My husband and I will be in Vaison-la-Romaine for a 5-day cooking class in mid-June after which we will have one week to travel anywhere we want in France. Neither of us is comfortable driving in an unfamiliar place, so we will be relying on public transportation. Any suggestions for an itinerary will be appreciated.
France is a large country. Where are you interested in going? More of Provence and Cote d’azur? If wanting to head to Paris, a stopover in Burgandy is easy to do.
We were thinking of spending a couple nights in Avignon and the last couple of nights in Paris, so I’m looking for some ideas for interesting stops between the two.
I'm going to guess that if you two enjoy cooking and food, you may also enjoy wine. I'm not sure from which city you are flying home, but if it were me, I would take the #4 bus from Vaison la Romaine to Orange where you can access train service. As you know, you are right in the heart of the Cote d'Rhone wine region and can enjoy some wonderful Gigondas, Carpentras & Chateau Neuf while there. Orange also has a great Roman theatre to visit.
From Orange you can head South and take a short train (less than 30 minutes) to Avignon and use that as a base to see Nimes, Arles, Aix en Provence and Marseille (all accessible by train). All of them are beautiful and all have great Provencale food. The Pont du Gard is a thrill and also accessible by bus (though I rented a car and found driving there to be easy). There's lots of beautiful architecture and Roman ruins in that area, plus Paul Cezanne's atelier and beautiful churches, as well.
If you're flying home from Paris, you may want to go north from Avignon and hit Lyon (a fabulous city) and then Beaune and/or Dijon, which are right in the heart of Burgundy. Beaune is particularly pretty in June and you can rent bikes and literally be biking through picturesque vineyards in about 9-10 minutes from downtown Beaune. Lyon and Burgundy are world famous for food and wine (as I'm sure you're aware). There are some wonderful museums in Lyon/Dijon, as well as architecture and roman ruins.
You can basically only visit cities using public transportation, because bus schedules to villages are set up for workers and school children, often just 2 buses a day. So any additional travel plans after your cooking class must take this into consideration. With luck, you will make some friends during your cooking class who could take you to your next destination.
As for driving in unfamiliar places, it is really super easy to drive in rural France -- you often have the road completely to yourself pretty much all day. Then again, I have no idea where you could rent a car in Vaison.
John Adams- this is just the kind of advice I was seeking. Thank you so much!
John Adams: You’re right- we love wine, so your wine destination suggestions are spot on.