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A week spent in the South of France (No car)

My friend and I are young, budget-minded travelers and new to France. We just returned from a week in the south of France in mid September 2021. I hope this post helps others who are deciding to vacation car free (and exclusively by transit) in and around Provence.

Our trip started at the Charles De Gaulle airport, where we boarded the TGV from Terminal 2. This was really convenient. We bought our tickets in advance for about 45 euro. We arrived at Avignon TGV station 3.5 hours later. We walked across the platform, bought tickets, and boarded the RER train toward Carpentras and took it for 7 minutes until it arrived at Avignon station.

We followed the advice of others in the forum and stayed in Avignon. It had a good number of affordable Airbnbs compared to other places we searched (Nimes, St. Remy, and Arles). We valued Avignon for being a good transport hub too. Our Bnb was a short walk to the train and bus stations just outside the walls.

By RER train, we day-tripped to Nimes and Arles. The train fare was affordable, I think around 10 euro each way. The rides were fast- about half an hour. There seem to be many daily scheduled trains, so we had no problem buying our tickets at the station. And the trains were reliable.. Except our return train from Nimes to Avignon was cancelled due to an issue with the track. To our surprise, there was no bus route to get us back to Avignon. We had to pay for an expensive Uber to get home. And our train from Arles to Marseille St. Charles was delayed by an hour.

Also, we took the ZOU bus line 57 to St. Remy. The round trip fare was under 7 euros. We bought our tickets from the friendly English speaking staff in the bus depot. The bus makes several stops in St. Remy. We took it to Republique, got out and walked about a half hour to Glanum and Monastery St. Paul. We took the latest bus back to Avignon.

One day we stayed local and ventured over to Villeneuve-les-Avignon. Our walk from Avignon to Fort St. Andre was under an hour. The path across the Rhone river is pretty busy with pedestrians. Some parts we had to cross busy roads with no walk paths.

We wanted to see Isle Sur La Sorgue. But the train service was very limited that day. I think only two trains from Avignon stopped there for some reason.

We did not try to see Pont du Gard. But I read that you could take public transit to it.

There were other sites in Provence we wanted to see but were too hard to access so we didn't see them.

Overall, I would say that visiting this part of France without a car is doable if your plans are flexible. Avignon was a good home base for us. We still got to see so much of it and enjoyed it without the stress of renting a car.

Also- we had no problems flashing our CDC cards. Our fully booked OuiGO train from Marseille to Paris didn't even check!

Posted by
579 posts

Thank you dhom! We have spent a month in Aix-en-Provence without a car and it has worked well. Aix has a major bus station so we could get almost everywhere we wanted to go quite easily.

Posted by
2429 posts

Thank you for your report! Indeed, Avignon is a good hub but train reliability in that part of France is a bit low... that Uber ride sounds familiar, I had a similar one around Marseille a few years back.

I will add, for everyone's reference, that yes there are easy buses to Pont du Gard from Avignon, and that there are also frequent trains to Orange, where the Roman theater is amazing.

Posted by
220 posts

Thank you! I think we might just try going direct to Avignon from CDG for a week next summer. And thanks to Calimom and balso for your suggestions about the area as well. Now we're wondering if there are other TGV destinations from CDG for other future trips before we end up in Paris?