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Aix-en-Provence vs. St. Remy

Hi Everyone,

My husband and I (in our early 30s) will be visiting the Provence region and I have recently read a lot about peoples' opinions of staying in Aix vs. the smaller villages in that region. We will have a car and have currently booked an Airbnb in Aix but are considering switching to St. Remy depending on our research. We'd like to see as much of the region as we can but also don't want to be too isolated from walking to places to eat/things to see and do and the general life in the area. In that case, Is it better to stay in Aix (which i've read is amazing although can be touristy) or better to stay somewhere like St. Remy? We're not averse to driving 40min-1 hr to see sites since we'll have a few days there.

Thanks!

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
9381 posts

From the standpoint of geographical convenience, it all depends on what places you want to see. That varies from traveler to traveler, so get a map of southern France and mark the places you will definitely visit in one color and places you hope to visit in a different color. You can get projected driving times from viamuchelin.com. Do pad those times, though.

I think for most tourists, there are more must-see sights around St.-Remy, but for you, that may not be the case. Both places seemed very pleasant to me on my day-trips, and I don't think you'll have a problem finding enough local restaurants, etc. The tourist infrastructure in those towns is highly developed; you'll hear a great deal of English spoken on the street.

Since I didn't drive around myself, I can't offer any tips on driving conditions or parking. I did observe a lot of variation in hotel rates from day to day, due (apparently) to special events. It would be good to know about those so you can configure your itinerary to miss the ones you aren't interested in, along with the attendant traffic.

Posted by Brad
Belmont Bay, VA
10231 posts

I had a similar dilema for my upcoming September trip. I didn't think Aix would be my favorite place so I narrowed it to St. Remy or Arles. I decided on Arles, mainly because I found better Airbnb choices there.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
14936 posts

Does your Airbnb provide parking or have they advised you on the closest parking garage? Expect to pay about €16/day in the garages. I had no trouble navigating in to the city center ring road (years back) and then there's good signage to the garages and the larger hotels. More recently, I picked up a car in Aix upon departing the city but did not daytrip from there. St. Remy is smaller but also touristy.

For this part of the trip, Rick Steves' Provence & Riviera guidebook has a lot more coverage than his general France book.

Posted by Adam
Boston
3753 posts

Though Aix is very pretty, I can't recommend it as a base from which to visit the main Rhone Valley sights. It is too far. I guess it would make a good base from which to explore Marseilles.

As for amazing, a chacun.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
6746 posts

I think St. Remy is more central for touring other places. We stayed in an Airbnb in St. Remy with free parking on the street.

Posted by Aixploring Provence
Aix-en-Provence
2 posts

If it's not too late to put in my two cents:

Our family moved to Aix from Seattle in 2010, and so while I may be a bit biased to Aix, I think either town would make a great home base for your visit. We've been to St. Rémy many times and love it, too. It really depends on what you're looking for...both are alive with summer activity. Aix is (and feels) bigger and gets pretty crowded at times, but is only 30-min from seaside Mediterranean villages like Cassis and it's only an hour drive from St. Rémy and Avignon with lots of small villages along the way. Depending on your timeline, you can get to Nice in about 1-1/2 hours and just a little more to visit Monaco for day trips if those are of interest. St. Tropez takes roughly the same time as well. Whatever you decide, I'm sure you'll find some great regional destinations to explore.

Posted by Jim
Slidell, LA
472 posts

We rented a two bedroom farmhouse for six nights in St. Remy, a 10-15 minute walk from the town center, and loved it. It was part of a larger B&B and we are still in touch with the owners. Each morning we got up and headed out in a different direction, kind of like the spokes on a bicycle wheel. Among the places we saw included Avignon, Arles, Nimes, the Pont du Gard, Aix, Isle sur la Sorgue, Gordes, Orange, Aix and Cassis where we took a boat ride to the Calanques. I think St. Remy is a good base because it is more centrally located than Arles or Nimes in the east and I was not that impressed with Aix, which is on the western end of Provence opposite a lot of the sites you'd want to see. If you want the name of the place send me a private message and I'll give it to you. There were three of us in the house, me, my wife and her 87 year old mother, and we had plenty of room. If you're arriving by train you can easily rent a car from a number of companies at the Avignon TGV train station (not to be confused with the one in the center of town). St. Remy is a 15 minute drive from there and the roads are good and well marked.

Posted by Jazz+Travels
Chicago
3550 posts

go on your first instinct; look at pictures decide and forget or don't read a lot of opinions on the internet travel forum.

Posted by Matt
Somerville, MA
591 posts

St Remy is centrally located. Aix skews towards the southeast. I made a drive time matrix of all the places I was considering going to when I was facing this decision. Private message me with your email address if you want a copy (PDF). Don't worry about things being touristy. We spent time in Beaucaire and Tarascon during our week there. I don't think the lack of tourists there was much of a plus. Gordes was the only town that seemed overly crowded.
Matt

Posted by Tom_MN
Minneapolis, USA
1940 posts

I haven't been to Aix but I have been to Cassis. It takes 30 minutes just to navigate traffic and park, or walk into town from the train station. From Aix a person would need a helicopter to have feet on the ground in Cassis in 30 minutes.

Posted by tgreen
midwest- Michigan
466 posts

We were just in Provence for a week last month. Visited both cities, St. Remy much smaller. We stayed 3 nights in Arls and loved it. We then stayed in a small hotel near Roussillon.

We were not that interested in the coast, so we only had lunch in Aix and flew out of Marseilles.

RS Provence book needs updating as for prices, etc.

Look into which town has their market days, too... If you'd like my list of must sees in Provence (outside of the coast) message me.

Posted by Tx Travelers
DFW Texas
10 posts

We stayed in both Aix and St. Remy on our July 2015 trip and found St. Remy was much better as a base from which to venture out for day visits to Les Baux, Arles, Avignon, Pont du Gard, and other gems we discovered in the region. We stayed at Hostellerie le Chalet Fleuri on the north edge of St. Remy and loved it. Five minute walk and you're in the center of town. Their optional meals were amazing (dinner menu changes daily, 25 or 30 euro each person as I recall), just let them know in the morning if you're having dinner that evening. Parking is free, too.

Bon voyage!

Posted by Lee
Napa, CA, USA
16 posts

I would try to stay in St. Remy on a Tuesday night in order to be there for the wonderful Wednesday morning market.