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L-R vs. Provence

Pittsburgh, PA
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L-R vs. Provence

First, allow me to apologize for my ignorance concerning French geography. Secondly, I will now beg for help. We're planning a week or so in Barcelona, then would like to spend another week in the south of France. We're looking for: 1) a location relatively easy to get to by train from Barcelona 2) a place that would be a good base for exploring villages, vineyards, etc. 3) we'd love to find street fairs or wine festivals if possible 4) we'll need to rent a place for approx. 8 people. So I need to determine if somewhere in L-R would be good for us, or would Provence be better? Thanks so much in advance for any and all help!

Harstad, Norway
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1. Re: L-R vs. Provence

Almost anywhere in the L-R fits your requirements regarding vinyards, markets, villages and interesting places to explore. The western L-R is a lot closer to Spain though. If this fact is an advantage depends on where you are heading after your stay in France.

There are good train connections from Barcelona into France.

You do not say what time of year. Wine festivals or harvest festivals are normally in the second part of October but exactly when is too early to tell.

For exploring villages and the countryside you will need a car.

Pittsburgh, PA
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2. Re: L-R vs. Provence

Oh, I forgot, we're going the end of Sept-early Oct. We'll be heading back to Barcelona to catch flights home after France. I understand we'll need a car. Thanks so much for the info. Do you have any recommendation for a particular town or village in western L-R?

Harstad, Norway
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3. Re: L-R vs. Provence

OK, so it might be a bit early for the wine harvest festivals. The harvest is still going on in late September.

Actually, I would recommend that you rent a car in Spain and take it into France. Car rental is normally cheaper and as long as you return it to Spain and Barcelona that would be your best option. Depending on the rental agency, there might be a small fee to take the car into France, but nothing that would break the bank.

I do have a weak spot for Collioure. The bottleneck could be the accomodation for 8, but with a bit of reseach I am sure you would find something nearby.

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Paris, France
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4. Re: L-R vs. Provence

I agree that it would be a good idea to rent a car in Barcelona. If you rely on public transportation it ould be harder to have the proper experience in France IMO.

You may be able to stay at a Chambre d'Hote - a french bed and breakfast. Sometimes I choose where to stay based on the accomodation I can find.

http://www.chambresdhotesfrance.com/

There are a lot of nice villages in the LR - but Provence is not that much further by car.You could find a nice home base and then plan day trips from there.

Pittsburgh, PA
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5. Re: L-R vs. Provence

I'm concerned also with renting a vehicle for 8 people. Roughly how long would the drive be from BCN to the area you've recommended? Thanks so much for your help, I know I have a lot of questions, but as I mentioned, I'm out of my element here. But I can reciprocate if you have any questions about Mexico!

Harstad, Norway
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6. Re: L-R vs. Provence

Barcelona to Collioure would be 2-2,5 hours if you go on the motorway - considerably longer if you choose the scenic route along the coast or across the mountains.

To calculate approximate driving times try to use google maps or viamichelin.

Getting to western Provence would add approximately 2 hours of motorway driving. Finding somewhere inbetween would allow you to explore both east and west - a week may prove too short though..... there is really so much to see and explore whereever you turn. I suggest you buy the Michelin Green Guide to LR and the one to Provence so that you can make a sound decicion according to your interests. Telling people where to go is really difficult when you do not know them personally.

Edited: 04 April 2012, 21:16
Paris, France
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7. Re: L-R vs. Provence

For a car rental try www.autoeurope.com

I just did a quick search for an arbitrary week in May. They have a 9 passenger Mercedes van available - it was $900 for the week. If you have 2 people willing to drive it may make more sense and be more economical to rent 2 cars.

If you don't mind the limitations of public transportation you can certainly do this trip that way. But it can be harder to see villages this way.

Another though - the group could take the train to your home base then you could rent a car there and smaller groups could see the villages, etc...it's hard to imagine all 8 of you wanting to all see the same sights.

Pittsburgh, PA
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8. Re: L-R vs. Provence

Thanks so much, F1racegirl and klimaflyktnin! I'm actually on my way out to meet the friends we'll be traveling with, so I made some notes and we'll discuss it tonight. One couple is somewhat familiar with S. France, so maybe this will make sense to them. I really appreciate the info on the van, F1racegirl, and the advice about the Michelin guide klimaflyktnin.

Thanks again!

Pittsburgh, PA
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9. Re: L-R vs. Provence

Does the 9 passenger van hold 9 people plus their luggage, or just 9 people; makes a difference!

Paris, France
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10. Re: L-R vs. Provence

Your welcome - that's what TA is for.

Just remembered that when my sister and I drove from Nice to Barcelona and back we really enjoyed visiting Peyrepetuse - one of the old Cathar castles. If you google some images you'll see what I mean.