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Provence Itinerary

First, thanks to previous responses that helped develop this itinerary attempt.

Paris - Thursday - Monday ( we were there last year for 5 days)
Early Monday Train to Aix en Provence, day in Aix
Tuesday train day trip to Marseille
9/30 Wednesday 11:00 AM join bike group ( St.Remy, Eyqalieres, Pont du Gard, Languedoc, Villeneuve-les Avignon, Lirac, Tavel)
10/5 - Day and night in Avignon
10/6 - Rent car, drive Gigondas, return to Avignon
10/7 - Drive to Nimes for 3 night stay
10/8 Day trip from Nimes

October, 9 9:49 Train to CDG for 7:50 PM flight.
All comments and suggestions welcomed
Thanking in advance

Posted by
4125 posts

Hi Ellen,

i recall your earlier post.

it's really not possible to make intelligent suggestions about things to see without knowing your tastes and interests.

Logistically, I think you making some very smart choices: the day trip from Aix is a good way to see a little of Marseilles and make use of your time in that part of Provence. The train to deGaulle means you don't have to spend your last night in Paris. (I don't think you need to leave quite so early, though, for a, 8 o'clock flight.)

My only logistical criticism, maybe, is that you do not need to jump around between Nimes and Avignon and the Luberon. Everything is very close; no need to shift your sleep.

I also wonder if you would not be happier in a smaller town such as Isle or Arles, or perhaps just Gigondas, since you will have a car. Arles has a great deal of charm and many interesting antiquities.

I consider Avignon to be a bit of a snooze, but it's all good.

Posted by
3536 posts

You are missing some villages that are key to a trip to Provence. Les Baux, Rouisillion, Arles bigger but yet an imp place to base if you can. I would skip Nimes, Avignon, Aix and substitute.
I say this from my many visits to Provence area. Marseille a tough port city beware.
U can pvt email if u have specific questions.

Posted by
138 posts

Adam, thank you for the response and forgive me, i often see that question...what are your interests.
We love all history, enjoy art, especially when there is a focus, i.e. Van Gough, Renior etc., love the countryside. I am interested in Gigondas for the wine education they offer. And, of course, wandering the streets of small towns and eating. Shopping to be mostly avoided.
I struggle to understand the different trains. One itinerary I decided against, left me 12 mins to make a train connection, not confident that was doable.When connections are necessary are the trains on close platforms? I thoroughly enjoy public transportation, we have had a few hiccups over our years of traveling, so I am caution. Nimes was chosen over Ales for this reason, the Ales-Paris train is 6 hours plus with connections. Also we do enjoy staying in one location as long as possible.

We must spend one night in Avignon and Aix as that is part of the bike Itinerary. From everyone comments it seems theses towns are ok but Nimes and Ales hold more charm, so i was using Nimes as a base. Also, we try to avoid one night visits.

Any train information would be helpful.

Again, thank you for your input.

Posted by
16762 posts

I liked Avignon as well as Arles (only day-tripped to Aix so can't really compare as well). I wouldn't regret spending a night in any of those places, though I agree there are negative aspects to any one-night stop. Just be sure you know where the historic centers of the various towns are located so you can head right to the good stuff if you're short on time. Arles also has a good archaeological museum.

Posted by
468 posts

I think you could change this slightly here. Nimes actually makes kind of a poor base compared with other options. Nimes is technically Languedoc, opposite direction from Gigondas. So right now, you’re going from Avignon to Gigondas then back past Avignon to stay in Nimes. Then day tripping somewhere from Nimes. Unless you’re planning on day tripping to Uzés or something you’ve effectively taken yourself further away from Provence by basing in Nimes.

I would start with Gigondas and base around there (highly recommend Vaison-la-Romaine.) Use the time you had for Nimes to explore around here. Orange is an easy visit, Arles reachable by car, plenty of driving options. Spend your last night in Avignon, and take the TGV to CDG from there. It has the best TGV connection in the area, and is a direct 4hr ride from there. That’s a simpler itinerary with less moving around.

Posted by
17 posts

I agree with some of the other commenters, that Arles is nice town to spend a day. (But careful, don't mix it up with the town of Alès!)
I live in Avignon - I think it is nice, but Nîmes and Arles are more interesting to me - but I am quite interested in the Roman antiquities. Avignon has some nice small museums, and the Palais des Papes is worth a visit.

As others have said, the train service between the larger towns is all quite good-- when the SNCF is not on strike. The regional bus service (Edgard and ZOU!) is less frequent, but also decent, and very cheap.

Regarding the question about train connections - if your train is not late, a 12 min connection will be easy to make. (I've made a 10 min connection even in the large Lyon part deiu station.) There is no guarantee, however, that your connecting train will be on the adjacent platform - you'll probably have to cross underneath the tracks. But, in the smaller towns (like Nimes, Arles and Avignon), there are not so many platforms, and the stations are small. It really just depends if the train is on time or not. I have found that the trains are very often exactly on time, sometimes 5-10 minutes late, and very rarely 1+ hour late. I've missed connecting trains many times because my first train was late: you just take the next train (which is usually 30 min - 2 hours later). Your original ticket will still be valid (you don't have to buy another ticket or pay more), and you only need to talk to the (very helpful) station staff to get a new seat assignment if it was as TGV.

Posted by
17 posts

A few more notes about trains in France:
From PACA (Provence-Alpes-Cote-d'Azur) you will find two types of trains: the TER and TGV. We don't really have the Intercités here.
TER are the regional trains. Take these between towns, e.g., from Nîmes to Arles, or Avignon to Carpentras. For short trips between the small towns, you don't need to buy a ticket in advance - the price will be the same. The dates of your trip are not during peak holiday season, so the trains will definitely have space (you do not need to worry about advanced booking for a TER). You can buy the ticket from the kiosk in the station, from a desk in the station (if there is one), or download the SNCF app on your phone (if you'll have a data plan).

TGV are the "trains à grandes vitesse", the high-speed trains. These trains travel up to 300 km/h, and do not make frequent stops. You will have an assigned seat on the TGV, in 1st or 2nd class (unlike the TER). For the TGV, book your tickets ahead -- not only do prices go up closer to the travel date, but they can sellout.

There are two types of TGV: OUIGO and INOUI (or TGV). INOUI is the normal TGV, and OUIGO is the "cheap" TGV. They are both SNCF. The OUIGO goes to fewer stations, requires you to be at the voie (platform) 30 minutes before departure, and will charge for excess luggage (i.e., they are trying to adopt a model based on Euro budget airlines), and tickets can be very cheap. Both types of tickets are sold on the SNCF website, or if you want to look only for OUIGO tickets, they are at

To travel from Nîmes or Avignon to CDG, you will want to take a TGV. As someone said, there is a direct train from Avignon TGV to CDG (3h15). From Avignon, there are multiple TGV lines that go to Paris: one that makes many stops (Valence, Lyon, ...) - and this one is slower. There is also a direct TGV from the new Nîmes Pont du Gard station to CDG (3h30) - but note that this station is actually outside of Nîmes.

I hope this helps!

Posted by
4125 posts

Arles is very close to Nimes and Avignon, but the TGV stations are separate from the regular trains that are in the city center. That is why it takes an extra half hour to take the local to Avignon and the shuttle to Avignon TGV; then you have to wait for 45 minutes for the TGV to de Gaulle

I am guessing you are not renting a car for the last few days (which is perfectly OK) but if you did you could drive it to the Avignon (or Nimes) TGV from any nearby town and return it there the morning of your return.

12 minutes is plenty of time to make a connection in almost any train station in France, unless you have mobility issues. It is usually a matter of descending from the train, walking downstairs to an underground tunnel between tracks, climbing the stairs at the new platform, and waiting for the train. Often it is even simpler than that.