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6 nights exploration south of Paris by train mid September 2018

We look forward to walking, wine tasking, leisurely meals, the food markets, the art, the architecture.
Thinking Dijon 1 night?
Lyon for sure for 2 nights.
So, the first question is to see or skip Dijon due to lack of time and thereby spend 3 in Lyon?
Would like to spend time in Avignon, Arles and Aix. Might Arles serve as a good base? Base in Provence for 3 nights.
From there we will be heading to Varenna on Como, so we are thinking a night in Grenoble on our way from France to Italy.
Looking forward to your suggestions.

Posted by
11743 posts

I picked Arles as a base for my upcoming trip. I heard a lot of rumblings about getting in and out of Avignon with a car and didn't find a good lodging choice in St. Remy. I'm not sure how convenient a train will be? If it works, Avignon may be a good base.

I'm planning on a train to Lyon from Paris, then by car going South, four days in Provence, turning the car in when I get to the Riviera, four days there, then a flight back to Paris for a few days before flying home.

Posted by
6 posts

I traveled Avignon, Arles and Aix few years ago. I stayed in Arles for 2 nights. All of the places are very nice and have so much to see. hope you'll enjoy your trip.

Posted by
398 posts

I prefer Beaune to Dijon to be closer to the wine villages, but I see you are planning to travel by Train, which makes things a bit different. Once in Aix or Arles, you might consider a car for a day or two so you can actually tour the countryside with greater ease.

I would not go out of my way to get to Grenoble on my way to Varenna. I've not taken the route directly by train, but I see the routing and it goes through Chambery (or along the coast if you leave from Aix) I have driven and taken trains along this route and to these cities, and there are multiple transfers and finally, a boat required. You might consider a flight instead to save some time. If not, you might consider the coastal route and a stop in Genoa.

Posted by
243 posts

Thank you for these smart travel trips and encouragements. Still wondering if Arles is the best base for 3 nights in Provence. We would consider hiring a driver for an excursion into the wine country.
Maybe 2 nights in Lyon and 4 in Arles.

Regarding our travels toward Ravenna, we realized Genoa was a practical midway point, just looking for something more quaint. It will only be for 1 night. Our son was there for business this year and really enjoyed the city.

Posted by
7124 posts

I think 2 nts in Lyon and 4 nts in Arles is a good move. You have a direct train to Milan from Marseille. I wouldn't break the journey for the sake of it.

Posted by
243 posts

Why didn't I think of that? Direct Marseille to Milan then to Varenna! You just gave us another day in Provence!
Thank you
Thank you all!

Posted by
3483 posts

Just adding another option. If you're beginning your trip in Paris, you could take the fast-train to Avignon area. After Avignon, head to Lyon. (By the way, we loved Lyon!) From Lyon to Italy, we stayed at lovely Annecy, France. Also, we enjoyed our time in Torino, Italy which is on the train route.

Posted by
243 posts

A fast train from Paris to Avignon sounds smart, but when I look a look at train from Lyon to Torino, I struck out on RailEurope.

Posted by
4125 posts

@zag: Whatever Rail Europe is good for, train schedules is not it.

The German rail site shows many 4-hour express trains from Lyon to Turin. Quite a bit further to Varenna, however, if that is the idea.