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Should I stop in Nice on our way from Venice to Provence?

Should I stop in Nice on our way from Venice to Provence?

Feb 1st, 2007, 07:54 AM
  #1  
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Should I stop in Nice on our way from Venice to Provence?

This is for my September trip for me and my husband to France and Italy.

We had originally thought we would stay 3 nights in Venice and then take a day train to Avignon. We have since changed our plan to take the overnight train from Venice to Nice, then take an early train from Nice to Avignon and pick up our rental car there, to give us a little extra time in Provence. Now I'm wondering if I should just pick up the car in Nice and maybe stop by Vence or Eze "on our way" to St. Remy. Are these spots worth the extra trouble? Would it take too long? I've always heard Eze is so beautiful and I'd love to see it if it's doable.
em_axo is offline  
Feb 1st, 2007, 08:39 AM
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Vence and Eze are absolutely beautiful, but they are in opposite directions. Vence is closer to Cannes, Eze is closer to Monaco.
Weadles is offline  
Feb 1st, 2007, 09:05 AM
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That's a tough call since you can get to Provence from Nice faster by car than by train. Like Weadles said, Eze is in the opposite driection, but only about 50 mins out of the way. However, driving there from the Nice train station is a little hectic.

You'll see some similar villages in Provence - but without the water.

I think if this was my trip (I've done this countless times), I would pick up a car in Nice, vist St Paul, Vence, Tourettes sur Loup, and do the very pretty Loup "loop" - visiting Gourdon on the loop. Then head to Provence. Alternatively, you could skip this and make it to Aix in time for a visit and then lunch on the Cours. The drive along the freeway from Nice to Provence is actually quite scenic - especially around the Maures Mountains section (St Tropex exit).

Here is something I previously wrote about St Paul, Vence, Tourrettes & the Loup.

Explore the perched medieval village of St Paul**. It’s probably the most popular small village on the Cote. Shops are always open (although we’ve never been there on a Monday). I advise people to get there by 9:00 and leave by 11:30 to avoid the crowds. It is especially crowded on Sunday in the summer season.

Head north of St Paul on the D2 toward Vence.

The “old section” of Vence* is quaint. Look at the map in the Green Guide under VENCE to locate the old section at the east end of town. There is a walking tour described in the Green Guide. There’s an underground parking garage under the large open space on your right, just before you get to the old section. There are several stores in Vence where you can buy Provence fabric (see write up about Provence Fabric)

After Vence, follow the signs to Tourrettes-sur-Loup (D2210), which is west of Vence.

Explore Tourrettes-sur-Loup* – there’s a parking lot on your left, just off the road. You get about 45 mins of free parking (very confusing when your ticket is processed at the automatic ticket machine). Tourrettes is a real cute town. My favorite restaurant in the area is Auberge de Tourrettes – on the D2210 at the west edge of town. (closed Monday)

Continue on the D2210 west & do the Gorge du Loup** (Vallee du LOUP in the Michelin under L for Loup). Go in the clockwise direction – D2210 through le Bar, then D3 to Gourdon. Explore Gourdon*. Like St Paul, it will be crowded & shops will be open on a Sunday & Monday. There is a restaurant called Nid d’Aigle with spectacular views of the hills & the Mediterranean – open daily (we’ve had lunch there – if you’re afraid of heights, then don’t go). Continue north on the D3. When you hit the D6, take it south back to Pont-du-Loup (this section is real pretty) & then retrace your route through le Bar.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley is offline  
Feb 1st, 2007, 09:49 AM
  #4  
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Thanks Stu! That sounds like a great plan. About how long would that whole itinerary take? Our train should get into Nice around 9:45.

For some reason, I'm having trouble letting go of Eze. But I'm sure these other villages are just as pretty, right?
em_axo is offline  
Feb 1st, 2007, 10:10 AM
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Eze is quite dramatic but also quite touristy & steep. It also takes some doing to get there & back on the road twoards Provence

I've never timed my suggested St Paul/Vence/etc excursion. We've stayed in a Gite just outside of Vence for a total of 4 weeks, so we really did not do this route all at one time. Of course, you'll want to stop in shop in all these places, and I dont't know how slow of a shopper you are. Without stopping, I'm guessing that the drive from the time you get off the freeway at the St Paul exit, and then back on, it would be 2 hrs of very scenic driving.

St Paul is as nice or nicer than any village in Provence, IMO - although it's a little touristy too. Both Vence & Tourrettes are similar to a lot of Provence villages, and Gourdon & the Loup are very dramatic. Some good fabric shops in Vence. I would budget 1 hr for exploring & shopping in St Paul, 45 mins for Vence, 30 mins for Tourrettes and 30 mins for Gourdon. These time estimates exclude 30 mins to pick out just the right fabric for a tablecloth, or a picture to frame for the den. They are just browsing & not much "picking out" times. If you need to cut some time, perhaps Vence would be the best bet because the parking there is a little more difficult and time-consuming.

When you finish the Loup, don't get on the freeway via Grasse. It's tough to navigate through Grasse.

If you want my full 20+ page Cote d'Azur & Provence itinerary (the above excursion is from this itinerary) e-mail me at [email protected]. It has a section on markets and another on Provence fabric.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Feb 1st, 2007, 10:20 AM
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>>it would be 2 hrs of very scenic driving.<<

Slight correction. It is not that scenic getting to St Paul. Beyond St Paul it's scenic. There is some ugly sprawl just before getting to Vence also, but little leaving Vence.

Stu Dudley
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Feb 1st, 2007, 03:22 PM
  #7  
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I actually have your itinerary, but since I wasn't planning on doing the Riviera, I hadn't paid very close attention to that part.

Thanks so much for your advice, I am definitely going to attempt this excursion on our way to St. Remy!
em_axo is offline  
Feb 21st, 2007, 04:52 PM
  #8  
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ttt
em_axo is offline  
Feb 21st, 2007, 05:09 PM
  #9  
 
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I think it depends on your priorities and if you've been to Nice, Vence, St. Paul etc. before or not. I love Nice, St. Paul and Vence (and Antibes) but that's because I love the art there, but if that isn't your main focus, it may not be worth it for you. If you, like me, are an artlover , it's worth it!
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