ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR A TWO-WEEK HOLIDAY DRIVING SOUTHERN FRANCE FOR OUR FAMILY WHICH INCLUDES TWO KEEN ROCK CLIMBER ADULT SONS? WE ALL ENJOY WALKING, GOOD FOOD AND WINE PLUS HISTORIC SITES. ALSO WHERE TO FLY IN AND OUT OF FROM AUSTRALIA. L. ELLIS, BANGALEE NSW
Start in Provence but rather than Avignon stay somewhere close, and Saint-Remy-de-Provence would be a good choice, it's a lovely town big enough to have a selection of hotels, guesthouses and dining but still easy to get into and out of, which is not the case if you stay in Avignon. From there, explore the surrounding Alpilles region, Les Baux-de-Provence, Arles and make an excursion to the east as far as Rousillon to include Gordes, the Fontaine-de-Vaucluse and gorgeous L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.
Head south from there to the coast. There's some interesting rock climbing on the Calanques, the sea cliffs to the east of Marseilles. This is also a lovely part of the French coastline so you might stay a few days at Cassis and explore, with a cruise along the Calanques as one of the highlights. Some great walks along this coastline as well.
Drive east from here, stopping at St Tropez and Antibes. You might stay somewhere away from the coast and Grasse or St Paul de Vence would be good choices. From either you have easy access to the coast as well as some wonderfully rugged walking country in the regional national park just to the north of these towns.
Most of the rock climbing is located further north in Provence, notably the steep limestone crags of the Verdon Valley and Ceuse, often called the best sport climbing in France.
Start in Paris, but you could fly out of Nice and return your hire car there. Several airlines including Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific fly between Nice and Sydney with two stops in between. With Qatar Airways it's just a one-stop flight home.
SPENDING FOUR WEEKS IN SPAIN AND PORTUGAL WITH SIX DAYS TO SPARE AFTER A GUIDED WALK IN THE ALGARVE BEFORE RETURNING HOME FROM BARCELONA. DO I SPEND IT ALL IN LISBON, PORTO OR SOMEWHERE ELSE? P. JOSUE, AVALON, NSW
Both Lisbon and Porto are well worth three days each, and particularly if you were to do a combined cruise/rail trip along the Douro River out of Porto, Portugal's "wine river". You can do it either on a full-day cruise aboard the vessels that depart from the pier at Vila Nova de Gaia, or taking the train from Porto's Sao Bento Station to Pinhao and back. Some operators offer a cruise upriver from Porto to Pinhao followed by a train ride back to Porto. See Viator viator.com for options.
Both cities have been elevated to superstar status on the tourism scene over the past few years and they attract crowds. If you had more time you could explore some of the country's lesser-known gems, such as Belmonte, Viseu, Monsanto and the Serra da Estrela mountains, but realistically, six days is not enough time.
Several airlines including Iberia and TAP Air Portugal have non-stop flights between Porto and Barcelona.
FROM PARIS WE ARE DRIVING TO AIX EN PROVENCE FOR THREE WEEKS. WE WANT TO AVOID THE AUTOROUTES AND STAY IN SMALL B&BS IN SMALLER VILLAGES OR SMALL TOWNS. WHERE AROUND AIX SHOULD WE VISIT? AFTER THAT, WE WILL BE TWO WEEKS IN THE LOT. IS ANYTHING A MUST TO VISIT? J. TERNISIEN, CREMORNE NSW
What you might do is take the A5 to get quickly out of Paris to Troyes. Take the D671 from there along the course of the Seine which becomes the D971 when it crosses from Aube into Cote-d'Or. This road will take you to Dijon. Take the D974 south which takes you through villages associated with some of the most famous of the Burgundy wine region – Puligny-Montrachet, Volnay, Beaune and Nuits-St-Georges. Continue on this road from Beaune and just south, at Chalon-sur-Saone, take the D978 which becomes the D933 then at Cruisery continue south on the D975. At Bourg-en-Bresse take the D1075 and then just south of Grenoble take the N85. Switch to the A51 which will take you to Aix.
With the Cote d'Azur on your doorstep, the rugged Verdon Natural Regional Park to the north-east, the villages of the Luberon to the north and wonders all around, you really won't be stuck for things to do.
The Lot is a lovely region for exploring on its slow, winding roads, along its rivers and walking trails. Its gastronomic traditions take in duck and geese products, truffles, some wonderful wines and cheeses and the classic bean stew, cassoulet. You've got castles and noble chateaux to explore, the Dordogne region close by and in June you're ahead of the summer crowds. Take a look at the official tourism website tourisme-lot.com to canvas the options.
WILL COMPLETE AN AMSTERDAM TO BUDAPEST RIVER CRUISE MID-MORNING, FLY OUT AT 10.15PM SAME DAY. ANY SUGGESTION HOW TO FILL IN TIME? WE WILL HAVE OUR LUGGAGE. R. POPE, MERRYLANDS NSW
Ditch those bags, and there's a luggage storage facility located at Regi posta utca 9, which is close to the river. From here, you're also close to the tram line that runs along the riverfront so hop aboard tram No. 2 and enjoy the views of the baroque parliament building, Buda Castle and the Chain Bridge. You might hop off at Kossuth Lajos Square and take a look at the Shoes on the Danube Bank, a memorial to victims of the country's World War II fascist party. You can walk from here to St Stephen's Basilica, centrepiece of the Roman Catholic faith in Hungary, and home of the mummified hand of St Stephen, an object of devotion.
Cross the river via the Chain Bridge and the first site to take in is the Buda Castle District, the medieval hilltop area that is home to some of the city's top landmarks such as the former Royal Palace, now home to the Hungarian National Gallery and the Castle Museum. Don't miss the Matthias Church and the city view from Fisherman's Bastion. The Gellert Thermal Bath is also located on this side of the river if you're in the mood for a very Hungarian experience, the Art Nouveau architecture is the main reason to go but the bathwater – supposedly therapeutic – won't do you any harm.
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