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TRIP REPORT: Paris and Provence with Teens in April

A ten-day trip covering Paris and Provence with some teen comments

We flew Swiss which has one of the most stringent carry-on policies (16 lbs vs. 20 lbs). We decided to pack light and only go carryon. Thinking of the Swiss reputation for precision, I figured if they said 16 lbs we better stick to 16 lbs. For two weeks before the trip I was Lady Justice with my luggage scale continually weighing everyone’s bags. For those who don’t travel with just carry-on, the challenge is choosing wisely so you can mix and match for a variety of weather and activities.

Tip: Carryon is a great way to avoid lugging heavy bags around with you but you cannot just pack the day before. You do need to throw everything on the bed and do some planning in advance.

Ten minutes before leaving for the airport, we were at 16lbs, with backpacks (I hid my purse in my backpack during boarding) and one carryon bag of diabetes meds for my son.

As we boarded American (and not Swiss), I watched as person after person presented their boarding passes bent half over with what appeared to be a steamer trunk on their back. The agents didn’t bat an eye. But in the end, I was glad I didn’t have to lift a refrigerator and try to shove it into the overhead bin.

Teen Opinion: This was a better flight than I thought with good movie

Landed in Paris and I had been advised that with four people and jetlag Uber was the way to go. I downloaded the app before we left. Please note, I am NOT an Uber fan and I make a conscious choice to not use it in the US. But, I have to say, it made life easier in Paris the few times we grabbed one. No haggling over price. No language barriers for directions as it is all in the app. Note at one point it did appear our driver aimed directly at a pedestrian as he stepped on the accelerator and shouted TOUCHE.

Our apartment rental was in the Marais and we booked it through CobblestoneParis (Le Gourmet du Marais). A very nice 1-bedroom apartment in a convenient location. We were able to pretty much walk everywhere and there were a lot of shops nearby to pick up take-out foods such as baguettes, cheese, wine, quiche, fresh fruit and pastry for breakfast. The boys slept on the pullout sofa (which sadly never was made back into a couch our entire stay). Overall a great apartment. NOTE: it overlooks a very busy café. The windows are totally soundproof but in the summer, it will be loud with the windows open.

Teen Opinion: That was the best apartment and best shower ever. The
location was really really really good.

After lunch at a small café on a side street which amazingly came to a whopping 170 Euros, we picked up wine, cheese and bread for dinner and returned for naps because the plan was to recover and go the Louvre (Friday nights the Louvre is open). We got the four-day Museum passes, walked to the Louvre from our place and breezed right in at 7:00. I won’t say the Louvre was empty but it was as close to it as you will get. Unfortunately, teen boys lasted about 90 minutes and it was hard to argue with jet lag.>>>> (continued)

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Enjoyed the report. I too am a fan of Cobblestone Paris, I will be spending 6 nights in Le Merlot du Marais at the end of May.

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Day 2
On our morning walk to Musee D’Orsay we passed Sainte-Chapelle and saw no line. Good to be flexible and change up plans when there is an opportunity to avoid crowds in Paris in April.

Sainte-Chapelle is another beautiful gothic chapel and part of the Palais de la Cite. Built by King Louis IX between 1241 he hoped to make Paris the second capital of Christendom after Rome. Good news is that it's covered by the Museum Pass. Security is tight because it shares an entrance with the courthouse. This is a must see despite a Trip Advisor review of: “well if you like glass, it's ok I guess but there is nothing much here.” Well beyond the incredible stained glass, true nothing much inside because during the revolution, like many churches in France, it was sacked as a symbol of royalty through divine right.

Teens Opinion: "This was pretty mystical and incredible. Walking along the river is really nice.

By the time we got to Musee D’Orsay it was still early enough to beat the lines. Even if you dislike impressionism, the building itself is a stunning remodeling of the Gare d'Orsay. With a Museum Pass you go right in to security. Wonderful to see Manet and cut through all the saccharin Renoir that seem to be everywhere. There was also a Van Gogh/Gaugin exhibit which the boys both liked a lot and an exhibit on black models in French art which was much much bigger than I thought it would be with ravenous teens….but that is where Olympia is displayed and I was going to see that painting, darn it. Interesting show but the teens were done.

We walked to Au Pied de Fouet, a small bistro with classic French dishes for lunch. The salads in France are amazing but we find a lot of the food is a little bland. Again, our simple lunch was about 140 Euros. Walked home and grabbed ice cream at Pozzetto (long line) and nap time.

Teen Opinion My lunch was good but dad’s cooking is a lot better. I wish there was some more flavor like maybe garlic. Be careful what you get at Pozzetto, mine was not ice cream but sorbet and I didn’t care for it.

We decided to window shop in the Marais after our nap and pick up some dinner to eat at our comfortable apartment. Everyone told us we must go to the concept store Merci: three floors!! For us, a disappointment. It was filled with a lot of things I see in every single boutique in Brooklyn except at three times the price. My son was hoping to get some “streetwear” but the prices are just a lot higher in Paris than in NY. We grabbed lasagna and other Italian food from the place across the street (delicious) and some more cheese and bread.

Day 3.
Got up early and walked to Poilane to get the bread that we kept hearing about. Yes, amazing—be sure to go and don’t freak out when you see bread loafs the size of a wagon wheel. You won’t be taking that home—you ask for them to cut part of it off for you. We don’t speak French beyond what we learned via the Mango app and were able to get what we wanted. We also picked up a roasted chicken, salad, and French Asparagus on our walk back. Dinner was set. Vegetables and fruit are so flavorful in France and we highly recommend the roasted chickens.

We headed to the bird market but with the Notre Dame fire the area was closed off and so there were really only a couple of cages of birds out and not worth stopping.

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Musee D’Cluny was up next and again covered by the Museum Pass. This is a Medieval museum built over Roman baths that features the famous tapestries of a lady, a unicorn and lots of animals. The rest of the museum is closed for renovation unfortunately for me (and a high five for the teens). The tapestries are woven from wool and silk, and illustrate the five senses with a sixth mysterious sense. They all feature a unicorn. With the museum pass, this is totally worth a stop and the gift shop is lovely. Not to be sexist, but teen girls might like these tapestries because of all those unicorns and animals.

Teen Opinion: This was OK. Not my favorite.

From there, the day went downhill fast. We went to the Luxembourg Gardens and it was hot and we were hungry and the wind was blowing dust. I know people find these gardens enchanting but we just did not. We left to pick up lunch at Moulet which was farther than we thought. We started to argue. Got sandwiches and headed back to the park. My son hated his sandwich and since he is a diabetic this caused some stress. My husband spilled some of his lunch on his pants and that made him irritable. We left the garden feeling demoralized. If you like picnics, this place is for you. We realized, living in NY, we prefer rural picnics and not city park picnics.

Teen Opinion: Go enjoy and watch the boats but note the shade gets taken fast and it is really hot.

After our afternoon nap we walked to L’Orangerie to see Monet’s water lilies. Long walk from our place. As we walked through the Touleries another dust storm hit and my son’s kicks got dirty and he was not happy. Please day…. Get better already. We arrived as the guard turned away visitors because the ticket counter just closed. Could our day be continuing its trek downhill? I decided to be the obtuse American and show our museum pass and just assume it was open We were ushered right through.

Tip: The ticket counter closes 45 minutes before but you can still get in with your museum pass and guess what? Miss the crowds! Definitely water lilies are a must see. The rest of the museum is ok.

We walked to a café and sat with our espressos and orange sodas and people watched before heading to the cliché sunset tourist boat trip. We took Rick Steve’s advice for which boat to use and not sure I agree, I think it was a mistake. We sat on the port side and all the sights, by the way, are on the Starboard side and the audio tour was so basic and translated into 6 languages that it was useless. BUT that being said, it was beautiful. We saw a lot of smaller tour boats and not sure if the audio was really necessary.

Teen Opinion: Get there early for a good seat but it was a lot of fun. And scope out the boarding of the boat before the crowds rush on and take all the good seats.

OK after the tour we were really exhausted and we called an Uber. It was six euros home and worth every penny.

Day 4
Another day we had not really planned well. We decided to take in the view at the Pompidou since we have the museum pass. I am not much of a housecleaner but those dirty Hamster Habitrail tubes made me want to get some Windex and go to town. The building is starting to look a little sad on the outside but much better inside. The teens asked if we could stay and look at the art. YES! We focused only the contemporary collection and everyone enjoyed it a lot. A lot of interactive art which they really liked a lot.

Teen Opinion: There was a lot of cool stuff in here. I recommend it. Don’t bring little kids because there was some really explicit stuff on the contemporary floor. The museum pass though does not work for special exhibits.

We took our son to some streetwear and used clothing stores but he is indecisive and prices were high. Since our French dining was not working out for us we stopped at Ippudo, a well known and very good Ramen chain.

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........ From there a friend had recommended the artist Gustave Moreau’s home and studio. This was off the beaten path and I am not sure it was worth the trek for our short stay. I never cared for his work but I had heard his home was beautiful and it is. If we were in Paris for a week. Maybe. And… it is covered on the Museum Pass too. We were all tired and needed espresso and an Uber.

Teen: It’s kind of an ugly neighborhood. The art is OK but it was sort of cool walking through the house. If you are around there drop in but not worth going out of your way.

After a break at the apartment, we walked around some more and sat in Place des Vosges, which was lovely. Headed back to pack up our stuff. Teens have a way of spreading clothes everywhere.

Next up Provence

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Chapter Two: Provence (or in 500 meters, at the Roundabout take your first right). PART 1

Day 5

I booked our train tickets several months in advance so that we could take a first-class train to Aix En Provence where we would pick up our rental car. The boys have always wanted to ride on a double-decker train when we visit Japan (where they are expensive) and so this was a treat (40 Euros each).

We booked our car through AutoEurope (a consolidator) who selected Europcar. Our experience was NOT great. A quick summary is we were told the class of car we booked was way too small for us (which seemed odd as it was a mid-sized sedan); we were getting a hard sell to upgrade if we wanted to bring our luggage with us (oh, we’ll leave our 4 small carryon suitcases here). As we went back and forth I finally said, “Can we see this car that is too small for us because I don’t mean to be the pushy American but we booked a mid-sized sedan and there should be a car in that class available to us without us paying another $300 for a car to put our luggage in. I do plan on complaining.” Suddenly there was a car. We got to the lot and it was a much bigger SUV than we wanted and it was completely encrusted in mud. This car was so big we could have brought Ikea furniture home in it.

Cassis: "Nobody shall say of me that I have not known perfect happiness." – Virginia Woolf in Cassis

Finding our AirBnB was definitely a little tricky but we recommend our lovely apartment near the waterfront on a quiet side street. We did not know that free parking is not possible in Cassis and the lot is the same price basically as Manhattan parking so factor that into your budget. An additional 28 Euros a day. You can also park outside of town and apparently take a shuttle bus in but we did not do that. The waterfront is absolutely gorgeous although in the summer it is probably loud so was glad to be on a side street.

Note: The Château de Cassis which overlooks the harbor is a privately owned resort. In the XV Century there were as many as 50 homes and 250 people living inside the castle walls and now that history is monetized by one person. I was ready to put on a yellow vest myself.

We really were looking forward to hiking but the weather was looking ominous. Heavy rain predicted. We drove out to take a look at the Calanques in the drizzle and then realized we had no dinner reservations. We had noticed a little restaurant called Le Patio near our house when we were rolling our suitcases. At 7:00 we got the only available table for the night, every other one was reserved. Really nice wine and salads and my risotto was good but my husband’s seafood dinner was wonderful.

Day 6

Next morning torrential rain and wind in the morning but it was market day and we weren’t going to miss that. We picked up salami and cheese to make sandwiches and again a roasted chicken and asparagus and greens for dinner. While in Provence we ended up at several markets and my husband liked this one best: it is small with a good selection. We went to L’Ou Cassidenne for bread and everyone agreed best croissants so far in France. I suspect because they were a little sweeter. The boys and I explored the waterfront and took great photos of waves smashing against the lighthouse and the shore.

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Cassis Continued:

Finally, 2:00 it cleared and we headed to the Calanques and parked at I believe Calanque de Port-Miou. There are not many parking spots here and you do feel a little sneaky because the street signs leading to this parking area seem to say “for residents only”….but it’s a perfect launching spot to start a hike. Just bring water and wear good shoes. We did encounter a wild boar but she seemed happy to go on her way.

Teen Opinion: Cassis is fun to walk around the beach and the lighthouse. The Calanques are beautiful because of the colors of the water and the mountains. Being at the top of the cliffs looking down was really cool. It’s a good workout. You feel you accomplished something when you do the full hike. I loved seeing new types of wildlife I haven’t seen before, that was very exciting for me.

Day 7

A bit cloudy and misty but we headed to Pont du Gard which is a big tourist attraction but really worth it. The highest and the only remaining three-story Roman aqueduct with three rows of arcades constructed to bring water to the fountains, baths and private homes of the city of Nimes. It is located in a beautiful park and of course, over the Gard River. You can bring a picnic and enjoy an afternoon there and with kids, they will really enjoy this time outdoors. We ate lunch at Les Terrasses Café Restaurant (the café in the park which has a lot of negative reviews btw) because we were between places to stay and did not pack lunches. Sure, a rip off with a view but my salad was actually good. The museum is very good and you will learn A LOT about how the Romans constructed and built aqueducts, In fact, more than you knew you wanted to know. It is a lot of reading because many of the “interactive” exhibits sadly were broken. Again, it was a misty day and there were very few people. We have been lucky at sneaking around crowds.

Teen Opinion: Teens will like this. I enjoyed climbing around the rocks and wish I had more time to explore around the river and underneath the aqueduct.

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Pitstop before St. Remy

“Death is the only freedom a slave knows.” –Kirk Douglas as Spartacus

Because our Gite in St. Remy was not ready we headed to Nimes to “kill time.” MISTAKE. I was really uncomfortable leaving the luggage in the car (even hidden). This felt like a BIG NO and so I was on edge. We went to the Arena of Nimes, built at the same time as the Colosseum. It was a fortress at one point and then a village and now one of the most heavily visited sites in Nimes. Maybe it was the luggage stress. Maybe it was the videos of Kirk Douglas as Spartacus or the Escape the Room set up. Or that the arena is still used and so there is a lot of metal stadium seating put over the original colosseum seats. Or perhaps it was comparing the experience of Pont Du Gard which had a good museum and beautiful grounds to this which felt kinda schlocky.

Teen Opinion: It was fine but be careful with your kids…. There are NO guardrails at the very top. Your kid can run right up and then right over the edge. The exhibits seemed like they had no idea what they were doing and in one room it was just a bunch of toys. One exhibit was this weird holographic thing of two gladiators fighting and it was really bad and did not look like gladiators at all
and not worth it.

Our Gite was ready and we headed to meet the owner, a very nice person who speaks no English.

Tip:* the new Google Translate App is great in this situation.

This house is very comfortable and if you have kids, they will love the pool but there is also a little garden where you can enjoy your breakfast or afternoon wine. Unfortunately, it was too chilly for us and we couldn’t utilize this wonderful feature. AND having a parking spot in St. Remy is awesome and I imagine necessary during the high season. You can walk to town but I won’t lie, it’s not a pretty walk there.

TORRENTIAL rain and we headed to Da Peppe for dinner and my kids were so happy to have lasagna and pizza. My husband and I shared a pie and a salad. Totally fine. The desserts looked obscenely big and since my son is a diabetic we discouraged ordering what appeared to be a barrel of ice cream that could be shared by a family of 6.

Teen Opinion: It was heavy but I liked it a lot. Massive portions and very fresh and good.

Day 8

Started this beautiful sunny day at Glanum right down the street from our place. Although primarily Roman ruins, its first inhabitants were Celto‐Ligurians who arrived here in the seventh or sixth century BCE next the Greeks and finally the Romans arrived. Across the street, are the “Les Antiques” (a mausoleum and triumphal arch—the oldest in Gaul--which linked Glanum to the main Roman thoroughfare connecting southern France to Italy. We enjoyed the laid back experience of walking around the ruins and I thought the audio guide was pretty good (the Celto-Liguarians were fierce warriers and often kept the heads of their victims in oil to show to visiting friends and family).The scale of the houses, even those who were rich was interesting (i.e.s small) and overall pretty well preserved.

Teen Opinion: I liked this and I liked hiking up and looking at the overview. It was a beautiful setting. Maybe not so spectacular
compared to other ruins. But I liked it and recommend it for teens.

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From there we walked down the road St. Paul de Mausole Asylum, the sanitarium where Vincent Van Gogh committed himself and spent a very productive year. Van Gogh lived in two small connected rooms; one was his bedroom, the second his studio. It is a very moving experience looking out his little window (especially to be in his room alone and not with a horde of tourists). Most of us have family or friends struggling with mental illness and reading the texts and seeing his simple room as it was recreated is poignant. Throughout the beautiful grounds, there are reproductions of Van Gogh’s paintings in front of the view he painted with excerpts from his letters. Very serene. Highly recommended.

Tip: As a side note, I did read several reports of car thieves in the parking lot stealing luggage so beware.

Headed into St. Remy for a lunch of Crepes at Creperie Lou Planet which was in the Rick Steve’s book. It was lovely to sit outside in the quiet shady square in the pouring rain while a homeless man watched us eat. Actually, the restaurant had a cool awning that came out and covered us as the rain increased from pouring to torrential. Although my kids were not huge crepes fans they loved the chocolate banana one for dessert and our server was very nice. From there, we were overdue for nap time to wait out the rest of the rain

But first we popped into La Cave aux Fromages to pick up our evening cheeses. I know there are some Trip Advisor reviews of “disgusting, rude and abrasive customer service,” but we didn’t find that. We did enter with a “Bon Jour Madame” and while we found the service overall in Paris to be much warmer and more forgiving of stumbling tourists, she was all business and found no reason to take it personally. We aren’t trying to make a best friend here, just get some Chabidchou du Poitou. With so many negative reviews, I have to say where there is smoke there is probably fire and so wanted to point out we personally did not experience the wrath of the infamous cheese lady.

Teen Opinion: I really liked the chocolate and banana crepe. I don’t really like a lot of food so that means it must be pretty good.

Late in the day, again after hordes of tourists left, we headed to Les Baux. Although inhabited since 6,000 BC, it was the warrior clan Les Seigneurs des Baux from the middle ages that really went to town at this location with their fortress/palace waging war and defending from this eagle’s nest. There are some interesting reproductions of weapons (including one just for the ladies to hurl rocks at the enemies). There is a superb view from this defensive position. I know they do some medieval re-enactment stuff earlier in the day which perhaps is good. We prefer wandering the ruins after most people leave. We took the recommended scenic drive back to St. Remy and for us, here scenic translated into extreme curves. I don’t think it was a particularly beautiful ride.

Teen Opinion: This was definitely worth a visit. I liked this a lot because we had a lot of freedom to explore and see different ruins and we learned how the weapons worked and you could imagine and piece together what it looked like. I liked the false door--. Great idea.

To be continued.....

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Fun posts! This one made me laugh out loud, welcome to Europe, right?!

Note at one point it did appear our driver aimed directly at a pedestrian as he stepped on the accelerator and shouted TOUCHE.

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LOVE this trip report. We did Paris with our 11 year old and 14 year old boys this past March and it was our first trip in a long time that had some real misses along with the hits where they were concerned. They just didn't take to it like they had other places.

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We read that the Arles Market is very good so we got up early to get a coveted parking spot in Arles. We found on market day, French drivers tend to be incredibly irritable especially in the parking garage. But we got a spot and headed out. My husband is a good driver but maybe he was too methodical in his hunt for a spot when the locals just wanted to get there and get their shopping done. Yes, the food is gorgeous but the rest looked like a very very long Dollar General store (or for those from Brooklyn, the 5th Avenue Street fair). All kinds of crap you never are going to use. We picked up dinner again: Sausage, bread, tomatoes, potatoes and bread. It was all delicious. The boys were not thrilled with the market experience. We grabbed some lunch (Paella and pizza) and were about to look at the Roman stadium when a tour bus pulled up disgorging a tour of exhausted-looking tourists and we decided… nope, not today We looked through the fence and that was good enough.

After lunch, we really were not sure of our plans. I kind of fell off on the planning part of our trip. I wanted to go to Avignon and see the Palace of the Popes but decided that was probably a trip without teens. So, although some on this board did not like Carmague, we decided on that for our afternoon trip. I was armed with mosquito repellant but being April, it was not necessary. The Camargue Natural Park includes a UNESCO designated wildlife preserve. And if you love birds, this does not disappoint. There were just a ridiculous amount of birds at Parc Ornithologique de Pont de Grau including the famed flamingos. But before we hit the very groomed trails, we did stop and have our espressos inside the park and watched some Egrets fight ringside. In addition to birds, we also so muskrat and yes, another wild boar. This one was not so friendly and I was glad there was water between us and “him.” I wish we had spent more time in this fascinating area of France but I didn’t plan well.

Tip: I think it's true, this could be a nightmare in the summer with mosquitos as I was told this over and over and over.

Teen Opinion: There are a lot species of birds and the flamingos are spectacular and crazy. And its pretty amazing to see them swarm and in the wild. But a lot of the birds are different species they did look exactly the same and might be more interesting to an aviary biologist.

We got back to St. Remy at 8:00 and tried to eat out with no reservations and that just wasn’t going to happen. The two places we wanted to go were totally booked. We were lucky to have some leftover food at home and made a quick dinner but I was very disappointed because I had wanted one really good Provencial meal and I did not get it and would not likely get it on our last day, a Sunday.

Tip: Make a dinner reservation in a small town!! No kidding.

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OK here is an example of cramming in way too much in one day. We got up and started with the manic Luberon hilltown tour.

First up, the market at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and this one did not disappoint. Sure, there was touristy stuff for sale but there were also some nice things: I bought a beautiful tablecloth (not the touristy ones I kept seeing everywhere) and three scarves, some nice soaps and honey as gifts. In fact, we are kicking ourselves that we did not get MORE honey there because it is delicious. Walking along the canals and waterwheels is really pretty. If it were warmer, I can imagine having lunch overlooking the river. But instead, we had a nice espresso and headed out. Maybe this could be a full day. Not sure.

Teen Opinion: This place is really special and I loved it. The market just had the usual stuff but the town and the water wheels I
will always remember.

Next up Gourdes which in this case I agree with Rick Steve. Take a picture and leave. But no… we stopped and had lunch. Sure it is beautiful but it felt very much like a stage set of wealthy people’s summer homes. It didn’t feel like a real town. And then there are the galleries with bad art and tourist shops. I really am NOT a shopper. So our lunch was fine but my sons were getting tired of my husband and his photos.

Teen Opinion: Not really worth dropping by. You can get the same view from other places.

Over to Sénanque Abbey built in the 12th century for Cistercian monks. Those monks of noble birth were pretty strict taskmasters for those who were born of humbler beginnings. Today there are still monks living and working at the abbey which is a very simple one with no frescoes, sculptures, or stained-glass windows yet it is quite beautiful and austere (what we saw of it). Because we don’t speak French we were not able to take a tour inside and that was disappointing. But walking the grounds, even without the lavender is really lovely. So it’s a trade-off: no crowds and no lavender or lavender and crowds I guess.

Teen Opinion: Personally I didn’t really care for it. It was interesting to know there are people devoting their lives to god and
maybe not even talking ever. And being really lonely. So if that interests you, drop by.

The manic whirlwind day is not over yet. Next up is Bories Village. Bories is a type of dry stone dwelling that goes back as far back as the Bronze Age. But nobody is really sure how old this particular village is; could be 7th century could be the 15th century. This village made me wish we had visited Versailles to really hammer home the difference to my teens what income inequality has looked like throughout history—illustrate how most people lived compared to the .5% of nobility in France who grabbed the lions share of the spoils. It was interesting and my husband took way too many photos and we still had one more stop on our final frenzied day. By now the boys were done but… but we weren’t so….onward….

Teen Opinion: It was interesting to see all the old structures like the pig pens and communal ovens and you could climb around this ancient town with very few restrictions. I recommend this stop.

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Arrived late Sunday afternoon to Roussillon and the light on the ochre and the buildings truly is beautiful and so out came my husband’s camera...... again! It was met with heavy sighs by the teens. Really nothing was open at this point unfortunately and we were all way too tired for a hike along the ochre trail.

Teen Opinion: If you are hungry come a little earlier. The view is the best when everything closes. From one side you can see all the yellow rock and incredible view. Also, there is a crepe stand and it is really slow because they also have to make all the crepes to supply the restaurant next door.

And that is the end of our trip.

Teen 1 Trip Highlights: Walking around Paris and walking along the river and looking at the houseboats. I loved the Venice of France: L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and I enjoyed watching the waves in Cassis.

My Trip Highlights: Going to local stores and markets to get our daily cheese and fresh fruit and vegetables. Saint Chapelle and those beautiful windows. Loved seeing the Manets at Musee D’Orsay and the women impressionists. Provence: Hiking in Cassis and Van Gogh’s little room were all memorable as was Les Baux in the evening. And I liked St. Remy a lot. Great base.

Husband Trip Highlight: Really really like Musee D’Orsay and seeing the Van Gogh exhibit. I liked our location in Paris and thought the shops were great: the cheese shop people were so nice, the vegetable stand always gave me fresh fruits to sample; the Italian shop gave me samples of salamis. Provence: I loved Van Gogh’s asylum too and Glanum. The hike in Cassis was really beautiful and the small market there was actually my favorite. It felt lest touristy offseason. There were so many great moments.

Teen 2 Trip Highlight: I liked Paris a lot and our location there was a lot of fun with all the shops and just walking. I really liked Cassis a lot.

Thanks everyone for reading!

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Thanks so much for the first ever, whole family report! Great insight and multiple perspectives.

Where are you going next as a family?

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I wish we were.... but we have twins and in two years they go to college... AT THE SAME TIME.. so I think no trips for a bit. But next in like 7 years? Sicily again!!

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This was really good acdesign, thanks for taking the time to write it and share with us.
We’re going to western Provence in mid-Sept (1st time) and i’d like your opinion please... stay in St Rémy or Isle-sur-la-Sorgue?

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Susan good question. Will you have a car? I think that is the main concern because really nothing is THAT far from each other by car. We were not in L’Isle Sur La Sorgue long enough for me to be the best judge. But if September is still warm, being around all that water would be very nice and I definitely wished we had more time to spend there. There were a lot of interesting antique shops and we should have had lunch there and not Gordes.

One thing about our place in St. Remy though is we had a garden and a pool which would also be nice on a hot day but still within walking distance to the center of town. The other thing about St. Remy is it's known to have much better restaurants than L’Isle Sur La Sorgue. St. Remy is a great base.

And if you are going to have a car.... where will you park? Something we had not thought of in Cassis. If no car, St. Remy does not have a train station as far as I know.

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acdesign, thank you. We will have a car. Your feedback is really helpful. We’ve had a nice hotel with pool in the center of St Rémy booked for 2 mos, so we’ll keep it. Been torn between Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and St Rémy as a base from the get go as both sound really good.

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11577 posts

Thank you ALL so much for a terrific Trip Report! I love the input from the teens as their opinions are valuable as well.

I couldn't believe it when I started reading your TR. I'm a solo traveler and have signed up for a Road Scholar tour of Provence in October that stays in Aix and Arles and goes to about 3/4 of the things you have listed. I was thrilled to see your take on things as well as the kids view of the area. One of the places we are scheduled to go is the Camargue and I AM a birder. Not sure we will have much time but may be able to glimpse a few birdie-wirdies since I am a birder! I would ~love~ to see those flamingos and get them on my life list. (Yes, have seen them at Disney but not in the wild).

Anyway...Have gone thru my itinerary as I read your TR and made notes for myself.

Thanks so much!

PS Have you all seen the movie Loving Vincent about Van Gogh? I saw it last year and it was wonderful. I want to see it again before I travel to Provence. It uses his pictures that are then animated to tell the story. Very good. Slightly weird until you figure out what is going on but your teens might like it.

Posted by
3431 posts

I enjoy reading trip reports, but I loved reading this one. The addition of comments from the teens was a really nice touch. I also liked that you shared the hits, the misses, the joy, and the grumpiness. Really, really nice report. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by
965 posts


This is such a fabulous report of your time as a family traveling in France. Love the way you have laid this out, with the Teen remarks and Tips indented into the script. Very thoughtful. Also, I loved this remark:

“But first we popped into La Cave aux Fromages to pick up our evening cheeses. I know there are some Trip Advisor reviews of “disgusting, rude and abrasive customer service,” but we didn’t find that. We did enter with a “Bon Jour Madame” and while we found the service overall in Paris to be much warmer and more forgiving of stumbling tourists, she was all business and found no reason to take it personally. We aren’t trying to make a best friend here, just get some Chabidchou du Poitou. With so many negative reviews, I have to say where there is smoke there is probably fire and so wanted to point out we personally did not experience the wrath of the infamous cheese lady.”

So true! I found friendly people in Paris on both of my very short visits. One visit was with my then 10 year old granddaughter. We had an absolutely great trip together about two years ago. Love reading your report and look forward to some more..


Posted by
2344 posts

Fabulous report!
I love the bits about wild boars and murderous Uber drivers!