Getting There and Getting Around France

Shopping in local markets is one of the best and cheapest ways to appreciate the many flavors and scents of Provence, including these flavorful sausages. Credit: Terri Cook and Lon Abbott Shopping in local markets is one of the best and cheapest ways to appreciate the many flavors and scents of Provence, including these flavorful sausages. Credit: Terri Cook and Lon Abbott

Most flights to France from the U.S. land in Paris. If you are heading directly to Provence, you can fly from Paris to Marseille-Provence Airport. Another option is France’s high-speed TGV train, which zips between the capital and Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, and Arles. During the summer, Eurostar trains run directly from London to Avignon, and there are also direct flights from London to Marseille. In addition, ferries sail regularly to Marseille from Sardinia, Corsica, and Tunisia. Although the public transportation system is excellent in France’s urban areas, the most convenient way to explore Provence’s countryside is by car. Most visitors arrive with accommodations already booked, a wise strategy especially during the bustling summer months. Websites such as booking.com offer a wide range of properties throughout Provence. If you are planning on staying at least a week in one location, consider renting a gîte — a small, furnished holiday home typically located in a rural area — through the website http://en.gites-de-france.com. Be aware that you often need to wire a deposit ahead of time to the owner, who may not speak much English. Provence isn’t cheap. Camping is a great way to save money, see some out-of-the-way places, and meet locals and other (usually European) tourists. If you don’t wish to haul camping gear with you, renting a camper van is another option. If you decide to hike on Mont Ventoux, good places to begin are the villages of les Fébriers or les Colombets near Bédoin, or from Chalet Liotard, located on the northwest side much closer to the summit. If you choose to cycle up the giant, the town of Malaucène has several shops, including Ventoux Bikes, where you can rent a reliable bike, as well as some great cafes to catch up on some post-ride calories.

Terri Cook

Terri Cook

Based in Boulder, Colo., and trained as a geologist, Cook is a freelance writer whose career has focused on exploring and explaining the history of our amazing planet, including as a roving correspondent for EARTH. Follow her travels at www.down2earthscience.com. Follow her @GeoTravelTerri.

Monday, February 24, 2014 - 06:00