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). I would love suggestions on the best cities to explore in those areas. I am planning on doing this trip by train so please offer suggestions based on that. I considered renting a car but since I will be traveling alone I think I would be more comfortable with train travel so I need cities and towns that I can travel between on public transportation. Any thoughts or suggestions greatly appreciated. I have done a lot of traveling alone and have no qualms about doing this trip on my own, 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 sights, sounds and ambience of that particular area. I am a 55 year old active, fit female, love to walk and be outdoors. No, this is NOT a singles ad!! Thank you in advance for your help!
Wow, nine days in Paris. How wonderful for you. I am always so happy when I hear about women who like to travel alone. I know that you are looking for a place in Provence and I did like Avignon (TGV runs and you can get trains to other Provencal cities) but have you thought about Burgundy? Particulary Dijon? Dijon is the capital of Burgundy with a rich history. Also accessible by train (TGV-less than 2 hours to Paris). It boasts the best self-guided city tour -- the Owl's Trail. There is free hop-on, hop-off shuttle for tourists to all major sites and a number of wonderful museums and a terrific market. I believe they have a new light-rail installed in the City, but I don't know much about it. The food is great. The people are friendly and as a single, woman traveler, I have defintely felt safe. There is a wonderful, reasonable apartment rental right in the middle of everything. It is rented by a lovely woman named Coco. Coco will make your stay a real delight. You can access her website at www.myhomeindijon.com. If you read the guestbook, you will see just how wonderful this apartment and it's landlady are. Coco thinks of everything! Dijon is also very centrally located for day trips. Only 20 minutes to Beaune. You can also go to Lausanne, Lyon, Chalon Sur Saone, Besancon, Macon, Dole, and St. Jean DeLosne all under 2 hours. Add less than another hour and you can be in Avignon and even Bern. I think you will really love this City! I've been twice. My first stay in Dijon was only a few days and nights. Went back the next year and stayed a week! When I go back to France again, it will include Dijon and Coco's apartment. Have a wonderful trip!
With nine days I would spend your time more or less as you have outlined. Burgundy is great but I would just give that a pass. It is such a lovely time of year, and you will be spending your first 11 days in big cities. Great ones, but I urge you to get out into the countryside and small towns. Rent a car in Provence or perhaps as you leave Lyon. You might break your time in Provence into two or three stops: a small town in the Luberon, someplace central to the the Rhone valley, and a night or two in a place like Cassis. If that sound too hectic, the Rhone are is probably most central and would permit day trips to the Luberon and the coast as far as Marseilles and Cassis. One warning, June is pretty busy so it might be wise to book soon.
Thank you both so much for your replies. I will check out all suggestions and see what seems like the best fit. I really appreciate your input!