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Itinerary: 5 Days in Provence

Trip details:

I'm going to Provence for 5 days with my husband and 2 kids, in July. I need help with planning the trip - things to do, places to stay, eat, etc. My kids are 7 and 2 so we'd like to keep walking to a minimum and do the sightseeing at a relaxed pace. We like art and culture and my husband is a huge Van Gogh fan, so it is a must to include some of the relevant places. We also want to sample the best wines of the region.

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Overview:

Since you're traveling with kids, I suggest setting up base in a nice bed and breakfast in Avignon and going on day trips everyday. This way you don't have to keep changing rooms every night and packing and unpacking all of the children's stuff. Avignon is a well connected city and you can travel in and out of the region by the TGV that connects to Paris. There are some great bed and breakfasts here (which we'll get to later).


All of the villages and towns you'll visit are at most an hour's drive from Avignon. I've tried to keep walking to a minimum but some of the old towns are very cramped and driving/parking is a hassle. Waking is the best way to explore them - I suggest carrying a stroller for your 2 year-old.


The map below gives an overview of the locations covered in this itinerary:


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Day 1: Arrival + Lunch:

Take the TGV from Paris for the 3.5 hour ride into Avignon. Aim to arrive by 11:30am. Pick up your rental car (we'll discuss the booking details separately) from the station and check into your hotel (see Stay tab).


After checking in, drive into Avignon town for lunch. I recommend Le Petit Gourmand (37, rue du Vieux Sextier) for an easy atmosphere, relatively cheap and delicious meal.


Finding parking is a hassle in Avignon, so I suggest heading out on foot for your after-lunch exploration.

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Day 1 - Afternoon - Palais des Papes:

Head to Avignon's prime attraction, the Palais des Papes (or Palace of the Popes). This magnificent palace served as the residence of the popes when Avignon became the headquarters of a group of cardinals who came close to toppling the authority of the popes in Rome, from 1309 to 1417. It is now a World Heritage Site. English audioguides are included in the price of admission.


In July, it is open until 8pm. Expect to spend about 3 hours on a leisurely tour of the palace.


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Day 1 - Evening:

Head back to Ile de la Barthelasse and try to catch the sunset on the river banks facing Pont St-Benezet (the ancient bridge that now sits stranded halfway across the Rhône River). This is a perfect place to spend a relaxing evening taking in perfect views of the bridge and the palace across the river.


Below are the directions (from the Palais) to the spot where you need to go:



And here is the view you can look forward to:


Pont St Benezet


Head back to the b&b early and order in a pizza (the host will give you the number) for dinner since everyone will be tired after the long day out.

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Day 2 morning - Chateauneuf du Pape:

After breakfast, drive to Chateauneuf du Pape, a village renowned for its wine. While there are plenty of wineries all around the village offering free wine tasting, head to Domaine de Beaurenard and sample their Boisrenard Red for some of the best wine in the region. Buy a few bottles to last you the rest of your trip as well.


Below are the directions from your B&B:



The same family also runs the Musee du Vigneron, the region's best wine museum, and it's worth a visit.


Have lunch at the excellent La Mere Germaine (3 rue de Commandant Lemaitre).

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Itinerary theme options By Aashish Gupta
Replies (+)

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Hi Patricia,

Firstly thanks for choosing me to plan your trip. I'm a big Van Gogh fan myself so I'm really excited about this.

There are a few different styles of vacations you can take in Provence and it would help me if you choose one that you prefer:

1. Rural charm - see hillside villages and artist-inspiration towns.

2. Coastal cities - see the famous towns of the French Riviera and the glamourous casinos, etc.

Let me know which you prefer.

Patricia Williams wrote:  

I'll go with the rural theme. Seems more our style.

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Hi Patricia,

I've updated the Itinerary tab with a rough outline. Let me know your thoughts and we'll refine it further after that.

Cheers,

Aashish

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Yet another update - now with a detailed daily plan.

Patricia Williams wrote:  

Wonderful, thanks. I've updated the activities with my comments.


Getting there and around By Aashish Gupta
Replies (+)

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

The world's fastest trains link some 50 French cities, allowing you to get from Paris to just about anywhere else in the country in hours. With 39,000km (24,233 miles) of track and about 3,000 stations, SNCF (French national railroads; www.voyages-sncf.com) is known for its on-time performance. You can travel in first or second class by day and in couchette by night. Many trains have dining facilities.

Patricia Williams wrote:  

Thanks. I'll go ahead and book the trains.

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Great 

Do let me know if you need any other help in figuring out the transportation.


Child-friendly Restaurants By Aashish Gupta
Replies (+)

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

I've listed the most child-friendly restaurants in each of the towns you'll be visiting. All of them also serve great food, of course.

Arles: Le Criquet, L'Ingenu, L'authentic

Avignon: Mama Corsica, Ginette et Marcel, Le Synopsis, Pace e Salute, Le Verso

Gordes: Marianna

Patricia Williams wrote:  

This is really helpful. Thanks.

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Glad you liked them. :)


Getting there:

Avignon is best reached by the TGV from Paris, by a 2.5 hour ride, with trains leaving every hour. You can find the exact schedule and book it from http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ 

Avignon has two train stations - Gare d'Avignon Centre and Gare d'Avignon TGV. Most TGVs arrive at the Gare d'Avignon TGV. But some are from Avignon Centre. So be sure which one your train is to/from so that you book the car rental from the right location and go to the right station to catch your train back. Try and book trains to/from Avignon TGV to have more car rental options.

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Getting around:

For getting around, I found the best deals on http://www.autoeurope.eu/. Be sure to choose the right pick up location (Avignon TGV Station, if you book your train to/from there). I recommend choosing a slightly bigger car so you can fit in your stroller wherever you go.

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La Bastide des Anges:

La Bastide des Anges is a charming bed and breakfast just outside town (on the island Ile de la Barthelasse).


La Bastide des Anges


It is run by a very hospitable family and has plenty of room for your kids to run around.

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Wow!

I am simply amazed at this service.


It's like having a friend who's been-there-done-that and loves helping you discover these great experiences.


Aashish gave us a very detailed plan, including driving directions and everything. I loved his suggestions especially the kid-friendly restaurants that he picked out for us. Great job!

Use this tab to share any files (PDF only) related to this trip (e.g. flight bookings, confirmation vouchers, etc.)

Shared Files


Map of the regional bus routes in case you decide to move around by bus.