I will have five full days in the Provence region from June 18-22. I will be arriving from Le Mans on June 17 via a TVG train (~noon that day). I have been reading a lot of mixed ideas and opinions on renting a car vs. using public transportation in this region - hoping I can get some more ideas from people here!
Things I want to see focus on ancient Roman history and ruins, along with medieval sites (like castle ruins), and finally iconic landscapes (ex. lavender fields). Therefore some of my top picks for places/sites are Nimes, Arles, Orange, Uzes, Pont du Gard, Vaison-la-Romaine, Glanum, and Les Baux; and, if time permits, Aigues-Mortes, Avignon (unless I make this my base), and Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. I would also like to see lavender fields (think they should be in bloom during this time...).
I was wondering where is best to stay, regardless of having a car or not - my top three places being Avignon, Arles, or Nimes. Probably will come down to Avignon or Arles. I hear Avignon is a better choice if not having a car, as pub trans is more versatile here, along with more to do after getting back from day trips. Opinions needed!
Is it a hassle to plan and rely on pub trans, buses, and/or guided tours in this region to get to these sites and cities? Is it worth the cost to have a car and either get to my destinations asap or also be able to have the freedom to stop where and when I want to? Will the cost for all these tickets/guided tours add up to be a similar cost as a car? On first glance it seems like the pub trans is a lot try to coordinate and can lead to downtime waiting for the buses and trains, but with a car, you have to worry about parking (and some of these places seem old and small), fuel costs, and also I read that the commutes in this region can take awhile due to narrow, winding roads.
Finally, I need to depart this region to Paris and am wondering what the best airport is to fly out of? I was thinking of spending my final full day and night in Marseille (June 22) and flying to CDG from there. Marseille also looks like a nice city - is worth checking out for a day? Is there a better option of where to leave from?
Tl;dr -- Looking for tips and suggestions from people on if renting a car vs. public transportation is better in Provence and what is the best option to fly from Provence to Paris.