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7 days Provence and Riviera early November itinerary help needed

As an introduction, we are foodies, enjoy wine, art, and history. We have never been to the south of France.
Please let me know what you think of the following:

Two couples will pick up rental car at Aix TGV station to stay one night in Aix. Next morning see Cezanne workshop and tour the town. Following lunch, leave for Avignon for sightseeing, dinner, and one night. Next morning leave for Pont du Gard, then Nimes, stay in Arles. All day in Arles, stay again there. Next morning leave for Les Baux and St. Remy, stay one night in St. Remy. Next morning drive to Nice and drop off car. Stay 3 nights there, seeing Nice, Monaco, and Antibes, by bus. Will take train from Nice to Paris for two nights (we have been there before and will only see our favorites there). Fly home!
My questions:

Have we put too much into the schedule for Provence? Should I make room (and where?) for Uzes?
It is cheaper to drive to Nice with the car than get train tickets, also more flexible in stopping along the way. Should we return the car somewhere prior to getting to Nice - then taking a bus to Nice?
Thank you for any help - even any that I haven't specifically requested!

Posted by
2728 posts

Next morning leave for Pont du Gard, then Nimes, stay in Arles.

We also did this, but with long April sunlight. This will be a rush to finish by sunset in November, so an early start is required and then will need to find St Remy accommodation in the dark.

Personally would take time from the Riviera and give to Rhone Valley but that's because of my interests.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you, Tom. We have only booked the train from Nice, no accommodations, so are flexible, just have to get there before the train leaves! I really just wanted to go there for the view and the seafood!!
If we took one night off of the coast, do you have any idea how would you rearrange the trip?

And to others who have been there, what about Uzes?
And where to return the car?

Thanks again.

Posted by
4125 posts

Nice choice of sights to see. You'll have a great trip.

You can improve this by not changing where you sleep every night. That will save you time and hassle.

These places are all close. I'd recommend St Remy or Arles for the whole stay.

You can return your car in Avignon or Aix and hop the train, if you like.

Posted by
16827 posts

I haven't been to Europe in November, and I haven't driven there, but your plans seem rushed to me even for non-foodies with no particular intrrest in art. As it is... There are at least six art museums in Nice alone, and you definitely won't have time for the wonderful Fondation Maeght in St.-Paul-de-Vence.

November is very much not high season on the Riviera. You may find museum hours rather sharply curtailed and more days when sites are closed (not just one per week). You should check the web sites of all the attractions you plan to visit to see how the operating hours align with your itinerary.

Although I assume there are buses to both Monaco and Antibes, I think the train is used more often for those destinations. It's possible that taking the bus in one direction for the Monaco trip will give you different view, however.

Your car choice will be very important. You need something that will hold four adults ant has a trunk large enough for all your luggage. It's critical that the luggage be totally out of sight when you pull into a parking lot for a mid-day stop.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you, all! I believe we will stay in Arles or St. Remy while in Provence, return the car to Aix TGV, then head for the coast on the train. It's really difficult to pick and choose what to see because there is SO MUCH! We will be returning to the region to see what we have missed on this trip. May take several trips!!
Thank you again.
gm

Posted by
393 posts

You will see some low season impacts, especially in smaller areas -- it's a bit between seasons. The larger towns and cities won't be impacted. Weather can be an issue, as November can be rainy. I do agree that you'll be best situated to base or two in Western Provence, and keep your days flexible based on the weather. Are you arriving into Aix from Paris or MRS? Generally people start in Avignon if coming from Paris.

It's quite easy to drive from Western Provence into Nice -- and you will gain the flexibility to make a stop in St. Paul de Vence (and the Fondation Maeght) prior to ditching your car (which can be done at the train station or near the Promenade des Anglais). The train is the superior way to get to Antibes; you can get to Monaco by either bus or train. Some feel the bus gives slightly better views on the Monaco line (to be honest, you can get the best views by car as well).

Posted by
1878 posts

I would cut some stops out of Provence. Two ones night stays on a seven day trip seems like a lot. I might consider taking the train to Arles from the airport, two nights there, pick up car, two might in St. Remy, then on to the Riviera. I have researched Provence a lot in recent years, and plan a return visit after blowing through there in a couple of days in 2003. I have concluded there are a lot of great stops, and it's hard to tell what stops are better than others until you see them for yourself. So you can't do it all, especially with so little time, but you also can't go wrong in where you visit. Also, it should be easy to check online about what transportation to Nice is cheapest. It's also about convenience though, and what you might see along the way. For me taking the train would best, but you might want to make a lot of stops along the way. Driving into Nice--we did it on a Friday late afternoon once and it was a big mistake. Worst rental car drop-off experience ever and we've had some bad ones. You might have a better experience if you arrive earlier in the day and not on a Friday. My research suggests the Riviera is worth three full days, as well, but if you have only seven days total then I think a 4/3 split is probably about right.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you very much, Gooster. We ARE coming from CDG, but after the long flight from the U.S. and making certain we had a 3 hour cushion between scheduled arrival in Paris and the train departure (as I read that we should) i wanted to get SOMEWHERE in Provence to rest our undoubtedly weary heads and Aix was 2 hours faster than Avignon (my first choice). Also MUCH less expensive on that particular train. Thus, Aix...
Have been checking train schedules to Nice from Aix and it's quicker to drive and we can do so at our convenience, so we are back to driving there.
I truly appreciate your suggestions and we will be taking several of them. We will remain flexible for weather and anything else that happens. You and acraven both mentioned St Paul de Vence, which would be great to fit in. Thank you and everyone for taking time to help us figure out what we are doing! It helps tremendously.

Posted by
2728 posts

and Aix was 2 hours faster than Avignon

I’m a little puzzled as I thought all TGV from Paris to Aix stop in Avignon first. Is there a chance you confused the Avignon TGV and Avignon Centre stations?

Posted by
16827 posts

No one has mentioned the mistral so far. I have never experienced it, but it sounds unpleasant.

If I was confident about returning to southern France, I'd focus on either Provence or the Riviera on this trip and plan to hit the other the next time around. There's definitely enough to keep you busy for a week in each area.

Posted by
8 posts

Hey, Tom! This is what we have:
r 11h57 CHARLES DE GAULLE 2 TGV TGV 9826 2e classe
15h30 AIX EN PROVENCE TGV
I figured the same as you, but was happy to find this and I purchased before it could get away.

Also, to acraven, If I were going by myself, I would have only done Provence, but my husband REALLY wanted to see La Cote d'Azur, so being the good wife I am, I'm getting it done! Also, having told him there is no way to see everything we want to see, and he being the good husband he is, he said we will come back again! You are right, of course!

Posted by
6795 posts

Avignon is your outlier. This itinerary would tighten up nicely without it.

For four people, the car would be the most convenient way to get to Nice with a stop in St. Paul before returning the car.

In addition to the Foundation Maeght in St. Paul de Vence, there are also many fine restaurants.

The Mistral is definitely a factor, particularly in Provence. It makes outdoor activities burdensome. We experienced it every three days on average during winter and spring. In fact one is starting today where we are in the northern area of Provence, but it's not as unpleasant as winter. I wonder if gooster has anything to say about the Mistral and how to handle those days.

Edit: reassurance re the Mistral. It died out very quickly the otherday.

Posted by
2728 posts

Hey GM:

I see that train and it looks like it passes thru Avignon without stopping, which is too bad since now you have to backtrack to Avignon.

I'n not sure when you are going to see Avignon, or is it just your intention to sight see after dark?

Maybe just drive straight to St Remy from the AIX TGV and spend 3 or 4 nights there, and stop to see Cezanne studio while heading to Nice?

Posted by
8 posts

Tom: It is too bad, but that's okay! We get to see Aix. Will see avignon one evening and the next morning, barely. If the mistral happens while we are there, we will shift and do as we can. We may get to stay all day in the Popes' Palace - on the day we were to go to Pont du Gard! It's good we have decided to stay in St. Remy, instead of driving to each area. Much more flexibility that way!

Bets: Hold on to your hat! I am just hoping we don't run into one. We will be driving to Nice after all - and will try to make the stop at St. Paul de Vence. Have a great time!

Posted by
142 posts

You could home base in Avignon and make daily train trips to Nimes, Arles and Pont du Gard. That's what we did. Worked great.

Posted by
393 posts

Don't worry too much about the mistral, you'll have plenty of flexibility to stay warm and a car to help juggle your schedule. But it can be very strong and cold. The mistral itself is far less common once you go east past St. Tropez, due to the massif (which is why we bought on the Cote).