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Provence itinerary

by sbbrownie »

We are going to Provence for the first time and we are very excited!  We will have about 5 days and planned to stay most of the time in Gordes, traveling around the Luberon and Avignon and Arles and the wine area.

My husband is wondering if we should go to the Coast while we are here -- but I'm afraid we'd be spreading ourselves too thin. What do people think?

Thanks so much for your help,

Barry & Susan

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RE: Provence itinerary

by PHeymont »

I don't know what season you'll be in Provence, or what your main interests are (although I'm guessing wine is one?) but I can say this: Don't make too long a list: five days is not a lot, and while driving through the countryside in Provence is pleasant, you'll want to use your time to get a real look and feel of a village or two at a slow pace.

If you go to Avignon, you'll certainly want to make a day of it; perhaps a bit less time in Arles, but it's a longer drive.

There are sizable markets in a number of the towns; I'm most familiar with the large one in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, but there's a large one closer to Gordes in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Certainly try to make time for the markets. 

If you went to the coast, what would you be looking for? Certainly a big day, but there are attractions such as the Camargue (about a 4-hour roundtrip, though). If it's just to see a beach, though, probably not worth your time.

Each of the Luberon villages has a character of its own; some are in valleys where water has shaped their history, such as Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, where the Sorgue begins; others, like Bonnieux, cling to hilltops. Those two are quite near Gordes, and worth a visit—but don't forget to spend a good bit of your time getting to know your home base!

For a number of blogs (mine and others) on Provence and some of those villages on TravelGumbo.com. Just click and search and type in Provence

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RE: Provence itinerary

by Road Crazy »

Will you have five full days, or will part of one day be the day you arrive in Provence?

Be forewarned, there is a lot to see and do in this area.  I spent two weeks there and never made it to Avignon, and I was busy!

Plan at least one day for the Luberon.  You will want at least one full day for the impossibly charming villages, but you will probably want at least one day more for visiting vineyards.

Plan a day for Avignon.  You may want to take a detour for a couple hours to see the impressive Pont du Gard.

Arles is smaller than Avignon, but if you are interested in its Roman history, there is plenty to see, including the very informative and interesting archaeological museum and the wonderful arena, still in use today.

I would highly recommend a day-trip to Les Baux de Provence.  This is a ruined castle complex on the flat top of a hill, complete with mock-ups of medieval siege weapons, surrounded by a somewhat lunar landscape, overlooking a very pretty if touristy village.  But the single biggest draw might be the stunning  territorial views from the top.  I wouldn't miss it.  This could be easily combined with a morning stop at St-Remy's farmers market if you can go on a Wednesday (market day).  If not on a market day, you could probably mix it with a relatively brisk visit of Arles (which has its own huge farmers markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays).

Just a note, I found myself making a point of hitting a farmers market nearly every day.  They are great places to pick up a great picnic and really a treat just to walk through.  They start around 8:00 or 9:00 (come early for easiest parking and best pick of the produce) and are all done by around noon.

If you want to go to the coast, my pick would be tiny Cassis.  It's somewhere between 1.5 and 2 hours each way.  It has a tiny, unimpressive beach, but its big draw is boat tours of the calanques, inlets in rocky cliffs.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  The little village is good for a walk-around as well.  I would make a decision about whether to visit after you arrive.  I think you will find yourselves busy enough, but if you feel you have the time, Cassis is a worthwhile visit.

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RE: Provence itinerary

by mquartz »

If you're there on a Sunday, ask around to find out if there is a Course Camarguaise going on nearby, preferably in a small town where it is like a family affair. It is the bloodless bull"fight" where the bull does not get hurt and always wins. It is great fun - the bull comes prancing in with a little rosetta glued or stuck between the horns, and some young guys risk getting close enough to snatch that rosetta away. The bull chases them, they jump over the enclosure, eventually the bull gets a round of applause and struts out. Nobody gets hurt - well, certainly not the bull. Kids love it. Entrance fee is cheap in small towns. No frills, no big deal, just a provincial tradition and fun to watch.

More here: http://www.avignon-et-provence.com/camargue-provence/#.VsVTJ-ml1do

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