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Advice on Time between Western Provence and Nice

After 3 days in which we plan to spend exploring Arles, Avignon (we will be based in Saint Remy and have a car) and the highlights of western Provence we have roughly 7 day to work our way to our final destination of Nice. The various guide books give conflicting opinions on where to go and how much time to spend. For example, Rick doesn't even have Aix Provence in his recent books I have but others say it is a must see. What would be your route? We don't want to do Marseille or spend a lot of time in over priced beach towns but nevertheless it would be nice to see them. We would like a nice mix of beaches and inland exploring. Hoping someone that has been in this area might have some good ideas.


Posted by
223 posts

Although I used to live close to Provence and have worked on projects there for some time, I haven't spent much time there as a tourist. Not a fan of hot weather.

I can understand why Mr. Steves doesn't have Aix en Provence in his books (if in fact he doesn't: I don't know other than your assertion to that fact).

Aix is an OK city. It has some good points but is largely a college town and can seem overrun by students; especially around the end or beginning of a new college term. If you're interested, here's a fun fact : the word Aix isn't French. It's a Latin holdover and indicates locations where there were hot springs, which the Romans evidently sought.

Posted by
11185 posts

To add to what Tom said, Rick's Provence And The French Riviera guidebook has MUCH more detailed coverage of this area than his general France book, so be sure to get it.

As always, which places are more or less appealing is a matter of personal taste. For instance, I was less taken with Aix than others seem to be. I also didn't see the "beautiful people" that Rick emphasized. I liked Monaco and Cannes more than Rick did, and don't agree that their only appeal is in their glamour zones. (I enjoyed walking around a more "workaday" part of Cannes north and west and uphill from the fancy beach area, and in Monaco I enjoyed the car collection, Exotic Garden, aquarium, and views). Conversely, I found Villefranche a snooze. So, you should read about all the places, and then decide for yourself. Note that from a base anywhere on the Cote d'Azur, it's easy to daytrip to all the towns there, by car or bus/train. So, you don't have to decide everything in advance.

Posted by
7124 posts

I would add a fourth night to Saint Remy. Then via Aix en Provence to Cassis for night #5. Somewhere near St Tropez for night #6. Then your last 4 nights at your final destination, Nice. You have lots of day trip options from Nice, many easy by train, so you may consider turning the car in early.