Honeymoon in Provence - Off-the-beaten Path Ideas?
This is my honeymoon itinerary planned for later this month. Any advice on places to go and things to do. These are just the towns where the hotel is and we'll have a car, so we can easily do day trips.
Day 1 - Land in Geneva and Drive to Lyon (stop in Perouges)
Day 2 - Lyon
Day 3 - Fontaine-de-Vaucluse
Day 4 - Fontaine-de-Vaucluse
Day 5 - Fontaine-de-Vaucluse
Day 6 - Fontaine-de-Vaucluse
Day 7 - Aix en Provence
Day 8 - Aix en Provence
Day 9 - Cassis
Day 10 - Cassis
Day 11 - Baux de Provence
Day 12 - Annecy
Day 13 - Annecy
Day 14 - Fly home from Geneva
Things to do, places to go, food to eat (non-michelin places, real local finds). In general would like to stay off beaten path as much as possible.
Hmmm. I've been in Annecy with a car, and it seemed no different from any medium sized town in France; Parking is available in lots, street parking difficult of course.
You can use your car to go to the new Marc Veyrat restaurant about 2km out of town in Veyrier. Veyrat closed the " most expensive restaurant in France" and reopened in this new more reasonably priced venue. He is quirky, and the food is the same, certainly interesting. Worth a try.
I would say that Aix and Lyon, not Annecy, are places to leave the car and walk. Aix is very crowded, and parking is daunting. A lot to see in Aix, 2 days may be a rush. 1 day in Lyon will only scratch the surface. Note: Lyon shuts down on Sunday, 98% of the restaurants are closed. You should get to one of their real Bouchons while there. (lots of offal)
Don't miss the great bouillabaisse they serve on the portside restaurants in Cassis, or at least some great Soupe de Poissons!
Congratulations on your honeymoon.
Honestly, none of the places are off the beaten path. In fact they are super-beaten path. They are beautiful places very much known to everyone, and have a lot of traffic gridlock even in non-August months. For example, I love Annecy but would not go near it in July-August. If all your reservations are set, I suggest that you go from Geneva to Annecy using the easy train. Then from Annecy, on the day you leave, you can rent a car to go to Provence. Having a car in Annecy - especially in August - is a masochistic thing to do.
As for recommendations of villages and restaurants, have you read Kurtis's excellent report on his Provence experience and his reviews of the many restaurants. There are also many many other such threads which you can find using the search function. Kurtis's is only one of the most recent and is extremely informative.
After searching it and other threads, you can come back and focus on more specific places and restaurants, and all of us can help you much better. If you have already done your search and found nothing, pardon me for the suggestion.
our trip is the second half of august and will be in annecy the first week of september (at the end of our trip) so hopefully missing most of the heavy crowds though we expect some. we'll have a car for the whole trip and can drive wherever. all our hotels are booked well in advance.
i've read several post and most of it's discussions about michelin star restaurants rather then local finds. coming from nyc, there are a lot of popular places but still many great local/neighborhood finds and i was curious if anyone had suggestions on place like that which we should go to.
thanks for the Kurtis suggestion.
I would strongly recommend the Bistrot du Paradou(closed SUN/MON) for your stay in les Baux, and la Ferme de la Huppe in Gordes (may be closed MON), if you don't mind the trip from la Fontaine de Vaucluse. Or even la Bartavelle in Goult,(closed TUE/WED) but that's more of a drive. In Aix, try le Poivre d'Ane (should be open every day). I think Kurtis has "officially reviewed" both Huppe & Bartavelle.
While in Cassis, be sure to take a boat ride to see the 'calanques', and try to visit the medieval village le Castellet. (It's touristy but charming, IMO.)
"I've read several post and most of it's discussions about Michelin star restaurants rather then local finds" - why not Michelin? They are France's national food (red book) and tourist (green books) guides and for France they are extremely accurate and informative. There are many, many places in the guides that are "great neighbourhood/local" finds. If you choose a combination of bibs (cheap but good) and one stars then you can't fail to eat well.
I am also afraid you will also find Michelin will have found all the good places in Provence because it is prime dining territory both for the French as well as tourists.
PhilD is right. After a couple of trips of trying to do only 3 star places, we quickly realized our Michelin was best used for finding the Bib (or "happy fat man" as we called him) places. Usually very good food at reasonable prices. Just make sure to call an hour or two before at the least - the appreciate that you've taken them seriously.
The Ferme de la Charbonnière is a wonderful farme-inn on the lake outside the town Annecy. It makes its own reblochon and starts the cheese-melting for the tartiflette before you arrive. But of course you have to reserve.
Google map gives 2 different locations for the farm. The location given in the link above is the correct one.