Provence & the French Riviera Guidebook
Best and worst sights, experiences and destinations:
Worst: Hotel Cezanne, aix-en-provence
Why: We travel to Euroer twice a year and have always used your books as a bible for our travels. This hotel is by far the worst we have ever stayed at. Their service was terrible and their breakfast was not worth even 10 Euros. Our room did not have any closet space and drawers of any kind. Our smart TV kept turning on in the middle of the night and we complained. They vowed to fix it but for three nights straight it kept coming on. All they said was "We are sorry" We feel you would be doing a great disservice to your readers if you continued to recommend this establishment.
Carlos Molina in LasVegas, Nv USA 10/15/2013
Best: We enjoyed Vaison la Romaine for both the Roman ruins on one day and the market there the next;
Why: Even though there were a fair number of tourists in Vaison (not too many in early October), there are also plenty of locals --especially on market day -- so you could get a good feel for a true French village.
Worst: Hiking loop in the Dentelles
Why: We decided to take the advice of the woman at the Tourist Information in Gigondas for a "short" hike; she recommended taking the Blue trail from Les Florets up the road to Col du Cayrons and then the Yellow trail to a viewpoint and looping back on the Blue trail by way of the Dentelles; she assured us it would be about one to two hours; the first part was fine as we walked along gravel roads, but as we started climbing to the "teeth" of the Dentelles, the trail got very steep, very rocky and with heavy brush. We should have turned back; the views were superb, but without walking sticks we slipped many times and it took us more like four hours to get back down to Les Florets.
David Fidanque in Eugene, OR USA 10/06/2013
Best: Self guided driving tour of the Rhone wine villages was excellent
Why: Good directions, to delightful villages which we would not otherwise have found. And we were lucky to visit mid-September when there weren't too many other people around but the weather was still excellent.
Worst: Arriving in Rousillon on a fine September Saturday late afternoon
Why: Packed out - nowhere to park the car, let alone stay the night as had been our plan!
Su in London, UK 09/25/2013
Best: The market days
Why: HARD to get this info beforehand to plan our trip otherwise...
Worst: Cave du verger des papes
Why: they're trading on their old reputation
Maria Robinson in Healdsburg, Ca USA 06/18/2013
Best: Wine3 Uncovered
Why: Learned a lot about wine from Olivier. We rode in his car so we talked between sites. He even drove us to the Pope's old residence in Chateauneuf du Pape.
Worst: Puces St Owen
Why: Some parts are really run down.
Ed Lowitz in Philadelphia, PA USA 05/29/2013
Best: Parking info, Driving tips, Sightseeing
Why: Your guide was extremely helpful to us as we drove around Provence! Thank you for doing the leg-work for us!
Rachael Paul in Nashville, TN USA 05/09/2013
Best: Avignon Wine Tours and the Cote du Rhone wine road
Why: I took the Avignon Wine Tours to Chateauneuf du Pape. Our guide David was fun, entertaining, and educational. He drove us around the area and took us into 4 wineries, where we met several of the owners and tasted wine. The day went by quickly and was one of the best days in my many vacations to Europe. He taught us a lot about the area, the wines, and how to taste wines. I hope to go back for another tour. We drove part of the wine road and really enjoyed tasting in Gigondas and Domaine de Mourchon. The owner of Mourchon spent more than an hour with us tasting wines and explaining the Rhone wine area to us. Gigondas had several wine tasting opportunities, including Le Caveau de Gigondas, which was exactly as described by Rick. They let us try as many wines as we wanted and they spoke good English.
Jim Perschbacher in Mableton, GA USA 12/02/2012
Best: Imagine Tours
Why: Wily transplanted Texan David Price provided us with one of the highlights of our ten-day trip around Languedoc and Provence with a 4-hour tour around the Luberon hill towns. He is very knowledgeable and passionate about the local Occitan culture, as well as generous with his time. He also helped with planning prior to the start of our trip...for example, we were able to avail of E29 TGV trip from Avignon to Paris on our way back to the States.
John & Maria in Davis, CA USA 10/24/2012
Worst: I wouldn't eat on Cours Saleya again.
Why: I know that the book warned it was touristy, but I am not sure that anyone was local.
Sarah Khan in Cupertino, CA USA 10/01/2012
Best: Barbara Schuerenberg's cooking class in Vaison la Romaine (Provence & French Riviera, p. 180)
Why: You're right: She is charming and easygoing, a pleasure to meet. It was especially nice to be in her home, being able to see a home rather than just hotels or B&Bs. Her home has an amazing view, and we picked herbs from her garden for our lunch. We came home with five great recipes that we will definitely use. It was SO worth the cost. It was lovely. Thanks for the recommendation.
Susie in Orlando, FL USA 09/24/2012
Best: Imagine Tours
Why: We are three California ladies who are retired teachers. We spent three days in the Provence area and used Imagine Tours for a one day tour. David Price came and met with us early in the morning and we planned out our day. I asked him if we had a time limit and he said he didn't want us to worry about time;he just wanted us to have a good time. We had a full day of sigh-seeing and several last minute surprises. David was informative, lecturing about the history, cultures, etc. as we drove. He was patient, helpful, considerate, and his compassion for his work and the Provence area gave us an authentic appreciation for the area. We hired a guide but we got a friend. We felt totally safe, didn't have to worry about hurrying and when he finally took us all back to the hotel well after midnight after having dinner with us at a sidewalk festival (unplanned), we felt young and beautiful and in love with Provence. I highly recommend Imagine Tours and look forward to going back again some day.
Wanda Genzlinger in Granite Bay, Ca USA 07/25/2012
Best: Self-guided Cotes du Rhone wine tour
Why: We followed your precise directions, stopping at Caveau de Gigondas, and Domaine de Coyeux. Tasted many great wines, and bought a selection to consume "en route!"
Suzanne Thompson in Portland, OR USA 07/13/2012
Best: IMAGINE TOURS
Why: Our tour guide, David, was an ex-pat from the U.S. and was GREAT! He picked us up at our hotel at 9:30 and we didn't get home until 8:40PM! He said he didn't want us to miss out on ANYTHING on our list of what we wanted to see. So accommodating, funny and knowledgable. LOVED every minute of this tour and can't believe all of what we got to see in one day. HIGHLY recommend this tour to anyone; it was worth every penny!
Donna Kleinman in Redondo Beach, CA USA 05/31/2012
Best: Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild
Why: Without your book, I would not have known to budget an extra day to see this Villa and and the Villa Kerylos. Our day on Cap Ferrat was most enjoyable. Ate a nice lunch at Villa Ephrussi on patio.
Worst: Molinard Perfume Museum
Why: It's OK to stop in here if you're in the area, but not worth any extra effort. Without the guidebook description, I wouldn't have understood much here.
Barbara in Sacramento, CA USA 05/25/2012
Best: Vaison la Romain
Why: Great food, best market day in Provence, excellent Roman ruins. Too bad the bus schedule to and from Orange is so limited.
Bill and Rosemary in Springfield, VA USA 05/13/2012
Best: Cuisine de Provence
Why: Three of us spent a wonderful morning with Barbara in her beautiful home in Vaison La Romaine cooking and baking with the freshest herbs and vegetables bought that morning in the market. It was a highlight of our month in Provence and has some very precious memories of time spent with an old friend. Thank you Lynn, Rob and of course Barbara, Suisine de Provence and Rick Steves!
Rob and Nancy Cawsey in Saanichton, BC Canada 09/22/2011
Best: Imagine Tours of Avignon
Why: My husband and I vacationed in France in the Summer of 2010. While touring south of the country we took a guided tour offered by “Imagine Tours” based in Avignon. The day before the tour Mr. David Price (an Occitania aficionado from Texas) of Imagine Tours spent the evening with us in a tiny café in a town across the river from Avignon. Like a sincere teacher he explained the history and culture of Occitaine region to help us get oriented to the tour. We were very impressed by his passion, knowledge and energy.
The following morning our tour started from our hotel in Avignon in a sedan. Our guide was an elegant Scottish lady, Evelyn Matheson. Within a few minutes Evelyn became a good friend (language definitely helped as we do not speak any French). She was not only nice and friendly, she was extremely knowledgeable. The trip was a fest for our eyes. Evelyn stopped at every lush and well-groomed lavender and sunflower fields so that we can take snaps. We visited quite a few tiny and very pretty hilltop towns and also got to see grand panoramas of the land. She went out of her way to help us during and even after our trip. Our trip ended in a tiny and very “Red” hilltop town of Roussillon.
Sampa Santra in Brookline, MA USA 07/27/2011
Best: Sylvie Christie,Tour Guide: Cannes, Vagnes Sur Mer, Antibes
Why: She was everything & more as promised in your book. Fabulous personaility, knowledgeable, entertaining. Can parallel park a mini-van in a miniature space.
Judy Spaeth in Southlake, TX USA 06/14/2011
Best: Luberon villages
Why: Beautiful, wonderful shops and friendly people, lovely markets, relatively easy to navigate
Neil Phillips in Cherry Hill, NJ USA 06/06/2011
Best: Castle Hill
Why: What a great park to get lost in. There's something for everyone--playground, historic cemetary, park, waterfall...
Worst: Trans Cote d'Azur in Nice
Why: We tried to take the one hour tour from Nice that circles around neighboring towns including Cannes. We went the day before to make a reservation. When we made the reservation they told us to arrive a half hour before the scheduled departure but failed to tell us that they will only run the tour if 20 seats are sold. We found out about the minimum when we arrived that day and five minutes before the scheduled departure the tour was cancelled because only 18 seats were sold. We were very frustrated that they were not straight with us and we spent a while waiting around and didn't even get the tour.
M in Silver Spring, MD USA 05/29/2011
Best: Eze-leVillage, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Antibes, La Turbie, Vieux Nice, Chagall Museum in Nice.
Why: Beautiful views, quite often panoramic (Eze, La Turbie) with combination of mountain and sea, old town districts (Villefranche, Antibes, Vieux Nice), gardens (Le Jardin Exotique d'Eze) - Monaco's Jardin Exotique, as you very well pointed out is skippable.
Why: - The already narrow beach became even narrower due to the presence of lots of eating and drinking places right on the beach. - The quality of the beaches almost everywhere: narrow, plastered with pebbles. No fine sand (as one may find on, say, on the much less known Romanian Riviera. You visited Bulgaria; try Romania as well.
Emil Marcus in Aberdeen, NJ USA 05/03/2011
Best: Luberon Villages
Why: We discover new villages every time we are in that area. This time we were in Saignon (near Apt) and loved that too.
Judy Johnson in Alexandria, MN USA 04/25/2011
Best: Monaco, Cotes du Rhone, Pont du Gard, La Ferme Degoutaud
Why: Various persons liked various aspects: Monaco for its glitter, Cotes du Rhone for the scenic peaceful countryside, and Pont du Gard for the impressive historical site and museum
Worst: Getting lost in Marseille at night
Why: Because we were lost in Marseille at night and some parts looked fairly rough as we were driving through
Warren Lo in Columbus, OH USA 04/03/2011
Best: Mike's Wine Safari tour
Why: Great day visiting the wine country of Chateauneuf-de-pap and Cote-du-Rhone. Mike is every bit as great as you described.
Toby Citrin in Ann Arbor, MI USA 04/03/2011