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Matthew
New York City

Nice, Saint-Tropez, Monaco, Aix-en-Provence, Cannes

6 night trip to Provence

Going with my wife for a 6 night trip and leaving our 15 month old behind at the end of June. We are planning to fly in and out of Nice and I am trying to figure out the best places in Provence to stay. We are more interested in relaxing by a beach/pool, walking around towns and villages, eating good food and going to wine vineyards. Not so into sightseeing churches and museums. Also, do you recommend renting a car? 


5 Answers

answered first by
Courtney from Los Angeles

I envy you!! You're going to one of my favorite parts of the planet! I'm not a beach person, but I do love the area. 

It's a relatively easy place in which to drive, although I would make sure you ask for an automatic if you don't like driving a stick. Also, that part of the world is so beautiful that I always want to go explore the little side roads and villages so you might feel constrained by the train, especially if you want to stop at wineries. You'll see tons of signs along these routes for both well-known wineries as well as little family-owned places. The train is also pretty easy although there are a few places it doesn't go (like Saint-Tropez, which is incredible). 

I would DEFINITELY go to Aix-en-Provence. It's one of the most beautiful, fun cities I've ever been to. 

Here are a few of my other faves in the area:

Le Castellet - gorgeous, hilltop village with all kinds of craft/artisan stores. You will definitely need a car to get there, though. I really, really love this place and the views are stunning!

L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue - pretty little village known for its antiques if you're into that. 

Arles - I'll be honest, I hate this place but I'm in the minority. If you're a Van Gogh fan (I'll admit, I'm not) you'll love it.

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie - this is a little village known for its porcelain (or faience). I hate faience but I LOVE this town. 

Cassis - lovely, sleepy little beach town that's great for lunch. I always stock up on espadrilles when I'm here. I don't know why by they always have cheap ones!

Monaco - I cannot even begin to express my love for this city. It's pretty much exactly what you think it will be. 

Nice and Cannes - honestly, for me, both are kind of "meh", but you might want to see them just to say you've been. If you go to Nice, Vieux Nice (or "Old Nice") is much more interesting than the rest of it. 

Avignon - I think this is a very underrated city. Lots of pedestrians, outdoor cafes, life going on! Just a lot of fun! 

Hope that's a good start! 

C


Mentioned in this answer:

VIEW DETAILED MAP
  1. Saint-Tropez (attraction)
  2. Aix-en-Provence (city)
  3. Le Castellet (city)
  4. L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (city)
  5. Arles (city)
  6. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (city)
  7. Cassis (city)
  8. Monaco (country)
  9. Nice (city)
  10. Cannes (attraction)
  11. Vieux Nice (attraction)
  12. Avignon (city)
1 thanks


answered by
Michael

Walk or bicycle




answered by
John from Carlsbad (California)

Hi Matthew.  Sounds like a great trip.  Take a look at Villefranche-sur-Mer, which is just outside Nice.  It is a beautiful little village on a beautiful bay.  There are apartments for rent and the fine, little Welcome Hotel right on the waterfront.  It has cute rooms with great views, a perfect location, and there are restaurants along the waterfront just outside the door.  I can't believe how this little town has not been ruined, but it hasn't.  Cruise ships come in because of the bay, but all the people disappear quickly and the village and it's nice little beach are left almost untouched.  You can take a quick train to the upper part of Nice (the bus to Nice is better because you get off in old town), Monaco, Menton, Cannes, across the Italian border to Ventimiglia, and other towns in the area.  I recommend renting a car, because there are other places, Eze and Roquebrune-Cap-Martin for instance, that can't be reached by train.  There is public parking near the Hotel Welcome, which is inexpensive and safe.  Villefranche is a great little hotel with several very good restaurants within the waterfront area, including one of our favorites, La Mère Germaine.  If you want to try the upscale French beach experience, head for Cannes and pick out one of the private beach facilities where you can eat, drink and check out the sandy beach from your chaise lounge.  What you don't get in this area are the vineyards. 

If you want beach and vineyards, one area that has both is around Bandol, which has beaches and is close to vineyards.  There are several villages on the water and Le Castellet and its neighbor, La Cadiere-d'Azur up in the hills.  Le Castellet is a little touristy, but very nice, and La Cadiere is a little too quiet, but has the Hostellerie Bérard & Spa with a good restaurant and some small village charm.  There are vineyards in the area turning out excellent wines, and most are easy to visit.

Further from the coast are the lively university town of Aix-en-Provence with one of the most beautiful boulevards in France, Cours Mirabeauand excellent restaurants and cafes.  Even further from the beaches are the villages of Saint-Remy-de-Provence, Les Baux-de-Provence, and Maussane-les-Alpilles, which have vineyards and real Provençal charm, with easy access to Arles, Nimes (not technically in Provence, but has some great Roman structures), and even the vineyards of the Southern Rhone wine Villages of Gigondas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and others.  Have a great trip.


Mentioned in this answer:

VIEW DETAILED MAP
  1. Villefranche-sur-Mer (city)
  2. Welcome Hotel (hotel)
  3. Nice (city)
  4. Monaco (country)
  5. Menton (attraction)
  6. Cannes (attraction)
  7. Ventimiglia (city)
  8. Eze (city)
  9. Roquebrune-Cap-Martin (city)
  10. La Mère Germaine (restaurant)
  11. Bandol (city)
  12. Le Castellet (city)
  13. La Cadiere-d'Azur (city)
  14. Hostellerie Bérard & Spa (restaurant)
  15. Aix-en-Provence (city)
  16. Cours Mirabeau (attraction)
  17. Saint-Remy-de-Provence (city)
  18. Les Baux-de-Provence (city)
  19. Maussane-les-Alpilles (city)
  20. Arles (city)
  21. Nimes (attraction)
  22. Gigondas (region)
  23. Chateauneuf-du-Pape (city)


answered by
Edward from Stockholm

Hi!

You definitely want to see Aix-en-Provence. Charming city to walk around in. We stayed at La Villa Gallici and it was magical. Nice is also really worth visiting for the food and the beaches in the middle of the city (remember to bring bathing shoes for the pebble beaches). This is a quite large city with lots to see and do. Devour éclairs, walk around in the old town, visit parks, eat at seafood restaurants, take a tour of the Confiserie Florian.

Other highlights: Antibes has a cute city and picturesque center and the Juan les Pins area has sandy beaches. We also made a quick stop in Gordes and found it really charming.

And yes, you really want to rent a car. Since you're going in June you will have the joy of passing lots and lots of fields of lavender and sunflowers. Have a great trip!



Mentioned in this answer:

VIEW DETAILED MAP
  1. Aix-en-Provence (city)
  2. La Villa Gallici (hotel)
  3. Nice (city)
  4. Confiserie Florian (restaurant)
  5. Antibes (attraction)
  6. Juan les Pins (attraction)
  7. Gordes (region)


answered by
Dabs from Chicago

Courtney has hit on most of the places I'd recommend in the area with the exception of Saint-Remy-de-Provence which we made our base in the area, Nimes which has the fabulous Les Arènes de Nîmes and Pont du Gard.  We also enjoyed driving through the hill towns, Gordes being my personal favorite, Roussillon was another I enjoyed.  Nice didn't really make me happy.  Eze is another place I really enjoyed.

Absolutely would recommend a car, you can get around without one but you can't see nearly as much.


Mentioned in this answer:

VIEW DETAILED MAP
  1. Saint-Remy-de-Provence (city)
  2. Nimes (attraction)
  3. Les Arènes de Nîmes (attraction)
  4. Pont du Gard (attraction)
  5. Gordes (region)
  6. Roussillon (city)
  7. Nice (city)
  8. Eze (city)




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