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Provence in September

My husband and I are headed back to France in September. We have been to Paris previously so plan to only spend 2 days in Paris. Flying into Paris, out of Nice for our return. We are trying to decide where to stay in Provence. We won't have a car and have heard it may be a little difficult to get around. Avignon or Aix-En-Provence are where we are stuck. We'd like to see the countryside, some churches, a few markets, a little bit of wine, probably not a full day for that. Ultimately, we'd like to day trip from a home base. We are planning 4-5 days in Provence.

We also plan to go to the French Riviera (Nice) and Monaco to enjoy the beach. Thoughts on Monaco?

Any advice on transportation and best area to stay is greatly appreciated. (I do have the Provence & French Riviera book by Rick Steves.



Posted by
12053 posts

I'm also looking at a September trip. I think the water will be warmer in September than May (when I was first planning to visit). I'd love to hear people's experiences related to beach weather/water temperature.

Posted by
23029 posts

The virtues of Arles vs. Aix-en-Provence vs. Avignon are discussed fairly often here. If you go back through the France forum you will find opinions from quite a lot of posters. I have none at this point since my own first trip to that area is in May.

Posted by
11294 posts

Places in western Provence that are easy to get to without a car include Marseille, Cassis Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Avignon, Uzes, Nimes (just over border of Provence now, but historically part of it), Pont de Gard, Orange, and a few others. However, most rural destinations are difficult or impossible without a car. So, when you say you want to see "countryside," you will probably need a day tour for this (there are companies that take you, and Rick's book lists taxi companies in the area you can hire for a day or half-day).

Of the three A's (Arles, Aix-en-Provence, and Avignon), my favorite was Arles; however, more destinations are available by public transit from Avignon. I stayed 3 nights in each and took day trips from both (saw Nimes from Arles, and Orange from Avignon). For me, Aix loses on both counts: I didn't care for it (although many like it), and it's on the eastern edge of part of Provence most people want see, making transit (particularly without a car) difficult. While Nimes is also on the edge of the area of interest, it was my favorite of the places I saw in the region.

Note that when I say "Rick's book," I mean Rick Steves Provence And The French Riviera. His general France book has MUCH less information about this region.

I really liked Monaco. In addition to the aquarium and the Jardin Exotique mentioned by Rick, my favorites were the Princess Grace Rose Garden and the Prince's car collection (they are emphatic that it's not a "museum"; by any name I really enjoyed it). The Riviera is the opposite of western Provence (note that technically it's part of Provence too); almost everything is easy to access from Nice by train or bus, although some destinations require more planning than others. From Nice to Monaco, there are 2 trains an hour and 4 buses an hour, so no advance planning required. If you don't like Monaco, it's easy enough to go to another town, or back to Nice. However, from Nice to La Turbie (with its great views down on Monaco), there are only 4 buses a day Monday to Saturday, and no buses on Sunday, so it's easy to get stranded it you're not careful. Again, Rick's book has all these details.

Posted by
4125 posts

If you are spending 4-5 days in Provence, you should really consider picking up a car for just that part of the trip. It will allow you to stay in a small town or in the country, see great stuff you would otherwise not, see more, and set your own pace.

2-3 days and, sure, the case for a car is more problematic. But with 4-5, really think about renting a car.

Posted by
7373 posts

If you can not rent the car then go to the Tourist center or ask your hotel to arrange and buy a tour small van all day escorted tour of the out of the way places and vineyards. This is what we did. Monaco is charming but you might like Eze sur mer a short train ride away also. The beach there is less crowded than in Nice.