Planning your trip to Provence
When to go
The south of France has more reason than most to be regarded as an-all year around destination. The region first became popular among foreigners and particularly northern Europeans as a winter resort, where they could escape from the cold and wet of the northern climate. The famous resorts of the Victorian period –Nice, Cannes, Menton and Hyeres – attracted the wealthy and the sick who could enjoy the mild Mediteranean winter. In the 20C, with the rise of the sun tan & the bikini. It was definitely turned into the most famous summer holiday center in the world. In each of the intermediate seasons there have been regular visitors, particularly those who wish to walk in the very diverse landscape , visit the plentiful antique & medieval remains or undertake any number of hobbies from botany to horseback riding. The South of France has plenty to offer at all times of the year and can accommodate everyone as and when most suitable for their preferred activities.
If you intend to travel to Provence, to visit the great centers such as Arles or Avignon, you may find the early autumn preferable. The crowds have vanished or at least considerably thinned out from their height in July and August, the temperatures have eased to a pleasant, less than stifling heat and it is still warm & dry for you to enjoy the outdoors. Similarly, in September & October the coastal resorts are still warm enough for those not overused to the intensity of midsummer and the beaches are less crammed with sunbathers. However some parts of Provence can be cold , particurlarly in the inland areas of the Rhone Valley which are prone to the Mistral wind.
Passports and visas requirements
No visa is needed for citizens of EU countries but a passport is needed for identification. North Americans & New Zealanders require only a passport if staying less than three months in France. Members of Commonwealth countries should check visa requirements with their nearest French consulate before departing. I believe there are three types of Visas. Valid for two months ( transit visa), for 90 days after the date issued ( short stay) or for 90 days over three years ( long sejour). Also Non-visa visitors staying longer than 90 days should apply for a carte de sejour, for which you will need to show proof of income.
French Government Tourist office.
USA 444 Madison Avenue, 16th floor New York, NY 10022. Phone # 410-286-8310 or check the website http://www.francetourism.com
While government tourist offices hold information on various types of holidays & accommodation this is better pursued with a local Travel Agent and on the Web as well.
For private & small tours visit http://www.luxurytravelconsultant2.com, the owner is American (French born) , she specializes in tours and holidays to France from the US.
There is a good standard map covering the whole of Provence and the cote d’Azur in the Michelin 1/200.000 yellow series ( # 245). This indicates the major roads & minor roads, plus most of the monuments and places of interest. In smll towns, tourist offices have a small street map that is given out free of charge. Likewise in villages, the local syndicat d’initiative or Office du Tourism will generally have a small map of the area with a few notable sights and routes marked.
The Euro is the official monetary unit in France. Provence & the Cote d’Azur are fairly expensive area when compared to the rest of rural France. The high life on the coast has retained the high prices while losing much of its prestige. Bearing this in mind, however, Provence can still offer very good value in accommodation, eating out and general travelling expenses. As ever, the lower-rated hotels, private accommodation and fixed- priced menus are a lot less expensive than their equivalents in Britain or Northern America.
All the principal credit cards are widely accepted in shops, hotels, restaurants and gaz stations and I believe are accepted for tolls on motorways. Cash can be withdrawn from relevant cash-dispensing machines in France using your Pin number. Always change your US currency in the country your are visiting, I personally found the ATM rate the best and the cheapest probably depending on your US bank.
Most airlines have daily flights to France. Air France & Delta operate some direct flights from San Francisco to Paris.http://www.airfrance.com &http://www.delta.com. If you do not want a direct flight and want to make a stop in New York, you can always catch a flight from New York to Nice, otherwise most flights from North America & Australia require a change in Paris, depending on the carrier. In January & February airfares are a lot less expensive as well as hotels & other accommodations, because this is the winter season.
If you fly to Paris ( Charles de Gaulle) you have the option to catch the high speed train (TGV) to the South of France directly from the airport. Two French companies still fly to the south of France; Air inter & Air Lib,http://www.airlib.com
How to get to provence
Provence is a great area to explore by car and as soon as you arrive you can you can contact a local firm which is cheaper & usually reliable. Also ” Fly-drive” deals can be arranged from most countries when booking flights, most informations regarding mileage & insurance that operate in Northern America are found in France. Before you go it is always useful to consult the French Tourist board regarding specific rules or restrictions about driving in France. You will also need an international driving license, you cannot drive without one.
Luxury Travel Consultant2 invites you to 2012 Winter Travel to Provence. for more information go to our website,http://www.luxurytravelconsultant2.com