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Arles vs. Saint-Rémy

If you were planning to spend two or three nights in either Arles or Saint-Rémy, which would you choose? Arles for two nights with maybe a day trip to Saint-Rémy (you have access to a car), or Saint-Rémy with a day trip (or maybe two) to Arles?

To expand on personal taste and travel style: you're not a big fan of heavy tourist areas, but you're a history nut. You love to walk down to a locals-only cafe for the best meal of your life, and stroll around charming streets, discovering little (non-tourist-trap) shops. You do love open air markets, and especially when they're crowded with more locals than tourists.

Did that make any sense? Just trying to gather some opinions for my parents, who have never been to Arles or Saint-Rémy. I have been to Arles, but not Saint-Rémy, so I can't speak knowledgeably on whether one trumps the other based on what I know they like to do.

Posted by
1458 posts

We recently returned from France where we spent 5 nights each in Arles and St. Remy. We were there in March and there were not too many tourists (we were 2 of them) but from what I've read, both will be crowded with tourists during the high season. We loved them both and can't recommend one over the other but here are some observations. Arles has some great Roman ruins among many historical sites, and as we were in a hotel we ate dinner each night across the street from the Roman arena, a beautiful view. It has city walls and the market is held outside the walls. Arles has more historical sights and is larger than St. Remy. On the other hand, St. Remy has more of a village feel. The old town area is small and the many of the buildings are typical Provence style. The market was right outside our door and Nostradamus' birth house was around the corner. We spent most of our time on day trips and since we were in an apartment, we bought prepared food at the market or at a traiteur and breakfast came from the bakery so can't speak to cafe's or restaurants. St. Remy may have more of the charming streets but less history than Arles. Hopefully others will have more information to help you decide.

Posted by
4132 posts

Arles is bigger, has a livelier street scene, and probably a car there is a small (but manageable) pain.

We spent a week based in St Remy in early June. It is small enough that one could imagine it overwhelmed with tourists in high season, probably mostly during the day. For us it was charming and logistically brilliant.

Posted by
40 posts

Thank you all! I should also note, this trip is happening in October, so not anywhere near the height of tourist season.

Seems like Saint-Rémy might be more their speed as opposed to Arles, which was my suspicion... but having never been to Saint-Rémy, I couldn't give them any proof of my feeling. ;o)

Thanks again... very very helpful!