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Driving in Avignon and Arles

We will be renting a car for our 2 week trip through Provence. In Rick's travel books he cautions about the difficulty of driving in the above cities. I had planned on driving in to both Arles and Avignon and leaving the car parked in one of the large central parking lots. Would this option be overly painful ? or am I better off just taking the bus into those cities from our home base in St. Remy ?

Posted by
971 posts

I drove to both last summer and found it much easier than I expected. The paid parking garages are sign posted from the moment you enter the city, so you just follow the signs. In Avignon there was a large, free parking site across the Rhone River from the old city, but it might be temporary for some sort of fair. There where also a few paid parking sites with ample signes leading to them. The same goes for Nimes.

Posted by
3197 posts

Having visited both cities with a car, your plan to drive and park at a central lot is ideal. Our hotel in Arles provided free parking and getting to the hotel through the ancient streets was hellish. The clerk at the hotel recommend some on street parking a very short walk outside the city center which I opted for rather than driving to the hotel. Driving TO the cities is fine. INTO them, not so.

Posted by
846 posts

I think you will find driving to Arles and Avignon more convenient than taking a bus.

We stayed in Arles 4 nights and did not find parking difficult. If you visit on a market day, it may be harder to find parking because the market takes up many places and it is quite busy. The market is also interesting, so you have to decide what your priorities are! We found the RS guidebook to be helpful as to advice on parking. We parked on the north side of town but there are lots all around the walled part of town. Parking outside the walls is easier! We only ventured within the walls right by the northern side.

We did not have a car in Avignon. Streets can be very narrow within the walls (my son was amazed that the wheels of our taxi hit the curb on both sides at the same time!). If you are feeling timid about parking close to the center, you could park by the TGV station (many lots with many spots) and take the local train to the Avignon ville station. Parking lots are usually easy to find so I think you will be fine just driving to town.

You didn't ask about Nimes, but we just drove into the center of town and parked without a problem.

Of course you don't want your trip to be stressful! Before driving to a town, I would look at RS guidebook for advice on parking (which was invariably good advice), then look at the web for tourist info and see if there was any additional info that would be useful. We did not use GPS but always felt well prepared.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
10344 posts

I've found the city centers of both cities to be stressful to drive in, compared to here, and not necessary. Trains connections to those cities are good and once there you can get around on foot and with public transport.

Posted by
174 posts

We appreciate all the great advice, It sounds like driving to those places and parking shouldn't be too bad.

Posted by
9 posts

Two years ago, my husband and stayed in Avignon as a base to see Provence. We spent one day in Avignon itself without a car. Then next day, we got a driver to take us to Orange and Chateau-Neuf du Pape, We did this because we didn't want to drive after wine tasting. I can't remember how I found the driver, but I'm sure I just googled "Hiring a tour guide for Chateau Neuf du Pape". The next three days, we rented a car from the Avignon airport. I think it was National car rental. We spent a great three days going to places including Nimes, Arles, Rousillon, Gordes, St. Remy de Provence, Le Pont du Gard and other small places in the Luberon. The driving was not difficult. The biggest difficulty was getting the GPS to speak English rather than Italian. It's also important to know that toll roads require coins to insert in the machine as you enter. As typical Americans, we were looking for a person in the toll booth and there was none.

I would highly recommend renting a car and going at your own pace to see Provence. We had a great time. Bonne chance!

P.S. We stayed at the Novotel in Avignon where we had free parking for the rental car.

Posted by
346 posts

I would encourage you to drive. It is not that complicated. There is a parking deck in Avignon which opens directly onto the Palace of the Popes, so it's a great location, and you enter it directly from the ring road outside the ramparts.