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Provence in September 2020

Hello all!
A little background: In 2017 I spent a month in Nice exploring the city itself as well as surrounding towns. Especially loved the perched villages and hiking the Med coastline of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat and Beausoleil. For me, Nice was a little too large and busy of a city.

Last fall (2019) I spent 3 weeks exploring some of Provence. My favorite town was Annecy due to the friendly people, lovely lake and old town area. I plan to spend one of the weeks there again (just need to find a different place to rent!). I also spent time in Aix en Provence (nice!), Cassis (crazy hot and crowded), drove the Calenaques (beautiful), Aix les Bains (nice but didn't like how built up and restricted the lake shore was), La Ciot (like it) and some smaller towns along the way.

My interests are avoiding crowds, walking, people watching, easy hiking, shopping for unique handcrafted items, farm produce markets and scenic drives.

This fall I have a little over 5 weeks in Provence and wish to explore further. Here are the details so far:
• I fly in and out of the Geneva Switzerland airport.
• Looking for 3-4 possible home base towns worth exploring in and of themselves as well as offering day trips by car.
• Would like to limit the driving between home bases to a max of three hours or so. I've encountered too many traffic backups that turned a simple 2-hour drive into six-eight hours.
• I'll be renting VRBO, HomeAway or Airbnbs primarily.

I'm looking for suggestions of new towns to explore. I plan to have a car rental for about 3-4 weeks of my trip this year.

Thank you all in advance for your help, comments and suggestions.

Posted by
208 posts


I am tentatively planning a trip to the Dordogne area this September. You might want to consider shifting at least some of your trip west to visit there. It seems to be mostly smaller towns, and otherwise full of what you are looking for.

Posted by
26433 posts

I haven't rented a car in Europe, so my experiences have been quite different from what you'll have available to you. However, even without a car, the Dordogne and Lot were wonderful. I'm not sure that area is close enough to your arrival airport to allow you to cover the ground in 3 hours, however. It sounds like you wouldn't want to stay in Sarlat-le-Caneda because of the tourist load there, but there must be lots of smaller places that would suit you. Without a car I had to stay in larger towns that I know are not what you are looking for.

Languedoc would be another possibility. It's much less touristy than Provence--though farther from Geneva. The small town of Pezenas might suit you. It has lots of craftspeople.

Farther west you have the Pyrenees. No coastline so even less touristy. Foix is nice, but it does get a fair number of tourists; there's a castle.

Posted by
16 posts

Lucky you having five weeks to explore Provence! I am going in October, and will have three weeks. This is the itinerary I finally settled on.

  • Paris 5 nights.
  • Uzes 3 nights
  • Goult 7 nights
  • Maussane les Alpilles 4 nights
  • Antibes 3 nights

I am planning to spend time just slow travelling the area, doing some day trips. I have apartments booked already in each place because I noticed some place already getting booked up for the dates I needed.