After spending 9 days in Paris this June I would like to explore some areas south of Paris. I will go to Lyon for 2-3 days and then would like to go south to Provence and then on to the coast (maybe Cassis and Nice area)for another 7 or 8 nights. I would love suggestions on the best cities to explore in those areas.I am leaning toward renting a car rather than depending on train travel. I have done a lot of traveling alone and have no qualms about doing this trip by myself but would like some guidance as to how to see the most interesting areas. I love exploring cities and towns, museums, street markets, shops, etc. I do not speak French but am learning the basics.I would like areas I can just wander around and enjoy the history, sights, sounds and ambience of that particular area. I am a 55 year old active, fit female, love to walk and be outdoors. I would like to see both cities and countryside. Any ideas/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. If anyone thinks I am better off going by train I would love to hear why you think renting a car is not a good idea. I have travelled quite a bit by train and public transportation in France and Italy but have never rented a car, however, I think that this trip may be better by car so that I have easier access to small towns and more flexibility. Any thoughts or ideas? Thanks so much!
Lori... I have driven this area a number of times and love exploring it by car. But, I am a rather spontaneous kind of traveler and don't like to make too many plans, so it works for me. Provence is the perfect place to just drive to whatever town you decide to see, as well as most of the coast. There are so many markets, cute villages, beautiful countryside, etc. I really like to stay in St. Remy as it is a beautiful village and very central to lots of my favorite areas. Once you get to Nice you will not need a car. There are a few areas you could visit with your car before Nice (Eze is one) but you could also probably do those by public transportation from Nice. I much prefer Provence and the coast to Nice, but that is just my choice. On the coast I love the little town of Ste. Maxime. Not crazy like Canne or St. Tropez, but on the Mediterranean. Also, the Carmague is worth seeing and the beach town of Ste Marie de la Mer(?)
is fun. Paris and Provence are like two different worlds (I love them both)
I've driven from Nice to Carcassonne by myself. If you are driving by yourself, I recommend bringing a GPS as well as some good Michelin maps. I have a Garmin which has a very useful feature which finds the closest parking for you. The one downside to driving for me is the difficulty of navigating some pretty small village streets in the car and finding parking. Even with a small car, parking can be a challenge. If you are going from Lyon south, I would visit Avignon, Pont du Gard and Arles. I like the Pope's castle in Avignon, Pont du Gard as an amazing Roman architectural wonder and Arles for its arena and the link to Van Gogh. I also love the big street market in Arles (I think it's Wednesday and Saturday). St. Remy is pretty also and Les Baux de Provence.
Thank you both for your reply...I really appreciate the information.