There is a reason I travel at this time, and I have had a number of pleasant trips to Mediterranean areas (Andalucía, Sicily, etc.), but I would like to do something different, and I would like to see more of France. A French acquaintance has suggested the "Arrière Pays" as a "possible" destination. He says he is talking about "the low mountains.(Manosque,Castellane, Apt, Avignon"). Without any guarantees of good weather :-), can anyone comment on the wisdom of giving this a try? Many thanks in advance to a most helpful community. --Spencer
It is sort of the luck of the draw. We've run into the Mistral and freezing weather even as low as St. Remy-de-Provence in the 2nd week of November. If you run into bad weather, just move down to the coast and it should be much nicer. I remember walking along the shore near Golfe Juan and looking up past the palm trees to snow in the Alps. It was beautiful . . . and we were comfortable. We even had lunch outside that day.
Here is a web site that has touring information including the Train of the Pines. provencehousestay.com/arrier...
If you have good weather and can get up into the mountains, try to visit the Mercantour National Park. It is wonderful. http://www.mercantour.eu/
I'm not familiar with the term arrière pays except in its meaning as the hinterlands so this would be the hinterlands of Provence. It's a favorite vacation spot of ours and I highly recommend it but in November try to be flexible in case you do get some bad weather. The countryside is magnificent if you haven't visited it.
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Don't let the possible threat of poor weather turn you from the trip. We had some freezing temps in the mornings but by afternoon, the sun was out and it was fine. The Mistral was something else (if you're not familiar, its a famous wind), but I had always wanted to experience it so had a grand time. There was not one day we couldn't get out and sightsee and we had a wonderful time. It's completely different at that time of year.
Visiting places like Arles and Avignon, expect many of the tourist shops to be closed but the regular shops are all open as are the cafes and restaurants. We also discovered some of the tourist shops were open, they just didn't have displays on the street in front of the store . . . for good reason. It's a quieter time of year, but still a wonderful experience. Highly recommended.
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I used to hike around Provence and Cote D'Azur, with a friend and a tent, in March the Spring is about to blossom and the weather, although cold at night, can be pleasantly warm during the day, the tent used to get us into slight trouble, when an officious Gendarme would tap the tent pole with his baton, poke a "fiche" through the awning, and request us to fill it in, after which, we would be requested to move on, because "camping sauvage" was not permitted!
Apart from these occasional brushes with officialdom, I enjoyed Provence, a rural agricultural region of France, and in March there were very few tourists around to force up prices. I expect in the current global economic climate this would still be the situation. Another area I enjoyed was around the coast, but further east, towards San Tropez, the excessive prices were discouraging, and the "camping sauvage" enforcing Gendarmerie were much more active, and much less polite.
Why not be adventurous and take a leap of faith, venturing further south to French-speaking Morocco? My travel pages might convince you (or otherwise)....enjoy your trip whatever decision you arrive at, a holiday is all about a change of scenery and daily routine, that's what matters most (I think!)
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