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your opinion on this provence-itinerary - we stay in St-Rémy

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Beveren, Belgium
posts: 50
reviews: 2
your opinion on this provence-itinerary - we stay in St-Rémy

Next week we will be on our way to the Provence. It is probably our only chance to visit the region, so I would like to see as much as possible. We will be staying 2 weeks in a house in Saint-Rémy as I thought this would be the ideal base for a lot of daytrips. We are a family of 2 adults and 3 kids (8-11-14 yrs) so we want to do different things as everyone has different interests.

This is what we have in mind :

Day 1 : before arriving in St-Rémy we would visit Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Day 2 : we'd stay in St-Rémy as the Féria is held that weekend

Day 3 : Arles

Day 4 : trip through Alpilles and visit to Les Baux

Day 5 : Carpentras and Bédoin (as a friend of ours is staying overthere)

Day 6 : Camargue, horseriding, and Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer

Day 7 : Beaucaire

Day 8 : Tarascon

Day 9 : Avignon

Day 10 : St-Tropez (I know it's a long drive, but I really want to visit this town ! we will be leaving very early and we will be driving to Ste-Maxime and take a boat to St-Tropez, this to avoid traffic jams around/in St-Tropez, it's a Monday so no weekend- or marketday)

Day 11 : St-Rémy (this will be a Tuesday and there is an eveningmarket but first we plan to visit the monastère and glanum/les antiques)

Day 12 : Accropassion : adventure trails in trees, near Salon-de-Provence

Day 13 : Aigues Mortes

Day 14 : St-Rémy (pack our stuff and hopefully a visit to the musée des alpilles)

Day 15 : leave

It may look very cramped, but a lot of the time we will be doing half day trips (for instance leave at 1pm until evening or else leave in the morning and return at about 3 pm so we also have time to rest or go for a swim).

Do you think this is doable ? Any suggestions/remarks ?

Paris, France
posts: 6,934
reviews: 4
1. Re: your opinion on this provence-itinerary - we stay in St-Rémy

I think your schedule looks fine and not cramped at all. Actually, on some of your days I think you could do more. But, you said you are only doing half day trips so then again, maybe not. On days 7 and 8 you have devoted a full day each to Beaucaire and Tarascon. There towns are right next to each other and could easily be done on the same day. Why these two towns? They're nice little towns but certainly not one of the big draws in the region. You haven't even mentioned visiting one of the biggest draws in the region which are the perched villages of the Luberon (Gordes, Bonnieux, Rousillon etc.). Nor have you mentioned visiting the Roman aquaduct the Pont du Gard and the lovely nearby town of Uzès. Near here is the town of Collias where you can rent canoes and float down the river under the Pont. I bet the kids would like this. Just my opinion but I would scrap Beaucaire and Tarascon in favor of Uzès and the Pont du Gard or the villages of the Luberon anyday.

I don't find Saintes Maries de la Mer all that interesting, unless you are really into Gypsy music and The Gypsy Kings, or perhaps you want to spend time at the beach. Near here is the medieval walled city of Aigues-Mortes, which I bet the kids would enjoy more.

You've got two weeks so you've got plenty of time to see enough to make a wonderful vacation. Get guidebooks for the region if you haven't already (Michelin Green guides are good). I assume you'll have a car so make sure you've got your maps (I like the Michelin maps and get the ones with the scale of 1/200,000).

Paris, France
posts: 6,934
reviews: 4
2. Re: your opinion on this provence-itinerary - we stay in St-Rémy

Oops, noticed that Aigues-Mortes was already on the itinerary.

Destination Expert
for Provence
posts: 3,580
reviews: 2
3. Re: your opinion on this provence-itinerary - we stay in St-Rémy

It is wonderful that you have already created a list of places that you want to visit, however, I urge you to NOT think of this as a real schedule.

Instead, I urge you to consider setting up a series of day-trips from your base in St. Remy - we have been spending every September nearby, in Maussane-les-Alpilles since 1995, so we are quite familiar with the region, and, I would urge you to consider doing a bit more consolidation.

For instance, consider doing Beaucaire and Tarascon on the same day as neither really deserves a full day's exploration, and both can easily be explored in well less than a day, even if you decide to go on Tuesday ( Market day in Tarascon, which is wonderful ! ) - doing so will open up another day for you to explore another place.

With regard to St. Remy, Why not do it on Wednesday - when you can do the awesome Market in the morning, enjoy your mid-day meal, and visit another nearby site (Les Baux etc. ) in the afternoon. Think about visiting Glaunum on another (non- Market-day morning.

I have to confess that I have NEVER heard about Accropassion, so, I would not even think about devoting a day giong there.

PS - A number of the plaaces that you have mentioned are ideal for swimming opportunities, so, you may want to think about not having to rush back to your residence to take a swim.

Beveren, Belgium
posts: 50
reviews: 2
4. Re: your opinion on this provence-itinerary - we stay in St-Rémy

Thanks for your replies !! They were really helpful and I will probably update my schedule a bit now !

As I put day 1, day 2 etc in my message, it does seem that the whole trip is already completely scheduled, but only a couple of days are certain, the rest we can always switch or do something else which may not be on the list.

Beaucaire and Tarascon : I understand the comments ! But on the day of Beaucaire my friend (whom we'll visit in Carpentras/Bédoin) is coming and as she has kids as well, we will first visit 'le vieux mas', an old farmhouse/school and then later on the day (at about 5 pm) we will be going to Beaucaire, to visit the castle and watch a bird show there and afterwards visit the town and the market near the river which is held on Friday evenings. So we won't be there the whole day.

The day I put Tarascon, is a day I planned to do the shopping and laundry in the morning and early afternoon and then in the later afternoon a visit to Tarascon as this is not very far. Perhaps we could visit Gordes or Menerbes then, but it's further away and I think it will be very crowded on Saturday afternoon. But perhaps we just have to try it ! Which would you recommend if we have to choose one ??

Following your advise I will probably do the following switch : after the horse riding in Camargue we could go to Aigues Mortes and on the day we planned Aigues Mortes we could visit Uzès and the Pont du Gard ! Thanks for the tip. We don't necessarely have to go to the beach so we'll skip Stes-maries-de-la-Mer. and I think the kids will love the canoing more than going to the beach.

A few other questions on St-Rémy : which is better : the market on Tuesday evening or on Wednesday morning ? And is the Monastère ok to visit ? We will be visiting the one in Arles so perhaps we'll skip the one in St-Rémy ? Is the Vincent Van Gogh Walk recommendable (starts near Glanum/Monastère and is a short walk) ?

Thanks again for your expertise !! We do have the Michelin Guide (and it's been really helpful planning) but advise from someone who's been there so often is so much better I think.

posts: 10,190
5. Re: your opinion on this provence-itinerary - we stay in St-Rémy

I agree with the others about adding the Pont du Gard and also trying to get to the Luberon. I think children would like Roussillon best - though you may not, as the walk through the ochre quarries will colour their feet (there is a tap by the entrance where you can sluice them off). They might also like L'Isle sur la Sorgue if you are passing, as there are several waterwheels. Actually the nearby walk up to the Fontaine de Vaucluse passes a water-powered mill which makes paper out of rags, if they might like noisy machinery.

Please let us know how you get on at Accropassion - we may be back in the area next year and some of our group would probably like to go.

Enjoy your holiday!

Paris, France
posts: 6,934
reviews: 4
6. Re: your opinion on this provence-itinerary - we stay in St-Rémy

Now I understand the logic of Beaucaire and Tarascon. Kids and friends are involved.

Staying away from the Luberon on a Saturday may not be a bad idea. You might also want to avoid popular places on market days, unless your intention is to go to the market yourself. Being high season in Provence you're likely to run into crowds anywhere and/or everywhere but don't let that prevent you from doing what you want to do. Remember, you're part of the crowd too so enjoy it and make it part of the fun. Embrace the mass of humanity.

That's good you're not sticking to an exact schedule but rather a list of places on the wish list. And I bet when you get there you'll find out about things you weren't even aware of, or you'll just change your mind about something. You'll probably run into other travelers who will give you suggestions. Make sure to stop in tourist offices wherever you go as they are full of free information, and you can usually get a free map of the town you are visiting.

Gordes is under a one hour drive from St. Remy, 45 minutes per viamichelin.com. If you haven't found/used the viamichelin.com website you should. Gives drive times, distances, toll and fuel costs, suggested routes. It doesn't consider traffic or stops.

I think your switch of Aigues-Mortes/Uzès/Pont du Gard is a good one.

Can't help you with the monastery or Van Gogh questions. Sorry. I would imagine the Wednesday market is better than Tuesday evening but I haven't been myself.

Sounds like you've got the right approach to the trip and have done all the planning now you just need to get there and start enjoying. Have fun!

Destination Expert
for Provence
posts: 3,580
reviews: 2
7. Re: your opinion on this provence-itinerary - we stay in St-Rémy

Hi Chastel,

Vis-a-vis Tarascon, I have to confess, that I usually do the laundry just before we go to bed, and hang it up (takes about 8 - 10 minutes ) before we leave in the morning - needless to say, it is bone dry by the tine we get home in the afternoon. Also, you may want to just think about picking up whatever food you need on a daily basis.

Les Stes. Maries de-la-Mer are well worth a visit. In all honesty, I love the Camargue, Please keep in mind that is in the Camargue, but it is vast area, and could easily occupy 2 days . I have to confessw that I am not a Pont-du Gard fan, but to each his/her own.

Regarding the market in St. Remy - I didn't even know that there was anything going on Tuesday evening. Must be pretty minimal, so, forget about it, and go for the awesome Wednesday market! - NB: we have been spending September in Maussane-les-ALpilles since '95, only about a 2 - 15 minute drive from St. Remy, and have NEVER seen any evidence of any market on Tuesday.

Beveren, Belgium
posts: 50
reviews: 2
8. Re: your opinion on this provence-itinerary - we stay in St-Rémy

just a quick reply : the Tuesday market is only in the summer months I read, so perhaps not in Sept anymore. We probably do both and if I don't forget I will let you know afterwards which is best !

Sydney, Australia
posts: 19,226
reviews: 50
9. Re: your opinion on this provence-itinerary - we stay in St-Rémy

2 weeks. What a gift!

Lots of replies and I may not have absorbed them all so forgive me if I reiterate someone else's ideas.

Beaucaire/Tarascon are across the river from each other and there is little to see apart from the castles, so together they are only a half day. Tarascon castle is intact and very beautiful. Beaucaire is a ruin. It was supposed to have a raptor display when we were there. Check, because it may be wonderful or it may no longer exist. The nearby Aigues Mortes can be visited in conjunction or you can do it with the Carmargue.

You MUST see Fontaine de Vaucluse. The source of the Sorgue river, it has a mild seeming bottomless pool as the source, which then seethes into the canyon. It also seethes from under the rocks in an amazing display of water power. The paper mill is worth a visit.

The markets at Isle sur la Sorgue are extensive, more things than food. The town is a delight. We stayed for a week in 2008 and loved it to bits. The Cathedral d'Images at Les baux is amazing. A huge quarry underground from which they extracted blocks of Bauxite. Now they project images and play music. Different each year. This year Australia. The place looks like the Temple of karnak.

See Glanum, an old Greek and Roman site. See Pont du Gard and maybe picnic, swim or kayak under it. You cannot fail to be amazed. If possible, visit the nearby town of Uzes. Park and actually walk into the hidden centre where arches surround the Places des Herbes.

I agree though, have geographical groups of things you can see but don't hold yourself to an itinerary. One day you will feel like castles, another like a beach. The weather will play a part. Just go with a list and be prepared to abandon it when something better come along.

Have a great trip


Destination Expert
for Provence
posts: 3,580
reviews: 2
10. Re: your opinion on this provence-itinerary - we stay in St-Rémy

While we love Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, please keep in mind that it puts on the best show in the late Winter through mid to late Spring, as that is when the water really surges out at a tremendous rate. During the rest of the year the rate of flow is greatly reduced.

In mid-August you may want to consider taking one of the Kayak Verte guided canoe trips down the Sorgue - www.canoefrance.com

I suspect that your children will love it!

Edited: 8:30 am, August 09, 2010