Trip Report Provence and Chamonix, Episode 83


Provence and Chamonix

Trip Report Provence and Chamonix

Let's go to Provence and Chamonix with Matt, his wife and two daughters. Matt tells you what it takes to have a grand time in France with your children and shares what their greatest day in France was and why.  Let me warn you: it is NOT on any of the top 10 lists you may have read, this is one of those places that turns out to be a wonderful surprise.

French Tip of the Week: "attrape-couillon" = something that catches suckers.

Episode Highlights

  • 4:35' They had to drive through Toulouse, why didn't they stop?
  • 5:30' If you park your car somewhere in France loaded with luggage, will you get robbed? How can you avoid that?
  • 7:10' Why is the speed limit around cities so low?
  • 9:45' The Rest Stop Matt mentions near Carcassonne is called Port-Lauragais.
  • 11:30' Tarrascon, not a touristy city, but a central location.
  • 13:10' Provence Markets, Six kinds of tapenade and Brandade de Morue.
  • 15:00' Beaucaire, its market, differences between life in Provence and the South West of France. Cicadas are loud indeed!
  • 17:10' Carrières de Lumière at Baux de Provence.
  • 21:10 Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. You could also get on a Tiki boat to see the Camargue from the marsh. The church is a must-see if you go!
  • 24:20' Vaison-la-Romaine, that one was a bust for them because the kids had seen enough Roman Ruins! They weren't impressed with French pizza either.
  • 25:30' Côte du Rhone wine driving tour and the town of Suzette. Rosé Côte du Rhone. How wine is priced in France and what wines get exported.
  • 28:00' Arles and the Bull Games. Those are no-kill bull races where men run around trying to get ribbons off the horns of the bull. Family-friendly atmosphere.
  • 31:00' Parking in France is a lot easier when you know how to parallel park!
  • 32:15' French Tip of the Week: "attrape-couillon" = something that catches suckers.
  • 33:00' Lubéron. They intended to see Gordes, Joucas and Roussillon, but Gordes was too crowded, there was nowhere to park at Abbeye de Sénanque so they just saw it from the road. Parking can be a problem in those super popular areas. They stopped at Joucas and enjoyed it, there is a nice playground there.
  • 36:09' Le Sentier des Ocres in Roussillon, this is a ocre cliff hike, 45mn, fairly easy.
  • 38:35' Pont du Gard and Haribo Museum Kids weren't impressed with the bridge, we discuss some ways to make it better.
  • 42:00' They rented an apartment right in the middle of Annecy and loved it!
  • 44:00' Tartiflette and Reblochon and many other cheeses such as Gruyère, Tome de Savoie, Beaufort, Cantal. What were the kid's favorite foods on this trip? Saucisse de Toulouse, Merguez.
  • 48:00' Luge, cows and bells. How you buy local cheese or wine  from locals in France.
  • 49:20' How 4th of July and Bastille Day events compare. Hint: Bastille Day isn't much to write home about!
  • 52:00' Chamonix, Aiguille du Midi and Mer de Glace, magical activities. The other side is Le Brévent and Flégère, this was probably their favorite day in the whole trip!

Matt's Itinerary for Provence and Chamonix

Saturday July 4 (Happy Independence Day!)
• Drove from Beynac to Tarascon (500 km)
• Saw the Canal du Midi at the rest stop along the way
• Settled in to our gite
• Swam in the pool

Sunday July 5 (Very Hot Day!)
• Market day in Beaucaire, toured Beaucaire in the morning
• Swimming in the pool
• Great picnic lunch included 4 tapenades (amazing!), olives, and brandade de morue
• Toured the Carrieres de Lumieres in the afternoon*
• Dinner of pork chops with Provençal veggies and Camargue rice

Monday July 6 (Very Hot Day!)
• Market day in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, toured Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in the morning
• Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea*
• Toured the Reserve Naturelle de Camargue after lunch
• Swimming in the pool
• Dinner of pasta à la Provençal

Tuesday July 7
• Toured Vaison-la-Romaine in the morning
• Drove along the Cote du Rhone after lunch
• Toured the small village of Suzette
• Swimming in the pool
• Dinner of merguez sausages and Provençal veggies

Wednesday July 8
• Swimming in the pool in the morning
• Toured Arles after lunch
• Attended the Course Camarguaise bull games in the evening in Arles*
• Dinner of steak Provençal with mashed potatoes*

Thursday July 9
• Drove to Gordes and the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque in the morning
o Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque was too crowded – no room to park – so we moved on
• Stopped at a lavender field on the side of the road en route to Joucas*
• Toured Joucas, lunch at a café*
• Kids played at the very nice playground in Joucas after lunch
• Hiked Le Sentier des Ocres in Roussillon*
• Dinner of fish and seafood soup Provençal*
• Evening walk in Tarascon
• Swimming in the pool

Friday July 10
• Toured the Pont du Gard in the morning
• Toured the Musee du Bonbon Haribo after lunch
• Swimming in the pool
• Dinner of steak Provençal with mashed potatoes

Saturday July 11
• Drove from Tarascon to Annecy (360 km)
• Settled into gite
• Evening walk through Annecy
• Dinner of pork chop from butcher with remaining Provençal accompaniments*
• Ice cream

Sunday July 12
• Market day in Annecy in the morning
• Boat cruise of Lake Annecy after lunch
• Dinner of pasta with heirloom tomatoes
• Evening walk through Annecy with ice cream, playgrounds and carousel

Monday July 13
• Morning walk through Annecy
• Rode the Luge D-Ete in Semnoz*
• Continued up the road (Semnoz) to Alpine views and cow pastures for incredible picnic lunch*
• Evening walk through Annecy with ice cream and playgrounds
• Viewed Lake Annecy town fireworks from Annecy

Tuesday July 14 (Bastille Day)
• Market day in Annecy in the morning
• Toured the Gorges du Fier after lunch
• Swimming in the Fier river
• Diner of Tartiflette*
• Fireworks in the evening

Wednesday July 15
• Drove to Chamonix in the early morning
• Toured the Aiguille du Midi*
• Picnic lunch on the mountain*
• Took the Montenvers train and toured the Mer de Glace after lunch*
• Checked into hotel and had dinner at a restaurant
• Evening walk of Chamonix town

Thursday July 16
• Took the cable cars up to Le Brevent*
• Took the Flegere cable car and the L’index chair lift up the mountain*
• Picnic lunch and snowball fight on the mountain*
• Rode the L’index chair lift several more times*
• Drove back to our gite in Annecy
• Dinner of pork chops from the butcher and mashed potatoes

Friday July 17
• Annecy market day
• Lunch of assorted sausages from butcher
• Swimming in Lake Annecy after lunch
• Packing and preparing for return home
• Dinner of mussels and French fries

Saturday July 18
• Drive to Geneva airport and fly home to Boston via Iceland

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Discussed in this Episode

  • Places: Provence and Chamonix
  • Toulouse
  • Port-Lauragais Rest Stop
  • Tarrascon
  • Beaucaire
  • Carrières de Lumière
  • Château des Baux de Provence
  • Côtes du Rhone Wine Driving Tour
  • Saintes Maries de la Mer
  • Tiki in Camargue
  • Vaison-la-Romaine
  • Suzette
  • Arles
  • Bull Games in Arles
  • Van Gogh Easles
  • Lubéron
  • Abbey de Sénanques
  • Joucas
  • Le Sentier des Ocres in Roussillon
  • Le Pont du Gard
  • Musée Haribo (Uzès)
  • Annecy
  • Alpine Slide
  • Chamonix
  • Aiguille du Midi
  • Mer de Glace
  • Le Brévent
  • La Flégère — Foods: Tapenade
  • Brandade de Morue
  • Bergerac Wine
  • Tartiflette
  • Reblochon Cheese
  • Gruyère
  • Beaufort
  • Tome de Savoie
  • Cantal
  • Merguez


Lyon Area, Provence

2 Replies to “Trip Report Provence and Chamonix, Episode 83”

  1. I really liked Les Beaux…yes it was crowded, but I think historically its very significant.

    Bastille has great fireworks in Paris, but super crowded.

    This is getting me excited to visit france again!

  2. Thanks for these two helpful episodes. This is very similar to the trip I have been planning for 2017. Perfect information! So glad for your time and effort, Matt and Annie. Even the kids’ allergy issues and the cooking in gites and bringing picnic lunches–everything is helpful!

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