Please sign in to post.

5-6 nights in Provence, + Riviera?

Hello,

We're planning a 5-6 day trip to Provence, and are considering whether or not to include the Riviera as well. We are mostly excited about exploring the Luberon, markets, Pont du Gard and the Cotes du Rhone wine road. Also hoping to fit in a boat ride and bouillabaisse in Cassis. So far, we've booked 2 nights outside of Gourdes, and are wondering where to stay the remaining 3/4 nights. We're based in UK now so don't have our flights quite yet.

Not really interested in museums or sunbathing at beaches, necessarily on this trip. We're bringing our 18 month old toddler! Thinking of skipping Nice altogether, but Villefrance Sur Mar sounds lovely to visit. Not sure if driving all the way to the Nice area is worth it? And its seems Monaco has mixed reviews. We really aren't interested in dealing with crowds on this trip...are looking for more beautiful scenery, leisurely walks, market perusing, and quiet slices of the riviera (if they exist) Any comments?

Are there any nice, small and family friendly beaches to visit nearer to Provence?

Thanks much.

Posted by
141 posts

With only 5-6 days, you may enjoy your trip more if you leave the Riviera for another trip or stick with visiting Cassis instead of driving all the way to Nice or Monaco... Nice seems nice but a little crowded, and that was in March. Not sure when you are visiting but if it's not winter I'm guessing it will be crowded. Villefranche sur Mer is adorable, but I was there in March and we practically had it to ourselves. Monaco, when we looked at it from several viewpoints driving on the upper Corniche, didn't look inspiring, and we didn't bother driving down to see it.
Someone else can comment on their actual experience in Cassis (the weather changed my plans so I didn't get to visit as I had hoped), but it has the Calanques which you might enjoy, and Rick Steves Provence & Riviera guidebook describes it in such a way that I really regretted not being able to visit: "Hunkered below impossibly high cliffs, Cassis is an unpretentious port town that gives travelers a sunny time-out from their busy vacation. Two hours away from the fray of the Cote d'Azur, Cassis is a prettier, poor man's St-Tropez."

Posted by
3696 posts

I enjoy St. Maxime's for a beach town. It has a beautiful beach, a carousel, a lovely town with lots of fun shopping, nice restaurants as well as a good market. It is more laid back than St. Tropez or Cannes and would seem to be a better place to hang out with a toddler.

Posted by
10255 posts

The center of Nice is not car friendly (parking and traffic).
Eze-le-Village is a great daytrip from Nice, it's up on the Corniche. Yes, you can get there by public transportation, and it's worth it.
Monaco is an easy day trip from Nice by train.

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks so much.

The Calanques near Cassis, those are definitely on our list! Hoping my husband can rent a boat and we can drive around to a beach to explore. So were deciding between just sticking to Cotes du rhone/provence/cassis or those and adding in villefranche for 2 nights at the end of our trip.

Villefranche also sounds appealing. Can anyone compare Cassis and Ville-france sur mar? We are trying to decide about flying in and out of Marseille, or into Marseille out of Nice. Probably nixing Monaco from the list, and Nice too. So we'd only be in villefranche and maybe visit a few smaller towns (eze) and enjoy the scenery and the beach and wandering if we drove all the way towards Nice.

Posted by
11154 posts

With only 5-6 days to play with, and with a toddler, I'd just focus on western Provence, and save the Riviera for another trip. I was less impressed with Villefranche than most, but even if I loved it, I think it will complicate your trip unnecessarily to try to squeeze it in.

It sounds like you're focusing on smaller villages and the like, but do try to see Nimes - my favorite of the cities in the area (Arles was second, and also nice). As a bonus, when I went in September, while Arles, Avignon, and Aix were all busy, Nimes was quiet.

Posted by
10255 posts

Heidi,
Harold's post is worth your careful study, as it indicates issues that will affect the quality of your trip.

Posted by
3696 posts

Heidi...I would also look at Harold's post. I love Villefranche, but would not leave all the great places in Provence simply to travel there. There are tons of wonderful places in the area you will be, and I think they would be easier to navigate with a toddler.

Posted by
103 posts

Just came back from that region and have posted here, as well.

Nice is fine for a toddler as long as you're near the beachfront area. I'd skip Monaco entirely - not for kids. Eze, though spectacular, has a steep climb that could be problematic with a child.

Besides the French Riviera, we went to the Luberon, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Avignon area. The latter two are flat and might be easy navigation re: your toddler. Luberon is hilly but we saw lots of parents with small children at, as an example, the wonderful Roussillon.

Avignon is crowded but, as mentioned, mostly flat (some cobblestone streets that might pose a problem for a stroller). L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a win-win whether or not there's a market, what with its cafes, shops, narrow streets and the wonderful rushing rivers running through it that give it is name.

Bon chance!

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks so much, this is why these forums are great!

I think we might just try to hone in on provence, and maybe spend a bit more time down in cassis and the calanques. We'll be traveling in early June. Has anyone found ANY nice beaches (not too wavy, some beach with pebbles/sand/family friendly) near Cassis?

Thanks much,
Heidi

Posted by
14 posts

One more question--would you recommend staying in Cassis (is it a nice place to spend the overnight), or would you stay somewhere else and drive in for the day/half day?

Staying near Gordes for 2 nights and trying to decide where to stay our last 3/4 nights. Thinking one of those night in Cotes du Rhone (maybe in Vaison la Romaine or outside) and the other nights we need help deciding!

Thanks.