Yes, Another Request for Provence Help

Old Dec 26th, 2022, 02:27 PM
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Yes, Another Request for Provence Help

Greetings all!

Iíve read so many of your great posts that my brain is spinning in circles. We, are so happy to be able to travel again!!! Having said that, Iím soliciting your expert opinions on a trip to Provence, September 2023. We will rent a car but my husband is not keen on driving anywhere that is hectic or challenging. Hereís a rough sketch of what we are thinking and questions we have. Really hoping to learn from your experiences.

We are in our 60s. We love to soak up life in the local towns. Food, shops, scenery, art, architecture. We arenít huge historians or hikers. We enjoy walking but not looking for hikes, etc.

We arenít sure which airport fly in and out of or where to stay as base locations. We actually like to stay in places for maybe 3 nights and then move someplace else so we can get a better feel of some of the more special towns rather than always doing day trips. Towns we think we would be interested in seeing are Luberon: St. Remy, Bonnieux, Roussillon, Gordes, Uzes, LíIsle La Sorgue, Moustiers, Aix. What else would you recommend we add to the list? Move further South, we could do a few days in Paris (we have been before but itís always lovely).

OK, thatís it for now folks. I surely hope to hear from you. Happy early New Year!!!!

Where to fly into, where to pick up rental car, market days, restaurants, lodging, you name it?

Recommended daily itinerary or sequence of towns to visit/stay.

Sept 4th Monday (travel day from U.S.)

Sept 5 arrive

Sept 6

Sept 7

Sept 8

Sept 9

Sept 10

Sept 11

Sept 12

Sept 13

Sept 14

Sept 15 stay or leave (Friday)

Sept 16
goghgough is offline  
Old Dec 26th, 2022, 03:35 PM
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I recommend that you fly into Marseilles. You can pick up a rental car at the airport. St. Remy is a lovely and central place to stay. It's about a one-hour drive from the Marseilles Airport to St. Remy. You can easily visit Les Baux and the Luberon villages from St. Remy. For variety, you could spend a few nights in Aix, which I love! The old town is beautiful with lovely architecture, plazas, fountains, markets, etc. And then 5 nights in St. Remy.

For more diversity, you could spend 5 nights in St. Remy and 5 nights in Nice so that you can explore the French Riviera, if that interests you. If you do this, I recommend purchasing open-jaw or multi-city airline tickets: fly into Marseilles and home from Nice.

Of, if you really want to visit Paris again, after spending 5 or 6 nights in St. Remy, you could take the train from Avignon or Aix to Paris, spend 4 or 5 nights in Paris, and then fly home from Paris.

Many of the towns in Provence have markets. Here is one of many links to markets in Provence.
https://traveladdicts.net/provence-market/

L'Isle Sur La Sorgue's market days are Thursdays and Sundays. I highly recommend going on Thursdays. Avoid Sundays if possible. We have been on both days, and it was much easier to find parking on Thursday. The crowds were horrific on Sunday, and it was next to impossible to find parking. My French son-in-law told us he would never go on Sunday again!

I can recommend a lovely village we have visited many times that is off the tourist path. Eygalieres is a lovely village that has a wonderful market every Friday. And every Friday the local restaurants serve a special white fish lunch/dinner with vegetables. It is delicious! Our favorite restaurant is Chez Paulette. We were just there last week and my husband had the delicious white fish dinner and I had a fish bouillabaisse. You can then take a walk to the top of the hill to see the ruins of the old St. Laurent church. The scenery is gorgeous! Eygalieres is not filled with American tourists. We have never heard English spoken there. If you have time, you can watch the locals play a game of petanque. The court is right next to the big parking lot.

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Old Dec 26th, 2022, 03:37 PM
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What airport are you flying from??? Can you get a direct flight to Paris or Nice? We have been vacationing in Europe (mainly France) 2 times per year for 1 month each, for every year since 1999 (minus Covid years). We've vacationed in Provence for 23 weeks and along the Cote d'Azur for 21 weeks. We'll be in Provence again next year for 4 weeks.

If you can get into Paris on a direct flight, a plan we like is to take the TGV (fast train) from CDG to Avignon and then spend all your time in Provence. If you can fly direct to Nice - even better. Take the TGV back to Paris, spend the night, then fly home the next day. If you can't get a direct flight to CDG or Nice, try flying into Marseille or Nice on no more than 2 flights.

Maybe 3 bases. St Remy, near Gordes/Roussillon/Menerbes in the Luberon, and then near Uzes or Vaison. Be careful of where you are on Sundays & Mondays when almost all non-food shops in larger cities like Aix will be closed all day Sunday and many on Monday also. Many of the non-touristy villages will have shops closed those days also.

I wrote a 35 page itinerary for Provence & the Cote d'Azur that I have sent to over 3,000 people on Fodors. For some reason, I have recently not been able to attach it to a Fodors post due to "problems" (have no idea what they are - but Fodors gives me an error message). I also can't put my exact e-mail on this post. Fodors seems to "suspend" my post when I try. So e-mail me at my Fodors name AOL & I'll attach it to the reply email.

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Dec 26th, 2022 at 03:59 PM.
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Old Dec 26th, 2022, 04:24 PM
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Stu Dudley is the resident expert on Provence! I have his itinerary which I find invaluable.

We returned from Provence last week. We were there for 3 weeks. I hope to write a brief TR with photos.

To whet your appetite, here are a few photos of L'Isle Sur La Sorgue. We visited the Our Lady of Angels church for the first time. The interior is gorgeous. I highly recommend it if you have the time.

L'Isle Sur La Sorgue - cafe - nice enough to have coffee and lunch outside

L'Isle Sur La Sorgue

famous water wheels

Pretty table tops
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Old Dec 26th, 2022, 05:01 PM
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If you’re in your 60s, as I am, and flying from the US, please consider NOT driving right after you get off your flight. Stu Dudley’s model of flying to Paris then taking a TGV train from the airport to Avignon is a good one. Or you can fly to Marseille airport and take a half hour coach ride to downtown Aix en Provence.Tuesday and Wednesday are good nights to spend in that city. It’s a great place to stroll and relax; there are art museums, good restaurants and cafťs. Stretch to three nights if you can. I am not sure if Avignon would be as rewarding for more than a night or two, but its fans here might pipe up on the subject.

Then pick up the rental car. All kinds of good options exist for two more bases. Unless you can extend your trip to a minimum of two weeks on the ground, you’ll shortchange Provence severely if you also try to spend time in Paris, but if you do include Paris, travel back there by train as well.

UzŤs and Moustiers Sainte Marie are your outliers, in opposite directions. Study a map and pick one?
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Old Dec 26th, 2022, 05:18 PM
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Google the name of the town and market day and you will get an answer. For example: Bonnieux France market day.

The answer is Friday, for Roussillon it's Thursday.

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Old Dec 26th, 2022, 05:49 PM
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We fly from Boston and have to change planes somewhere in Europe when we fly to Marseilles. We always pick up our rental car at the Marseilles airport and drive to our daughter's home which is about a 45-minute to one hour drive depending on traffic. We do get some sleep on the plane. My husband never has a problem with driving and is always very alert. We usually arrive in time to have lunch with our daughter and her family, socialize a bit, and then we end up napping in the late afternoon. I think driving is doable if it's a 30-minute to 60-minute drive to your destination. Perhaps if you are coming from the west coast in the US that might be different because it's a much longer flight. Every individual is different and some people have more stamina than others and require less sleep. Only you know what your capabilities are regarding driving after an overnight flight.
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Old Dec 26th, 2022, 06:22 PM
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My opinion:
  • St. Remy worth a stay
  • Bonnieux, walked the town, very little memorable for us
  • Roussillon, walked the town and colored gorges, but other than that, nothing memorable
  • Gordes, stopped, looked, drove on
  • Uzes, enjoyed lunches on the square, walked around, meh
  • L’Isle La Sorgue, well worth the stay
  • Moustiers, been, but don''t remember a thing
  • Aix worth a stay
  • omitted
    • Vaison la Romaine worth a stay, handy to towns in Vaucluse
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Old Dec 26th, 2022, 07:59 PM
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Stu is indeed the Provence expert, definitely take him up on his offer to send you his itinerary. KarenWoo has great info in her post. We love the St. Remy market on Wednesdays.
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Old Dec 26th, 2022, 08:50 PM
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Yo Gogh,
We like markets and would reccomend both the Lourmarin one plus the Aix version as well. But Uzes also has much to offer that way--two different weekly markets with very little vendor overlap.
Can recco fantastic rentals in Lourmarin, Aix plus especially Uzes.
Out TR here is titled 'Provencal Echo.' Although it does not yet included fotos, it could prove useful.
Bon Chance!

I am done. The end.
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Old Dec 26th, 2022, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by tomboy View Post
My opinion:
  • St. Remy worth a stay
  • Bonnieux, walked the town, very little memorable for us
  • Roussillon, walked the town and colored gorges, but other than that, nothing memorable
  • Gordes, stopped, looked, drove on
  • Uzes, enjoyed lunches on the square, walked around, meh
  • LíIsle La Sorgue, well worth the stay
  • Moustiers, been, but don''t remember a thing
  • Aix worth a stay
  • omitted
    • Vaison la Romaine worth a stay, handy to towns in Vaucluse
If ever in the Provence again, aim for the Apt market. https://www.theluberon.com/things-to...ts/apt-market/
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 12:33 AM
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Great suggestions all. Also, if you are an olive oil freak (like I am) you can find both booths at markets and visits to mills that will allow a tasting. You are unlikely to see Provencal olive oils outside of the area because nearly all of it is snapped up locally, but the opportunity to get fresh, distinctive oil direct from the producer can make for a nice selection of quality and variety on your shelf at home: https://www.provenceparadise.com/pos...ld-in-provence
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 05:22 AM
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We visited Roussillon about 10 years ago and really enjoyed it. The village is so pretty with its red buildings. We walked along the Sentier des Ocres. Don't wear white!

We visited Bonnieux just a few weeks ago for the first time, and we loved it! Of course, in December it was very quiet. It's another hilltop village that is very medieval looking with narrow alleys and hidden staircases. We walked to the top to the old church which was a very interesting and rewarding walk with beautiful views along the way. We had a delicious lunch. I have to go through my receipts to give you the name of the restaurant where we ate. Bonnieux has a market on Fridays.

I agree with Zebec about Lourmarin. And Menerbes is another very pretty village to visit. And St. Saturnin Les Apt with its marvelous views of the Vaucluse plateau. You can walk to the ruins atop the hill for outstanding views. Honestly, you could spend your entire visit in Provence! We also spent a day in Marseilles on this last trip and really enjoyed Marseilles, too. The list is endless. Don't think that if you've seen one villlage you've seen them all. They are all very different from each other in character, architecture, color, ambience.
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 01:59 PM
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I'm having trouble getting my posts posted. I keep getting a message about not being able to post more than 5 messages in 24 hrs but I have only posted one because the others wont take. Very frustrating. So many awesome replies below and I can't converse. This is a test with my previous message that wouldn't post.

I'm reposting my reply from yesterday that never got posted as a test before I thank and reply to all the other great replies I received. I'm pulling my hair out right...inch by inch, step by step....

Thank you Karen and Stu! I will start checking flights into Marseilles, Nice or Paris. We will be flying out of Las Vegas. I like the idea of breaking up the time between bases in St. Remy and Aix and will definitely check out Eygalieres. I’m not familiar with that town. I should do some research but if we based 5 days in Aix, do you have favorite towns you recommend visiting from there. Also, for some reason I feel like the driving on Aix/Riveria side could be a little tense. Am I over-reacting. How driving to the villages on that side.



Stu, I downloaded your itinerary from another post. It is a little work of art all on it’s own. Very good. I def got some insight on where to go from looking at that but again a bit overwhelmed. You mentioned 3 bases but I think I only saw two, unless I read it wrong – St. Remy and Uzes or Vaison. Is there a 3rd location you recommend?



I’ve been a fan and avid follower of Fodors for years but my first time posting. I feel like this is not a dream anymore and with your help, will be a terrific trip.

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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 02:56 PM
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[QUOTE=goghgough;17424262]I'm having trouble getting my posts posted. I keep getting a message about not being able to post more than 5 messages in 24 hrs but I have only posted one because the others wont take. Very frustrating. So many awesome replies below and I can't converse. This is a test with my previous message that wouldn't post.

I'm reposting my reply from yesterday that never got posted as a test before I thank and reply to all the other great replies I received. I'm pulling my hair out right...inch by inch, step by step....

Thank you Karen and Stu! I will start checking flights into Marseilles, Nice or Paris. We will be flying out of Las Vegas. I like the idea of breaking up the time between bases in St. Remy and Aix and will definitely check out Eygalieres. Iím not familiar with that town. I should do some research but if we based 5 days in Aix, do you have favorite towns you recommend visiting from there. Also, for some reason I feel like the driving on Aix/Riveria side could be a little tense. Am I over-reacting. How driving to the villages on that side."
Goghgough,
As much as I like Eygalieres, I wouldn't recommend staying there. I highly recommend visiting for half a day or even a whole day if you visit on Friday for the market, have lunch, and then take the walk uphill to the church ruins. I like Eygalieres because it is not a touristy town; as I said, you won't be surrounded by American tourists. You probably won't hear any English at all. The people who go to the market are primarily French or perhaps from other European countries. It's not on the typical tourist loop but I love it. I will post photos of Eygalieres on my TR that I just started.

I think Aix and St. Remy are better places to stay overnight because there are more restaurants, shops, some museums, etc. So when you return at night after a busy day of sightseeing, you will have lots of restaurants to choose from. BTW, Eygalieres is close to St. Remy, so if you stay in St. Remy, you could easily visit Eygalieres. From Aix, you can visit Marseilles, and villages like Lourmarin, Ansouis and Cucuron. From St. Remy, you can easily visit Les Baux, Eygalieres, Menerbes, Roussillon, Gordes, and L'Isle Sur La Sorgue. If I were staying in Aix and St. Remy, I would spend more nights in St. Remy than Aix because St. Remy is closer to more places, such as Arles and Avignon and the Pont Du Gard. Many people like to stay in Avignon, which is also close to the Luberon villages, because it has a train station and I think a bus station. But I don't think Avignon is as pretty and charming as Aix and St. Remy.

If you decide to visit Nice and the French Riviera, you could return your car in Nice and then take the train up and down the coast to visit the seaside villages.












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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 04:34 PM
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Marseille does not have a "s" at the end.

Aix is our favorite city in Provence - but I would not use it as a "major" base. Getting in & out is a little hectic, and it is not very close to the sites most people want to visit. There are better base options, IMO. I would not base in Avignon for the same "hectic" reason, and the sprawling suburbs are not the "lovely Provence" you want to see at the beginning and end of your day-trips. I like to mix quiet-countryside with cities as bases. I love the Luberon, and staying there gives you the countryside feel. St Remy is a good city-stay base because it is centrally located, easy to get in & out, and has enough restaurants to satisfy any dining needs. A third base "up north" would complement the St Remy & Luberon bases. Get a magic marker and the Michelin 113 map and circle all the sites you want to visit up north and figure out your base that way. Uzes/Pont du Gard or Vaison/Cote du Rhone/Dentelles.

If this was my trip I would fly into Marseille, or take the TGV from Paris to Aix and spend:
- 2 nights in Aix. One night to recover from jet lag and a long trip. (we fly from SFO)
- 3 nights in the Luberon,
- 3 nights in St Remy
- 2-3 nights "up north"
Return the car at the Avignon TGV station, take the TGV to either Marseille or Paris, stay the night, & fly home the next day.

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Dec 27th, 2022 at 04:54 PM.
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 06:37 PM
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1. Re Eygalieres; beware--I think there are at least 3 villages in France named that. or very close to it. one is near st. remy, another further south, a third (if memory correct) up north. so, when Googling, type accurately, lest you get results for the wrong one.
2. Re #12 post above, by dfourh: lest you think olive oil is olive oil, so meh, beware: We had the absolute tastiest kalamata olives, beyond anything I would have imagined, at a restaurant near Segurt (in Vaucluse). If the waiter had given me a pound of them, I would have eaten all. They had come from "up north"........oh, at least 10 miles north, from Nyons. If we could buy olive oil from that producer by mail, I would.
3. Following Stu's advice (admittedly, among others) for 5 3-week trips to France, I can't remember a single suggestion of his that was a dud. I'd listen to him, if I were you.
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 07:31 PM
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Tomboy, the Eygalieres I am talking about is the village located very close to St. Remy.
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 09:01 PM
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""We had the absolute tastiest kalamata olives,""

We've had fabulous olives from the Nyons area also. But not Kalamata olives. Those are from
the city of Kalamata in the southern Peloponnese region of Greece. You probably had Nyons olives!! We almost always have a bowl of them sitting someplace in our gite.

Stu Dudley
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Old Dec 28th, 2022, 06:23 AM
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Goghgough and others who have posts blocked because of numbers, this site used to get 4-5 pages of spam every night, making it useless until the mods spent a long time cleaning it up. More and more automated restrictions were added until now the site is usable again. I suspect that posting once a day for those the automated system has tagged as needing limitation will work. I also suspect that blocked posts count against the 5 a day limit. Posts with links can be blocked, also.
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