Dear fellow travellers
Hope this is the right forum to post at - couldn't find one specifically for Southern France/Provence. If incorrect pls let me know where I should post in stead.
We are seasoned international travellers in our late 50th from Denmark, who is going to Cannes for a couple of weeks via Switzerland coming mid August. Driving our own car and having rented a private condo in Cannes. We have been numerous times to the coastal areas of Cote d'Azur, so know that part pretty well. However, normally we drive straight to the coast by means of the freeways - but this time, we would like to experience more of the French countryside driving smaller roads and experiencing the true French atmosphere. And we were thinking in terms of Route des Grandes Alpes//Route Napoleon with possible detours. Although no long distance in kilometres - we know driving smaller roads will take much longer time than we anticipate - and we do likewise wish to make stops enroute and take it easy. Hence, we need help to plan our trip from Zermatt to Cannes.
We have 3 days/2 nights available and thought, that we might do:
Day 1: Drive from Zermatt via Gr. St-Bernard-Aosta-Kl. St-Bernard to Val d'Isere for the first night. That would be entirely driving through mountain scenery - right?
Day 2: Drive from Val d'Isere via St-Michel-Col de Galibier-Vizille-Route Napoleon. But where should we stop for an overnight then? How far can we reach from Val d'Isere this day? And what should we stop and see once we reach Route Napoleon? Are there any wine estates or picturesque little hilltop villages, we ought to see?
Day 3: Drive from ? on Route Napoleon to Digne-les-Bains. Then make a detour via Mezel-Plateu de Vanlensole-Riez--Moustiers-Ste-Marie-Castelane-Cannes. We would like to experience the lavender fields and have read that you can do a 32km circle on the Plateau de Valensole visiting some lavender-producers. Would that be possible and a good idea? And will going "just" to Riez, be sufficient far enough to experience the lavender fields? Or do we need to go all the way to Greoux-les-Bains and then backtrack to Riez in order to follow Gorges du Verdon to Castellane? Will we have sufficient time to do all this in one day in a proper manner?
Alternatively, if you think we need more time on Route Napoleon, we could skip going via Routes des Grandes Alpes and instead go straight on the freeway from Zermatt via Chamonix-Annecy-Chambery-Grenoble and have our first stop at the top of Route Napoleon i.e. in Vizille or La Mure on day 1 - and take a second stop in Chateau Arnoux or Digne-les-Bains on day 2? Will that make a better itinerary?
What we enjoy the most is: NATURE SCENERIES - that is, mountains, meadows, winyards, lavender fields, authentic little medieval hilltop villages, village squares with cafés and slow local life. We dislike big cities/towns, tourism traps and we are not much into history, art nor churches. We love landscapes and views and the authentic French lifestyle. Do you have any suggestions for us, what we should see, where we should stop and how we can get the best French experience on this 3-day trip? Your suggestions highly appreciated.
PS: We love to stay at little charming, roustic hotels/guesthouses and dine where the locals eat. Nothing fancy but true French. Any lodging suggestion for our overnight stop/s and possible luncheons/dinners enroute?
Looking very much forward to hearing from you and thanking you in advance. Kindest regards - PURPLE