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Thoughts/advice on this Luberon-centric itinerary in Provence?

Thoughts/advice on this Luberon-centric itinerary in Provence?

Old Jun 29th, 2011, 03:16 AM
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Thoughts/advice on this Luberon-centric itinerary in Provence?

Hi all,

My wife and I will be in Provence for the first time from Saturday August 27 through Saturday September 3 and I'd love to get your thoughts on the following itinerary. We will have a car and want to explore the Luberon and one of the better wine-growing regions (Chatenuf du Pape, Cotes du Rhone?).

Please let me know if this looks like a reasonable amount of time at each place or if you would rework any part of the trip. Any advice on which specific region or towns we should see in the second part of the trip?

Also, Given what we are trying to see, does it make sense to split the six nights between two locations, or would it be easy to explore wine-country further north from a home base in the Luberon?

Day 1 (Sat, 8/27) - land in Nimes airport, stay in Arles.

Day 2 (Sun, 8/28) - rent a car, drive to Luberon.

Day 3 (Mon, 8/29) - Explore Luberon

Day 4 (Tue, 8/30) - Explore Luberon (gordes market day)

Day 5 (Wed, 8/31) - Visit L'Isle-sur-la-sorgue and St-Remy-de-Provence (st remy market day)

Day 6 (Thu, 8/1) - Drive north to Vaison-la-Romaine, Chatenuf-du-pape, or someplace else in the region (basically, we want to spend two nights in wine country somewhere)

Day 7 (Fri, 9/2) - Explore vineyards

Day 8 (Sat, 9/3) - Drive to Avignon in morning. Drop off car and explore Avignon. TGV to Paris in afternoon.


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Old Jun 29th, 2011, 06:43 AM
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Dan -

That sounds like a fine itinerary. Can't see a thing wrong with it. Whether you want to spend the last two nights near Vaison or just stay in the Luberon depends a bit on how you like to travel - i.e. do you mind the whole packing/repacking thing ?

Remember everything is pretty close around here, nothing you have mentioned is more than an hour's drive from the Luberon. And the drives are all very pretty - with perhaps the only exceptions being the area around the Durance River fro, Cavaillon up to Avignon. Either way would work fine, in any case.

- Kevin
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Old Jun 29th, 2011, 07:26 AM
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I agree, your itinerary looks fine and you will have the necessary flexibility to adjust to the conditions you will encounter. Regarding staying in two locations--My first few trips to Provence always included this move, three nights in each or some variation. I found it particularly helpful to move north for wine tasting locating close to areas we intended to sample. While everything is only an hour or so away, that drive home after tasting is a challenge and shortening it is far more comfortable. We have always enjoyed Vaison la Romaine and its proximity to the wine villages of Gigondas, Cairanne, Sablet, Seguret as well as Chateauneuf du Pape.
I'm excited now as we leave this evening for another 3 weeks of exploring Provence-gites among the vineyards!
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Old Jun 29th, 2011, 12:31 PM
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Dan, your general itinerary seems fine. I can make suggestions if you want to flesh it out (i.e., specific visits, villages and so on).

I am a travel professional who has escorted many small groups in Provence, the most recent in 2008. Our itinerary goes from Marseille airport, our meeting place, to Arles (where we sleep 3 nights), Rasteau (in the vines near Vaison-la-Romaine) for 3 nights and Saignon, a really pretty village above Apt (Lubéron) for 3 nights.

You could do a lot worse than stay in the hotels we use – in Rasteau, the Bellerive (www.hotel-bellerive.fr); in Saignon, Auberge du Presbytère, www.auberge-presbytere.com. (The first catch is that the Rasteau hotel is off by itself, literally surrounded by vineyards, and Saignon is a really small village with nothing going on in the evening (except dinner, and who needs more?). The second catch is that these are small hotels and may not have availability for August.)

With that in mind, here is my itinerary for the first nine nights of my tour (the final three are in Aix-en-Provence):

• Day 1 (Sunday, April 27)
We meet in the lobby of the Best Western Marseille Airport and plunge right into our Provence adventure. Just 90 minutes up the road is our first destination, Roman Arles. Arriving before noon, we stow our bags at our charming, quiet hotel, then walk through the old town before stopping for LUNCH. In the afternoon, we get to know Arles better, with a get-acquainted walking tour and a stop at one or more of the many sights the city has to offer. Perhaps you’d like to explore the Roman amphitheater, the cathedral and cloisters, or the Museum of Old Arles. OVER­NIGHT – ARLES

• Day 2 (Monday, April 28)
From Arles this morning we head north to the village of Barbentane to visit its Italianate château. You’ll enjoy the beautiful castle with its fine old furnishings and quiet grounds. Near noon we arrive at the magnificent Roman aqueduct called the Pont du Gard, dating from the 1st century AD. It’s incredibly well-preserved, with an informative museum to explain its significance and construction. We return to Arles in the late afternoon for free time, followed by DINNER in town. OVERNIGHT – ARLES

• Day 3 (Tuesday, April 29)
We start a bit earlier today in order to get to the popular, and spectacular, village of les Baux-de-Provence before the big tour buses arrive. You’ll love the rustic cobbled streets and windswept castle ruins commanding a view of the valley. Late in the morning, we head to the pretty town of St. Rémy, which we explore and where we have lunch. In the afternoon, join us in visiting the asylum where Van Gogh lived in 1888-89, and to see the nearby ruined Roman town of Glanum. OVERNIGHT – ARLES

• Day 4 (Wednesday, April 30)
From Roman Arles this morning, we go north. Around 10:30 a.m. we arrive in old Avignon, still protected by its proud city walls and recalling the days in the 14th century when it was the seat of the Catholic church. We’ll see as many of its attractions as time allows: the Palace of the Popes; the famed Pont d’Avignon, celebrated in a French children’s song; the Musée Angladon, with 19th century art and furnishings. You’ll also enjoy wandering the animated streets and exploring the upscale shops. In the afternoon, we pass through Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern France’s most renowned wine region. Later, we come to our hotel, the Bellerive, surrounded by vines near Rasteau. DINNER is at our hotel. OVERNIGHT – RASTEAU

• Day 5 (Thursday, May 1)
France is chock-full of lovely stone villages, and we visit two of the prettiest today: the perched village of Séguret, and lovely Gigondas (a fine red wine is made here). Also on our agenda is fascinating Vaison-la-Romaine, three towns in one – Roman, medieval and modern. We explore the old streets of the ville haute and admire the Roman-era excavations.Later, we relax at the beautiful Bellerive before DINNER at the hotel. OVERNIGHT – RASTEAU

• Day 6 (Friday, May 2)
Very close to Rasteau, across a plain covered to the horizon in grape vines, lies Roman Orange. Here we visit two treasures: a triumphal arch, built by the Romans in 20 BC, and the town’s magnificent Roman theater, dating from the reign of Caesar Augustus. It is one of the best-preserved in the world. After lunch, we go north to the lovely village of la Garde-Adhémar before arriving in the small town of Grignan to visit its renaissance château. DINNER at the hotel. OVERNIGHT – RASTEAU

• Day 7 (Saturday, May 3)
From Rasteau today we push south to the fabled Lubéron region of Provence. Our first stop is the market town of Apt, to take in its renowned Saturday market. Following lunch, we explore the hill villages of Bonnieux and Lacoste. At day’s end we climb the hill to the charming village of Saignon and check into our old stone hotel, facing the fountain in the main square. OVERNIGHT – SAIGNON

• Day 8 (Sunday, May 4)
The fabled food and flea market at l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is first on today’s agenda. Here, we’ll shop for a picnic lunch, which we’ll enjoy near town. Then it’s on to the beautiful riverside village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. In springtime the source of the Sorgue River is at its peak – a thundering waterfall leaping from the base of a mighty cliff. Late in the day, as we make our way back to Saignon, we may want to pause in rustic Oppède-le-Vieux, unlike any other village in this region. DINNER at our hotel. OVERNIGHT – SAIGNON

• Day 9 (Monday, May 5)
Our first stop is the delightful perched village of Roussillon, an ochre marvel high on a cliff, where we go for a walk and take a lunch break. Later, we visit pretty Gordes, perched high above the Lubéron valley. Then it’s on to the ancient Cistercian Abbey of Sénanque. On our way back to Saignon we may want to pause in rustic Oppède-le-Vieux, unlike any other village in this region. OVERNIGHT – SAIGNON
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Old Jun 29th, 2011, 01:17 PM
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Hi Dan,
I'm an American, living most of the year in St. Remy. I'm puzzled by your itinerary. If you want to explore the Luberon and wine country, why are you staying in Arles? Or are you actually staying in the Luberon Sunday through Wednesday nights but didn't mention it? Whether or not you get a wine country hotel for those two nights, I would stay in the Luberon, not Arles, since the Luberon is what you want primarily to explore. Or even stay in St. Remy, which is a pretty quick drive to the main Luberon towns? If you do decide to skip Arles, try to arrive at your hotel before dark as it can be tricky to find things at night. Depending on what time you land in Nimes, you could drive easily from the airport to the Luberon in less than two hours. I don't see much point into heading into crowded Arles (driving there is tricky), checking in and then checking out in the morning. Saturday is market day in Arles, be aware, although I'm fairly sure it ends around noontime. Market day means traffic nightmares. I'd avoid Arles unless there are things there you want to do. Next subject, moving to a wine country hotel--that might be nice, especially if you plan to taste. I have two very good wine guides I can recommend, if you want someone to take you around. One is English, one is American--and both get rave reviews. Maybe one day with a guide and one day on your own would be good. Check out my blog ProvencePost.com...you might find things there you'd enjoy. And if you'd like the names of the two guides, drop me a note at [email protected]. Best wishes and have fun!!
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Old Jun 29th, 2011, 03:28 PM
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St-Rémy and Isle-sur-la-Sorgue lie in two different directions. It would make more sense to combine Isle-sur-la-Sorgue with the area around Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

I think you could get by with a day and a half in the Lubéron, adding that half day for St-Rémy.
Underhill is online now  
Old Jun 29th, 2011, 05:00 PM
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Thanks everyone for your feedback!

Julie - We do plan on moving to the Luberon. We will be arriving in Provence later in the afternoon on Saturday and won't be able to rent our car that day... nor, after three flights, will we have the stamina for a longish drive. Arles doesn't look to be far from the airport, so we would take a cab or bus to the Arles hotel. The next day, we'll pick up the car and head to Luberon. We were thinking four nights there with possible day trips further afield, and then another two further north in a wine country hotel. Hopefully that clarifies things, and please let me know if you have other suggestions.

Underhill - I'm not sure I follow your suggestion. We'll be in the area for six nights if you don't count the night in Arles. Are you suggesting splitting our time with three nights in each place?

macanimals - have a great trip!!
laufd is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2011, 08:45 AM
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No, I just suggested changing a bit of your sightseeing itinerary.

At which airport are you landing?
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Old Jul 4th, 2011, 04:06 PM
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Underhill - We had a slight change of plans on how/where we're arriving. Turns out the flight we thought we could get no longer exists, so we will be taking the TGV direct to Avignon where we will spend our first night. This is probably for the best, since Avignon is the easiest town to get to with a rental car place open on Sunday.
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