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Provence area for one week

We’re 2 couples planning an April trip to Provence and want to have one place as a base.
Is Arles a good base? Also, is it better to do an Airbnb?

Posted by
4700 posts

Some people rave about Arles. It's got some neat Roman ruins for sure. One of my FB friends stayed in Avignon instead and hated it and regretted it, wishing after her day trip to Arles that she had stayed there instead. But, last May, I had the exact opposite experience: stayed in Arles (which I found dead like a ghost town at night) and wish I'd stayed in Avignon (not as old, more touristy for sure) instead. It just felt more alive. I hate staying a town where you wonder if you can find an open restaurant at night (you can for sure in Arles, but it may not SEEM like it some nights).

So...it depends who you ask! And on your own preferences. Will you react more like I did or like my friend?

Posted by
11266 posts

In addition to Andrew's point that people have different experiences, it also matters whether you will have a car or not.

Without a car, I found Arles a much nicer city, but Avignon has better transit connections (I did a few nights in each). And I actually preferred Nimes to either one.

If you have a car, you will probably prefer a smaller village, rather than the small cities of Arles or Avignon.

If you want an apartment or house rather than a hotel, you can look at Airbnb, but should also look at VRBO and other sites like Flipkey. Here's Rick's page of tips about apartment rentals: https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/sleeping-eating/find-vacation-rentals

If you asking whether an apartment is better than a hotel, let's just say that this is a very divisive subject. Some people have strong preferences for one or the other, while others use both depending on the circumstances. There are definitely pros and cons to each. However, if all four of you want to share a single accommodation and you don't want two rooms, you will need a house or apartment (unless you really fancy four people sharing one bathroom).

Posted by
5687 posts

We spent a week in a self-catering "mazet" in St-Remy-en-Provence, driving to other towns to see Roman ruins or sights. Found the place through HomeAway/VRBO.

Posted by
6743 posts

We stayed in Villeneuve les Avignon, Gordes, and outside of Les Baux. We arranged these reservations while in Provence due to illness while on the road. Once recovered, we drove around and were able to find rooms in these locations. Several had shown as full months before. It all worked out and we enjoyed all the hotels and towns.

Posted by
50 posts

If you prefer to be in a large town, then Arles or Avignon. If you prefer something more downtempo consider renting a place. We rented a small 1-bedroom house in St. Saturnin Les Apt in the Luberon and had a wonderful, relaxing time. It was a short drive to many markets, towns, sites and very peaceful. We found our place on: https://www.theluberon.com/rentals. We rented a place from a New Yorker who owned it and it was fabulous.

Posted by
2486 posts

We enjoyed the village life of Lourmarin. We rented a flat through VRBO and did day trips to surrounding towns and villages. It has a few good restaurants, cafes, shops and a great weekly market. I am an early riser and would stroll around town until the bakery opened. Then, armed with fresh croissants, I would head back, make coffe and we would pour over a map planning our day. Usually back by 3-4 PM for a glass or three of wine on the patio or an afternoon at a cafe. Dinner, read, bed, awaken, repeat. We visited the larger places like Arles and glad we did and glad we were not staying there. See this site: https://www.theluberon.com/places

Posted by
43 posts

We stayed in Vaison la Romaine five days in 2015 with our daughter (a college graduation present). Wonderful village to walk around, with Roman ruins, great little restaurants and a fun market day. We had a car, and drove the Cote du Rhône wine road, saw sunflowers and lavender fields, went to the huge market in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, etc. Our home base was Les Tilleuls d’Elisee, which is recommended in the RS France Guidebook. What a terrific place and host! The (included) breakfast, outside on the beautiful patio, was absolutely delicious! When we came back from touring each day, we could select a bottle of wine from the kitchen (at very reasonable price) and relax on the patio before heading out to dinner. The host gave restaurant recommendations, touring maps, and advice that was spot-on. My daughter was charmed by their cat and chickens! We highly recommend this delightful gem.

Posted by
2 posts

Stayed near Gordes. Rented a car through Auto Europe having taken the TGV from Paris to Avignon and picked up the car at the TGV station. Lots of lovely hill towns. We would do a max 1 hr drive in one direction daily so we didn't stay in the car all day. A relaxing and interesting trip.