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momalley Apr 23rd, 2014 09:42 AM

Suggested Itinerary and ideas for South of France road tour?
My wife and children (8 and 9) are traveling to the south of France in late June. We fly in and out of Nice. We are going for two weeks.

We will stay with family in Nice for a few days before hitting the road. We want to drive around Provence, Aude, and Pyrenees Orientales -- and actually drive to Barcelona before heading back to Nice through Cassis.

It's a lot of ground, but with the kids, we gotta keep 'em occupied!

elberko Apr 23rd, 2014 09:47 AM

Sitting in the back of a car for hundreds of miles is "occupied"?

Underhill Apr 23rd, 2014 10:11 AM

Your best bet is to get a copy of the Michelin Green Guide to Provence and the companion one for the part of the region called the Côte d'Azur. Then get the big Michelin map of Provence. The Guides have suggested itineraries in addition to a wealth of information on sightseeing, some on hotels and restaurants. All that will help you plan your itinerary and build in frequent stops for the sake of the kids.

momalley Apr 23rd, 2014 11:06 AM

Let me clarify -- we don't plan to stop more than 4-6 places overall. Stay 2-3 days in some locations, or do day trips.

Our kids are explorers. They would go crazy staying someplace for a week. They like nothing better than to plumb the back-roads of the places we go. A 50 mile trip will sometimes take us a day to complete because they love to check everything out.

Thanks for the value judgement on my parenting, though.

StuDudley Apr 23rd, 2014 01:00 PM

You have my Provence/Cote d'Azur itinerary, and also my Languedoc one. I'll just briefly describe what I would do - considering your travel style.

- Land in Nice & spend 4 nights there - 1 to recover from West Coast jet-lag

- 4 nights in Provence - I would stay somewhere in the Luberon if your kids like countryside and small roads. Do my Lavender Route to find the small/back roads. Don't miss Simiane la Rotonde.

- From Nimes, take the N106 north towards Arles, and then to Florac. You are now in the area of the Gorges du Tarn. Stay in this area for 2 nights. I like Ste Enemie - but there is a castle there also where you can stay. See my Languedoc itinerary for details. Explore the Gorges du Tarn, Aven Armand cave, Grotte Dargilan, and especially Chaos de Montpellier la Vieux. The kids will love this area.

- Drive through the Gorges du Tarn one last time to Millau and go over the Millau Bridge. Then head to St Guilhem le Desert and visit. Also visit Clamouse cave if you are not caved-out. Hop on the A75 to A9, to A61 west to Carcassonne, and spend 1 night in Carcassonne.

- Take the D118 south to Quillan and then the scenic D117 east to Perpignan. Visit the Carthars Castle of Peyrepertuse and view Ch Queribus along the way. There is lots of info in my Languedoc itinerary about this region. Stay in this area for 2-3 nights. We like staying in/near Ceret. Visit Villefranche de Conflent.

- Now to Barcelona. When we stayed in the Ceret area for 2 weeks, we drove to Figures and parked the car near the train station and took the train to Barcelona. I wouldn't want to drive into Barcelona. I would stay in Barcelona for 2-3 nights - but I don't think you have that many available. If this was my trip and I only had 2 weeks to do it in - I would skip Barcelona and save it for a another year.

- From Barcelona to Cassis it is a 6 hour drive with the sun in your face for most of the way, and the drive is not that scenic (other than vineyards after vineyards after vineyards). Stay in Cassis for 1 night & visit the Calenques in the AM.

- After the Calenques, drive to St Paul de Vence, visit it and do the Loup Loop (see my itinerary). Stay your last night there.

- 4 nights Nice
- 4 nights Provence
- 2 nights Gorges du Tarn
- 1 night Carcassonne
- 2-3 nights Pyrenees Oriental/Ceret
- 2-3 nights Barcelona
- 1 night Cassis
- 1 night St Paul

As you can see - that's at least 15 nights and a lot of freeway/autoroute driving (to Barcelona & Barcelona to Cassis). I would not stay in any of these areas less than the number of nights I've suggested. Reducing them makes the time "being there" versus "getting there" (on un-interesting roads) really bad. Again - I would save Barcelona for another trip (we were there for 4 nights last year).

Stu Dudley


StuDudley Apr 23rd, 2014 03:13 PM

>> From Nimes, take the N106 north towards Arles<<

towards Ales - not Arles.

Stu Dudley

Sassafrass Apr 23rd, 2014 03:45 PM

Your kids might enjoy the Camargue area and Aigues Mortes, perhaps even a fun place to stay within the ancient walls, go boating or horseback riding.

KerD Apr 23rd, 2014 04:54 PM

Hi Stu, I have been reading your input and recommendations on various sites, and I so impressed with your knowledge of Provence. I would appreciate your advice, if you have a moment to spare. I am traveling to France next week with my boyfriend, spending 5 days in Paris, then we plan to take the TGV to the south to explore Provence for only 4 1/2 - 5 days. From what I have read, I would like to explore St Remy, the Luberon, Aix, Avignon, Arles, and Les Baux. Is this too much for our short stay? Any place that is a 'must see' that I missed? Any itineraries you can offer would be much appreciated!

StuDudley Apr 23rd, 2014 05:16 PM

I've only posted on Fodors - not "various sites".

You can do all that in 4-5 days. However, IMO the charm to Provence is found in the small villages and pretty countryside. And also doing nothing - just relaxing. You have a lot of large cities in your plans - including Paris. Try to visit Uzes, and some dinky but cute villages like Simiane la Rotonde, Brantes, Venasque, Seguret - just to name a few. Visit some wineries in the Dentelles west of Vaison - even visit the medieval section of Vaison. Visit the Sunday morning market in l'Isle sur la Sorgue or any of the dozens of other market in Provence. For more info, e-mail me at [email protected] and I'll attach a copy of my Provence itinerary to the reply e-mail . Do so soon - we're leaving for a trip in a few days.

Stu Dudley

Stu Dudley

KerD Apr 23rd, 2014 06:19 PM

Apologies-I had meant to write "various threads" on Fodors, not sites. Thank you.

dulciusexasperis Apr 24th, 2014 07:43 AM

With the kids I would consider the Ardeche Gorge.'Arc.jpg

I would not try to include Barcelona in this trip. Too much travel time and not enough IN places time.

Underhill Apr 24th, 2014 09:35 AM

Not just the Ardèche gorge: also the nearby Aven d'Orgnac, a really fabulous, huge cave way underground (reached by an elevator).

StuDudley Apr 24th, 2014 10:06 AM

We much prefer the Gorges du Tarn & caves (plural), over the Ardeche Gorge & cave. You can drive on the floor the Gorges du Tarn & visit villages and a castle or two. Can't drive on the floor of the Ardeche gorge just like you can't drive on the floor of the Verdon Gorge. All three have lookouts from above the gorge. There are several other gorges and very nice rock formations around the Tarn gorge.

Stu Dudley

momalley Apr 26th, 2014 02:30 PM

You folks have convinced us with reason -- no Barcelona in this trip!

First off -- thank you all, especially Stu!

Second, some more context -- we've done Nice and surroundings before -- my wife's family is from there. If you've ever seen the facade or lobby of Hotel Negresco, her great-uncle was the sculptor -- Michel DeTarnowsky.

Soooo, for this trip we're headed west a bit.

Based on the recommendations here, we're going to focus on 3-4 days in a few places only, and do day trips from there. St Remy is one of our choices. We're now looking in the Luberon for another place to use as a base for 1 hr trips in the area.

The other debate is to take the kids back to Monaco (they were 3&4 when we last went) and skip the Cassis area...

The help in this forum has been awesome, thank you all very much.

momalley Apr 26th, 2014 02:33 PM

Also by the way looking at maybe Gorges du Tarn as well to fill 2 days!

Thanks Stu and others!

tuscanlifeedit Apr 26th, 2014 08:20 PM


willowjane Apr 27th, 2014 04:04 AM

What great advice!

Vttraveler Apr 27th, 2014 05:45 AM

Some things my kids enjoyed when we stayed in the ST Remy area and took day trips: Tarascon (castle), Les Baux, the Pont du Gard, Roussillon with the ochre quarries (it does get over your clothing, though).

nononora Apr 27th, 2014 06:06 AM

Personally, if I never saw Monace again it would be too soon. Cassis is so much lovelier.

Luberon is marvelous for countryside and little towns. Late June is at the tail end of the lavender, but still could be wonderful.

St. Remy is for adults except for Glanum the wonderful roman ruin just outside of town - small but perfect.

Pont de Gard is great and the ochre quarries are cool. Maybe the Gorges du Verdon instead of Tarn? Not so far out of the way, and Moustier Ste. Marie is a great little town for a stopover.

boxcox Apr 27th, 2014 06:58 AM

Les Baux with kids would be great. The audio guide was very good and they can run about,lots of information about battles,cannons, and daily life etc.

Carrieres de Luminares is right above and amazing. You can buy a ticket for both .

Glanum was also worth an hour and a half.

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