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My husband and I are going to France in spring, planned tour in the Alpilles region (to include, les Baux, Pont du Gard, St. Remy, Avignon). We arrive five days before the tour and are undecided where to stay...would like to visit Roman ruins in Orange and Nimes and thought we might stay in Aix but have been reading the blog and it sounds more like just another big city. Any suggestions? We arrive in Paris and will take the train to the region and my husband really doesn't want to get a car.

Posted by
4125 posts

Without a car you may feel a bit frustrated for five days, especially if you leave St Remy, Avignon, and the Pont du Gard for your tour.

Arles is a charming base and very convenient to Nimes and Orange by rail. So maybe 2-1/2 days worth of stuff there, plus aimless wanderings. You could spend part of a day visiting the Camargue, if there is still bus service there out of Arles.

Or you might spend a few days in Paris first, or in Lyon.

Posted by
1020 posts

Take a look at this website. Show it to you husband. Tell him you can't experience the very best of Provence without a car. Spend a couple of nights in Bonnieux, Gordes or Roussillion. Then move on.

Posted by
11613 posts

I visited all the places (except St-Remy) you mention last year, using trains and buses. I based in Nimes, which has great connections. It's got a lot to see, as well.

One thing I wish I had done was raft down the river at Pont du Gard. There are several companies that do this, and their buses take you back to your starting point.

Posted by
6898 posts

You can indeed see much of the western areas of Provence by rail and some buses as Zoe has indicated. However, even though the trains and buses are somewhat frequent, you are slowed down a bit waiting on public transportation. IMHO, you won't see much of the parts that are east and southeast of Avignon in Provence without a rental car. These areas have towns on France's "most beautiful villages" list. Gordes, Rousillon, Lourmarin, the Luberon area are just a few and for the most part, they have no train stations. Buses are not that frequent. We stayed in Avignon and day-tripped each day with our rental car. Very easy driving in these areas. Just watch out for the numerous bicyclists on the roads thinking they need to be in the Tour de France. So many beautiful places to stop for a few moments or to have something to eat. We had a wonderful lunch in Lourmarin. A GPS in the car is a must.