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11 day itinerary for France.

I've posted quite a few times about a ten day travel plan I have. Originally I had a plan to the south of France. Then I changed it to Amsterdam and Krakow to visit WWII sites then to Paris for a few days to see a friend. However, after weighing my options and calculating costs this isn't realistic. The thing I love about Rick Steve's is that he encourages travelers to see beyond the big cities enjoy all of Europe. I've decided to go with my original idea and go to the South of France, and go beyond just seeing metropolitan areas and do a little back door travel and enjoy some non metropolitan Europe! In fact one of the best places I've been was to one of the hill towns of Central Italy. It was so nice and relaxing! He's my plan and as always advice and alternative suggestions are appreciated! Thank you!

Thursday: London-Lyon
Friday: Lyon
Saturday: Lyon
Sunday: Lyon to Nice
Monday: Nice
Tuesday: train to Avignon stop in Aix-en Provence for part of the day
Wednesday: Avignon
Thursday: Nimes
Friday: Paris
Saturday: Paris
Sunday: Paris, fly to London

Posted by
6752 posts

I know the area from Cannes to the Italian border pretty well because I have family living there who I visit yearly. Cannes and Monte Carlo are famous but are, in fact, fairly devoid of the back door or historical artifacts you said interested you. They are sort of like visiting Beverly Hills, the Upper East Side, or Disneyland. If you want back door, try the smaller, less well-known places along the coast, or stay in Nice and take day trips to different towns. If you can take a late afternoon train or flight to Paris on Friday, you could cross the border (which no longer exists) into Italy to go to the giant market in Vintimile/Ventimigilia on Friday morning. This is a huge market with all kinds of clothing and other vendors who come up to the border from all over Italy to sell on Friday mornings. It's unlike any market you can find in France.

Posted by
8293 posts

I have to agree with Bets to skip Monte Carlo & Cannes and spend more time in Nice, which by the way, has some good museums.

Posted by
359 posts

I think your itinerary looks good but I agree with the above posters. You should pick one town as a base in the Riviera. It will make things a lot easier. There's a lot to do in Nice. I love that city.

Posted by
4125 posts

Actually, I'd skip the Riviera altogether.

Sure you could do it, but you are missing the back-door stuff you say you are seeking.

I do not want to oversell the "temporary local" stuff--you are still going to be a tourist wherever you go, and you won't have much time to get to know people let alone they you. (I think the "temporary local" business is shorthand for a lot of good travel practices and attitudes.)

You'll have more time if you don't move around so much, though.

I can see you are thinking about this a LOT--that will pay off whatever you decide to do. Have a great time!

Posted by
31 posts

Adam,
so you have no problem with day tripping to Aix and then going on to Avignon for a day or two. What do you suggest after that if you'd skip the Riviera?

Posted by
4125 posts

A highlight of Provence for me are the Roman antiquities. If these interest you there is probably more to see than you have time for. These include the magnificent Pont du Gard aqueduct (buses from Avignon and Nimes), the theater in Orange, temple and arena in Arles and in Nimes. Thee last 3 are all on the train line. Arles is also quite charming and you might prefer it as a base to Avignon, though Avignon is more of a transportation hub.

For small-town there are the Luberon hilltowns, unfortunately harder to reach without a car, though there are buses from Avignon into the region. I have never been to Isle sur Sorge but the Sorge valley in generally is quite pretty and Isle is on the rail line from Avignon, quite close by. It could even be your small-town base.

If you pine for the Mediterranean your choices are alas limited; this part of Provence is mostly inland. The area known as the Camargue is pretty, and there is a bus from Arles in season to Sts Maries de la Mer, but for me this would be on my B list. Many people recommend Cassis, on the coast near Marseilles; it sounds lovely but I've never been.

If these sound worthwhile you should pick up a guidebook and learn more to decide if it's worth spending all your extra time there; if not then maybe including the Riviera really is best for you. Also use the web to learn about bus schedules, festivals and events, etc.

Posted by
3356 posts

Hi, I expected a much different itinerary to follow from the desires you listed in the intro.

I haven't been to Lyon, but I took it off our list after hearing many so-so or negatives reviews. Personally, I'd drop Lyon and spend the extra days in Paris & surrounding area.

We've stayed in Avignon for 4 days (nice train connection from Paris). One day we took a quick train over to Nimes because I wanted to see the Maison Carrée, arena, and temple of Diana. We really enjoyed that town. Another day we took a local bus to the Pont du Gard. We also took one of the mini-van half-day tours of the Luberon villages & lavender fields and would recommend that if you also don't travel by car. We stayed at a great location in Avignon - the Hotel de l'Horloge in the center of the old city. Avignon's walled central area has an excellent pedestrian car-free zone, some nice restaurants and a very relaxed atmosphere similar to a smaller city in Italy.

Posted by
31 posts

Adam,
The Roman ruins definitely interest me. I'm especially interested in the Roman theater in Lyon. I would definitely be interested in the Roman ruins in Avignon and Provence. So if I skip the Riviera, I could stay in Avignon and day trip to nearby towns.

Posted by
31 posts

Also, I purchased the guidebook on Provence and the Riviera today. It's been very insightful.

Posted by
6752 posts

I highly suggest the Roman theater in Orange--still in use during the summer. The Roman amphitheaters in Lyon, Vienne, and elsewhere are amazing, but this one being a theater makes it even more amazing.