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Southern France Itinerary (Yet another one)

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Jan 14th, 2015, 06:07 AM
  #1
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Southern France Itinerary (Yet another one)

First of all, I've been to the South of France (pretty much all over) a number of times, sometimes spending as much as 6 to 8 weeks there. But my husband has never been there, and we are limited to just a little over two weeks. When we stayed in Siena for a week and explored Tuscany by car during the day, that was fine, but seemed we spent so much time driving every day, even though we enjoyed returning to the apartment near lots of restaurants every evening.

So here's the deal. We have our FF flights set -- PHL to Madrid to Nice, France and then a return from Barcelona to PHL 16 days (or rather 16 nights) later.

Here's the current plan. First four nights in Nice. We have free nights at the Hyatt Regency Palais de la Mediterranee. (Love the location and the project to turn the old Casino into this hotel fascinated me the last time I was in Nice) Plenty to do in Nice, with probably day trips by train to Monaco, maybe Cannes, Cap de Ferrat, perhaps Eze, etc. etc. Narrowing that all down will be a bit difficult.

On the day of departure from Nice, we'll pick up a car -- just a block from our hotel. We'll drive to Aix-en-Provence. Still deciding between the Aquabella and the Grand Hotel Roi Rene. Will probably stay three nights. Marseille as a day trip, Maybe do lunch at Saint Tropez on the way from Nice to Aix? Maybe St. Paul de Vence instead?

From there we're thinking of spending two nights in Gordes (Le Bastide de Gordes). From there we can spend the day between in Rousillon and Isle de Sorgue.

Next we'd spend two nights at Chateau des fines roches in the Chateuneuf du Pape area.
Seems like a nice relaxing place and we can spend the day doing wineries in the area. Perhaps we should spend much of the day between Gordes and the Chateau in Avignon?

Next we'd go to Lyon for three nights. Choosing between the Carlton Lyon and Hotel de Royal Lyon. Comments? While we will surely enjoy the countryside, we both really enjoy cities -- Lyon has always been a favorite of mine.

We will fly Easy Jet from Lyon to Barcelona where we'll spend our final two nights at Hotel 1898.

Our stays are really pretty close to each other. But we think that's good as we can explore places between them rather than always return to the same place each night. Stays at the Chateau and the Bastide des Gordes seem kind of luxurious for us -- and two nights would be plenty for either of them, but a nice break from more "commercial" hotels.

None of this (other than the flights, Nice, and Barcelona) are set in stone yet. Comoments? Suggestions?
NeoPatrick is offline  
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Jan 14th, 2015, 06:45 AM
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You like your cities.

If you want a different base look at say Beziers to access the Camargue and the Canal du Midi. The wines of the area are so interesting you could even try those of La Clape which I find some of the finest of the area. You could then just catch the train to Barcelona after dumping the car in France.
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Jan 14th, 2015, 07:02 AM
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We are in Nice on July 4th until July 11th.

Can I buy you a bottle of Two Buck Chuck? NP, just kidding, but would love to meet you for a glass of wine.

www.niceholidayvilla.com Our digs.
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Jan 14th, 2015, 07:04 AM
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Make sure you know how Easy Jet differs from "normal" airlines.

I highly recommend paying extra for Speedy Boarding, Extra Leg Room, and/or Up Front Seats. Unless you have strictly a small carry on, consider paying for checked bag as well. They are fairly strict [not 100% of the time] as to sizing; they seem to make most people use the "sizer" and I have seen many people have to rearrange bags to fit, or try to squeeze things all into 1 bag. Forewarned is forearmed...
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Jan 14th, 2015, 08:19 AM
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That's more cities than I would do - but since you've already been to the Cote d'Azur/Provence area, you know what's there. Just don't "find yourself" in Aix on a Sunday when all the non-food shops will be closed (most on Monday morning too).

Visit the Traboules while in Lyon.
http://www.francetoday.com/articles/...traboules.html

If you don't already have the 2014 version of my Cote d'Azur/Provence itinerary, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll send you one.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 14th, 2015, 08:34 AM
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Thanks for that, Stu...have never been to Aix-en-Provence before, but we will be there on a Sunday. I didn't know that the non food shops would be closed. Good to know.

Sandy
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Jan 14th, 2015, 08:43 AM
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From my Provence itinerary:

Most non-food stores in Aix, Nimes, and Avignon are closed all day Sunday, and Monday morning. While in Aix in mid June ’10, I did a “survey” of about 30 shops that had opening & closing days & times posted on their storefronts. Of these 30 shops, 5 were open all day Monday (including a Gap and Monoprix – chain-type stores), 10 were closed all day Monday, and 15 were open Monday afternoon only. Only 1 shop was open on Sunday. Shops in very “touristy” towns like St Paul, St Remy, St Tropez, and Gordes are always open. We were recently in St Remy on a Sunday. My wife visited 11 shops that interested her (she likes housewares – no clothes or souvenirs). Two other shops looked interesting from the outside, but were closed on Sunday. Of these 11 shops, 5 were closed all day on Monday, 2 were only open Monday afternoon (around 2:30), and 4 were open all day Monday. The very touristy shops that are prevalent in almost every tourist destination village in Provence (Olivades, Souleiado, Terre de Provence), are usually open on Sunday & Monday.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 14th, 2015, 09:06 AM
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Your easyjet flight is just over an hour, I wouldn't be too worried about leg room unless very tall. I fly them often and do pay for a seat assignment rather than join the general scrum. My husband and I usually opt for aisle seats across from each other. There's no weight restriction on carry-on but size allowed is smaller than standard carry-on.

I like your itinerary. I'd take the train from Aix to Marseille and not bother with the car. Have you been to Cassis? It's rather pretty but can be heaving. I thought La Colombe d'Or in St. Paul was great, particularly the terrace. St Tropez slightly more of a detour but the drive from Cznnes to St Tropez was excellent.

I'd want another day in or around Barcelona but expect you've been before.
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Jan 14th, 2015, 09:12 AM
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"Have you been to Cassis? It's rather pretty but can be heaving."

Heaving??
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Jan 14th, 2015, 09:18 AM
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Stu, yes, I already got your 2014 version! Very helpful.

We seem to be aiming at this new itinerary as opposed to our original idea of 5 nights Nice, 5 nights Aix, and 4 nights Lyon.
It seems like those two "two night" places might be a nice change and will reduce some of the overall driving in and out of the more "major" cities.

Iris, we will be going from August 23 to September 9, so afraid I'll have to pass on that 2 buck chuck!

DebitNM, I've flown Easy Jet plenty but it has been three years.
I've found their new Flexi fare that will include our standard roll aboard carryons with early boarding so you're even guaranteed not to have to check it. We like that. At well under $100 US each and at a perfect time for us (10:15 AM departure), it's kind of hard to beat! But we can only book 120 days ahead for those.

Bilboburglar, you mention areas that we had considered, but decided to narrow it down to a smaller area that is more "compact". A lot of time could be spent in the Camargue, I agree.
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Jan 14th, 2015, 09:28 AM
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Yes, we could easily spend a week in Barcelona but have done that before. The only reaason for it (other than we love it) is that it's the only non stop back from Europe we could get (American/US Airways) with our miles.

Cassis is rather charming, but I'm not sure how "special it is" for Peter compared to the Riviera towns we'll be exploring. "Heaving"

Yes, taking the train Aix to Marseilles makes sense. As I recall it's a short walk to the harbor from the train station.
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Jan 14th, 2015, 09:32 AM
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I've flown Easyjet several times, dire warnings aren't necessary. It's just as good as any regular airline IMO for short flights. Yes, you do have to pay to check baggage, just as you do in the US on United, etc. I presume you are going to do that. I have never paid for extra legroom on an Easyjet flight, the plane's seats aren't any closer than any other regular airline. I think the fare categories give you upfront seats (not sure what that means, I forget, maybe just seat selection) automatically if you pay for the Flexi fare which must be what is being referenced. Well, decides for yourself, their fares are reasonable no matter what but I don't pay for that, I jut pay for baggage check alone which isn't as much as the Flexifare.

As for your itinerary, I think it's fine, you seem to know what you want to see. If you have a car, it's pleasant to drive around the Drome area or Gigondas which has wineries. Drome has some beautiful areas with lavender fields, I think you are going in summer? Such as Grignan or Nyons.
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Jan 14th, 2015, 09:43 AM
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I had to get out my metric tape measure, and our usual carryons DO fit the category. Not checking any luggage is a real bonus for us. I do remember waiting in London for what seemed like hours to get our checked luggage from Easy Jet. We do fine with just one carry on each.

Gigondas is high on my list along with the Cote du Rhones, and even a stop at a Hermitage or Crozes Hermitage vineyard on the way to Lyon might be nice.
Chateau des Fines Roches will set up a full day winery trip with a private guide, or provide us with reservations and we can do it ourselves -- not sure which we'll do.
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Jan 14th, 2015, 10:05 AM
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Don't forget the wheels and handles!! They won't fit into sizer bin if the wheels make it go beyond the dimensions.
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Jan 14th, 2015, 10:14 AM
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Just some input on some of the places you mentioned:
We spent five nights in Monaco (part of a company trip) and enjoyed it very much, but a day trip there would be plenty. There are some really nice things to see and of course the yachts to gawk at.
From Nice, we rented a car and spent the next ten days exploring Provence. We enjoyed stopping for lunch in Cassis (a beautiful little town on the water)on our way to St. Tropez. St Tropez was fine but was crowded (March) seemed a bit more like Monaco. We enjoyed Ramatuelle in this area very much.

We loved Rousillon, it was different from so many of the other villages we saw as was L'Isle -sur-la-Sorgue-we only spent an afternoon here as we spent the morning in Pernes-les-Fontaines (we would have much rather had spent the day in L'isle-s-l-Sorgue).

Enjoy your trip
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Jan 14th, 2015, 10:25 AM
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Exactly DebitNM, which is why our handles do completely down into the cases and the wheels are fully reset. I've allowed for those. Besides we've done both our carryons on Easy Jet before!

odie1, your observations match mine. And I say that as one who has stayed in both Monaco and Saint Tropez.

I predict Rousilion will be Peter's favorite spot, and he just may wear out his camera there.
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