Need advice on a trip through France

#1
Hey, I'm taking my wife to France to visit friends in Lyon for two weeks starting the second week of May. It will be a 5 year celebration and a trip to celebrate her life after a grueling year and a half battle with stage 4 colorectal cancer.
First week will be spent in Lyon.
The second week is a surprise to her, which will be spent on a week long road trip through France.
I would like to go to beaches, do some rock climbing (we are avid climbers) and see the real beauty of France.
I need guidance because there are about a million places we could go but I also want to make this relaxing. Basically I need ideas. We can do on road but we will be renting a vehicle so off highway driving is great also.


Thank you!


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#2
I like the idea of surprise made to your wife.I'm happy to make you discover our country and give you some ideas , respecting your priorities : relaxing, hiking and beaches.I have searched on a lot of sites and guides and offers you some options , with discoveries of wilderness and unspoilt,with picturesque villages , canyons and creeks.

First, I suggest you discover the Ardèche and its gorges.L Ardèche is a department with many villages classified "historical".These are medieval villages,having been awarded the " village character.Most have a medieval castle , cobbed streets,stone houses , ramparts encircling villages and numerous Romanesque chapel

The most beautiful picturesque villages are circled in green.
Google Map 1.jpg


http://www.experienceardeche.com/page/places_interest/63
http://en.ardeche-guide.com/villages-outstanding-character

The Ardèche is south of Lyon, 150 km, to Marseille by "Autoroute du Sud"(HW A 7) .Take exit 17 Montélimar North direction Montelimar / Le Teil by N7, then N107 to Le Teil , to visit the villages classified.
Then De Vallon Pont D'arc, which is the top of the Ardèche, with discovery of the gorges of Ardeche, many walking trails.Vallon Pont d'Arc is the starting point for canoé/kayak.There are many beaches within walking distance.May is the ideal time for climate,vegetation and calm.It's the crowds in summe

Hiking trails
https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTop...he-Vallon_Pont_d_Arc_Ardeche_Rhone_Alpes.html
http://www.ot-pays-ruomsois.com/en/les-gorges-de-l-ardeche/index.php

beaches
https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTop...he-Vallon_Pont_d_Arc_Ardeche_Rhone_Alpes.html
http://www.aubenas-vals.com/coins-de-baignade-en-ardeche/

You can find all the informations and maps at the tourist office in Vallon Pont D'arc
http://www.vallon-pont-darc.com/#close

also the descent of the gorges of Ardeche in canoe / kayak. (see the website of the tourist office)
http://www.canoe-ardeche.com/indexa.html

I advise you the Michelin map N° 331 (Ardèche /Pays de Loire). 1/150000 .you should find it on Amazon.

if you don't have overdose the canyons, trails or beaches, the sea is 170kms.I suggest you visit Cassis to La Ciotat.
To avoid the black circle, which is a highly industrialized area.

Google Map_2.jpg
Cassis is a little port, departure point for many hikes to the creeks, so that you can visit by boat.These creeks are protected.These are heavenly places.Cassis is also famous for its wine(rosé and white).
What's more pleasant to sip a chilled rosé with a view breathtaking with his beloved.!
http://www.marvellous-provence.com/other-places/sights-and-attractions/calanques/cassis
http://mikestravelguide.com/what-to-see-and-do-in-cassis/


to do absolutely: the ridge road (la route des crêtes) of Cassis to La Ciotat 15 kms of view from cliffs offering a breathtaking panorama of Cassis,its creeks and the sea infinity.
I advise you the Michelin map Bouche du Rhone / VarN°340 1/150000(Amazon)

for the return to Lyon, you can leave the HW A7 after Salon de Provence, to the "Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon,"to discover other classified villages of this region.The best being Gordes and Roussillon.

Google Maps_3.jpg

http://www.provenceweb.fr/e/vaucluse/gordes/gordes.htm
http://www.marvellous-provence.com/...of-the-luberon/roussillon-and-the-ochre-trail
http://www.planetware.com/luberon/parc-regional-du-luberon-f-az-plu.htm

I know the South region of Cassis and the Luberon. I loved the unique and unspoiled beauty of this region,the festive atmosphere and the warm hospitality of Provence.
The last year, I left Ardèche with lots of projects, and ... unfortunately, a broken foot has limited rides.
Thanks to you, I got a roadbook for an upcoming trip.
If you need additional informations,....with pleasure

catherine
 
#3
Catherine, thank you very much for such a detailed reply! Even though it wasn't directed at me, it's exactly the sort of stuff I really like and will keep in mind for my next trip to France. Bookmarked this, thanks again!
 
#4
Catherine, thank you very much for such a detailed reply! Even though it wasn't directed at me, it's exactly the sort of stuff I really like and will keep in mind for my next trip to France. Bookmarked this, thanks again!

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.it's the pleasure of sharing
Last year, I explored the "Gorges du Verdon", which I loved,.A must see,150kms north of Toulon.The "Gorges du Verdon" ,also called the Grand Canyon du Verdon,is a spectacular canyon that forms a border between the Alpes de Haute Provence and the Var.Up to 700m deep and 21 kms long canyon .
Although it's much smaller than Arizona's Grand Canyon, the Gorges du Verdon is deep, compact, wild and beautiful.

gorges du Verdon.jpg

From Castellane to the village of Rougons, the Verdon river flows clear and swift, and the road follows along the banks.At rougons,by the Point sublime(us too),the river plunges into the narrow rock walls, and there's no escape until it comes out the western end before flowing into lac de Ste Croix.A full loop around the canyon is just over 100 kms, including the Route des Crêtes, and takes a very full day.

http://www.marvellous-provence.com/other-places/sights-and-attractions/gorges-du-verdon
http://www.provenceweb.fr/e/alaupro.htm

many villages of character:
Castellane is a must to visit if you go in the Gorges du Verdon.Its walls,pentagonal tower and Napoleon bridge..
Valensole ,village famous for its lavender fields
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is built like an amphitheater.It has a view of the lavender fields, mountains and lake Ste Croix.
And too Aiguines .

you can practice canoe/Kayak/rafting, hiking and Bungee jumping for lovers of extreme to the bridge of Artuby.This is the highest bridge in Europe (180m:
to the bridge of Artuby.This is the highest bridge in Europe (180m/580ft)).I did it last year. big adrenaline shot!!
 
#5
Another beautiful spot I had no idea of. Thanks again! If you don't mind, keep them coming! Gives me much needed inspiration for future trips to beautiful France!
 
#6
First time post here so be gentle.

It's a bit of a distance south (about 4 hours from Lyon) but worth checking out Millau on the A75 and in particular the spectacular Millau bridge which opened in 2004 and is the tallest bridge in the world.
I can't link photo's or url's so you will have to Google - but it's spectacular viewing/driving over. You don't say how mobile/healthy your wife is so this option is good as it has viewing points and the old road (D809) down in to Millau is pretty amazing. There is hang gliding and river rafting in gorges if you are up for that.

Roads in France are really good, and without wishing to patronise, watch out for the closing speed of traffic from behind. Europeans don't hang around. Saying that, be careful of cops and timed distance between toll booths. Cops charge on the spot fines and it's not unusual to pay speeding fines to the officer. Not so much a problem if you are overlanding, bit of a problem if you are renting a local car.

If renting, make sure the car has the obligatory kit:
  • spare set of bulbs/lamps
  • breathalyser kit
  • high visibility jacket (one per occupant)
 
#7
Very impressive bridge indeed! When we passed there back in '04 it wasn't opened to the public yet for another 2weeks. Admired it from a distance, towering above the fog. Very cool!

 
#8
Lovely videos shared here by a memeber I love it and its a really bets thing is that sharing of travel experiences with all of us, I would like to share with you here that all of the sharing images in this thread also best for travelers. I will share next time too like this stuff.
 
#9
I can only confirm the recommendation of the region around the "Gorges du Verdon"! Spectacular scenery, ideal for water sports and climbing! And if you have a 4X4 you can even do some off-road.

http://climbingaway.fr/fr/site-escalade/les-gorges-du-verdon-l-escales

Another good spot to go climbing is the region around Sisteron! Orpierre, Savournon and Châteauneuf-de-Chabre are just a few of many brilliant sites.

Sisteron itself:
http://www.sisteron-tourisme.fr/sitesescaladepayssisteronais.html?lang=en
https://grimperdansle04.jimdo.com/les-sites-du-04/sisteron/

Motte-Du-Caire has as a very spectacular "Via Ferrata"
http://www.ffme.fr/site/via-ferrata-fiche/100.html

Info about the region's climbing sites.

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/sisteron/107921825

https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=2051

This is imho the best English language website with information about rock climbing in France. Check it out.