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Provence -- Where to stay

We are trying to figure out what would be the best choice of where to stay for our 4 days in Provence in mid-October. Would welcome thoughts on (1) in town versus out of town and (2) which town exactly.

Our group is 9 people: my wife and I, our 3 girls (ages 13, 10, 8), my in-laws and my sister-in-law/brother-in-law. This would serve as our home base and we will have cars to travel around.

First question: In town versus out of town? We will be coming from Paris, Loire and Rivera. We have an apartment in Paris near Notre Dame (just our immediate family). In Loire, we rented a beautiful chateau in the countryside. We haven't decided accommodations for the Rivera. For Provence, I thought it might be nice to stay in town so we can walk to restaurants since in Loire and possibly Rivera we may not. That being said, I keep seeing some lovely houses outside of town. If we stay in town, we will likely split up and get 2 apartments (and thats okay). I doubt we can find something in town big enough for 9 people. Staying someplace with charm and character is important to us.

Second Q: Which town? Wife heard good things about St Remy and that was where our focus was, but haven't landed on a place(s) yet. We have looked at Arles too. We just found a beautiful house to rent in Graveson -- looks sleepy, but anyone stayed there have more color? Sister-in-law suggested Uzes.

Any thoughts or suggestions on both questions are welcome.

Posted by
1 posts

I loved St Remy. There are great places to eat, shop and the asylum where Vincent Van Gogh spent most of the last year of his life is incredible. I have not stayed in St Remy but believe it would be a good location to base from. I also loved Lourmarin and plan to base from there sometime in the future. I would personally prefer to base out of Lourmarin but it is a very sleepy town on non-market days so be aware of that.

Posted by
11996 posts

It depends on where you want to see. Most places are close enough that you can make daytrips from any. I avoided Avignon because I heard the traffic can be quite bad for getting I chose Arles and was really happy with the choice. I stayed in a place off Place du Forum. It was walking distance from the Arena, Roman Baths, and relatively abundant parking along the river. The place I stayed was next door to the subject of a Van Gogh painting (I think called "Cafe de Nuit") and another one of a starry night that was painted by where I parked.

I wasn't thrilled with San Remy. I looked and didn't find a place. Later when I went there, I was happier that I chose Arles. I did go to the ruins near St. Remy and the sanitarium where Van Gogh stayed, they aren't really in St. Remy but near there.

Posted by
5697 posts

We have stayed in St-Remy twice -- once in a hotel near the Glanum ruins (day trips to Arles, Pont du Gard) and this spring in a vacation rental apartment a few blocks from the center of town (day trips to Nimes, Orange, Les Baux.) Love the market days! Town has plenty of restaurants, shops, van Gogh views. It was great for us, peaceful and low-key, easy to visit other sites.s

Posted by
605 posts

Finding the right rental may be the decider here. If you search the RS forum archives you will find many responses to this question. I believe that if I pooled the responses they would be distributed like this:

St Remy 35%
Arles 30%
Avignon 15%
Aix 5%
Isle S la sorge 5% (spelled wrong)
Roussillon 5%
Uzes 2%
Vaison la Romaine 2%
Nimes 1%

Each of these places would make a fine home base if the circumstances are right, so
I recommend casting a wide net as you search for a place. I have put together a drive time matrix for the region to help with this question. Let me know if you would like me to send it to you.

Personally, I've stayed on Arles and in the countryside around Tarascon. Both had pros and cons. If I were heading back there this year I would choose to split a week between Stes Maries and Roussillon.

Posted by
35 posts

Matt, this is a great summary. We will be staying in St Remy in late September. I would be interested in seeing your drive time matrix if you are willing to share.
Thank you.

Posted by
605 posts

No prob. Send me a private message with an email to send it to.

Thanks