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Best of Eastern France, questions about timing and last night in Aix

I’m considering a solo trip on this tour. There’s 2 openings in September and October but these particular tours will spend the last night ‘outside of Aix’. I inquired about this and it’s because of the Rugby World Cup in the area. I guess hotels in town must be booked.
So my questions are about time of year to do this tour in general and would you shy away from booking anything with a major sporting event in your vicinity? I generally prefer to travel as off season as possible to lessen crowds.
And I’d love to hear responses from people who have been on this tour. It doesn’t seem to be as reported about as other tours in France. Thanks for any feedback.

Posted by
14151 posts

The tour just has one night in Aix so I'd not hesitate to do the tour even with the sporting event. It looks like from the Rugby World Cup website that the stadium is in Marseilles not actually in Aix so aside from hotels not sure how much impact that will have.

Are you planning to stay over in Aix or maybe travel to Paris for a few nights there after the tour?

I will add that I've not done this tour but I did a Road Scholar tour which spent 6 nights in Aix. Lovely area! I traveled in October 2019 (well, actually Sept 25-Oct 26) and my note in my Trip Report on this visit regarding weather was this:

"Weather: Lots of rain in both Paris and Provence but I kind of expected that. Pleasant temps in Paris both late Sept/early Oct and again the last 3 days this last week. Some locals had broken out their wool coats and winter gear but I was comfortable in either the SS tee and rain jacket plus the addition of the LS Dri-fit layer at times. It was pretty warm in Provence. I’m not one that tolerates heat very well and the day in Cassis and Marseille where it was 80 was uncomfortable. For part of the time in Cassis it was really, really windy (boats out to the Calanques were restricted on how far they could go) but then heated up as well."

I'm not sure my TR will help you much as I divided my time between Paris, Aix and Arles.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/trip-report-9-25-10-26-19-paris-and-a-road-scholar-tour-in-provence

I've done 12 Rick Steves tours and 8 of them have been as a solo traveler. It's a wonderful way to enjoy an area! I hope you'll go!

**I will probably avoid Paris during the Summer Olympics in 2024 but that won't be hard because it's too hot in Paris in the dead of summer anyway, lol!

Posted by
2474 posts

I did this tour in the first half of October 2018.
There were a number of us solo travelers and the weather was very good. I stayed an extra day in Aix to see some Cezanne sites.
My only concern is that the alternate hotel might not be in walking distance to things, which may not matter if doing just the final dinner and leaving the next morning.

Posted by
14151 posts

Good point Liz about the hotel location if one stays over.

Posted by
34 posts

I did this tour last year in April. It is a wonderful tour with great food & wine. As someone else said visit to Aix is brief, just the farewell dinner & departure. I would suggest that you take the TGV from Aix to Paris and depart from CDG or spend extra days there. When you book the tour they will tell you where the final hotel is.

Posted by
434 posts

Thanks Pam for your reply. This tour covers so much of the length of France that I’ve thought the later in the season to end up in the south of France the better. I hadn’t given and thought to seasonal winds however! The extra bodies for a World Cup is giving me pause too.
I loved reading your Road Scholar report, thanks for the link. The Knights Templar tour is a great idea. I’ve done food and wine and WWll walking tours in Paris before but that goes on my list for next time.

Posted by
434 posts

Thanks Liz and Stormy, the new hotel is a fair distance out of city center. The RS office gave me the address. Definitely not walking distance. So how were the temperatures during your time in Chamonix ladies? Do you remember?

Posted by
2474 posts

I recall the temps being very comfortable, keeping in mind that I like things on the cool side. I don't recall anybody complaining about being cold, or hot for that matter.

Posted by
34 posts

The weather in Chamonix was very pleasant when I was there. I didn't ride the gondola but heard it was very windy up there. There are laundry opportunities in Chamonix as well. The hotel is lovely, one of my favorites on this tour. I almost always travel solo & have been with some great groups. I would not let the one day in Aix cause you to avoid this tour. The Rugby tournament is not in any other cities you visit. I'm on the Loire & South of France in September that ends in Nice right when the tournament starts there. So no additional days for me there.

Posted by
583 posts

We took this tour in late August 2019. It remains one of our absolute favorites. Chamonix weather was absolutely gorgeous, perfect. Going over to Helbronner, Italy on the Mt Blanc gondola was a huge highlight. We stayed 3 more nights in Aix after the RS tour was over. Lots to see. One full day took a guided tour found at the TI to Cassis to see the calanques. Another gorgeous day, this time on the Mediterranean. Heartily recommend this tour!

Posted by
434 posts

Thanks all for the positive feedback about the tour in general. I’m really excited about taking it but I’m starting to feel that the open dates with the Rugby World Cup in town are not best. I did want to do some ‘Cezanne sightseeing’ afterwards. I may put it off another 6 months and sign up in for spring of ‘24 when the new schedule comes out.
I’m also very interested in the Loire to South France tour. I hope you let us know how you liked your tour this fall, StormyB.

Posted by
14151 posts

Liz, I'll bet the quarry tour was quite interesting. I never really "got" Cezanne until I saw the area around Aix and saw how "blocky" the quarried areas were. Made perfect sense when you then look at his work!

Lyn, if you are feeling tentative about the dates, you should do what makes you feel comfortable no matter what any of us would do! You might look at hotels in Aix to see what would be available after your tour. It might be easier to get single rooms than to get a block of 15 or so for a group or a number of groups.

Posted by
2474 posts

Pam
The information for the tour was minimal, and I wasn't really sure what I was getting into. Rough footing was mentioned. You were to go to a bus stop at the edge of Aix, where a van picked up the 8-10 of us and drove us up a winding narrow road. The guide had a key to the gate and we were the only people there. A beautiful walk with nice views and colorful rock walls. There were a few places were a photo of a painting was shown at the place it depicted.

I find Cezanne's work mesmerizing. Ending in Aix was the deciding factor on taking the Eastern France tour.

Posted by
418 posts

I took this tour in mid September of 2017. We enjoyed it tremendously. We left Aix, took a taxi to the airport in Marseilles and flew home. Our weather was very nice. We spent a week in Paris prior to the Eastern France tour. It was raining most days, so We bought an umbrella because we were getting soaked all the time. We had rain in Reims and Verdun only on the Eastern France tour. I used it to shield me from the sun during a vineyard visit. Our weather in Chamonix was clear and beautiful. In Vaison-la-Romaine it was sunny and very warm. I would have liked an air conditioner at the hotel, but it wasn’t too bad in the evening. It cooled down nicely in the evening. I bought some amazing soap at the outdoor market in Aix. I bought 3 bars and I wish I had bought more. They smelled wonderful every time I used them and they lasted forever. Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
74 posts

,We took Eastern France tour last Sept. Great tour and Julie was fun informative guide. Great group of people. We stayed over one extra day at the tour hotel in Aix and then took TGV back to Charles de Gaulle. Very easy. Our extra day in Aix was worth it! We spent hours at the incredible more than a farmers market. A gorgeous warm sunny day. What a finish . Still quite a few tourists in September but absolutely perfect weather. Wine tastings, picnics..Lovely vistas. Chamonix proved another unexpected delight. So gorgeous and I made it to the highest platform on aiguille du midi, eye to eye with Mont Blanc . Moi the non-hiker. You won’t regret going.