it's not worth your while to "base" there for a night or two, I'd leave the Luberon for another trip.

If you get decent weather, you could leave the motorway around Avignon (I'm doing this from memory, without a map) and wander north in the dierction of Lyons, through the towns E of the motorway and the Rhone.

Favourite places along the way, from S to N:
Vaison la Romaine
Suze la Rousse
St Paul Trois Chateaux
La Garde Adhemar

...If I had time I'd make a hop N to the Drome Provencale (the area just E of Montelimar, heading toward the Vercors mtns, is stunning. We are looking to buy in the region. Fave spots: La Laupie, Marsanne, Saou, Grane, Crest, Bourdeaux, Chateauneuf de Mazenc)

Then I'd get back on the motorway around Montelimar or Valence and drive N to Lyon.
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Nov 3rd, 2011, 08:15 AM
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Here's a web site with nice descriptions of many villages and towns in Provence: http://www.beyond.fr/index.html

As Aix is a pretty busy city, you may want to stay in someplace more rural before getting to Lyon. The Lourmarin area has a lot to offer and from there it's easy to get to Roussillon and other villages. Luberon wines are quite good; we had a stunning red blend last fall that cost 15 euros at the local cafe.

Another option is to stay near Arles, which makes visiting the spectacular Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct easy.
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