Please sign in to post.

Provence without a car

My partner and I will be at Taize (near Lyon) for a week towards the end of May. I have family in Portugal, and I know I eventually want to make my way to Lisbon, but I'd like to take maybe 3 days exploring the south of France, where I have never been before. One potential issue: we're city people who don't drive (no licenses, and there's absolutely no chance of getting licenses before our trip). While I know it's easy enough to catch a train from major city to major city, how feasible it is to get around villages without access to a car? With a short stay in the region, I'd like to maximize time as best we can, even if it means not seeing multiple places.

Can anyone help me figure out an itinerary to have a relatively low-key few days before the bustle of my big, boisterous family in Lisbon? Our interests are history, art, food, wine, and I would love to see some cathedrals/monasteries/religious sites other than Taize while I'm in France.

Posted by
16766 posts

It depends partly on what you mean by "villages", but in general terms, classic Provence--the area aound Avignon and Arles--is not terribly well served by public transportation. Some of the small places don't even have bus service. When bus service exists, it may still be a real challenge to get to two or more places in a day--which you will want to do in some cases because the small spots can be really small. The Riviera (both coast and hill towns) is bit easier to manage without a car.

Art museums tend to be in places with at least bus service, so your interest in art is not going to be a problem.

Do you have any specific places on your target list?

You might consider taking at least one bus tour to some of the smaller Provencal towns. I haven't done that, but I believe such tours are offered from Avignon and probably also from Arles.

Posted by
1478 posts

We've done Provence without a car, but we had a longer time. We haven't been to Vaison-la-Romaine, but many people have recommended it very highly, and I would look at it if I were you as it's "on your way" from Taize to the rest of Provence. Then possibly visit Saint Remy and Les Baux (near each other and also both highly recommended). You will have to check bus schedules and plan very carefully with such a short time.

Posted by
4125 posts

I think you can have a very rewarding stay in Provence without a car. You will not nearly exhaust things to see and do that are on a train line in that short a time.

I would emphasize Roman antiquities over cathedrals.

Here are some preliminary suggestions.:

1) Base yourself in one of the three towns in the Rhone valley all connected by rail: Arles, Avignon, or Nimes.

2) Buy a guidebook to the region to pick some daytrips, then use that to pick a base. Example: If you want to visit Cassis, stay in Arles, it is closer.

3) You may also hire a cab or a guide if you want to get out of those towns.

The Rhone towns are a triangle separated by 20-minute train rides.

Posted by
152 posts

What Adam said. Those are all good options.

I’ve holidayed in Provence both with and without a car and both are possible. Of course you won’t be able to see everything but that’s never possible!

I’ll add that if you want a more village-y experience, I stayed across the river from Avignon in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon and it was absolutely gorgeous and much quieter than Avignon itself. 30 minute walk to get to Avignon; also possible to call a cab to take you there or to the train station to catch a train elsewhere.