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10 Days in France

Hello all,

My wife and I will be visiting France 22 May to 2 June 2020.

We have decided to spend our time split between 3 areas: Paris, Provence and Cote D'Azur.
Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated

As we have been to Paris before we are planning to use these first 3 days to get acclimated and ease into our trip. We have booked an Airbnb in Montmartre.

The plan is to train from Paris to Avignon and rent a car.
My wife is very interested in beautiful landscape/villages and wine. I am very interested in Roman and Medieval history.
Should we use Avignon as a base? I've heard great things about Uzes, Nimes and other places as a base as well.
We don't want to be bored in the evenings but aren't looking for a big city either.

Is there vineyards/wineries that we can tour in this area? My wife really wants to do a bike tour of some vineyards.

Lastly, we are planning to stay in the Antibes area for our time in the Cote D'Azur.

Does this seem like a good itinerary? reasonable?

Sorry for the long post and we look forward to your responses!
Thank you!

CB

Posted by
1514 posts

CB - Aix-en-Provence is most centrally located town in Provence and can make a great base to explore the region. It’s only around an hour’s drive to the Camargue, Avignon, the Luberon and the Verdon Gorge. Meaning you can explore by day and wine & dine in Aix by night.

List of wineries near Aix en Provence:

https://wanderwisdom.com/travel-destinations/Southern-France-Biking-the-Provence-sountryside

https://planetprovence.com/wine-bike-excursion-2/

https://theculturetrip.com/europe/france/articles/a-wine-lovers-guide-to-provence/

For Roman History and Medival History:

Visit Arles, Saint Remy de Provence, City of Orange, and Nîmes

https://www.avignon-et-provence.com/en/monuments/ancient-roman-theatre-orange

http://www.site-glanum.fr/en/

Excellent choice to base yourself in Antibes. It's a charming city in the Côte d'Azur. Don't forget to tour Villefranche-sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Eze, and of course Nice and Cannes.

Posted by
16724 posts

It would be best to figure out what towns you hope to visit first, then consider the best base(s). You might also think about whether a somewhat smaller town would be easier to drive in and out of each day, as opposed to a more populous one.

Posted by
13 posts

We did this exact same itinerary (except in reverse) on almost the exact same dates this past May. I'm very glad we had the car in western Provence; I don’t think using public transit would have allowed us to see as much as we did. We stayed at a great AirBnb in L'Ilse-sur-la-Sorgue that was very spacious, clean, and affordable. We rented our car at the Nice airport and dropped it off at Avignon TGV to make the getaways easier. I’m sure you could do the reverse, with the caveat that there might be a slightly lower probability of an automatic transmission being available if you need one. We visited Avignon one day and parked on the west bank of the river in an RS-recommended lot with a free shuttle into town. That lot worked particularly well, as our next stop was the Pont du Gard (recommended), which is west of Avignon.

Our rough itinerary for those 3 days was as follows:

Day 1: Drive from Nice to L'IslS (~2.5 hours on toll road) in the morning. Leisurely driving tour of some Luberon villages, including a longer stop in Roussillon (known for red, ochre landscape).

Day 2: Morning drive to Avignon. After lunch, drive to PdG (probably top Roman ruin stop of the region). Since you mentioned Nimes and Uzes, one of those might be better to pair with PdG than Avignon.

Day 3: Driving tour of the Cotes du Rhone villages. Even though I took one for the team as the DD, I had a great time. I thought this was the prettiest part of western Provence. We also did an extended stop in Vaison-la-Romaine (furthest point on the loop from L’IslS). That is another good town for Roman ruins. I recommend the town of Gigondas for a tasting, as well as the English-speaking Domaine de Mourchon in Seguret. At the latter you can actually see the vineyards and do a tasting.

I agree that you might want to figure out what you want to see before picking a base. Our town was great for accessing the Cotes du Rhone villages and the Luberon, whereas the PdG was about an hour I think. The drives are part of the fun though.

For the Riviera, we stayed in Nice and loved it. I don’t think you need a car in that area at all, although Antibes is a little further. My favorite part was walking from Villefranche-sur-Mer to Cap Ferrat. Eze-le-Village probably wasn’t worth it, and definitely don’t believe the estimate of 1 hour to walk Nietzsche’s path down to Eze Bord de Mer.

Hope this helps. Feel free to message me directly with more questions.

-Paul

Posted by
704 posts

Beware of train strikes - at least they post them - we had planned to train from Paris to Avignon but alas it was a strike day. Ended up flying to Marseille and renting a car.

We stayed in Antibes and loved it as our base for the Cote D'Azur.

I would not base in Avignon but it was a nice day trip

I hope Pont du Gard is on your list. Lots of great Roman ruins through out the region for sure. Don't miss Fontaine de Vaucluse - it was a highlight for us!

Posted by
1878 posts

With a car I would consider staying in a smaller city or town than Avignon. Arles is nice but when I was there in 2003 parking was tight. Rick lists a lot of smaller towns in his book. I have researched Provence a lot and I think Roussilon or St. Remy would be good choices.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you all for the quick and informative responses.
It sounds like we have chosen a pretty popular itinerary, for good reason no doubt.

We have some research to do on these places you've suggested this evening.

Thank you!

Posted by
453 posts

What kind of wine do you like? If you like Rose, then Provence. If like Syrah, northern Rhone. Grenache, southern Rhone.

If you want to ride through vineyards, then you need to go to Burgundy.

I highly recommend Arles as a base. Close to lots of other towns, very walkable, lots to see in the city and great restaurants.

Posted by
613 posts

Just to mess with your mind, the Route de Vin Alsace is the #1 sight in France.

In Provence, stay more central to the Roman area. In our 200+ days of travel in France, 3 of our top 5 hotel picks are in Provence/Cote d'Azur: a place in a vineyard outside Nimes; same for near Aix; Not sure about spelling, Ousteau Baumanerie (where Wolfang Puck learned to cook); and somewhere just east of Nice on the coast (very expensive).

Having been to Cote d'Azur at least 4 times, I can't recall any of the hotels we stayed in except for the one near nice as noted, but if I were going today, I'd stay at Château de la Chèvre d'Or, a luxury hotel in Eze Village or in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Posted by
6 posts

We ended up booking an apartment in St Remy de Provence to use as our Provence base. Thank you for all of the suggestions!

We are now looking for a place to stay for 2 nights to break up the drive from St Remy to Antibes.

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

CB

Posted by
16724 posts

The drive takes only 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours, so I wouldn't consider it necessary to add another hotel into the mix. However, the fastest route goes right past Aix-en-Provence, so that would be a possibility. There's a new, interesting, English-accessible memorial/museum at a WWII camp on the outskirts of Aix where people were held before (ultimately) being shipped to concentration and death camps to the east. It's the Camp des Milles.

I haven't been to any of the smaller places along the route, so I can't give you any other suggestions.

If you go to ViaMichelin.com, map the route, then zoom way in, you'll find a lot of roads highlighted in green, which means they are especially scenic.