PROVENCE Route from Paris to Avignon
This itinerary is planned for two couples in their forties who will be attending Roland Garros next June and, after one week in Paris, want to visit the south of France. I suggested a one week drive visiting villages and towns and ending at Avignon. You will see at first a resumee of what’s relevant in this region about nature, art and food.
La fenêtre provençale (Roussillon) By Vainsang
The region of Rhone-Alpes – Provence is located Southeast France
BEST MONTHS TO GO
April, May, June & July September & October
Lavender Fields, the Rhone Valley, the Luberon
ART & CULTURE
Gallo Roman ruins in Lyon, the theater Festival D’Avignon, Antique Hunting
Abbaye de Senanque and Lavender Fields By Paula Soler-Moya
Olives, Honey, Bouillabesse, Aioli, Herbes de Provence, the Truffle Market in Tricastin ( St. Pauls Trois Chateaux), Street Markets
Pastis, Cassis, Cotes du Rohne-Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rose Wine, Wine Routes & Wine Tasting, Wine growing villages
Shop at Uzes Market By tomat3
OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT TOURIST OFFICE FRANCE GUIDE
BOOKS TO READ
PROVENCE A-Z A Francophile’s Essential Handbook by Peter Mayle
LIVING IN PROVENCE by Dane McDowell/Christian Sarramon
TWO TOWNS IN PROVENCE by M.F.K. Fischer
MICHELIN GREEN GUIDE Provence – Cote d’Azur
RENAISSANCE EN PROVENCE Traditional Music of South France. Terra Nova Consort
PROVENCE: A ROMANTIC JOURNEY Roberto Occhipinti
ACCOUSTIC FRANCE Putumayo World Music
DANSE DES BERGERES DANSES DE LO Les Musiciens de Provence.
FIRST STAGE From Paris to Avignon
Take the Boulevard Peripherique towards Orly-Lyon-Peripherique Interieur- Quai d’Ivry -Porte d’Italie. Then take the A6-E15 towards Geneve-Lyon-Chalon Sur Saone-Beaune-Hospices. Four hours later (aprox. 465Km by motorway) you will arrive to Lyon. Driving time from Lyon to Avignon is two hours, (228km). Take the A7/E15 and next to Orange head towards the E15, take the exit 22 towards Roquemaure, Villeneuve les Avignon, Avignon.
BY TRAIN TGV
Both Lyon and Avignon are served by the TGV, the high-speed rail service, you may even take your car with you by train.
Lyon is known as the culinary capital of France, besides being the third largest city in France, therefore, the ideal place to stop for a rest and do some sightseeing. Take a funicular up Fourviere Hill for a panoramic view of the city and a visit to the Basilica Notre Dame, and walk along one of the best preserved Renaissance districts of France, the Vieux-Lyon. If you happen to be in Lyon in December, check dates for the Festival of Lights, a spectacular four-day event when the entire city is illuminated with contemporary light installations.
Festival of Lights – Lyon By flexgraph
SLEEPING IN LYON
COLLEGE HOTEL 5, place St. Paul. Three star hotel in the Historic District, college style and minimalist decor. Price range: 115-145 Euros.
NOS CHAMBRES EN VILLE Bed & Breakfast in a 18th Century building in the Historic Centre of Lyon. Price range: 80-105 Euros
EATING IN LYON
RUE MERCIERE The rue Merciere is a pedestrian street of Les Cordeliers quarter packed with restaurants.
PLACE BELLECOUR Near the Hotel de Ville. The Place Bellecour is the largest square in Lyon and the meeting point for residents and tourists. It links the main shopping streets and the perimeter of the square concentrates major shops, boutiques and outdoor cafes.
LE GARET 7, rue du Garet.
CHEZ HUGON 12, rue Pizay. Affordable cuisine Lyonnais.
PIERRE ORSI 3, Place Kleber. Menus 45-60 Euros. Member of Maitres Cisiniers de France.
BRASSEIRE GEORGES 30, Cours de Verdun. Menus from 21 Euros. Traditional brasserie.
Rue Merciere By jlastras
ON THE ROAD TO AVIGNON From Lyon take the A7 south to Orange, a two-hour drive.
EATING & SLEEPING NEAR ORANGE
LA BASTIDE DES PRINCES Five km away from Orange, this bed & breakfast and Gourmet Table d’Hotes is the ideal place for a rest and an overnight stay. Dining by reservation only.
THE SAINT LAURENT 1, place d l’Arbre, Saint Laurent des Arbres. Hotel de Charme between Orange and Avignon. Price range 95-185 Euros.
Another nice stop over on your way to Avignon is the town of Chateauneuf du Pape, 12km south from Orange, on the D976. In the 13th Century the vineyards of the village regularly supplied wine to the Papal residence, now the village is almost dedicated to the famous wine “Chateauneuf du Pape”. Visit the wine cellars and the Wine Makers Museum. The distance between Chateauneuf and Avignon is of 19km.
25km southeast Chateauneuf is the village of Beaumes de Venise, a market town which becomes very busy in summer. The main square is lined with shops and cafes, and wine tasting takes place every day below the village in the wine cellars of Avenue Raspail. The Muscat de Beaumes de Venise AOC is a natural sweet wine produced in the vineyards of the commune.
SECOND STAGE Arriving Avignon
Avignon is the capital of the Vaucluse region. The city has its walled medieval town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and modern buildings outside the intramural quarter. A lively city with a large student population and a cultural lifestyle. The place de l’Horloge is the main square, with several restaurants and cafes, the main shopping street is the rue de la Republique, also rue Agricol, rue des Tintoriers and rue Joseph-Vernet. Avignon is a good base to explore the area, if you want to avoid tourist groups and crowds a more relaxed option is to stay outside the city in the countryside.
SLEEPING IN AVIGNON
LA MIRANDE 4, place de l’Amirande, Avignon A five-star luxe hotel next to the Palais de Papes. The hotel has also an elegant restaurant. Price range 300-600 Euros
LA BANASTERIE 11, rue de la Banasterie, Avignon. Very nice bed & breakfast in the heart of the medieval city. Price range from 100-170 Euros.
LE MAS DE BASSETTE Chemin de Bassette, Barbentane. Design bed & breakfast situated minutes from Avignon airport. Price range from 120 Euros
LA MAGNANERAIE 37, rue du Champ de Bataille, on the picturesque town of Villenueve-les-Avignon, 5 minutes away (3km) from Avignon centre. Elegant residence with a large garden and a wonderful terrace. The gourmet restaurant is excellent. Price range 142-200 Euros.
EATING IN AVIGNON
CHRISTIAN ETIENNE 10, rue de Mons Palais de Papes. One star Michelin restaurant. Provençal cuisine, menu 35-90 Euros.
LA PETITE PECHE 13, rue Saint-Etienne. Small seafood restaurant, affordable prices.
SIGHTSEEING IN AVIGNON
LE PALAIS DE PAPES The number one attraction in Avignon is the former residence of the Popes, who in 1309 left Rome to Avignon fearing an insurrection, and lived there in the 14th Century.
RUE DES TIENTURIERS Is a picturesque cobbled street along the Sorgue river, and the RUE DU ROI RENE, a narrow street housing three of the most beautiful mansions in Avignon.
Palais de Papes – Avignon By Santi MB
WEST OF AVIGNON
Situated west of Avignon the Pont du Gard is a World Heritage site. I also recommend a visit to the lovely medieval village of Uzes and its farmer’s market on Wednesdays. The distance between Avignon and Uzes is of 42km.
SLEEPING IN UZES
CLOS DU LETHE Simply perfect wonderful to stay for two days and visit the surroundings, or simply pamper yourself. Price range 200 to 300 euros.
EAST OF AVIGNON
The itinerary begins northeast of Avignon, visiting Pernes Les Fontaines, Gordes, Roussillon, Apt, Menerbes, Goult, l’ Isle sur la Sorgue and back to Avignon. For directions check VIA MICHELIN or GOOGLE MAPS. The journey takes about 5 hours without stopping, but every town worth a visit, so plan to stay overnight. This is a beautiful road trip across enchanting landscapes, lavender fields, in summer, and mountain villages.
PERNES-LES-FONTAINES The first stop is Pernes-les-Fontaines, 32 km away from Avignon, a small medieval fortified village at the foot of Mont Ventoux.
GORDES When you leave Pernes-les-Fontaines take D4/D177 top of the hill towards the village of Gordes. North of Gordes visit the Sénanque Abbey, built in the 12th century by Cistercian monks.
ROUSILLON Eleven miles further you will reach Rousillon, one of the most impressive and beautiful villages in France. Roussillon is a picturesque village nestled between pine forests, cliffs and hills of red ocher, take your time to explore artisan shops and art galleries and enjoy the views from the plateau of Vaucluse and Mont Ventoux.
APT The market town of Apt is 10 km away from Rousillon. Every Saturday morning locals and tourists gather in the old quarter willing to spend the day shopping. From strawberries to lavender soaps, from flowers to arts and crafts, everything is available. A half an hour drive (26km) south will take you to the village of Cucuron. Once there, have lunch at La Petite Maison du Cucuron at the Place de l’Etang. The place is lovely and so is the food.
MENERBES and GOULT Leave Cucuron north (35 km) to the fortified stone village Menerbes, Goult and ‘L Isle sur la Sorgue. Goult and Menerbes are just minutes away (9km.) to the north. Menerbes is one of the most beautiful villages of France and has wonderful views over the Luberon valley from the top. A small detour will take you to the tiny village of Goult. Goult is less touristy and less known, but highly recommended for fans of village like atmosphere. The Café de la Poste in the main square is a nice place for lunch or just have a cold beer.
L’ISLE SUR LA SORGUE The last stop is L’Isle sur la Sorgue, 20km from Goult. This city is famous for its antique stores, do not expect bargains here, but is still worth a visit.
LE MOULIN DES SOURCES Le Gros, two km away from Gordes. The hotel is a seventeenth century mill has been turned into a charming Maison d’hote de Charme. It only has five rooms. Price range 115-180 euros.
LES TILLEULS Chemin du Colombier, Rousillon. Bed & Breakfast in a classic French farmhouse. Prices range 85 to 105 euros
AU RALENTI DU LIERRE Village des Beaumettes, between Gordes and Menerbes. Bed and Breakfast. Prices from 83 Euros
DELICES DE CHARLOTTE rue Kleber Guendon, Menerbes.
DAVID RESTAURANT place de la Poste, Rousillon. Menus from 32 euros.
CONFISIERE LE COULON 24, quai de la Liberté, Apt. The store sells candies, the specialty of the region, with no chemical aditives or additional coloration.
PHILIP RESTAURANT Chemin Fontaine, Fontaine de Vaucluse.
LA PREVOTE 4, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Isle sur Sorgue’s.
Cucuron By Niels Goossens
- Bon marché: the markets of Provence (traveholic.wordpress.com)