Southern France in July.....

Old Feb 15th, 2024, 06:16 AM
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Southern France in July.....

Hi !
We (2 adults and 12 and 16 years old kids) are looking to do a trip in southern France for 22 night (july 2 to july 24). We got two flights options (both are the same price)
1) Arrival in Toulouse and departure from Marseille
2) Arrival and departure from Marseille.

Option 1 would allows us to see Carcassonne, and maybe make somme stops (???) before heading to Provence. There would be a one way fee on our car rental (around 50 euros)

Questions:
1) Is it a bad idea , because it will be hot at that time of year
2) What would be your must see ? We have thought about Nimes, Pont de Gard, Arles, Avignon, Luberon villages, Carmague, Mont Ventoux, Écrins mountains, Gorge du Verdon.....

Thanks !
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 06:35 AM
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Toulouse is our second favorite city in France. So visiting there & catching Carcassonne & the Gorges du Tarn (and the many stalactite & mite caves there) on the way to Provence would be a good plan.

Attached are 2 itineraries for the Languedoc & Provence.

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 07:00 AM
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Not sure how much of a detour it would be to Pêche Merle, need to look at a map. Both the children, partner and OP will love it, one of the few prehistoric caves which you can still visit in situ. Cave paintings and some footprints too, we found it a thrilling experience.

We stayed overnight at Hôtel des Grottes in Cabrerets, stunning location on the banks of the river (Lot?). The hotel’s restaurant is excellent and you can opt for a Demi pension, which includes breakfast and dinner.

IMO it’s an ideal spot to break up your journey en route to Provence. A couple of other interesting towns to visit nearby if have the time, including Saint Cirque Laponie.

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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley
Toulouse is our second favorite city in France. So visiting there & catching Carcassonne & the Gorges du Tarn (and the many stalactite & mite caves there) on the way to Provence would be a good plan.

Attached are 2 itineraries for the Languedoc & Provence.

Stu Dudley
Thanks ! If Toulouse is the second, which one is the first ? I didn't know Toulouse worth a visit !
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by geetika
Not sure how much of a detour it would be to Pêche Merle, need to look at a map. Both the children, partner and OP will love it, one of the few prehistoric caves which you can still visit in situ. Cave paintings and some footprints too, we found it a thrilling experience.

We stayed overnight at Hôtel des Grottes in Cabrerets, stunning location on the banks of the river (Lot?). The hotel’s restaurant is excellent and you can opt for a Demi pension, which includes breakfast and dinner.

IMO it’s an ideal spot to break up your journey en route to Provence. A couple of other interesting towns to visit nearby if have the time, including Saint Cirque Laponie.
Hi and thanks for the idea. We have been in Dordogne region last summer, we also have seen a cave (font de Gaume). We dont feel the need to go back in that region, but we will still looking for those ideas !
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by tostaky
Thanks ! If Toulouse is the second, which one is the first ? I didn't know Toulouse worth a visit !

Paris, of course. Toulouse is tied with Dijon as our second favorite cities.

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 09:11 AM
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“We have seen a cave.” And you don’t need to see more? Heathen!!! Caves are my happy place, especially in July in southern France.

I could rhapsodize about all that Languedoc has to offer, but your interests clearly lie in Provence. So save the one-way fee and do a circle tour from Marseille. Throw in Aigues-Mortes and Baux-de-Provence as more than adequate substitutes for Carcassonne. Look for some nice self-catering Gîtes in Vaucluse, Bouches-du-Rhone and Var.

If you and the kids are at all scientifically inclined, the Observatoire des Baronnies Provençales is a cool refuge in all senses of the word.
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 09:26 AM
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FTOttaw...of course we could/can see more ! But maybe not get out of our way very much to do one. You can always tell us more about the Languedoc, we are very open minded about the destinations, we have trow in Marseille and Provence only because the departure have to be from there (Toulouse-Toulouse is 300$ more per ticket). We dont know much about Languedoc. Would you chose it over Provence ?
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 09:56 AM
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In general, summer heat in France would not deter me one iota. I would choose to fly in one city and out the other.

Cahteau de Peyrepertuse and Gorge de Galamus are two of the most dramatic sites in France, worth the detour.

On your way, also consider St. Guilhem-le-desert, Aigues Mortes, and certainly Narbonne, Nimes, Arles, Les Baux, Fontaine de Vaucluse, and Rousillon. Then on to Aix and finally from the port of Marseilles do take a boat trip to Chateau d'If and Port Friou. Part of Les Calanques. Exciting but short hiking.
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 12:01 PM
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Have a look at Stu’s two itineraries as well as a good guidebook — Rough Guide just brought out a new edition for Languedoc. Ariège offers river activities, hiking and caving; you’ve heard about the Cathar castles; I second Stu’s recommendations for Mirepoix, Conques, the Gorges du Tarn, Guilhem-le-Desert and a kayak ride down the Hérault river, July 14th an excellent fête medévale in Cordes-sur-Ciel… would add boat jousting in Sète… oh dear, we haven’t even got you as far east as Aigues-Mortes yet, let alone the splendid attractions of Nîmes and Marseille itself…

Only you know what would make your family happy.
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 12:42 PM
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I would start and end in Marseille. If the children have read the Count of Monte Cristo they will want to visit the Chateau d'If at the entrance of Marseille's bay.


Arles is a good base for the western part of the Provence. It has Roman ruins and an antiquities museum, a regional weekly market, memories of van Gogh, and has the Camargue and other locations along the Rhone for reasonable daily outings.






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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 02:13 PM
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I think a deciding factor for me would be to figure out how much driving is involved if you start in Toulouse and end in Marseille. And how many nights do you want to spend in each location?

Our oldest daughter lived in Provence for 10 years, so we visited quite frequently. We also visited the Dordogne. And on one of our last visits before they relocated to the US, we visited the Languedoc region for about 3 nights, so not a lot of time. We enjoyed Carcassonne and also St. Guilhem le Desert. We love Provence but the Languedoc looks very interesting, too. However, I wouldn't choose the Languedoc over Provence. I would either visit both regions, or only visit Provence.

I agree with Shelemm. Summer heat in Provence wouldn't deter me from visiting, either. We have visited in July and August. Just remember to have bottles of water with you when sightseeing, a hat, and sun block.

Some ideas for Provence:
One base could be St. Remy which is a lovely city with a Wednesday market, nice restaurants, and shops. The asylum where Van Gogh lived for a year is located in St. Remy along with the ancient Roman city of Glanum. Nearby is Les Baux with the Carrieres de Lumieres and the chateau ruins at the top of the village. Nearby is Eygalieres which we love. It's a pretty village that is not visited by many foreign tourists. They have a wonderful Friday market where you will hear primarily French spoken. And the ruins of a castle and church at the top.

St. Remy is a good base from which to visit villages such as Gordes, Roussillon, Menerbes, Bonnieux, L'isle Sur La Sorgue, Lourmarin and Ansouis.

Another base could be Nimes. From here you can visit Pont Du Gard, Arles, Avignon and the Camarque.

Another lovely city is Aix en Provence. Spend a few nights there to see the Old Town, fountains, markets, and the Granet Art Museum.

Another base would be Marseille which is a very, very interesting city. Spend 3 or 4 nights here. Be sure to visit the Le Panier district with its very amazing and memorable street art. And then visit Cassis and the Calanques.

Here is the link to my trip report from our last visit in December 2022.
Provence in December

There really isn't any wrong decision. You will have a great trip regardless of what you decide to do.


Last edited by KarenWoo; Feb 15th, 2024 at 02:15 PM.
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 03:00 PM
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My itineraries have more than enough ideas for places to visit. But one that nobody else has mentioned so far is the Lavender fields in bloom in July. When we were in the Luberon for the entire month of June last year, we made several visits to the various fields. Most impressive were the ones on the Valensole Plateau (which is actually lavendin - a hybrid of normal lavender). Great fields between Goult & Bonnieux too. Of course, the field in front of Senanque Abbey is the "most photographed", but I suspect in peak season the traffic and parking there will be horrific. If you do visit the fields on the Valensole Plateau, also pay a visit to one of our favorite "cute little villages" - Moustiers Ste Marie. We are not fans of the nearby Gorges du Verdon (reasons in the itinerary)

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 03:25 PM
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I can't believe I forgot to mention the lavender fields! Good catch, Stu. We saw beautiful lavender fields in July in Sault! Lovely village on a hill overlooking the lavender fields!
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo
I think a deciding factor for me would be to figure out how much driving is involved if you start in Toulouse and end in Marseille. And how many nights do you want to spend in each location?

Our oldest daughter lived in Provence for 10 years, so we visited quite frequently. We also visited the Dordogne. And on one of our last visits before they relocated to the US, we visited the Languedoc region for about 3 nights, so not a lot of time. We enjoyed Carcassonne and also St. Guilhem le Desert. We love Provence but the Languedoc looks very interesting, too. However, I wouldn't choose the Languedoc over Provence. I would either visit both regions, or only visit Provence.

I agree with Shelemm. Summer heat in Provence wouldn't deter me from visiting, either. We have visited in July and August. Just remember to have bottles of water with you when sightseeing, a hat, and sun block.

Some ideas for Provence:
One base could be St. Remy which is a lovely city with a Wednesday market, nice restaurants, and shops. The asylum where Van Gogh lived for a year is located in St. Remy along with the ancient Roman city of Glanum. Nearby is Les Baux with the Carrieres de Lumieres and the chateau ruins at the top of the village. Nearby is Eygalieres which we love. It's a pretty village that is not visited by many foreign tourists. They have a wonderful Friday market where you will hear primarily French spoken. And the ruins of a castle and church at the top.

St. Remy is a good base from which to visit villages such as Gordes, Roussillon, Menerbes, Bonnieux, L'isle Sur La Sorgue, Lourmarin and Ansouis.

Another base could be Nimes. From here you can visit Pont Du Gard, Arles, Avignon and the Camarque.

Another lovely city is Aix en Provence. Spend a few nights there to see the Old Town, fountains, markets, and the Granet Art Museum.

Another base would be Marseille which is a very, very interesting city. Spend 3 or 4 nights here. Be sure to visit the Le Panier district with its very amazing and memorable street art. And then visit Cassis and the Calanques.

Here is the link to my trip report from our last visit in December 2022.
Provence in December

There really isn't any wrong decision. You will have a great trip regardless of what you decide to do.
Very good point, KarenWoo about the bottles of water. We went through so many different types of spring water during one summer. It seems every other town produced a different water, and we tried them all. For the record, we found that Evian really did quench our thirst more than others.
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 04:29 AM
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If renting a car, think very carefully about “bases.” I would not drive in and out of Aix, still less Marseille, for day trips. I have used the Bd des Lices parking garage in Arles for an unavoidable overnight, but either you do that or you stay outside the pedestrian zone, which defeats the point of being in Arles.

A week each in two different countryside Gîtes could help keep costs under control, a key consideration for a family of four with two teenage appetites.
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 07:16 AM
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Thanks once again for all the help you are giving us ! It's really something we appreciate and enjoy !
We still debate about our flights. We dont know if 22-24 allows us to do Toulouse region and Provence. Is 22-24 nights too much for Provence (We could go a bit farther in the mountains or else).

Doind a gîtes is not a bad idea, we usually do Airbnb. I guess Gites do only weekly rentals, which would mean to carefully plan. What could be those 2 bases ? We have thought about Nîmes....but before of after that ? St Remy is kind of not far enough I guess ?
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 07:36 AM
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We flew into Girona and out of Toulouse cycling between the two slowly over a 15 day period. I cannot say that Toulouse impressed me at all, but then I don't especially like large cities when small towns are so pretty. Minerve lacks a lot of things but as the local Roman capital it is a very weird setting. Narbonne was place of greatest interest and the fresh water canal that crosses a salt water inland sea to the south the very strangest sight.
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 08:01 AM
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""Doind a gîtes is not a bad idea, we usually do Airbnb. I guess Gites do only weekly rentals,""

We've rented over 70 gites through Gites de France. We have 3 reserved for this year, plus one AirBnB. Last year was 2 VRBOs in the Luberon plus a Gites de France and AirBnB elsewhere in France. Gites de France rent from Sat to Sat. VRBO has more good offerings than AirBnB does. We've rented several from both. Prefer VRBO They can be rented for any period. Both AirBnB and VRBO are more expensive than Gites de France.

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 09:12 AM
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I've rented gites de france for different periods but the majority are just one week. You will also find the official website of a town may also advertise local gites which can be, if nothing else, "interesting". In France it is not unknown to add sheets and towels at an extra cost.
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