Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Where should we base ourselves for 12 days in Cote d'Azur and Provence?

Where should we base ourselves for 12 days in Cote d'Azur and Provence?

Aug 16th, 2009, 09:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 161
Where should we base ourselves for 12 days in Cote d'Azur and Provence?

Hi Everyone - We are finalizing our trip details for the South of France, and it looks like we will have 12 full days/nights total in the Cote d'Azur and Provence regions.

We are thinking of splitting this time 6 days in Provence, 6 days in Cote d'Azur - should we split our time differently with more in one region vs. the other?

Also, where would you recommend we base ourselves in Cote d'Azur? If we stick with the 6 days in this region, should we split our time 2/2/2 in different towns or 3/3 - Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Eze, Cannes?? Not sure...Seems like Nice is most convenient for train travel along the cost, but 6 night seems a bit much to stay in Nice...

In Provence, same question - should be bounce around 2/2/2 in 3 different places or base ourselves for 3/3 in two different towns? We were thinking of Aix, St. Remy and Arles or Avignon...

We will probably travel by train along the coast and by car in Provence. Any suggestions?? Thanks a bunch!

FYI - We have nothing booked, but are planning to leave in September...
alldaytravel is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 09:11 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 286
frenchwow is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 09:44 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,672
Staying 6 nights in one place vs 2/2/2 depends on how much you enjoy or don't enjoy changing hotels. I would never stay 2/2/2 in either region, but I might stay 4 nights in the Nice area and then 2 nights in St Tropez. Likewise, I might stay 3 nights in St Remy, 3 nights in the Luberon, or 3 near Vaison (you can choose which 2 of these 3 regions to stay in). Train service is so good along the coast (not to St Tropez) that I would not stay 2 nights in Nice & 2 in Villefranche - it's only a 5 min train ride between the two. We stayed in Nice & had dinner in Villefranche.

If you stay in Nice, I would rent a car on the last full day there & explore St Paul, Vence, Tourrettes & the Nice Hinterland (canyons, mountains, gorges). Then take a slow "backcountry" drive (Fayance, Tourtour, Cotignac) to St Tropez. No need to get to St Tropez before 4 PM. While in St Tropez for 2 nights, visit Gassin & Ramatouelle & the surrounding area.

Visit Aix on the way to Provence (not on a Sunday or Monday morning, however).

Also, I wold suggest that you NOT stay in Aix, Avignon, or perhaps Arles. If you stay in Nice (which I would), you're gonna want some "countryside" or small villages in Provence to get a break from all the noise, congestion, & concrete in large cities. Aix & Avignon are huge cities with lots of ugly urban sprawl - and it's difficult to ge in & out. St Remy is a smaller village with lots of restaurants/shops/cafes & it's easy to get in & out. I actually perfer the Luberon or the Vaison area over the St Remy area - but I may not be in the majority on this preference.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Aug 18th, 2009, 04:35 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 161
These are GREAT suggestions!!

Any suggestions on which area to stay in Nice and St. Tropez? Should I stay in Old Town Nice and where in St. Tropez?
alldaytravel is offline  
Aug 18th, 2009, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,430
Instead of St. Tropez, you might want to look at Sainte Maxime, a slightly smaller and quieter Riviera resort town just down the road from St Tropez - very nice beach, nice family vibe.
As for Nice, Place Messina is a great centrally located area - a close walk to both the old town and the beach.
zootsi is offline  
Aug 18th, 2009, 04:55 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 303
I agree with the suggestion of Nice. It is a lovely city with easy access to other places of interest. I've been there 4 times and have always stayed at Hotel Le Grimaldi which I highly recommend.
sequess is offline  
Aug 18th, 2009, 05:08 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,672
We've stayed at least a dozen times at the Hotel Windsor in Nice. I would not stay in "old town" - narrow streets & quite noisy.

I much prefer St Tropez over Ste Maxime. We've spent about 5-6 weeks staying in St Tropez - usually at apts. However, last time we stayed for only 2 days, and we liked the location/price of the Des Lices. Book ASAP for this hotel.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Aug 20th, 2009, 05:33 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 161
Here is my latest thinking - would this work?

Day 1-3 in Nice - taking public transportation to places like Eze, Menton, Monaco and Antibes

Day 4 - pick up rental car and drive along the coast first east, perhaps stopping in Cap Ferrat for lunch and other coastal towns which we've not seen by train, spending the night in St. Paul de Vence

Day 5-6 - drive to St. Tropez, for 2 this area

Day 7 - on to Provence!

Do you think this is a good idea, or should I just cut out the overnight in St. Paul de Vence and put it back into Nice??

Also, if I am headed to Provence from St. Tropez - what is the most logical place to start off in Provence?? Would that be Aix?? I have not figured out my Provence leg of the trip yet, but it will also be at least 5 nights here (hopefully 6, but I need to be at Nice airport to catch a 10:30AM flight on my last day, so may head back to Nice on my 6th night)...I am definitely going to stay 3 nights in St. Remy and then trying to figure out where my other 2-3 nights will be - maybe Arles, but I am open to other areas...

alldaytravel is offline  
Aug 20th, 2009, 06:00 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 466
While in Nice, you can go to Grasse for 1 Euro each way, per person, by bus. Grasse is a perfume city. 3 factory tours available, plus a lot of perfume for sale at reasonable prices. Beautiful views and quaint village atmosphere.
jkbritt is offline  
Aug 20th, 2009, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,362
I recently spent six nights in Nice without public transport and found plenty to do (see http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-france.cfm?46 ). But I didn't go to Vence etc, having been there before, and for which a car could be useful. There is a good tram system in Nice, so it doesn't matter too much where you stay - I was a block in from the Promenade des Anglais. I would be inclined to wait to rent the car until I got to Provence, but I travel alone and prefer not to drive.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 20th, 2009, 07:06 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,134
I think you should do anything east of Nice by public transportation -- to avoid the drive through/under/around Nice. Look into the buses as well as trains. For instance, you can take the bus to Eze and also to St. Jean and the Villa Rothschild on Cap Ferrat.

In fact, I'd consider taking the boat from Nice to St. Tropez and picking up the car as you leave St. Tropez.

St. Remy/Arles make a good combination for Provence.

On further thought, since you're flying in and out of Nice, how about this? Upon arrival, go directly to St. Tropez, stay there a couple days, pick up the car and go inland. After 5-6 days in Provence, drive to Nice and drop the car. Finish your trip in Nice close to the airport, doing daytrips from Nice.
Mimar is offline  
Aug 20th, 2009, 08:00 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,672
I would just stay in Nice - and not do an overnight in St Paul. St Paul is so close to Nice that it's not necessary. Also visit Vence, Tourrettes, the Loup "loop", and Gourdon.

If you take the "backcountry" drive from Nice to St Tropez - it's beautiful with stops in several cute villages along the way. It will also be somewhat of a relief from the crowds/congestion/noise of Nice & the crowds in St Tropez (as long as you don't do it in July or Aug). That said, I would NOT take a bus to St Tropez - and then rent a car there. Not sure that there are any "large/normal" car rental offices in St Tropez.

I would definately stop in Aix on the way to Provence - especially if you do this on a Tues, Thurs, or Sat - which is market day in Aix. Visit Aix in the morning, have lunch on the Cours (quite an experience), and visit Aix a little more in the afternoon. Then visit Lourmarin in mid-afternoon.

Tues & Sat are also market days in St Tropez.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Aug 20th, 2009, 04:29 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 161
Hi Everyone - THANKS to each of you for your recommendations. I've said this before, but I don't know what I would do without all of the help from people on this board!!

As a quick update, I've been calling around to Nice hotels today and am having difficulty booking. For one thing, I am supposed to leave in 3 weeks which is obviously short notice. BUT, there also happens to be a dermatology conference in Nice when I am going...

With this said, if I can't find suitable hotel accommodations in Nice, is it much more difficult to base myself in Antibes, Eze or Villefranche as examples?? Not sure if trains are as frequent in these areas and have similar stops to that of Nice...If you have any feedback on this, that would be great. Thanks!!
alldaytravel is offline  
Aug 20th, 2009, 05:00 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,672
Antibes, Cannes, Villefranche would work - but not Eze. St Tropez is even going to be more difficult. Better have another plan for that region.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Aug 21st, 2009, 05:02 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 161
Also, another quick question, is it worth it to spend time in St. Tropez in September? Someone I was speaking with told me it's dead in September and only comes alive for a couple of months each year...I don't need crowds and chaos, so that may be what they were referring to...So curious if September is still a good time to spend a couple of days here.

Sorry for all the questions - I have learned my lesson not to plan a trip on such short notice
alldaytravel is offline  
Aug 21st, 2009, 08:25 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,672
We've spent many weeks in Sept in St Tropez. It is quite active in early Sept, and then dies down a bit by the end of Sept. In mid-Sept there are some music festivals going on. The first week of Sept might even be TOO crowded. It is definately not "dead" in Sept. If you visit during the first 10 days in Sept, you might question your friend's definition of "dead".

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:21 AM.