#31: The Ardèche, Provence, Paris and Normandy

Falaise d'Aval in Etretat (J. Chung)
Falaise d’Aval in Etretat (J. Chung)

**Contains Affiliate Links**

I thought I’d share my travel itinerary for my recent trip to France.  In late June I flew to Lyon to begin my journey which would take me to the Ardèche, Provence, Paris and Normandy

If you have been to Normandy, like me, you have probably visited the D-day beaches. This is typically on the top of many people’s lists as the history and museums about World War II and the Normandy invasions are so interesting. However, if you’ve been to Normandy before, what else can you see and do? A lot! I visited more of the northeastern section of Normandy and my week overlapped Fête de la Nationale on July 14 (aka. Bastille Day).

I was very intent on seeing two things in particular:

  • Lavender in Provence
  • Fireworks at Etretat on the eve of Bastille Day

Itinerary: The Ardèche, Provence, Paris and Normandy

I was able to see both and much, much more. On this page I’ll keep updating the links to posts where I share more details about the experience or site. For now, here is a summary of some of the highlights:

Just As The Trip Began: Problems

Renter Beware: costly roadside assistance in France

3 nights in the Ardèche

Pont d'Arc (J. Chung)
Pont d’Arc (J. Chung)
  • Stayed in a B and B in Salavas, very close to Pont d’Arc
  • Pont d’Arc—kayaking
  • Aven d’Orgnac (caves)
  • Caverne du Pont d’Arc (caves)
  • Visited the towns of Vogue, Balazuc, and Aigueze. All three have the designation, “Plus Beaux Villages de France”;
  • Lunch at Restaurant Le Bouchon in Aigueze
  • Dinner at Bistrot Cayou near Salavas

On My Way To Provence

Theatre Antique d'Orange (J .Chung)
Theatre Antique d’Orange (J .Chung)
  • Mornas: big medieval fortress high on a hill; lunch at Cafe de la Poste
  • Orange: Théâtre Antique d’Orange and Roman Arc de Triomphe

One Week In Provence

Lavender at Abbey de Senanque
Lavender at Abbey de Senanque

I stayed in a gite located in Murs (7.5 kilometres NE of Gordes). It was my second time renting the place .  It is run by a lovely British couple and the house was spacious with one  bedroom, a living room, kitchen, terrace, and two bathrooms. Out in the country and quiet, it does require a car and some driving to get to a market or active town, but it was worth it.

  • Found lavender at the Abbey de Senanque, Sault, and the areas near Sault and Bonnieux. Check out my post, “Where You Can Find Lavender In Provence”.
  • Repeat visits to Venasque, Gordes, Bonnieux, Lourmarin, Menerbes, and Roussillon-All have the designation, “Plus Beaux Villages de France”:
  • Repeat visits to L’Isle-sur-la-sorgue, St. Remy, and Arles.
  • Carrieres de Lumieres: Picasso sound and light show
  • Arles: attended the Cocarde d’Or— La Course Camarguaise (Provencal Bullfighting)
  • Vallon des Lavandes: learned about the distillation of lavender and about how lavender oil and lavandin oil can be used
  • La Ferme aux Lavandes—garden and outdoor cafe
  • La Foret de Cedres: Le Portalas hiking route
  • Goult: Cafe de la Poste for lunch
  • Lourmarin: Chateau de Lourmarin

1 Night In Paris

Ateliers des Lumieres, Paris (J. Chung)
Ateliers des Lumieres, Paris (J. Chung)

I travelled from Avignon to Paris via the TGV (the train strike did NOT affect me!!) and stayed in Paris for one night.

  • I stayed at the Hotel Palym which was right around the corner from the Gare de Lyon and had air conditioning! It’s a modern, well designed hotel (with lots of electrical outlets!).  It was reasonably priced and I’d stay there again.
  • Les Embruns for lunch-had an excellent lunch of crepes and wine. It’s located around the corner from the hotel
  • Ateliers des Lumières-I got last minute tickets to this art exhibit featuring the work of Gustav Klimt and contemporary artists that is a sound and light show. Definitely worth visiting. It is like the one in Les Baux (Carrieres de Lumiere), however, rather than being located in a quarry, it is located in a former smelting plant
  • Guingettes (dancing along the Seine)
  • Checked out the colourful Rue Cremieux, a few blocks away from the Hotel Palym

One week in Normandy

Chateau Gaillard at Les Andelys (J. Chung)
Chateau Gaillard at Les Andelys (J. Chung)

On way from Paris to Normandy, I visited:

  • Rouen
  • Les Andelys: Chateau Gaillard

I rented an Airbnb (house) located right on the edge of Etretat. It had a fabulous location where I could just leave my car and walk into town. Check out this post about the Airbnb and Making Sure Your First Airbnb In Normandy Is A Success.

I headed south of Etretat to visit Pont l’Eveque (Calvados Experience) and drive the “Cider Route”, visiting the towns of:

  • Beuvron-en-Auge (another one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France)
  • Victot Pontfol: tour of Domaine Dupont
  • Cambremer

I also visited the towns of Veules-les-Roses, Honfleur, Pont-Audemer, Allouville (to see Chene d’Allouville), and Yvetot (to see Eglise Saint-Pierre d’Yvetot which has the largest stained glass windows in Europe).

One day I drove to Fecamp to take the “Le Mer Pour Tous” speedboat tour of the falaises. The boat takes you from Fecamp, south along the coast to the Falaise Amont and then back. The entire trip is about 3 hours.

  • In Fecamp I also visited the Benedictine Palais where they still make the herbal liqueur beverage

Back To Paris

Heading back from Etretat to Paris, I did the “Route des Abbeys” which follows the winding Seine River from Allouville to Rouen. As one would expect there are MANY abbeys in several charming towns.

  • Villequier: Victor Hugo Museum not open
  • Caudebec-en-Caux
  • Abbey de St. Wandrille
  • Abbey de Jumieges
  • Duclair
  • Abbey at St. Martin de Boscherville

My final night was at the Nomad Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle at the airport. I arrived soon after France won the FIFA World Cup.  The hotel is very modern and reasonably priced. I’ve stayed here in the past and love it. They have a restaurant and their excellent dinner buffet is just under 20 Euros.

So this three week itinerary for my trip to the Ardèche, Provence, Paris and Normandy was busy but definitely full of unique experiences and sites.

Trip #31- The Ardeche, Provence, Paris & Normandy