Traveling with 60-something girlfriends to France in October. Staying a week in Paris then to Arles. What is the best way to get to Arles from Paris? Reading RS France book, it looks like the TGV goes to Avignon and Nimes but not to Arles. Is it best to take TVG to Avignon and then take bus or train to Arles? Or rent car in Avignon? If best way to go is take bus or train from Avignon to Arles, can you provide specific info or website where I can see schedules. We are planning on renting car once we get to Arles but thinking maybe better to just get in Avignon and drive to Arles. Any suggestions, greatly appreciated.
You can get to Arles simply by changing trains at Avignon TGV station. Or you can go ahead and rent a car there. There is a Hertz location at the station that is open 7 days a week.
Be aware that there are two railway stations in Avignon, the TGV one which is some way out of town and the traditional town-centre Avignon Centre station which is used for the local services. A rail shuttle service now runs between them, replacing what was for some years a bus trip. A few TGV trains run directly from Paris to Avignon Centre, generally ones that terminate in Avignon.
I would suggest booking tickets ASAP at www.capitainetrain.com to see if any cheap advanced fares are still available, and booking a journey all the way from Paris to Arles - this will ensure that you have enough time to connect and that the journey between the two Avignon stations, if necessary, is included in your ticket. If you try and do it by booking separate legs you may find it confusing trying to work out if you have time to get between the two stations.
The French train system's Internet site http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ is more complicated but it does provide a good deal of information. Be sure to click off the Direct Trains option to see the alternatives. Also specify Antarctica for ticket delivery; don't worry.
The schedule shows only one direct TGV train from Paris to Arles daily (ie no train change). Surprisingly it is the cheapest yet takes nearly an hour longer than some of the other choices. Other combinations involve a bus from the Avignon TGV station to Arles (marked "car" on the schedule.) Another possibility is the TGV to Nimes and the regional train TER to Arles. Or, as the above poster indicated, a quick train shuttle from Avignon TGV to Avignon Centre and a regional train from there.
Both Avignon and Arles are places I enjoy, especially the weekend market in Arles. I've done the itinerary staying in Avignon, which has more choice of accommodation and dining, with a day trip by train to Arles. The Avignon tourism office can be very helpful http://www.avignon-tourisme.com/home-1-2.html
How to Look Up Train Schedules Online gives you the DB train schedule link and tips for using it for all of Europe (but not to buy tickets for France). You might want to see Arles for a day before picking up the car, trimming the length of the rental you need.