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south of france base

Ballarat, Australia
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south of france base

travelling with partner and 2 children (2 and 4) in April beginning in Italy, planning to catch the train to France (south) and pick up a hire car at the train station we then have 11 nights before staying in Paris. We are thinking a couple of nights on the coast, 7 nights in a gite and a couple of nights to travel to Paris. I am looking for suggestions on

1. where to catch the train to and stop on the south coast

2. suggestions on village to stay in for 1 week in good postition to do day trips in surrounding area, looking for somewhere that will have accommodation within the village, with cafes and bakery etc. interesting sights within the village

3.Suggestions on route Paris with stopover towns.

thanks

Ottawa, Canada
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1. Re: south of france base

>>>where to catch the train to and stop on the south coast

Nice makes sense... big city with lots to see and do... easy bus/train connections to

surrounding area and towns while there. Pick up your car when you leave. Use one of the downtown offices as it's an easy drive out of town and you'll save the 40 euro station/airport pickup charges.

Route to Paris... you'll have to decide. If you go west past Montpellier you can use the A75 and head north. Or turn north up the Rhone Valley and see Burgundy on your way. Another option would be the Route Napoleon to Grenoble then through Switzerland and on to Paris via Alsace... there are many ways to do it so you'll need to decide on a general route before getting specific.

London, United...
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2. Re: south of france base

Why not take the train to Nice. Nice itself is not really nice, but you couls take a car and visit Saint Paul de Vence which is beautiful.

Then drive along the coast and pass through Cannes (avoid if this is during the famous Film festival as traffic is terrible).

Continue along the coast and base yourself for a week inSt Tropez. The village is fantastic. Everything is open in April, and it is a great base to be for short trips around and sight seeing.

Then motorway up to Avignon and Lyon. Stay one night in Lyon. Great food and beautiful city centre. Lot's to see

Then if you want you could also syop in Beaune on your way to Paris. It is in Burgundy, and worth a visit if you like wine!

Enjoy,

London, United...
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3. Re: south of france base

Why not take the train to Nice. Nice itself is not really nice, but you couls take a car and visit Saint Paul de Vence which is beautiful.

Then drive along the coast and pass through Cannes (avoid if this is during the famous Film festival as traffic is terrible).

Continue along the coast and base yourself for a week inSt Tropez. The village is fantastic. Everything is open in April, and it is a great base to be for short trips around and sight seeing.

Then motorway up to Avignon and Lyon. Stay one night in Lyon. Great food and beautiful city centre. Lot's to see

Then if you want you could also syop in Beaune on your way to Paris. It is in Burgundy, and worth a visit if you like wine!

Enjoy,

Nice
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4. Re: south of france base

Nice is a beautiful small city- with lots of interesting art nouveau and art deco architecture, Roman ruins, a Russian cathedral, a huge medieval old town, an old port area, lots of museums [almost all of which are free entry] , natural parks and gardens , vinyards, lots of Baroque churches and 7km of pebble beach /promenade des anglais and the most amazing coloured sea

Additionally public transport in Nice is cheap and easy to use and it is easy to explore along the coast [eg to antibes, cannes, monaco etc

and inland to perched villages [Eze, St Paul de vence, Haut de cagnes etc etc as well as the mountains by bus or train.

Bus journeys in the Alpes maritimes cost one euro [except for express and interregional buses]

Liverpool
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5. Re: south of france base

Your plan sounds good, but you don't really give us much to work with. The south of France is a huge and diverse area. What kind of coastal place are you looking for? A City? A resort? A fishing village? And after your couple of days on the coast, what kind of area do you want to be in? What kind of day trips will you be doing? What are your interests?

Ballarat, Australia
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6. Re: south of france base

Thankyou for the replies, sorry macfarrag about being so vague, but unsure myself but everyones input helps makes things clearer, so a little bit more to work with -

We don't really want to stay on the coast for more than a couple of nights, we will have had a beach holiday at christmas in Australia, so would like to see a little of the coast for its scenery, and stay somewhere that will be easy to get 2 nights accommodation, with places to eat and if we need to have picked up the car to see along the coast, then somewhere we will be able to park. I do like the sound of avoiding the railway charge for picking up the car, so perhaps we could get the car on the second day, do a day trip and return to wherever we are staying. Or another option could be one night in Nice and a scenic drive the next day to another coastal town before going inland. Is there a "drive" along the coast? what would Marseille be like for one night? I am not sure how big these towns / cities are?

We will be spending 10 days in Paris to conclude our trip so I probably prefer not to be in a city, but how big are the fishing villages as far as single nights accommodation? any suggestions for one with a nice atmosphere?

The second night of our time in France will be Good Friday, is this a holiday in France? (this may mean we need to collect car on the 1st day) how will we go getting short stay accommodation.

Once we leave the coast again we would like to see some scenery, spend some time wandering around some quaint French villages, preferablt staying in a village that wwe can eat out, walk to the bakery in the morning, and be a good position to explore other villages and some historical sights. We are into wine but will have two small children in tow so this will limit our time wine tasting! Perched villages sound good, would there be one suitable to stay in for a week? (most gites seem to have weekly rental).

I am torn between going west through Burgandy to Paris and going through switzerland. What sort of scenery is on each of the drives and is there a nice typical Swiss village on the France side of Switzerland suitable for a one night stay perhaps on the lake? If so we would then need one more town before Paris , suggestions please? We are used to lots of driving and are quite happy to spend time driving just to see the scenery.

thank you all for your time I really appreciate all the little bits of information from everyone.

Ballarat, Australia
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7. Re: south of france base

Also is there anywhere we should avoid at Easter?

Liverpool
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8. Re: south of france base

I think a night in Nice and a night in Marseille would be good - but you may end up not seeing much of either. It may be better to spend two nights in one place - they are both very different places. My preference would be for Marseilles, but you may prefer Nice - you could do some research on each, or pick a smaller place as both are big urban centres. Either way, you could use the prettier coastal route - google maps reckons that from Nice to Marseilles on that road is about 3.5 hours without stops/traffic jams, just to give you an idea.

It's still difficult recommending places, as there are so many quaint villages and historical sites, but my preference would be to find somewhere either in Western Provence or Eastern Languedoc. This area has amazing scenery (everything from mountains, gorges, lakes, vineyards, rolling hills, and the flat wetlands of the Carmargue) and lots of Roman and medieval towns and villages to visit (Nimes, Avignon, Orange, Arles, Montpellier, St Guillem le Desert, Pezenas, Agde, Sete, Roquebrun and countless inland mountain medieval villages).

You could then travel up to Paris via the A75 (no tolls on this motorway!) which takes you through the western edge of the Cevennes (worth a detour), over the amazing Millau bridge and would allow you to exlore the Lot and Dordogne areas - perhaps a good halfway point for a night or two. This route also takes through the Loire area, where there are loads of chateaux - another possible night stop or detour for the day.

Once you have had a chance to think, and have narrowed it down to a more specific area of southern France, then we can come up with some suggestions for small towns and villages - there are loads of them!

Edited: 03 December 2011, 12:03
9. Re: south of france base

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10. Re: south of france base

You may want to consider establishing two or three bases during the 11 days that you have between leaving Italy and your arrival in Paris, since constantly relocating will require you to continually re-pack your bags, and leave them in your car while you are exploring any given day's destination.

Exactly where to establish these bases will, in large part, depend upon your interests. If you establish a well-centered base in Western Provence, you can not only explore some wonderful Roman ruins, and significant Medieval sites, but you will also have easy access to, the vineyards of the Southern Rhone, including Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras, etc.

While, generally speaking, rentals are available only by the week, with the week starting on Saturday, because you will not be travelling during the high-season, you may be able to find someone willing to rent for a shorter period, but you need to determine where you want to stay, and begin searching for a place to stay right away.

You may want to look for someplace in or near St. Remy, as it is well situated for exploring virtually all of Western Provence via a series of day-trips