Please sign in to post.

Traveling Provence

We have a farmhouse rented for the next 6 days in St. Remy before taking the train back to Paris on Friday. In addition to visiting the surrounding cities and towns we are considering a long day trip to Nice, as friends say you just HAVE to go to Nice if you're that close. We have one extra rail day on our rail pass and can take the train from Avignon TGV, but the listed time it takes for the train each way is about the same as it will take to drive, and that doesn't include the drive time to and from Avignon. Has anyone ever tried to do this and is it realistic for us to try to include Nice in our itinerary at this late date? We have already done a week in Normandy and in the last two days have toured Avignon and the Pont du Gard. Thank you. Jim

Posted by
175 posts

All I have to offer is - trying to park in Nice is hellish and will eat into your time. The train station is very convenient for the main sites plus there's a tram that scoots you through the town and stops close to the
waterfront. We love Nice but your time restraint may take some of the pleasure away!

Posted by
11294 posts

I don't agree that you HAVE to go to Nice, particularly since it's not that close. I'd focus on closer destinations. Go to Orange for the Roman Theatre (although the rest of the city is meh, the Theatre with its huge intact wall is thrilling), to Arles for a nice town with lots to see, and to Nimes for an even nicer town with lots to see. If you want a big city, you can go to Marseille. I haven't been to Uzes, but that's close too. To me, Montpelier was nice enough, but not worth a return visit. Of course, if you have a particular sight in Nice you want to see, you can certainly go as a day trip, but I wasn't as taken with Nice as others are, and wouldn't go out of my way just to see it.

Posted by
7049 posts

What is the reason that your friends say you "must" see Nice. Is it a particular museum (Matisse, Chagall, other), or the beach and promenade, or the old town and flower market? All of these are wonderful and might make it worth it to you. I loved Nice, spent 3 days there, but I would not spend 6+ hours on the road or rails to spend a couple of hours there on a day trip. That's just a personal opinion. I would save Nice for when you could spend a few days exploring it and the area around there. Sounds like you're having a wonderful trip so far, enjoy the rest of it.

Posted by
4132 posts

If you want to go, and the 6 hours do not daunt, then go. On the other hand do not beat yourselves up if you pass on it this trip. You cannot see everything. I guess the question for you boils down to this. What's the best way to spend that day? Fortunately you can identify some possibilities now and make your decision on the ground at the time, based on how you feel then. Who knows, you might just want a slow day in St. Remy at that point. If you do seek a change of pace from the Rhone valley, there are several possible day trips that are a bit further afield but closer than Nice. Namely, Cassis, Marseilles, Lyon (probably best done by rail), and Montpelier. Sadly I have only been to Marseilles, but if you read up on these places you may find something that grabs you & yours. The Camargue is another change-of-pace destination, though in Provence.

Posted by
4055 posts

The TGV service east of Marseille is not "grande vitesse" at all. While it's the same bullet-nose train, it can only travel at regular speeds on those tracks. High-speed to Nice has been long promised but I don't think the new tracks etc have been built and, given the centralization of France, might run to Paris without visiting Marseille. Sorry to be vague, but the train times are what you found. Not worth the trip for a day, in my view, not with the alternatives out of Avignon (which itself is worth extra attention.)

Posted by
555 posts

My thanks of all of you for your quick responses. After reading all of them to my wife and her mother (who celebrated her 89th birthday here yesterday) the negative effect on our bodies from sitting in a car for a minimum of seven hours round trip was a bad decision. We have instead found added Gordes, Marseille, and Orange to our itinerary and I am much more comfortable with that. By the way, if anyone is interested in a place to stay in St. Remy, a great place to have as a base for seeing Provence if you have a car, please let me know. The farmhouse I stumbled upon is outstanding and given the accommodations we have it is very reasonable. Jim

Posted by
3696 posts

Good choice...it's a long drive to Nice... I have done it, and I would not have suggested it as the places you are going are so much closer and rank higher for me. If you would not mind posting info on the farmhouse I would be interested.
I love staying in St. Remy

Posted by
555 posts

The name of the place is Mas de la Croix D'arles in St. Remy which you can Google for details, but the long and short of it is that I found them by contacting another B&B given to me on the TH and they were full, so they recommended their friends who might be able to help us. The farmhouse has two bedrooms and a full bath up one flight of steps and a large kitchen which has a table for six and a convection microwave and two burner cooktop, as well as a toaster and coffee pot for hot water. In one BR there are two twin beds and the other has two twin beds together which form a king that is very comfortable. There is also a 1/2 bath just off the kitchen, a living room with a sofa, three chairs and a large screen French only TV. Outside you will find nice patio surrounded by grape vines and olive and fig trees with table and chairs for your morning coffee and/or breakfast. St. Remy is a 15 minute walk to the town center and easy access by car to Nimes, Arles, Aix, Avignon, Marseille and the Luberon. If you've never driven here (I hadn't except in Scotland) the roads are great and with our Michelin map that Rick recommended getting around is very easy. Hope this is helpful.
Jim

Posted by
555 posts

I forgot to mention that there are two small grocery stores in St. Remy that are only five minutes away by car and that the kitchen has a good assortment of pots, pans and dishes for your use. The owner Jordane speaks excellent English.