Help Planning Road Trip From Provence to Paris

I’m under no illusions that the world will go back to normal anytime soon but I’m REALLY hoping maybe this summer there might be a little flexibility to travel in France. I already live in Europe (Germany) so travel is slightly less complicated than trying to travel from the US. All that being said, I’m doing some day dreaming and planning my next trip to France. I think this time I’ll fly to Provence, rent a car, and make my way to Paris. Everything is completely flexible at this point and I’ll offer a couple of basic ideas and happily take advice from the group.

First up, I think this will be my 16th trip to France so not my first and certainly not my last. All my travel is heavily based on eating/drinking well and this will be a solo trip. I’ve got roughly a week to make my way from the south, either Marseille or Nice (I don’t plan to stay in either city), to Paris. I’m looking at maybe late May this year, but COVID will decide (might kick to September if May is not going to work). Regardless of what’s going on, my goals on this trip will be to stick to smaller locations, avoid masses of people, ideally spend some time in the country and the sun getting my batteries recharged after a long, cold, dark winter in Berlin.

ROUGH plan right now is 2-3 days in Provence, 2-3 days in/around Burgundy, and 2-3 days in Paris (hope to hit the Champagne region as well for a day trip, first time). I have been very lucky to visit all of these regions before, and I’m sure I’ll go back again, but I am under no pressure to see any of the major touristy things. I’m looking for the little restaurant in the little village that you still can’t forget. The breathtaking scenery you stumbled on while driving from one place to another. I’m just as happy with a 3-star place (though honestly I’m typically drawn more to the 1-2 star places) but it doesn’t have to have been recognized by the Michelin people. I am not typically a huge fish/seafood lover. For wine, I don’t have the budget for the unicorn bottles but I’m still looking for something to remember. I will be dining solo so places with outstanding by-the-glass menus are very much appreciated. For budget, I don’t need to pinch my pennies for this trip, but I also don’t need to light money on fire. I’ll happily spend 100-200 euro for dinner/wine for one and I can go higher for something special.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer and fingers crossed it can happen!

With that short a time, I’d drive end the drive at Dijon and take the TGV to Paris from there.

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That is a great suggestion. Dijon is a city I haven’t visited yet and was planning to stop. Great idea to drop the car there and jump on the train.

Dijon doesn’t have the wineries, but the old town is fabulous - lot’s of history there.

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Snails. Delicious.

If the restaurant scene opens, two of my favorites are Les Enfants du Marche and Cam Import/Export. The former is spectacular on a warm Paris day and the latter is great if you like Asian fusion, served in a quirky French style. I miss Paris so much :confused:


Thanks for the those recommendations! I followed your Paris thread with great interest for a LONG time. Always made me a little jealous. I’ll add both of your recommendations to my map.

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There is a TGV between Aix-en-Provence and Paris Gare de Lyon if that helps any. There are rental car companies at Aix-en-Provence you can pickup and drop off literally across from the tracks.

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btw, I’ll add that we went this route ourselves in 2015 when we visited Chateauneuf du Pape. Flew into Paris and stayed two nights then the TGV to Provence and the rental car throughout the area then the TGV back to Paris for one final night before flying home.

If (big if) they’re open again consider a stop at Carrieres Lumieres in Provence. It was part of a planned vacation before kidney surgery intervened.

In my last job, before I re-re-retired, I worked out of Grenoble. Typically I would fly into Lyon, rent a car, drive to Moirans. I did visit some nice monastery/convent properties in Provence. Ciders and beers are good too. Tasted bunch of Monduese and stuff. The wine makers I met were very nice and some very interesting stuff. Also Chartruese and liquers to sample. My co-workers were mix from Tunisia, Britanny, Nice and Alsace, Swiss and N Italy. I’d go to Milan or Ivrea/Torino for long meals. so I’d bring a case of Cali wines and they would pull a few bottles and stuff them with local wines. They liked trading California wines, so ended up with Burgs, Cote Roties, Sylvaners and odds and end. This was once a quarter for 3-5 yrs. The bakeries I ht up for breakfast wer sooo good, but you gotta get their early. Lyon has tons of great food destinations. Driving is quite easy, just get a mid size Citreon or Renault, carry some cash for the tolls, vs trying to use debit card, and you need a chip card. GPby loading your maps over wifi unless you get univ. roaming (kinda expensive), GPS and google/Waze maps works. Roundabouts are great, if you pay attention.

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I’ve heard great things about that and I’d love to see it. Fingers crossed!


Here is a previous thread on Carrières de Lumières:

Adding to this idea: the TGV stop in Avignon is outside of the city, and is very convenient to the auto route. Lots of rental car companies are in the immediate vicinity. The station itself is a model of efficiency. My overall point being: you could easily drive to places you want to see in Provence, generally heading north, drop the car and hop the express to Dijon or Paris, as you choose and in doing so save hours of bother. The also leads you to avoid the mess of Avignon altogether.

Villeneuve les Avignon is a lovely base for seeing Avignon and the surrounding countryside side.

I’ve hopped on the TGV here. All depends whether you want to see Northern Rhone Valley, Lyons or burgundy.

My personal taste is to go slower, see less, enjoy la dolce vita more.

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Thank you for all the tips on the TGV. I’m pretty sure I’ll be flying into Marseille (which thankfully is less than a two hour flight from where I live in Berlin) and probably start working my way up from there. 4-5 days to get up to Dijon where I think I’ll grab the train to Paris. I’ll probably only spend a couple of nights in Paris this time. My hopes of this actually happening in May dwindle with each passing day of lockdown here in Germany but September would still be nice.

Sadly, I think my hopes of life getting better in May are pretty much gone so maybe this will be a September road trip instead. I’m still building out my map so if anyone else has any favorites between Marseille and Paris, I’d love to hear them!

i think we’re all pushing out european vacations back quite a bit. hoping to get to london and paris for a week in november from nyc. we’ll see if thats even possible.

only recommendation i have for you is st remy de provence is a great central hub for any provence visits. i really didnt care for the tourist towns (gordes, roussillon) but did love st remy, bonnieux, apt, menerbes, etc…

one of the highlights of a recent (pre covid) trip was dinner at l’oustalet in gigondas. right in the town square…just a perfect meal. try to eat outside weather permitting…lunch also works but dinner was a bit magical…even if you’re solo. owned by the perrin family so the wine service is impressive.

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That restaurant in Gigondas has come up again and again in so much of my research. I’ve already added it to my map as a must visit. I visited Gigondas several years back but it was a family trip, my kids were little, and it was not a fun/relaxing experience. I certainly need to go back.

Overall I think I’m going to adjust the scale of this trip just a bit. I think this time I’ll probably spend a bit more time in the western side of Provence and make my way up to Dijon and stop there. St Remy could certainly be a good base for that portion of the trip. I’ll take a week and slow things down just a bit.

Thanks for the suggestions.

hotel de tourrel in st remy was a perfect place to stay for us. a bit pricey but worth it. its a small 8 room hotel right in the center of town.