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Luberon and Cote d'Azur Self Drive Tour - Holiday Example

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Luberon and Cote d'Azur Self Drive Tour

Like many non UK visitors to Provence, the Canadian couple for whom we prepared this holiday firstly planned to spend some time in Paris.  They then took the excellent and frequent TGV train service from Paris to Avignon to spend a few few days exploring the delights of inland Provence before driving on to the Cote d'Azur for the final days of their two week holiday. 

We planned an itinerary from the time of their arrival in Avignon. This included a 3 night/4 day stay to the Parc

Naturel du Luberon in the beautiful perched village of Gordes with excursions each day, then a days drive on to the Cote d'Azur with a choice of routes - either via the stunning Gorges de Verdon or the coastal route including St. Tropez.  And finally we booked their 5 nights hotel accommodation in Nice with suggested visits for their time on the Mediterranean coast.  The couple then took a flight from Nice to Paris for their return home to Canada. A great way to see some of the best that the south of France can offer combined with the beauties of the capital city.

A real holiday to remember
Iles sur la Sorges Gordes
Gorge du Verdun avignon Palais du Pape
Day by Day Itinerary
The itinerary was planned with a start day of Friday and a final night of Friday and the day by day itinerary

may change according to choice of holiday dates.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4

Depart Paris by TGV to Avignon arriving late morning. Pick up your rental car and drive the short distance into the city. Explore this beautiful medieval town including the renowned Papal Palace before departing for the Luberon valley where you will spend the first three nights of your holiday in the village of Gordes. Arrive here in time to explore this spectacular village perché one of the 'plus beaux villages de France' with its beautiful views right across the Luberon valley. .

Explore some of the pretty perched villages for which this area is famous - Lacoste, the village of the Marquis de Sade, Menerbes and Roussillon with its famous red ochre cliffs, Maybe end your day with a lovely stroll along the vineyard trail from the village of Oppède le Vieux. Drive the short distance to the riverside town of Isle sur la Sorgue for the Sunday morning antiques market and provencal market. The riverside quays are an enchanting display of interesting artefacts and objets d'art. Lunch in one of the many cafes or brasseries by the river. This afternoon a complete contrast with a visit to the Abbaye de Senanque in its peaceful valley setting near Gordes.

Depart Gordes this morning and drive to Nice and the Cote d'Azur for the remaining 5 nights of your visit to Provence. Two options for your route, which you can decide on the day depending on weather and your preference for the length of drive to Nice.

Option 1 Option 2
Drive the length of the Luberon valley eastwards, cross the Durance river and across the lavender growing Plateau de Valensole to the pretty village of Moustiers St. Marie, the starting point for the drive along the stunning Gorges de Verdon. Maybe stop here for coffee or lunch. Follow the winding road along the heights of the Gorge then continue south through the countryside via Draguinan to pick up the autoroute to Nice. Drive via the autoroute until you turn off and head south crossing the mountains via La Garde Freinet and the pretty village of Grimaud and around the bay to St. Tropez. Lunch here and explore the charming port then continue the drive on to Nice via the coastal route to Fréjus to pick up the autoroute once again.
Days 5 - 8

Four full days to explore the pleasures of Nice and the area around the coast and mountains with a choice of various possible visits and excursions.

First of all Nice itself - the old town itself with its good shops and exotic gardens is a delightful place to explore.

Maybe start with a short orientation tour by open top bus for a brief history of the town, interesting views of the belle epoque buildings and of course the beautiful Baie des Anges. There is also a choice of excellent museums and art galleries you could include in your stay.

Day or half day excursions from Nice could include

Monaco/Monte Carlo - a short train ride along the coast to this fascinating principality famous for the Casinos, Grand Prix and the Grimaldi Palace set on The Rock high above the bay. Between Monaco town and Monte Carlo is La Condamine, a shopping and commercial centre surrounding the luxury yachts in the harbour.


Grasse - this town in the forested hills above the coast and about 30 minutes drive from Nice has been the centre of the perfume industry for over 400 years. The old town itself has some charming streets, which you can explore on your own or rent an audioguide from the tourist office for a self-guided tour. You can visit a perfume factory for an explanation of how perfume is made. One of the best is Fragonard in the centre of town. Train des Pignes - this mountain railway runs from Nice to Digne along the foothills of the southern Alps. A day excursion along the southern section of the line takes you to the fascinating medieval mountain village of Entrevaux, which guards a narrow mountain pass. Passing through the drawbridge entrance high above the river takes you into the narrow streets and fortified doorways to the 17th century citadel, which dominates the village and surrounding valleys. Antibes and Biot - If art and glassware are your interest a combined visit to Antibes and Biot will fulfil both. The Picasso Museum in Antibes is situated in the old Grimaldi chateau and features not only a superb Picasso collection but also other important 20th century artists and a permanent collection of sculptures on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. Biot between Antibes and Nice is a picturesque hill village renowned for its pretty glassware. There are several glass works where you can watch the glass blowing process and of course shops to buy the finished product.
Day 9      
Depart your hotel after breakfast and return to Paris.      
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Updated: 4 December, 2012