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+2 Days in Provence vs. 2 Days in Lyon

Bonjour! We have a 3+ week road trip planned for France this April-May and had planned to spend 5 days exploring Provence from a homebase in St. Remy. My old boss (who has a home in St. Remy) just offered to let us stay in her home there and insisted we should eliminate our 2-day Lyon visit (mostly to eat at bouchons!) in favor of following her "Best 7-days in Provence" plan. Having never been to either place, but knowing my old boss's excellent taste (and the fact she's had a home there for 15 years), I'm tempted to ditch Lyon (the ONLY place where I booked non-refundable tix--argh) and stay in Provence 7 nights, returning the rental car in Avignon instead of Lyon, and taking the train to Paris from Avignon. Skipping the big city traffic in Lyon is appealing, but I'd love to hear arguments for/against Lyon. Merci!

Posted by
4125 posts

First of all: Lucky you!

I love Lyon. Here is why it is OK to skip it.

1) You will not be bored of Provence in 7 days

2) Lyon is centrally located—just 2 hours from Paris, with great transportation connections—so you will certainly have the opportunity to visit it on another trip

3) Tell yourself that when you do, you will stay an extra day or so.

If you do retain your Lyon plan, I would still ditch the car in Avignon, taking the train to Lyon. No reason to mess with traffic in any case.

If you feel as though you would like a fascinating urban experience at that point in your trip, then maybe you should do that. But you can't make a bad choice, honestly.

Posted by
613 posts

We've been to Lyon 3 times. Its one of the most boring cities in EU. Skip it, Never think about going back.

Posted by
16770 posts

Lyon is a really interesting city worth a visit of multiple days (more than 2 nights for sure), but I completely agree with all of Andrew's points. In your shoes (having a car, a free place to stay and advice from a long-term resident) I would extend the stay in Provence without further thought. However, his point about perhaps being ready for a more urban experience is a good one.

Posted by
2799 posts

I've stayed in Lyon several times; it's a great and beautiful city. But I'd take Adam's advice. Provence is also beautiful, and St. Remy is a good base.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you, everyone, for the validation. We were leaning that way, but wanted/needed a bit of a push. 7 days in Provence sounds lovely. We will visit Lyon another time--when we come back to visit the eastern part of France. Off to change the rezzies....

Posted by
11704 posts

I like Lyon but feel it can be seen in a relatively short time, a couple nights is plenty unless you're making day trips to nearby towns.

Provence takes time to see, there are a lot of sights. If I had to choose between a short stay at both or a long stay in Provence, I'd choose the longer stay in Provence.

My only caveat to that is Provence gets a Mistral wind. I've had friends visit in the spring and their main memory is the wind. Because of that I chose to go in September. It was beautiful - still a little too warm. Late September/early October is probably an ideal time to visit.

Posted by
4131 posts

Our memories of Provence are great. Lyon was nice, but we loved so many other places.
We did a Rhône/Saone River cruise for 7 days that started in Lyon and ended in Arles. Many wonderful places.

Vienne, Viviers, Avignon, Arles, Pont du Gard (2000 year old Roman aqueduct), Aix-en-Provence, St. Paul de Vence, Cannes, Nice, Monaco.