Two Weeks in Provence
Pont de Gard is located about halfway between Avignon and Nimes.
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Another place nearby to visit is Uzes. We didn't make it to Uzes, but we were told by many people that is worth a visit. Actually, there are many other places to visit within an hour's drive from Avignon, but we were limited by the rain. We did get to Nimes, and visited the arena there, which is one of the best preserved arenas anywhere and is still in use. On the other hand, it was raining hard while we were there and even the lions refused to perform. Nimes is a very pleasant town and I'm sure we would have enjoyed it a lot more if it hadn't been raining so hard.
Here you can see the " gladiators " who were with us in the rainy arena.
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Other places we visited within an hour of Avignon and well worth visiting are Salon de Provence, St. Remy de Provence, and les Baux de Provence. Les Baux, as the name implies is beautiful and very impressive, built on an outcropping of mountain with incredible views and lots of shops. Also, there is a museum which includes access to the ramparts of the old castle. Also, not to be missed is the village of L'Isle sur-la-Sorgue which should be visited on Sunday morning when the entire town turns into a giant market.
Orange is a pleasant little town very close to the wine growing area around Chateauneuf de Pape.
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More about Orange later. In Orange we ate at a very good restaurant called Parvis. The highlight of this meal was the salmon baked in pastry dough. We also at a restaurant which specializes in dishes with truffles called la Beaugravier in Gravier. The food and service were excellent, but I can't say that we understand the obsession of truffle lovers.
We drove to Montelimar mainly to escape from the rain. Montelimar is the home of the nougat candy and every other store is a candy store selling a wide variety of nougat.
Chateauneuf and the surrounding villages For wine lovers, this is one of the meccas of wine growing. For those who don't understand the significance of the area, when the Popes lived in Avignon, they decreed that all the wine grown in the jurisdiction of Chateauneuf was reserved for the Pope and his court. For this reason, very good and very sophisticated wine was developed here and wine produced in the area is considered among the best produced in France. The wine called Chateauneuf de Pape is made of thirteen!
We enjoyed visiting the wineries and tasting wines. A village not far from Chateauneuf which also has very good wine is Gigondas. I had never heard of Gigondas wine before I visited here, but now, I won't forget it soon. I enjoyed it more that the Chateauneuf wines. Also, Gigondas has a very slick system of wine tasting. In the center of town there is a "village wine center" where you can taste wines from most of the Gigondas wineries and select the ones you want to buy. It's for free and you aren't obligated to buy anything.
On the other hand, it is expected that you leave a tip for the girl behind the counter. We saw it from afar 2 or 3 times because every day we were there, it was raining. We stayed at a wonderful 4 star Bastide called Mas d'Entremont. It is perched on a hill overlooking Aix, has a wonderful restaurant and provided great service in every way.
Aix is a beautiful city with the very impressive main street, the Cours Mirabou, and a beautiful cathedral. We enjoyed Aix, although we somehow missed out in picking restaurants.
The only really good one was at the hotel. The most interesting one was the "two garcons", which is a huge, casual bar and restaurant specializing in seafood. Aix is famous for its connection to Cezanne who lived here, painted here, and became obsessed with the St. Victoire Mountain which is just to the east.
There are Cezanne museums, Cezanne workshops, the house where Cezanne lived, the house where Cezanne painted, the house where Cezanne The colors of the sky here are indeed very unusual and very beautiful. It's worth driving to the east and around St. There are several picturesque villages where Cezanne painted or slept. While we were staying in Aix, we drove to Cassis. Cassis is a classic Meditteranean seaport and the day we were there was the first sunny day we had seen in days. Cassis was a delight and is famous for its boulliabaise. We ate at a wonderful restaurant called Romano's right in the port.
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We of course, had the Boulliabaise. It was very good, but reminded us of truffles, that is, we enjoyed it but we wouldn't go out of our way to find it again. Here's a picture of the cassis " fish market ". On the way out of Cassis, drive to the east to La Ciotat on the cliff road something de cretes. It is a fabulous ride. Click here for a great example of the view.
The major towns are St. Raphael, Cannes, Antibes, and Nice. East of Nice is Monte Carlo. The Riviera is actually part of a wider region known as Cote d"Azur which included the hills to the north of the coast. In these hills are many beautiful villages. Here's a summary of what we saw on the Riviera. Tropez is not very attractive and we didn't stay there very long. On the pther hand, right near St. Tropez is a beautiful little port town called Port Grimaud.
It's absolutely beautiful, and you can click here to see a beautiful pic! For another view of Grimaud where it looks like a clean Venice , click here.
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Cannes, on the other hand was a pleasant visit. Antibes - Antibes was a delight. We loved strolling on the ramparts. Here's a picture of Alisa posing on the ramparts. Nice is a truly beautiful city. It's buildings are scrubbed clean and all very stylish. It's beach is long and attractive. Its old city is great. Here, we found one of best restaurants of our trip - "Auberge des Artes". This is a restaurant in the old city with a chef who is obviously an artist.
You have to see his creations to believe them. Each one is an architectural monument. Nice is a town we would like to revisit. Here's a postscript to our visit to Nice. We enjoyed Nice so much during our short visit, we went back and spent a long weekend there in March to celebrate our 30th anniversary.
We weren't disappointed, and enjoyed it very much.
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We stayed at the Hotel Park , which is located right in the center of town near the Ruhl casino. The Hotel Park is a good 4 star hotel with a perfect location. They have 3 forks, but no star. Here's a site to check out for a long list of good restaurants in France, including all the details about "Christian Plumail". In the hills above Nice In the hills north of Nice are quite a few interesting towns.
I guess one possibility would be to return from Nice directly to Paris, but the train ride is quite a bit longer and our son will probably get carsick or restless, so I'd rather break the trip down.
So two weeks altogether? If you are hoping to see lavender in bloom, then I would reserve Western Provence for your second week and return to Paris from Avignon by train. Your chances of viewing lavender may be better in early July. Can you fly into Paris and out of Nice or vice versa, or do you already have your air confirmed? So, perhaps take a train from Paris to Nice and explore Nice. Public transportation is excellent in and around Nice so you could do without a car.
Pick up a rental car on your way out of Nice and continue toward Western Provence. You could visit Aix for a half-day or a few hours, or you could stay overnight. There are also lovely villages above Nice and you could spend some time exploring these on the morning of your departure from Nice or you could take a bus for 1 Euro from Nice and do a day trip while staying in Nice. As far as crowds, the time of your visit will be warm and busy but I do not think there will be any difference in crowds between the first and second portion of your visit.
Regardless of how you end up dividing your stay, you better get cracking on reserving places to stay. It is an awfully popular time in Provence and you may find limited availability in more popular places. Personally, I would start the trip in Nice, and spend the second week in Western Provence - and for Western Provence, I urge you to seriously consider renting a house, as opposed to staying in a hotel. They will provide you with valid information regarding sites that will be interesting and educational for your child - you may end up deciding to spend the majority of your time in Western Provence because of all of the wonderful Roman and Medieval sites Nimes , Arles , Orange , Vaison-la-Romaine , Avignon , Aigues-Mortes , the Pont du Gard , St.
A third alternative is up the Route Napoleon towards Grasse and towards the mountainous Haute Provence the least populated department in France - somewhat scary - but gives you the opportunity to see the Gorges du Verdon , Europe's Grand Canyon, no less. Yes the public transport system is great around Nice and the Riviera, car parking is a nightmare. Thank you everyone for you advice.
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I'm a known procrastinator but finally got round to detailed planning and reserving hotels choices are limited now but not too bad yet. I actually prefer to spend only days in each town to cut on driving time our son gets carsick occasionally , so we're going to have several short-time bases. Could you name a few places on the way from Cassis where we're going to spend two nights and see the calanques to Nice which have the most breathtaking nature walks and views? The tour guides list so many that it is really hard to choose.
Best place to spend a couple of days on the coast? The scenery on "Route des Cretes" road between Cassis and La Ciotat could perhaps be described as breathtaking. There are some paths also as well as viewing points. Just have a look at this in Google Maps. There are nice places e.