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What city to choose for home-base in Provence Arles, Avignon or Orange France

We are 4 people (2 couples) planning to travel next June from Paris to Antibes.
4 days in Paris, 1 night Rouen (Giverny) , 2 nights Loire Valley (Amboise) , 3 nights -Dordogne (Sarlat) ) and the plan for Provence - only 2 nights (this time :) )
In Rick Steves' book one of suggesting is Avignon , but a some people recommending to stay out of Avignon if you renting a car. We will be traveling with car. Can someone give me advise what city to choose: Arles, Avignon or Orange, or ...

Thank you very, very much.

Posted by
5685 posts

I visited Provence in May without a car. I based in Arles and day tripped to Avignon and Pont du Gard by train and bus.

From what I've heard, if you have a car, you might enjoy staying in one of the smaller towns in the region instead of the ones you list - e.g. Uzès (which I didn't visit - but it's near Pont du Gard). I didn't really like Arles much especially at night. I wish I had based in Avignon in retrospect, but again, I didn't have a car. Some claim that the charm of Provence is better found in the small towns anyway.

Posted by
744 posts

I give Avignon a big thumbs down, even setting aside car issues. I did not stay overnight in Arles, but stayed into the evening and enjoyed it. Orange had it’s charm but was pretty workaday. I don’t picture it as a great overnight stop.

With a car, you don’t have to be tied to one of these places. You can do something smaller and more charming. St. Remy seems to be popular with the car crowd, and is not so far into the Luberon that a trip to Pont du Garde is an all day affair.

Personally, loved Vaison-la-Romaine.

Posted by
9874 posts

So are you saying this is a two-night stop on your way to Antibes?

Arles--it's the furthest south, and your route takes you via the coast. With so little time, there is no need to drive north to Avignon and even further north to Orange. You'll have only one evening and one full day and plenty to do in that area.

Posted by
42 posts

Yes, Bets, 2 nights, we will be driving from Sarlat. But we don't want to go strait to coast ( we will be in Antibes 4 nights ).

Posted by
4132 posts

Unless Orange has changed a whole lot, I would choose almost anyplace else to spend the night.

Posted by
372 posts

In May 2016 I stayed in a lovely family owned gite (holiday apartment) in Fontvieille (about 25 minutes east of Arles). It was easy to drive to Arles, Avignon, and Orange for day trips. Very peaceful location. I enjoyed visiting Arles for the day but didn't get a feeling I would want to stay in a hotel there. When I drove to Avignon, I parked in a large park and ride lot just outside town then took the quick bus ride in. My sense was that I would not want to drive in Avignon itself.

Posted by
9874 posts

You said you don’t want to hit the coast yet, but your fastest and easiest route goes along the coast. It's two hours on smaller roads to Toulouse where you pick up the autoroute that goes down to the coast and east. If you want to go further inland toward Arles, Aix etc. you turn north on the autoroute outside Marseille. The inland routes take 2+ hours longer on hilly two-lane roads.

Posted by
4363 posts

Avignon is not where I would stay with a car, it's kind of nasty out of the historic area.

Posted by
2023 posts

We stayed in St Remy and would do so again. Arles and Avignon were lacking in charm Imo and would be not easy with a car. Sarlat and Amboise are nice towns and parking was not a problem.

Posted by
12154 posts

I chose Arles and was happy with the choice. There was plenty to do and see with fairly easy access in and out of town. I had heard bad reviews on trying to get in and out of Avignon. I considered St. Remy but didn't find as good of options for Airbnb as in Arles.

Orange is further north. I didn't shop for a place there but visited. It may be a good idea to decide what you want to see most, then decide on the best town to stay.