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Where to stay in Provence

Hello, I’m going back to Provence in May (group of 4) and struggling with where to stay as a base. Stayed in Avignon last time and trying to explore further south this time. I know Aix-en-Provence is often recommended, but it was a nightmare to drive into it and find parking last time. I’d hate to do this every day coming back from a day trip. Any recommendations for a place in Aix that is close to the action yet easy to get to? Or, is there another base that would be good? Either way, would love to stay where we can have some interaction with some locals. Something similar in size to Arles or St. Remy but further south perhaps. TIA!

Posted by
7006 posts

Aix traffic is pretty bad indeed. Manageable if you can find a property with parking a bit south of the city center, e.g. towards the university.
And...manageable without a car, actually. I think "CaliMom" on here recently spent a month in Aix without a car and was able to do plenty of day trips with very little hassle.

This being said, a car is convenient in that part of the world. For a more car-friendly base, have a look at Salon maybe?

Posted by
921 posts

We rented a house in Aix that had a driveway. We never actually drove in the center of Aix but just walked there. The house was conveniently located to drive to many sites in Provence and we took advantage of that. "Nightmare" traffic is relative. We live in NJ and drive into Manhattan, the Cross Bronx Expressway, Belt Parkway, etc., so I think it may just seem easier to us. Balso, I'm guessing you don't drive in Paris but take public transportation. We have driven in Paris and I think the hair is still standing on the back of my husband's neck!

Posted by
7006 posts

I do not drive in Paris on a daily basis. I do from time to time, it is usually unpleasant. Downright hairy on the big traffic circles. Otherwise, bike or metro it is! Marseille, where I live for a few years, is worse though.
Anyway, yes, re-reading my post I might have overdramatized the traffic in and around Aix. It is bad in parts, so you have to be careful where you are staying...which is difficult when you do not know the lay of the land. The one-way ring boulevard around Aix city center is especially maddening, a missed turn and you waste 15-20 minutes when traffic is dense.

Posted by
963 posts

Balso is right. We were in Aix for a month in September without a car. Walked everywhere around town, hiked to The Land of Painters, Cezanne's Studio, Promenade de la Torse, the soccer stadium, L'oppidum d'Entremont and of course, stolled the lovely Mazarin and pedestrian town. We took buses on all day trips except one private driver to the Luberon. (I really need to finish my trip report!)

You could look for an Airbnb up by The Land of the Painters. It is a beautiful neighborhood; I'm not sure if there would be rentals but the neighborhoods up there were very nice. You could easily get in and out.

You could also look over near Promenade de la Torse along the Cezanne Route. That is a bit on the outskirts so easier to drive in and out.