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Which region/village to stay in Provence

Hi all,
If the following are our prime objectives, which Provence region would you recommend?
We are looking to rent a private house to sleep 6-12 in or within a 5-10 minute walk to a village for provisions that is close to wineries, other hilltop towns, farmers markets, away from the crowds but, not too remote. In our group, we have cyclists, golfers, walkers, so a town that has good access to lots of activities is strongly preferred.
We had been looking in and around St. Remy, Menarbes, and now a friend has suggested the towns of Grasse, Tourettes, etc. which seems very different...anyone have Pros and Cons to share.

Thanks in advance. I love planning trips and love hearing others experiences and recommendations.

Beth

Posted by
27447 posts

Grasse and Tourrettes-sur-Loup (is that the one you mean?) are not in the area many of us think of as Provence; they are not far from the Riviera coast quite close to Italy.

Although I haven't been to Tourrettes, I had a nice conversation with an off-duty tourist office employee while visiting a different Riviera town. She very highly recommended Tourrettes as a place with little tourist traffic. Alas, I didn't have time to go there.

I see that Grasse (pop. 48,000) is about 48 times the size of Menerbes, 12 times the size of Tourrettes and 5 times the size of St-Remy. I'd think the experience would be quite different in Grasse and even St-Remy vs. the other two. You might visit the Google maps for Menerbes and Tourrettes and zoom way in to check on availability of restaurants, etc. Where is the nearest supermarket?

I assume your group will have multiple rental cars, so you won't be dependent on total agreement about what to do every day; that could be a real problem if you were in a very small town, I'd think.

I believe Grasse has a rail link to the line running along the Riviera coast. St-Remy and Tourrettes have only bus service, and I don't think service to Tourrettes is very frequent. I don't know about Menerbes.

Posted by
3062 posts

Arles has direct train connections so you can go to Avignon, Pont du Gard and Orange from there. RS guidebook probably has recommended local tour operators so you can visit the Côtes du Rhone wine road, Les Baux, Roussillon and Vaison-la-Romaine.

Posted by
9436 posts

We spent a week in St Rémy-de-Provence in Sept 2019 and absolutely loved it, it was by far our favorite town. It is small, charming, very walkable, lots of cafés, restaurants, bakeries and lots of wonderful little stores. They have what some say is the best outdoor market in the area. Great for biking and easy drive to all the other towns and cities you’ll want to visit.

Posted by
7659 posts

Saint-Rémy was our base, with a car, but we walked down the road to the “asylum” where Van Gogh spent some time, as well as to Glanum farther down the road. Early one evening, we arrived at Le Baux (by car) shortly before it was closed to further entry that day, and were allowed to stay inside the walled town to explore a bit before the sun went down, and to enjoy our picnic dinner there. Looking Online just now, it appears there are several golf courses near Saint-Rémy.

Many years earlier, a bunch of us had rented a farmhouse on the île de la Barthelasse, just west of Avignon, on the big island across the river. It wasn’t far from everything else, really, but it was totally away from the crowds. Nothing but fields and insects for company. I don’t believe it’s still being rented out, though.

Posted by
699 posts

If you do have a car, the Luberon valley is great place. You can stay close and walkable to one village, but will want to branch out with a car. Besides Menerbes you can also consider Bonniuex or other villages like Goult. Market days vary by town during the week. You have access to wineries (rose) directly in the valley (walkable or bikeable) or can venture north to the southern Rhone reds area (Gigondas, Vacqueras, Chateauneuf-du-Pop). The valley has good biking and hiking (Bonnieux to Lacoste is great). You could a head NE to base in Isle Sur la Sorgues to be close to the great Red wine regions.

St. Remy is great as well, just a bit larger (and Arles even bigger). I just prefer the geography of the Luberon valley.

Much further east, in the hills of the Cote d'Azur, Grasse and Tourettes-sur-Loup are a bit different experiences. Gourdon, St. Paul de-Vence and Vence are nearby. Lots of hiking (more mountainous), less wine, and more crowds as you head to the coast (though Les Baux is as "loved" by the crowds as St. Paul).

Posted by
9436 posts

“St. Remy is great as well, just a bit larger”
I guess it’s all relative, but to let the OP know, St Rémy is not a big town, it’s small (in a good way).

Posted by
2595 posts

I am surprised that someone recommended Grasse as a preferred location in which to spend summer vacation. It really has more of an industrial park feel than a suitable location for vacationing. I should think that you would find western Provence far more to your liking, particularly St Rémy, Ile-sur-Sorgue, or maybe Arles but Avignon is the transportation hub for this area if you want mobility without a car. You might also consider Uzès which is technically in Languedoc, not Provence but still very worthwhile to consider.

Nowhere is going to have everything on your list.

Posted by
788 posts

Another vote for St Remy--a great town near many activities and smaller appealing villages, as well as the attractions in Arles, Avignon, etc.

Posted by
11368 posts

Luberon will offer you a beautiful experience in Provence. Read “ My Life in Provence” before you leave home!