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Paris to Provence: Suggestions for cities/towns?

I am flying into Paris mid-February with my dad (it's a surprise trip for him!). Visiting Provence is on his bucket list so I'd like to try and visit since I'm not sure when he'll be back in France.

I was looking into trains from Paris-Provence and wondering if anyone had any advice for this journey and some recommendations for cities or towns to spend 1-2 nights in. Our trip to France will be relatively short so I prefer not to rent a car to see the sights.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Posted by
1391 posts

Many towns are accessible by train without renting a car. I would suggest Avignon as a base. There is a TGV train which goes from Paris to Avignon in less than 3 hours. From Avignon you can easily visit as day trips to Nimes, Arles, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and other surrounding cities, villages and towns. I would recommend staying in Avignon so you don't have to move around from hotel to hotel and waste time doing so. There are a variety of hotels in Avignon. Avignon itself is at least a full two days to explore. Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
7503 posts

Take the train to Avignon or Arles. Stay in Avignon or Arles. Buy an escorted day tour of the Provence area only accessible by car at the Tourist Information center in one of those two cities

Posted by
361 posts


Can someone please help me understand why the train from Dijon to Nice/Antibes takes so much longer than the train from Paris to Avignon? I feel like I'm missing something. The information I found shows the train from Paris to Dijon is approximately 1.5 hours. The train from Dijon to Antibes is approximately 6-8 hours depending upon the time and type. As usual thank you very much.

Best regards,


Posted by
11294 posts

Lorie - very simple. The tracks from Paris to Avignon are high speed. The tracks east of Marseille (towards Antibes and Nice) are not.

So, the train time from Marseille to Nice and the train time from Marseille to Paris are about the same, even though the distance from Marseille to Paris is much greater.

Posted by
4125 posts

If your time is short, don't stop enroute to Provence. Go straight there and maximize your time on the ground there.

And if your time is short, take the TGV down and rent a car to explore and sightsee. Also, fly home from Marseilles, or, if your flight back from deGaulle is in the afternoon, take the early TGV that will get to to the airport by 10:30.

Posted by
433 posts

I second the idea of not stopping if Provence is your destination then go there and maximize your time. Lyon is fine little city that is on the train line and I might suggest it if you had an extra day or two but it sounds like you really don't and while it's French it is not Provence.

To experience Provence I would make sure you get at least one market day - check which days of the week you have and coordinate to be in at least one city on market day. The main mid-size cities in Provence are Arles and Avignon and these are the two that are most often used as bases for exploration. Avignon is the best connected by bus and train and also for any organized tours as well. If you really have a specific Provencal topic - wine, food, art, ruins - then arranging to get a good guided tour and/or classes is often worth the money to really dig into a subject. Arles is great city (that I prefer to Avignon for visiting) with Roman ruins and a heavy van Gogh influence.
Arles market days: Wednesday but bigger one on Saturday.

The top small cities usually mentioned are St Remy - super classy in a refined way - and the picturesque L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue which is the most accessible of the Luberon hill towns with a famous market day. Aside from the rest of its charms St Remy has the asylum where van Gogh was committed and he returned to painting and Gallum the ancient ruins just outside town. St Remy may be challenging to get to via public transportation in the off season.
St Remy market day: Wednesday
L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue famous market: Sunday

I very much liked Vaison la Romaine as small town but it is a bit out of the way and unless you're really into Roman ruins it's probably too far to bother with. There are more charming Luberon hill towns past L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue - these are the ones from A Year in Provence - but have limited public transportation options. Les Baux is another city with a ruined castle and some other touristy sights that can difficult to get to in the off season.
Vaison la Romaine market day: Tuesday

Wine is obviously a big draw to this areas with the town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape one train stop north of Avignon and several other slightly less well known wine areas scattered around as well.

Nimes is the biggest city in the region and has some sights but people are usually looking for more quaintness and less modern sensibilities that a larger city brings.

I'd recommend gathering some more information and then coming back as you have more questions. It's helpful if you layout your interests, must do things, favored transportation methods and the days you'll be there for people giving advice to be as specific as possible.

Happy planning, sounds like a great trip,

Posted by
66 posts

Go to Clermont Ferrand. Beautiful city with volcanic mountains and lots of outdoor things to do in the area. Its mid way between Paris and Marseille.

Posted by
750 posts

What a wonderful trip this will be! Winter in Provence is a special season, with sunny, crisp days and also some of the heaviest rainstorms I’ve ever been in. I loved every minute of the changeable weather in February. But be sure to pack rain gear.

TGV to Avignon is perfect. How many days total will you have in Provence? If it’s more than three, renting a car for a day or more to explore the backroads might be worth considering, particularly if your dad has any walking or health issues.