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Provence trip report

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West Palm Beach...
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Provence trip report

We really loved this area of Provence. We had lunch in Gordes in a lovely little restaurant called Le Bouquet de Basilic. You sit in a beautiful enclosed garden to eat and the service is friendly and efficient. This after we were turned away from a pizza restaurant on the main corner (can't remember the name) because they would not let my 10 year-old daughter and I share a plate. They insisted we each order one. In six weeks, and 4 areas of France, this is the only restaurant that did this. They were quite rude. Everything worked out for the best, however, because their rudeness led us to Le Bouquet which we loved.

The views of the village on the approach to Gordes are amazing. It doesn't even look real. Then once you're in the town, the views back over the valley are even more stunning. You can see for miles.

From Gordes, we drove to the nearby Abbey of Senanque to see the monastery and lavender field. This is a beautiful spot and is dramatically situated at the bottom of a gorge. They offer tours (narration in French only) and have a gift shop. We skipped the tour, but loved the site anyway.

The driving coming in and out of Gordes was a little intimidating for a Florida girl (South Florida is FLAT). There are a few spots where the road drops off fairly steeply, but I was brave and we survived. The rest of the area between Gordes and L'Isle is nice and flat. Just before the turnoff for Les Carmes, coming back from Gordes (wish I could remember the name of the road), is a vast field of sunflowers. It made for spectacular pictures and was as impressive as the lavender field, if not more so.

Then it was back for a chilled glass of rose' and a dip the in the pool at Les Carmes. There's no better ending to a hot day of sightseeing. James the chef came out to visit and take a break on a nearby lounge chair and told me how to make his amazing garlic fritters. I should have written it down! Oh well, there's always email.

new york
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1. Re: Provence trip report

Key Lime, thank you for the trip report.

Other than the hills, how did you find driving? Did you do stick or automatic? Where did you pick up your car? Sorry for the car-centric questions, but I'm still deliberating train v car.

West Palm Beach...
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2. Re: Provence trip report

annie0007 - The driving was pretty easy, I thought. The roads are well marked, and they drive on the right side of the road like us.

I actually spent a month in Aix (haven't had time to do that trip report yet). We didn't need a car there, so we just picked one up on our way out of town for our little weekend in the countryside. We rented a stick shift as automatics are considerably more expensive there.

I would say that to tour around Provence, you definitely need a car. Where are you planning to go? While we were in Aix, it was easy to walk everywhere. Then in Nice, there is frequent & inexpensive bus and train service between all the coastal towns. Provence is the only place we needed a car, but it depends on what you're planning to do. Hope this was helpful!

florida
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3. Re: Provence trip report

We are Floridians and did drive as well along with many more drives. (get Toutous tips) Everything is well marked even if you get off on a small road. We did not think it was that bad. Beautiful scenery everywhere. The lavendar is spectacular especially when you drive from Gordes down to the Abbey. Also at Sault-you really do smell the lavendar when you get out of the car. We saw fields and fields of sunflowers in Mirepoix/Carcasonne (pyrenees area)

Stopping at wineries and getting Rose was a delight as well!

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Provence trip report

annie0007,

I just returned from Avignon and Nice and my husband & I rented a car for the first time in Europe. We flew into Nice, spent the night in Nice and picked up the car in Nice. I rented it ahead of time through Kemwel who actually contracts through AutoEurope. So you pick the car up at the AutoEurope office. I got an automatic. It ended up around $100 more than a stick shift and this was for a 9 day rental. I figured that it would be worth it since while my husband used to drive a stick many years ago, I never learned. And while he did all the driving, just in case I may have needed to pitch in.... We actually kept the car when we were in Nice and while it took a little while to find the right parking lot, it was not bad driving there. Get Underhill's article on driving in France. It was very helpful. Just watch out for the motor scooters.

Good luck!

florida
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5. Re: Provence trip report

We did use Underhill's driving tips. We had the car for 7 days. Picked up at Avignon TGV station. We drove through Provence, on to Pyrenees and then to Nice. Once we dropped our luggage in Nice, we dropped off car at train station. Our hotel was 10 minute walk to beach and 10 minute walk to train station. That is why I picked hotel as they advertised and very true. It worked out very well. Bus station is near the beach. We took bus to Rothschild Palace and St. Jean Cap Farat-easy-just pay 1.30 euro as get on (cash)-beautiful drive. We took train to Monte Carlo/Monaco and to Italian Riveria-Ventimilla-again, very easy and inexpensive, also very beautiful. It was nice to let someone else do the driving. My husband also does all the driving-but he loves it and loves having a stick. However, I know after 7 days he was ready for the break and could enjoy scenery more. The train and bus along the Riviera certainly provided that! Gorgeous country!

Casa

6. Re: Provence trip report

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